Picking a WooCommerce theme for WordPress can be tricky! There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a theme, especially if you want to offer a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
If you’re trying to keep costs down, there are free WooCommerce themes that work well if you’re willing to put in the time to tweak them.
But are free themes as good as paid themes? What are the limitations and benefits (besides the lack of financial investment)?
Free themes can be excellent for new eCommerce stores, but there are a few pitfalls to watch out for.
Where to Find a Free WooCommerce WordPress Theme
We’d recommend being extremely picky when it comes to free themes! Ideally, you should head to somewhere like WooCommerce itself. The official theme store offers three themes at the time of writing:
- Deli – a theme ideal for selling organic, homemade items
- Boutique – a similar, minimalistic theme aimed at small eCommerce stores
- Storefront – a popular free theme that is pretty simple to tweak and customize
As you can see from the above screenshot of the Storefront theme, it’s basic but functional and contains everything you’d need for an eCommerce store, including a blog, product pages, reviews, and a secure shopping cart.
There are reliable free themes from other sources, too. For example, the super-fast free theme Neve from ThemeIsle is popular and reliable, too. Of course, we’d always recommend checking the reviews of free themes from third-party websites to see the opinions of real users.
You can also find free themes on WordPress; the theme Winkel is compatible with WooCommerce and offers a basic theme for any eCommerce store.
Let’s look at the benefits of using a free WooCommerce WordPress theme, starting with the most obvious point!
Starting up an eCommerce business when you’re on a smaller budget can feel daunting; there are a lot of costs to consider, from advertising to product testing and manufacturing to market research.
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While WooCommerce is free, which is great for new business owners, some premium themes are expensive, ranging from $60 to over $100. Unfortunately, that and any necessary widgets and plugins may be out of reach for small business owners.
That is the first key pro of free themes – they cost nothing other than time for installation and customization.
If you choose a free theme from one of the sources mentioned in the section above, you can rest in the knowledge that it will be reliable. It will work the way it should, with (hopefully) no complications.
For example, if you pick a theme from WooCommerce, it will have been put through a quality review process; that means that it has been tested and determined to be compliant regarding code, privacy, and security.
Easy to Change
The other thing to note is that it’s easy to change your mind regarding free themes due to the lack of financial investment. If you install it and don’t like it, you can simply switch to a different theme.
This is a significant advantage over paid themes; getting a refund on a theme may be difficult once you have committed to buying it, so if you choose a paid theme, you may feel stuck with it.
Now, let’s look at the drawbacks of choosing a free theme.
The first and most obvious point is that high-quality free themes take more work to find. The knock-on effect is that you may find other eCommerce stores using the same theme; this means that your store may not stand out to your customers.
There may also be fewer features when it comes to free themes. But, on the other hand, paid themes can be as complex as the creator wishes; they may come with all sorts of exciting features and may be more striking to look at from a design standpoint than a free theme.
While you can customize your free theme, particularly with widgets and plugins, it’s still worth noting that free themes may be limited in terms of features like responsive menus, typography, and more.
Free theme creators are not obligated to give you extra support; they might do if you reach out to them, but it’s not a given.
If you need support with a free theme, you may need to seek the answers yourself. However, if you had chosen a paid theme, the vendor might be willing to help you if you get stuck.
A Note On Updates
The last thing to consider is updates. Some people feel that free themes are riskier because they aren’t updated as often and may pose a security risk if they are not kept up to date.
However, if you choose a free theme from WooCommerce or WordPress, you can expect them to update their free themes when necessary. Plus, even with paid themes, there’s always a risk that the vendor will stop updates at any time.
What Should I Look for in a Free Theme?
There are a few key things to look for in a free WooCommerce theme for WordPress:
Page speed is critical; a slow loading time may put off customers, especially if they’re quickly browsing on their phones. Of course, there are ways to speed up your website, but generally, checking reviews on a given theme is a good idea to see how real users feel about page speed.
You can read more about this in our Choosing the Perfect Responsive Theme guide.
Your theme must be mobile-friendly; there’s nothing more annoying from a customer perspective than trying to navigate around an eCommerce store that has been designed for a desktop!
This is also important from a ranking perspective, thanks to Google’s mobile-first indexing practices.
Ease of Use
Of course, finding a theme that is easy to install and customize is essential, especially for new users – reviews should be helpful here. Also, look for clear documentation and guidance when downloading a free theme.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we finish with a roundup of the pros and cons of free themes, here are some frequently asked questions you might be wondering about:
How do I customize product pages in WooCommerce?
There are a few ways you can customize product pages in WooCommerce. First, you can adjust the CSS, which sounds complicated, but WooCommerce has a handy guide for new users.
Are paid themes always better than free themes?
No, not necessarily! Paid themes vary in quality. We recommend checking out reviews on individual themes. A trustworthy, reliable free theme (like WooCommerce’s Storefront) will always be better than a slow, laggy paid theme!
Is WooCommerce suitable for beginners?
Any eCommerce platform has a learning curve for beginners, but WooCommerce is approachable for beginners. You can use our Beginner’s Guide to WooCommerce for more information!
The Pros and Cons of Free Themes In A Nutshell
To sum up, here are the pros and cons of a free WooCommerce WordPress theme:
- Free – so more accessible for small businesses
- Reliable – if the theme is from a good source (like WordPress), you can trust it will be secure and functional
- Easy to change – users can change their mind if they don’t like it with no money lost
- Limited designs – paid themes are more varied
- Fewer features – free themes may have less exciting design features
- Support – free theme creators are under no obligation to offer you support
With some tweaking, a well-chosen free WooCommerce theme for WordPress can be great for new eCommerce businesses.
As long as you choose carefully, it’s worth checking out the free themes, to begin with – you may find the perfect theme without having to invest any money at all!