Why You Never Want to Search for a Free Website Theme
May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
A WordPress website’s theme is like its outfit. It grabs visitors’ attention in this ADHD world we live in. It gives visual clues to the personality behind the site. It can help tell your story. So of course you want your theme to fit perfectly. There are premium theme options all over the Internet. Elegant Themes, Woothemes, and others offer safe, dynamic, responsive designs just a click away. You can also have a web designer create you a custom theme specifically for your site.
But what if you’re working on a shoestring budget that doesn’t include money for a premium or custom theme design? There are free themes available, too. But before you type “free WordPress theme” into your search engine box, think long and hard about what you’re doing. Remember that “free” isn’t always the same as “no cost.”
Dangers of Free Themes
The biggest danger of downloading free themes from the Internet is the possibility of downloading malicious code to your website. WordPress themes are just a set of code files that you upload to your host’s servers. Hackers and spammers often use these free themes to exploit lax security measures. In addition to the code needed to transform your website with a theme, there are hidden instructions to your site. The creators of the them can then take over your site or use it to spread viruses and spam to other websites.
Even if your free theme doesn’t have malicious code hiding in its files, they are often out of date or not compatible with the latest version of WordPress. This can cause your site to break, costing you time and money to make repairs and get it back up and running. Other dangers in free themes are links to spammy websites to your website in hopes of raising those sites’ rankings. Usually in the footer of your site, these themes show ads for products or display messages about other websites with a link. If that seems more annoying than dangerous, keep in mind that search engines often penalize the sites that link to spammy sites once discovered.
Where to Find a Safe WordPress Theme
The truth is that there are plenty of free themes in the WordPress Theme Directory for you to choose from. Just go to the Themes section of your WordPress dashboard and click “Install Themes.” From there, put in your search terms to find something you’d like. They have all been checked and inspected for malicious elements by the WordPress team.
You can also use free themes offered by reputable premium theme websites. For example, Woothemes offers a few free themes from its arsenal of premium products. You have to register for the site but that’s all. Site5, a popular hosting company, offers free themes to anyone who wants to download them without signing up for their hosting company. Unlike those fly by night and spammy websites that offer free themes, they have more to lose by offering broken, malicious files on their website.
And if you’re worried about using a theme that may be used frequently by other WordPress users, remember that WordPress lets you change the code of the themes to reflect your own tastes. If you’re not that code savvy, consider using a plugin like WooDojo to make changes to your theme that set it apart from other sites using the same one.
Eric Thomas is an author and Brand Manager for BrandMe Promotional Gifts. He enjoys writing about business and marketing topics.