Are you wading through a sea of WordPress themes wanting to find the best option for your company?
Consider this your metaphorical lifesaver. I’ve been exactly where you are right now, and I’ve learned what makes a sturdy and reliable WordPress theme built for the long run by creating my fair share of websites.
A Google search will return an endless list of choices for WordPress themes. But it isn’t until you look closer that you see each of their weaknesses, whether or not they’re adequately built for search engines or if they’re clunky and use an outdated framework that only slows down your site.
This guide dives into the best WordPress themes you can choose to ensure your website is off to a strong start.
The Top 6 Best WordPress Themes of 2020
- OceanWP – Best multipurpose free theme
- Divi – Best highly customizable theme
- Shoptimizer – Best for e-commerce and sales optimization
- Underscores – Best theme for developers
- Oshine – Best theme for portfolio sites
- Stylemix– Best theme for niche sites
Read on to learn why each theme is perfect for their chosen category, along with an in-depth look at their best niche-specific features.
#1 – OceanWP — Best Multipurpose Free Theme
- Very flexible
- Free multipurpose theme
- Great for tight budgets
- Downloaded 3mm times
If you’re starting a website with WordPress on a budget but still want the quality of a paid theme, you’ll be relieved to find the OceanWP theme. It’s the best free multipurpose theme that enables you to create beautiful sites without the need for a developer or a steep learning curve. It’s no wonder they’ve been downloaded over 3,000,000 times and counting.
Ocean WP offers hundreds of customizable templates with the option of importing and using any one of their pre-built demos for a quick start. Though the theme is free, it’s still built to be fully responsive, with built-in page speed and search engine optimization. This way you don’t have to worry about dealing with an outdated framework.
If you get stuck customizing any part of the theme, OceanWP delivers fast technical assistance. Do you want to build an e-commerce store or a portfolio website? OceanWP is malleable enough to let you do that with elements like custom sidebars, widgets, a portfolio option, popup features, and even an add to cart button.
Though free, OceanWP is hearty enough to be compatible with page builders like Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect, Elementor, Divi, and SiteOrigin.
The point is that OceanWP is generous in its ability to adapt to what you want it to be, with plenty of extensions, theme templates, and functionalities worthy of a paid theme.
#2 – Divi — Best Highly Customizable Theme
- Very adaptable
- Custom CSS controls
- 800+ premade themes
- $189 for lifetime access
Do you care about customization over anything else? The Divi theme delivers ease of use with its popular WordPress builder to help you create highly customized theme iterations until you’re happy with the results.
Yes, it’s that versatile. And you can know exactly what your theme will look like as you go with their handy visual builder. Divi puts the design wheel in your hands with its easily editable framework and custom CSS controls.
For instance, if you want to recall an iteration from a few edits ago, Divi lets you do that with the edit history log. Because they’re so customizable, it’s a theme that can be used in virtually any niche, including freelancing, blogging, lifestyle, and more.
If you don’t feel like starting a new site design from scratch, you can choose from over 800 premade theme templates made for almost every niche imaginable. Being compatible with several page builders lets you easily add forms, testimonials, or customized blog posts. This, along with their free library of images and icons and reliable customer support, makes Divi a top choice as a WordPress theme.
If you want to commit to Divi long-term, you can pay $189 for lifetime access to updates, premium support, and hundreds of website packs. If you’d rather have a less committed membership, you can choose the $67 a year plan.
With Divi being as sturdy and as versatile as it is, and if you’re planning on keeping your site for more than three years, your best bet is to go with the lifetime access plan.
#3 – Shoptimizer — Best For E-commerce and Sales Optimization
What do you get when you combine WordPress with WooCommerce and the Shoptimizer theme? An optimized WordPress site that’s fast and built for conversions and sales.
Shoptimizer is the best ecommerce WordPress theme that delivers a beautifully optimized store you can customize using the Elementor page builder.
With Shoptimizer, you don’t have to worry that your online store will be clunky, load slowly, or have to deal with incompatible plugins. Shoptimizer solves all of that before you even start building your site, because it is made specifically as an e-commerce theme built for page speed and ranking on Google.
Shoptimizer includes pre-designed pages you can modify, along with conversion-driven site elements like offer bars with discount codes, a wishlist functionality, countdown timers for sales, product image zoom, and plenty of call to action options.
You can demo Shoptimizer for an immersive look at their theme. The price starts at $99, and you get a year of support, a demo installation, automated updates, and the ability to use the theme on an unlimited number of domains.
#4 – Underscores — Best Theme For Developers
- Very customizable theme
- Developer-friendly designs
- Minimal CSS
- Comes absolutely free
Did someone say a completely custom theme from scratch? No, what you actually heard was Underscores, but close enough.
Underscore is perfect if you’re looking for a down-to-the-bones truly customizable starter WordPress theme you can build your own code on sans the styling and pre-built additions.
It’s built with minimal CSS by the creators of WordPress themselves for you to be able to hack it and create a theme you can truly call your own.
Though minimal, it comes with updated HTML5 templates, a 404 page template, two sample CSS layouts, a sample custom header, and custom template tags that prevent code duplication.
If you’re a developer looking to design a one-of-a-kind theme without having to gut a theme first, Underscores is intended to be a reliable, no-nonsense framework you can work from. The starter WordPress theme is free, so you don’t have to worry about renewal fees.
#5 – Oshine — Best Theme For Portfolio Sites
An online portfolio is a must for any creative today. Oshine is the best theme to help you create stunning online portfolios with multiple pages and layouts.
More than 28,000 creatives use it to change each image’s spacing and aspect ratio, decide how many columns they want in their portfolio, and add plenty of animations to display their body of work.
Features like lazy loading images, hover styles, infinite scrolling, and more than 20 project page styles allow you to create unique portfolios that only look like they took forever to create.
Videographers, photographers, designers, and other freelancers can showcase their talent through a customizable template of their choosing. Whether you like a minimal look or love color and want to showcase a bold brand, you can create it with Oshine.
The theme goes for $59 on Envato Market, and you get six months of support, all their future updates, and an optional special offer for hosting.
#6 – Stylemix — Best Theme For Niche Sites
- Highly customizable
- 24/7 support
- Easy setup out-of-the-box
- Prices start at $29
Stylemix isn’t a WordPress theme necessarily for a single niche. Instead, it’s a collective of WordPress themes under the same umbrella, ready to be customized for any niche you can think of. This means cryptocurrency, food, manufacturing, education, and even the health and sports industries.
To help you through your site setup, Stylemix provides comprehensive documentation for each individual theme, so you’re never at a loss for how to modify or fix an issue. They offer 24/7 support and a number of plugins like cost calculators and appointment scheduling to seamlessly streamline your business transactions.
Stylemix constantly updates their plugins and offers a lite version for each of them, which maintains page speed. Their Wizard Setup lets you start creating custom pages out of the box with support just an email away to help you with anything you might need.
Stylemix houses an impressive number of niche themes, including some that might be harder to find. Stylemix is a great option if you don’t want to start a niche site with a page builder and would rather work with a template. Their prices range anywhere from $29 to $79, depending on what you’re looking for.
How to Find The Best WordPress Theme For You
Most WordPress themes are already mobile-responsive and optimized for SEO (meaning they follow SEO best practices in how they’re built). Aside from those vital theme features, considering the following criteria is essential in making sure you choose the theme that delivers precisely what you need—both now and as your business grows.
When you’re shopping for WordPress themes, the first thing you notice is the visuals. The overall look and feel of your theme send a message to your audience. If you want your brand to have a professional feel, a playful theme designed for a children’s blog will not be your best choice.
Thankfully, each theme usually states what niche or function it’s designed for. And with most themes offering a demo feature, you can quickly get an idea of what using it actually feels like as you review each page and setting. Make sure you keep your branding, voice, and messaging in mind as you peruse designs.
Does a specific theme provider offer support? Is that theme compatible with theme builders, so you have an easier time designing homepages, landing pages, and optimized blog posts? These are some of the questions to consider when choosing a WordPress theme you’ll want to stick with for the long run.
I’ve had plenty of experience with themes from different theme builders, and some don’t offer the best support system. For example, something to look for is complimentary theme documentation that goes through your theme’s how-tos in detail and doesn’t require you to search on your own for answers.
Another feature to look for is additional theme support and minor modifications you can request through a support ticket or support forum. You should make sure the theme also comes with updates to ensure it’s up to date with the latest WordPress changes.
Niche is another essential point to consider when choosing the appropriate WordPress theme. You don’t want to pick a theme meant for an e-commerce store when you’re trying to start a lifestyle blog. Just like you wouldn’t want to choose a theme geared for portfolios to create a store selling pet care items.
Once you’ve identified your niche, you can cull your list of WordPress themes significantly. From there, you’ll have an easier time deciding between themes.
Remember to view your website through your customer’s eyes. How many clicks does it take to make a purchase or sign up for your mailing list? Is it an intuitive experience?
We’ve discussed features like mobile-responsive, search engine optimization, page builder compatibility, and more. But when it comes to additional features, look for a WordPress site that offers a straightforward user experience without clutter or the need for unnecessary plugins that slow your site down once it’s published.
Does your theme offer a CSS customization option in case you want to change something you can’t do with a page builder? Or will it require knowledge of HTML for custom changes? More specific features like these mark the difference between a theme that can carry your site through growth or a theme that hits a wall and can only deliver so much.
There are many WordPress themes to choose from. But once you know what to look for, your list of real prospects is a lot smaller than you thought. When you select a theme, you want it to add to your online brand instead of stunting it with clashing plugins and outdated code.
With powerful themes like Divi and its complementary site builder, or Shoptimizer with its speedy load times and genius search engine optimization features, you can get started creating a memorable website built to last that your audience will enjoy visiting over and over.