Definition "template"and more specifically "free template" may not have the best of associations. We have an impression that it is a rigidly defined look of the website, with which we cannot do much. In fact, it used to be so and even today WordPress templates and other CMS systems are often perceived as something static and ossified.

In practice, fortunately, it is quite different and we are now rather talking about motivesThey are often enriched by their creators with a number of tools that allow for comfortable and fast personalization. If, on top of that, our template is equipped with a visual wizard, e.g. by installing Elementor extension, it may turn out that a given WordPress theme or, if you prefer, a template, can be changed in such a way that it will resemble nothing of its demo versions. It may even be much more attractive. I mentioned creators in the article "5 recommended page builders for WordPress"That is why I will skip a broader description of this issue here. Those interested are invited to read it.

Free templates do not mean inferior!

Another stereotype when it comes to free templates is that they're lame. A lot of people see something free in this way, but after all, WordPress itself is free, and it's one of the best website solutions there is on the market.

The very fact that more than 37% pages on the Internet uses WordPress speaks for itself. The same is true of some templates.

Many of them, despite the fact that they are free, look great and give quite nice options in the field of personalization. Of course, not all of them, because many are created by amateur programmers, without much experience, but if we search a while, we can find quite a number of interesting proposals, among which we can find some that can even embarrass the creators of paid solutions.

The huge popularity of WordPress, mentioned above, is not without significance. It causes that WordPress has the biggest community of developers who have to compete with each other, and it is known that they do not work for free. It's just not possible. They make money on PRO versions of themes, i.e. versions of templates with extended capabilities. But in order to encourage people to buy a theme, they have to make it available for free (it is not a rule). What happens next?

Well. Templates available for free are designed to attract potential customers and now to do that effectively, they have to be better at something than the others. So we have the effect of competition, which works in your favour. The better templates in the free version, the more users and more clients the developer acquires.

This is exactly why WordPress has such an impressive library of free skins. And that's why one or another WordPress theme often gives you what you won't experience even with paid templates for other CMS systems. All this has a real impact not only on the final look of your website, but most of all on your working comfort.

WordPress templates - Two important groups

WordPress templates can be broadly divided into two groups. These include free themes i paid. You'll usually find the former in the WordPress repository, so right from your site management panel. You can quickly search for them and install them even faster. The second group are paid themes available on developers' sites or on places like ThemeForest, Templatemonster and the like.

Most free templates, especially the decently developed ones have their more extended, paid versions. We're not going to focus on PRO themes here, but I'm going to show you free WordPress templates that yes also have their extended versions, giving you even more options, but what's important is that in most cases the free versions will be able to meet your needs on many levels. You're about to meet the top three WordPress templates!

I'm only going to show you 3 free WordPress templates. Why?

Because all the tools I am recommending to you are extremely scalable and multipurpose. These are templates that will allow you to launch a website with any theme and in any visual way. It doesn't matter if you own a spa, a car repair shop, a doctor's office or if you sell online courses, insurance or teddy bears. The templates you are about to learn about will work in many, often extremely different situations.

You can of course look further afield, but the solutions given have everything that a good theme should offer today, namely:

  • high quality code
  • excellent performance
  • SEO optimisation
  • great collaboration with builders such as Elementor
  • enormous adaptability

Each template is fully responsiveBut this feature should not be surprising. It's a standard nowadays and I'll tell you frankly that I would be surprised if anyone offered you a website based on a different template. If you find someone like that, don't look back.

Here they are! The 3 best WordPress templates you need to know

You need look no further. Each of them is characterized by the features mentioned above, although they differ in some features mainly in the field of customization. I worked with hundreds of templates and this set is currently the best group of free skins I had a pleasure to deal with. I think that you will find your favorite among them, too.

Astra

Template Astra

Free WordPress template is number 1 for me. I use this theme for many of my projects and it seems that it will not change soon.

Template AstraIt is, above all, a very well written and optimised theme, also in terms of SEO. It is true that it spreads its wings fully when using the PRO version, but the free version will also successfully lead a successful website.

After installing this template, when you launch the site you may feel disappointed. You won't see anything to suggest that this particular WordPress theme is top of the line, but if you've had a bit of experience you know full well that this is only natural.

Basic website design - Free WordPress Astra template

If you want to get a website up and running quickly, all you have to do is use the sample page importer, select one of the pages and literally after a while you will see something completely different:

astra02

In the video below you can see how the import of the base pages of this template works.

The main command centre of the template, is the "Customize" tool, which you may already be familiar with, as currently most modern WordPress skins locate their settings here. You have tide over many settings related to the overall styling of the template and its behaviour.

astra02a

If you want to expand these possibilities a bit, you can use free add-ons, which you can quickly find in the general theme options.

astra03

Astra works great with WooCommerce, Elementor, as well as other builders, so if you decide to use this tool you should have no problem arranging the look of your site in any way you like.

Since version 3.0 the theme has been enriched with a header and footer builder already known from other themes, which you will read about later.

Speed of the Astra template

Every free template mentioned in this article features great performance optimization. This is an important factor that has a direct impact on your comfort and the experience of your visitors. This in turn will translate into better positions in Google search results - one of the elements of SEO optimisation.

Take a look at the image below showing the data of a freshly installed Astra without using any optimization tool. So we have a clean WordPress installation and a free Astra theme with default content and configuration. We will do a similar test with the other themes.

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Results without question great. Web Vitalis metrics in the norm, weight at less than 44 KB and 8 queries. We'll look at the same results for the next templates discussed in a moment.

Kadence

Kadence template

Free WordPress template no. 2 - I must admit that the capabilities of this theme are so impressive, that it is not excluded that one day I will move it up on my list. Currently it is used on How to Make a Website. Absolutely a WordPress theme you should be interested in.

Another template in the series of hellishly fast and well-written, and with awesome customisation tools in the customisation settings.

You can find the theme like the others in the WordPress repository. Previously, it was only available on the developer's website, which required you to download it before installing it. With the release of version 1.0 Kadence is now in the official WP repository.

Immediately after installation, as is the case with Astra and practically most flexible themes again you may feel disappointed 🙂

Free Kadence template

Doesn't look very appealing, does it? But rest assured. A theme is a powerful tool in the hands of every website owner and if you just make friends with it you will surely be delighted with its possibilities.

Here you can also find an importer of sample pages, but at the moment there is not much choice. At the moment I am writing this text, there are only a few starting pages for Gutenberg and a few for Elementor, which looks quite modest in comparison with Astra, where the free version offers about 40 of them. However, remember that Kadence is a younger theme, so there will probably be more and more of these ready-to-import products.

Kadence - Demo sites

What is nice here, however, in the context of an imported base page, is the ability to select the colour palette that will be used by default on the imported site.

Colour palettes of the imported demo

If a small number of sample pages to import isn't an obstacle for you, or if importing doesn't interest you at all because you prefer to put everything together from start to finish yourself, then I'm pretty sure that what you'll see in the "Customize" section of the template will very quickly make you a fan of this free WordPress theme.

Global colour palette in Kadence template

You'll find more options here than in the free version of the Astra theme, plus a few goodies like: global colour paletteThe ability to activate transparent headers or stickers, which in other themes are often features available in the paid versions.

However, the most interesting tool of this motif is built-in header and footer builder. And I will write this in capital letters REVELATIVE FUNCTIONALITY. You won't find it in other free themes, or at least not in such an extensive form.

Header and Footer Builder - Free Kadence Template

In the following video you can see a little more about this theme. Watch.

Kadence also works well with WooCommerce and Elementor, and if you happen to prefer Gutenberg, you can find a free extension for this editor from the creators of Kadence in the WordPress plugin repository. It enriches the editor with additional blocks, as well as sets of ready-made compositions to be instantly embedded on your website.

It is such a successful motif that if it were not for the fact that I have been working with Astra for a long time, and as you know it is easy to get used to a good thing, today if I had to decide freshly I would probably choose Kadence.

Kadence template speed

Fresh WP and Kadence installation with no imports or settings modifications. Results very similar to what we have seen with Astra.

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The results are almost identical to those for the Astra. The Kadence is marginally lighter, but has two more demands than the Astra. The result can be summarised as excellent.

Blocks

blocksy theme

Theme number 3 on my list of favourite WordPress themes. What I like most about this theme is the customize section. It is very conveniently arranged and on top of that there is also an option to activate dark mode which I personally prefer.

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As you can see in the above screenshot, Blocksy also has a similar header and footer builder as the two previously mentioned themes. Similarly as in the case of Kadence theme, Blocksy gives you the possibility of defining your own colour palette, which you can then comfortably use while working with the site.

image 65

The amount of configuration options in the free version of the theme is fully satisfying and is enough for most use cases. The theme works very well with WooCommerce and also with Elementor.

For the time being, the number of starting pages, similarly to the Kadence theme, is not particularly rich.

Blocksy template speed

Blocks, is another very fast and well written theme. How did it compare to its predecessors?

image 66

We see little difference when it comes to assessing the structure of the generated document. GTmetrix gives one percentage point less than Astra or Kadence.

image 67

The subsequent data also show differences. The amount of data is twice as high as in the case of Astra or Kadence, also the number of queries is slightly higher. Full page load time is identical as in the case of Astra, and one tenth of a second worse than the result of the Kadence theme. However, these are insignificant differences within the error limits. Another sensational theme.

Is there anything else I could recommend to you? YES

Of the free themes, in addition to those listed above, I could recommend you three additional WordPress templates.

OceanWP

OceanWP template

Free WordPress Template #3 Another very successful and extremely popular theme available as a free version.

Fast, well optimised, works well with WooCommerce, Elementor and with a frighteningly large number of customisation options 🙂 There are so many of these options that when working in the Customise section the browser can get the hiccups. It's definitely an element to be optimised, but it comes in a straight line from the amount of configuration options available.

After installation, what you'll see on the front end isn't stunning by default, but as with the previously mentioned templates, this one also offers an import tool for pre-made landing pages. So you can start from a decidedly better position 🙂 .

ocean01

To use the importer you need to install a plug-in Ocean Extra. It is available in the WordPress repository free of charge. In the free version of the theme we have 13 ready-made themes available. This is not a comparable number to what Astra offers, but there are many more than in the case of Kadence.

ocean02

As with the free templates already described above, among the sample pages to import you will find standard company websites, blogs, as well as online shops. You choose the version that is closest to your preferences and after importing, you make modifications so that in the end everything looks exactly the way you want it to.

Below is a video where I show how to run such a base page on this theme.

OceanWP template speed

How does OceanWP compare to the previously mentioned? Let's take a look at the results.

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Here we can already see more pronounced differences. Full loading time is 0.7 seconds, which is a small difference compared to the others, but when it comes to page weight the disproportion is more striking - 252 KB to 42 in the case of the Kadence theme and 44 KB for the Astra theme. Similarly, the difference is visible when it comes to the number of generated queries. If you take a look at the best result in our tests, which so far belongs to Astra with the result of 8, the difference is two times bigger.

Does this mean that Ocean WP is a slow motif? No. These results are still very good indicators and while you can see that the performance potential looks better in Astra and Kadence you cannot say that OceanWP is slow.

GeneratePress

GeneratePress WordPress theme

I have used and still use this WordPress theme on some of my projects. However, it has the least amount of customisation options in the free version compared to those mentioned above, which if you don't have the budget to invest in a template, may not be a happy choice.

GeneratePress, is a WordPress template that, like the previously mentioned competitors, is well written and optimized for SEO as well. Sites running on it run fast, unless your experiments with dozens of plugins result in the site going down, but that's how you kill any theme without exception.

GeneratePress template speed

To have a full comparison, let's take a look at how the GeneratePress template compares to the main contenders for your company's website space.

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What do you think of this? We probably have a winner in the ranking of the quality of the themes presented so far. The weight of 26.5 KB is a smashing result of the mentioned themes. The number of requests, at 6, is also the best result so far. What is more, the latest 3.x version of the theme shows a huge improvement compared to the older 2.x version. For example, the previous version weighed 90 KB in the same test, and the number of queries was 17. Congratulations to the author!

Hello Elementor

Hello Elementor - Free WordPress Template for Elementor PRO

If you are using Elementor PRO and you are going to use it in 100%, so you will create the whole layout of your site yourself: header, footer and other elements, then you may find that the above themes will be a bit overkill.

Why do you need an importer with 49 start pages (Astra) if you want to prepare and arrange everything yourself anyway? Why do you need a header and footer builder in a Kadence template when you have it in Elementor PRO if you use its Theme Builder. Why the huge number of options in the Customise OceanWP section if you won't practically use them, because you will manage everything in Elementor.

That's right. In this situation, the best solution may be a free WordPress theme coming directly from the authors of Elementor, and this theme is called Hello Elementor.

This WordPress template contains practically no configuration options. Immediately after its installation and activation, your website will look even poorer in comparison to templates previously described. This is because you lay out the entire layout yourself based on the Theme Builder and Elementor widgets, so they are simply not needed. This feature of the theme gives it a certain advantage over others. It is very light and very fast. Let's see.

Hello Elementor template speed

Perhaps reading the above paragraph you can already feel your nose writhe and suspect that this template will achieve the best results compared to the others mentioned. Is this actually the case? Bingo!

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There are clear differences. In fact, we have all the metrics better than its predecessors. Load time under 350 ms, page weight less than 20 KB, number of queries 6. This is the undisputed winner of our performance test, but with this theme we have to be aware that this theme is primarily designed to work with Elementor. So it is devoid of any functionality that would allow you to use it without Elementor PRO.

Remember also that what performance your site will ultimately have depends on how you build it. The test data you see is the pouring pad for the foundation of your site. By inserting content and media, adding integrations with external tools, installing more plugins, these values will be completely different. Whether Hello Elementor, Astra or Kadence, or maybe OceanWP or GeneratePress will then turn out to be the best, it's impossible to predict. It depends in a straight line on the actions you take.

All the WordPress templates mentioned, are a piece of work in terms of optimization. You can easily nullify this by expanding your site in an ill-informed and unskillful way, or you can use it so that your company's website bestows the best possible experience on its visitors. It's all in your hands!

Is there any point in showcasing more free WordPress templates?

Many bloggers race to create listings for the number of free themes. Apparently, they assume that the more themes they add to an article, the more valuable and attractive it will be, and on top of that, Google will think that long content equals good content.

In my opinion this is the wrong line of thinking. If I were to throw you a set of 100 free themes here, what can you do given the fact that there are over 7,500 of them in the WordPress repositoryWould such a text help you make a good choice? Or would it be a list of themes that would make you feel even more confused, or even worse, would you end up making a choice by looking at a screen shot of a sample demo site?

Let me explain. If you choose a theme or, if you prefer, a template based on "this one looks cool", there is a high probability that you will end up with a theme that you may like, but will be very limiting in terms of customization. I had and still have to deal with a huge number of clients and students, who had their websites running on a "rogue" theme, either they installed it themselves or someone else did it for them. They worked on it without being completely unaware of the fact that many things they say "can't be done" could be easily done if they used a different theme. They were not aware that their website could work more efficiently if they used a different theme, that it would be better optimized for SEO, more secure, etc...

The free WordPress templates you see in this article are tools that will make you will enjoy working with the site. Believe me, you don't have to waste your time browsing through hundreds of themes. You have three great, free themes handed to you on a platter, which skilfully used will do for you everything you want. Website, blog, shop, portfolio, e-learning platform... it doesn't matter. Harness Elementor, and if you have a budget, invest in its PRO version and you have a duo that will move mountains for you 🙂 - it's all there.

I digress...

Have you heard that the DIVI theme is great? It is, but it's a paid theme so it doesn't quite fit into the main thrust of this article, but I have to make a small digression and get off topic.

For someone starting out with this theme, actually this solution seems to be the best possible one. There are a huge number of lovers of Divi, which combines the function of a theme and a builder. I do not surprise them, because it is a good WordPress theme. I myself worked for a long time with Divi and other themes from Elegant Themes (the creator of Divi) and was also excited about it. However, when in 2016 I discovered the then freshly born Elementor with slight reluctance in 2017 I switched to it and today I know it was a good decision.

Recently, one of my students at MeetWP asked me to help him with some changes on a website based on Divi theme. When, after a longer break, I sat down to work on it again, even though a lot of things had changed I was surprised at the huge gap between Divi and Elementor in terms of comfort and ergonomics. This experience only confirmed that the change was the right decision.

That's why, among other things, I'm not doing a compilation of everything here, showing you the very good, the good and the fairly decent motifs. What you see here is the cream of the crop battle-tested on a large number of projects of varying nature and under varying loads. In most cases they perform better than very well. Why not in all cases? Because you may have an idea for a specific site and then you either play with plugins, which you never know how it will eventually affect the functionality and performance of the site, or you look at themes targeted to a specific range of needs. There are also such themes like BuddyBoss, but in this situation it is difficult to talk about free themes.

For classic applications such as a website, blog, shop, portfolio, or for projects where you build unusual site specifications yourself by enriching it with additional content types, taxonomies, fields, etc... these themes are perfect and you don't have to waste your precious time looking for a needle in a haystack. Use this time to learn as much as possible about the possibilities the theme gives you. Learn how to work with it and make the most of its potential.

Want more? Where to get WordPress templates from?

What I have shown above are just a few selected, but very consciously free themes for WordPress. On the web, as I have already written, you will find incomparably more of them and they can be counted in thousands, but where to look?

The main base is of course WordPress repositorywhich means you can get to them without any problems. Just click Appearance > Themes > Add New to get to the list of over 7,000 skins.

WordPress templates in the repository

This is the most convenient and fastest way to install and this is how you will discover most free themes, although as you may have noticed not all (Kadence example).

Sometimes it can be beneficial to reach out to Google and search the internet. Who knows, maybe in this way you will come across another gem like Kadence 🙂

What to look for when choosing a WordPress template?

Before you start installing one template after another, take a look at them. Check how they are rated by other users, trace the development history to make sure the theme is alive, updated and well.

Be careful, because you will find a mass of poor quality templates in the repository, often written by beginners and without much experience.

By installing a poor WordPress theme that may even seem OK visually, you risk a number of complications, and not only when it comes to the flexibility of the theme, but also, and perhaps most importantly, you risk poor quality template code, poor optimisation and poor security.

I realise that filtering through what you find can be difficult, especially if you have no experience. But it's worth the effort, especially if you want the website you create to work flawlessly for you in the future. That's why in this article you get specific information on free templates that meet all the key criteria of quality, performance and security. You don't have to look further if you don't want to. One of the presented will probably satisfy all your requirements.

WordPress template - Get to know it and that's enough!

Free WordPress templates are a paradise on earth for most newcomers to this CMS. No other system will give you such an impressive library, where WordPress themes literally fall like pears from a tree. However, there is something that most people don't consider.

If you started creating your website 10 years ago, then no matter what template you chose, you would have practically the same or very similar set of tools. This would mean that if you learned how to work with template X, the next one won't require much more from you.

Today, however, things are very different. A good WordPress template is now a powerful tool The web design system allows you to modify the look of a header, footer, menu, entire website, online shop or any other idea in many ways. However, each offers you a different, often even extreme, range of possibilities. This in turn means that if you use template X and master it, and then switch to template Y, you will have to reacquaint yourself with its possibilities and learn how to use them.

Therefore, as I have already suggested select one specificbut good motive and play it as well as possible. Don't jump from flower to flower, because it's your time, and a WordPress template properly chosen will allow you to create exactly what you need.

Check what support you have from the author. In case of free templates it will probably be documentation and forums. If you decide to buy a paid theme, the author himself will also support you in case of such a need.

When you get to know the features and specifics of a chosen WordPress theme, the process of creating a website, blog or shop will be optimized to the maximum, which in turn will save you a lot of time and give you the opportunity to efficiently create beautiful and functional websites. As you may have noticed, even free themes can be extended by additional plugins, which gives you even more possibilities to use WordPress and influence the look of your website.

Performance tests of the February 2021 themes

If the topic of the performance of these themes is of interest to you, take a look at these tests:

WordPress - Get to know it and that's enough!

WordPress templates are one thing, and WordPress itself is another. Did I mention earlier that it's very easy to nullify the potential of your chosen template? If you read carefully, you'll remember that I did.

The worst thing you can do is use WordPress to create a site in an ill-considered and incompetent way. This is an extremely common occurrence, I would even say mass. Someone tells you to put your site up on WordPress because it's great, and you follow that up by searching the internet for information - information like this article - and you act. But it turns out that all you know is residual information that you either manage to put together into a meaningful whole, or it just seems that way to you.

As a result, no matter what WordPress template you choose, either the final result of your work will not satisfy you, or it will, but it will not translate into benefits. Remember, a website is not meant to satisfy your needs for self-esteem as a newly minted webmaster, but it is meant to fulfill your goals, business and otherwise. Above all, this website has to be attractive to the people who will visit it, it has to be convenient and functional for them. Not for you, because your clients are not you!

You should, in addition to learning the specifics of your chosen template, know WordPress itself very well. Don't just learn how to install templates and plugins, because those are not very demanding tasks. There is a huge amount of information you should be aware of if you don't want to throw everything away after a few months and be offended by the whole Internet.

By knowing WordPress and having access to support, your site not only has a better chance of starting to live up to your hopes, but it will also bring you much more satisfaction and many other benefits.

You are cordially invited to a concrete dose of knowledge. WordPress course The additional support you will receive as my student will allow you to quickly overcome any difficulties you may encounter while creating a website, blog or working with WooCommerce shop.

Summary

I have shared with you the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years in the context of choosing the right WordPress theme for sites of all sorts. I checked hundreds if not thousands. Some of them were interesting, others were literally tragic and terribly ossified. Horribly, there are still such WordPress themes available and in bulk. So be very careful what choice you make. Influenced by emotions, basing only on an attractive package you may go in a direction that later will require a lot of work and time to eliminate the bottleneck and emerging problems.

There is no such thing as WordPress Template Perfect. Even if you come across WordPress templates other than the ones recommended in this article, which may turn out to be even better, there will always be things you find underdeveloped, unnecessary or simply missing. This is specific to the project you are working on, but also often a result of the knowledge and skills you have. It often happens that we say "it can't be done" and we naturally push the responsibility for our failures onto someone else. But it doesn't occur to us to say "I don't know how", "I can't". But maybe it is worth it?

The WordPress templates I've presented are one of the best sets. If you choose any of them and make good friends, the words "can't do", let alone "can't do" will be rare.

What I recommend from these proposals is, first of all two free templates: Astra and Kadence. If you don't want to waste your time, because you probably, like me, don't have an excess of it, install Astra, import some sample pages and, above all, check carefully what options related to the influence on the appearance of the site you have at hand. Don't forget that on the theme creator's website you will find well-designed documentation. It is worth looking through it. Then do the same with Kadence theme, and finally decide.

If you feel unsatisfied repeat everything above based on OceanWP, and if like me you love Elementor and have the PRO version you should definitely test the Hello Elementor template.

If you come across a theme during your WordPress journey that you think is as interesting as the ones mentioned above, share your find in the comments and write a few words about what makes this theme attractive in your eyes.

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One Comment

  1. I wish I had seen this tutorial before I so laboriously built my site on some free project in which I feel terribly limited. I'm afraid to move it now, so that everything doesn't fall apart. Now I have to find a way to import my website into one of these templates. They are brilliant. Time will come for the pro version.

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