Free High Quality WordPress Themes Worth Checking Out

Free High Quality WordPress Themes Worth Checking Out

When I first started working with WordPress many years ago, themes in the WordPress Theme Directory were “okay.” That is to say, they weren’t great but they did the job well until it was time to get serious and buy a premium theme. But times, they are a-changin’.

Theme shops have changed the game, lifting the standard of themes you’ll find in the free repository with free versions of their products. And these free versions come complete with features you would have previously only found in premium themes like WooCommerce support and responsive design.

Gone are the days when downloading a free theme meant settling for a subpar theme. Now you can – and should – expect a well-coded theme that’s completely customizable using the Theme Customizer.

Here’s our list of some of the best free WordPress themes you’ll find in the WordPress Theme Directory that have been developed by premium theme shops, plus a few released by independent theme developers.

  • Flash

    Flash is a good-looking multipurpose theme with a minimalist aesthetic – ideal for business and corporate sites. It features multiple pre-built demos, which you can import in seconds using the ThemeGrill Demo Importer plugin. The theme also integrates with the Flash Toolkit plugin (available to download for free from the WordPress Plugin Directory) and SiteOrigin’s Page Builder plugin (which you can also download and use for free), making this theme user-friendly to set up and use.

    Other features of this theme include a responsive design, multiple blog layouts, Woocommerce support, multiple header styles, multiple color options, boxed and wide layout, 6+ widget areas and 11+ custom widgets, product filters, plus it’s optimized for speed and SEO. And if you want even more features, there’s a pro version of this theme available for $69.

  • Shapely

    If looks are deceiving, as the saying goes, then Shapely is a perfect example. On the surface, this free WordPress theme appears simplistic and, I hate to say it, doesn’t seem to have much going on in terms of features. But when you look beneath the surface, this versatile one page WordPress theme comes with a bunch of customization options, not to mention multiple homepage widgets that can be used to add portfolio, testimonials, parallax sections, product and service information, call to action button and much more.

    Shapely also supports most free and premium WordPress plugins, including like WooCommerce, Jetpack, Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7 – reassuring when you’re setting up a site that relies on some of these popular plugins. It’s obviously a multipurpose theme and with the right content and images is ideal for business, magazines, blogs and personal sites.

    Other features worth noting include that fact it’s responsive and SEO optimized, and mobile-friendly.

  • Sydney

    Sydney is a slick business theme with a gorgeous fullscreen sliding (or static) header and nice touches like subtle animated text slide-ins and hover animations. This theme is a great option for businesses and offers plenty of customization options, including Google Fonts, unlimited color combinations, and sticky navigation. It’s super easy to set everything up using the WordPress Theme Customizer.

    The homepage uses “blocks,” which you can drag and drop and rearrange how you want it to look. You can also set parallax background images for any row of blocks, which is pretty cool. Like other contemporary themes, it’s responsive and translation-ready.

  • Kale

    Whether you like this theme’s hipster namesake or not, there’s no denying this theme’s charm. Aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. The homepage features plenty of space to display posts but isn’t at all cluttered, making it perfect for bloggers, and in particular food bloggers (in case the demo images didn’t give it away!).

    Want to set up an online shop? Kale is a great choice. It supports WooCommerce, a super popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, making it easy to sell your product (maybe a collection of recipes?) in no time. It’s responsive, of course, and when you look under the hood, it supports other important stuff, like SEO and RTL.

    Other cool features: built-in menus for displaying your social presence, multiple blog feed layouts, text and image logo options, sidebar size options (compact and default), banner/slider color overlay options, and more.

  • Spacious

    Minimalist multipurpose themes are a dime a dozen these days, but what I like about Spacious is that it sticks to the basics: it’s responsive, supports eCommerce (WooCommerce in particular), it’s translation-ready, and has a lovely sliding header. Spacious comes with a heap of customizations you can play around with, including four page layouts, two page templates, four blog display types, 13 widget areas, five custom widgets tailored for business websites, color options to match your branding, boxed and wide layouts, and light and dark skins.

    With the right images and content, this theme would be a great option for any business website.

  • Writee

    Writee is a blogging theme, yes, but it makes its own rules. Borrowing from multipurpose themes, it features a large hero (slider, if you want) header, but also allows for a sidebar, which you don’t see all that often in themes these days. It comes with a heap of options for rich customizations, like a fullwidth or boxed header. It’s also translation-ready, which is super handy when most WordPress users speak English as a second language. There are also nice touches like custom widgets and, of course, you can use the Theme Customizer in the backend of WordPress to further customize the look and feel of your site.

    Other features: responsive and mobile-friendly. Oh, and check out the typography – it really helps make this theme stand out.

  • Illdy

    What I love about this BootStrap theme is the use of color. There isn’t a lot of color – a splash of yellow here, some purple there – but it’s used effectively to give this minimalist (there’s that word again!) theme some personality.

    Thanks to the Theme Customizer in WordPress, it’s super easy to customize this theme however you like – colors, hero images, tweaking sections, you name it. And also thanks to its one page layouts, it’s perfect for businesses, agencies and even personal websites.

    Like a lot of the free WordPress themes in this list, Illdy is compatible with WooCommerce and Font Awesome, and also supports popular plugins including Contact Form 7, Jetpack, and W3 Total Cache.

  • Fluida

    Fluida is a modern and grid-based WordPress theme that is pretty darn nice! It’s a HTML5/CSS theme, it’s responsive and, thanks to its framework, comes with more than 100 Theme Customizer settings. Yep, that’s a lot of settings!

    The theme’s images have all been created using HTML5, CSS3 and icon fonts so it’s extremely fast to load. It’s also SEO, RTL and translation-ready, using microformats and Google readable microdata. There are also 100+ social icons, three menus, six widget areas, eight page templates, and all post formats.

    For developers who want to further customize Fluida using a child theme, there’s clean code, either hookable or pluggable functions with clear descriptions and more than 25 action hooks.

  • Edge

    Smart typography choices can really make a theme, and Edge is no exception. This gorgeous theme makes the most of free Google Fonts, in particular Lato and Playfair Display, a great sans serif/serif combination.

    Edge is easily customizable from the aptly named Theme Customizer in WordPress and is ideal for bloggers (with the sidebar) and businesses (without the sidebar and some homepage tweaking).

    It’s also responsive, mobile-friendly, and optimized for speed.

  • Brilliant

    This beautiful magazine and blogging theme for WordPress sure has style. Brilliant features a fixed width homepage where you can feature your latest blog posts. There’s also a customizable sidebar for displaying comments, categories, and recent posts. In fact, everything is customizable in this theme (as it should be!) thanks to the Theme Customizer in the WordPress admin, so you can change colors, the header, widgets in the footer and more to suit your branding and style.

    Yes, it’s a pretty simple theme, but if you’re looking for a no-nonsense theme to show off your words, and you’re not planning on opening an online store, then you can’t go wrong with this theme.

  • Optimizer

    I must admit, I got distracted looking at the preset templates for this theme. Dang, they’re gorgeous! But I digress… Optimizer is a fantastic multipurpose theme that comes with a whole lotta powerful features, including the ability to create a full blown site with drag and drop widgets, enabling you to add any type of content anywhere on your site without touching code.

    Customizations include: fullwidth and boxed layout options, image slider, easy logo upload, 600+ fonts, the ability to add custom CSS, and unlimited color options. It’s responsive, SEO-friendly, optimized for mobile, retina and translation-ready. This theme also supports WooCommerce, bbPress, MailChimp, and Contact Form 7.

  • Olsen Light

    Olsen is a straight up blogging theme for WordPress and features a traditional blog posts on the left and sidebar on the right design.

    It features all the usual trimmings you’ll find in contemporary themes: custom widgets, social networking icons, and translation support and SEO support. It’s also completely customizable from the Theme Customizer in WordPress, so you can update the header, menus, layout, footer, and colors.

  • Teletype

    Teletype is a minimalist blogging theme built on BootStrap. It comes with a lovely masonry post layout and you can drag and drop to re-order sections on the homepage, which is pretty cool.

    Features includes the ability to completely customize the homepage, including fonts (Google Fonts), colors, the header image, background colors, logo, social media icons and more. You can also turn the sidebar on and off, depending on your design preference. This theme is also translation ready.

  • Sensible WP

    Sensible WP is yet another responsive multipurpose theme. It’s pretty basic as far as multipurpose themes go and doesn’t offer WooCommerce support, so this theme is better suited to agencies and small businesses that don’t have plans to sell online.

    As far as customizations go, you can control all the usual tweaks in the Theme Customizer, including colors, fonts, logo, and more. This theme also comes with XML demo content, which is handy for those who don’t like setting up a skeleton website. It’s also SEO and translation-friendly.

  • Astrid

    This elegant WordPress theme is a delight to use thanks to its easy customization on the backend and stylish design on the front-end. Astrid features all the standard trimmings you would expect from any theme: customizable header, theme options via the Theme Customizer, and support for translations. The theme is also responsive, which is fairly standards for all new themes these days.

    Astrid features a lovely hard header and clear CTA on the homepage, which is ideal for business websites. It’s also WooCommerce compatible if you’re looking for a simple, minimalist store theme.

    Other nice touches: smooth scrolling and subtle animations.

  • Hemingway

    I’m a big fan of Anders Norén’s themes minimalist WordPress themes and Hemingway is no exception. This simple theme is perfect for bloggers with its fullwidth header and standard blog posts on the left and sidebar on the right design. What I like about this theme is that, like Ernest Hemingway it’s namesake, it’s not trying to be flashy or over the top – the design shines through its economical design.

    Features include: responsive design, parallax scrolling, custom accent colors, custom logo, and widgets for Video, Flickr and Dribbble. there are also some nice page templates, and the code is translation-ready.

  • Hoffman

    Another Anders Norén design, Hoffman is a beautifully minimal one page WordPress theme for bloggers. It has a thoughtful responsive design and the use of icon fonts makes sure that Hoffman looks great on devices of all sizes – big and small. This theme supports the gallery, quote and video post formats, all presented in unique and impactful ways. Standard run-of-the-mill posts look great as well. It comes with built-in support for the Jetpack plugin’s infinite scroll function and tiled gallery.

    Hoffman includes five custom widgets for recent posts with thumbnails, recent comments with avatars, Flickr, Dribbble and video. You can also customize it further by changing the accent color, switching the background color or adding a background image. It also includes two page templates, support for post editor styles and support for theme translation. Included translations: Swedish/svenska.

  • Lovecraft

    And another Anders Norén-designed WordPress theme! Lovecraft is a beautiful two-column WordPress theme for bloggers. It features a two-column design with considered typography choices – it really is a joy to read. The big header image makes a striking first impression and is replaced with the post thumbnail on single posts and pages.

    Lovecraft has built-in support for Jetpacks Infinite Scroll function, which means that new posts will be loaded as soon as you reach the bottom of the page. You can also use the Jetpack Tiled Galleries function to display posts in a beautiful masonry grid. This theme is built to scale gracefully to any and all screen sizes – from a 27″ desktop display to a 3.5″ smartphone. The navigation and search form is hidden behind easy-to-access toggles on mobile. It also features editor styles, a full-width page template, three custom widgets and translation-ready code.

  • Fukasawa

    Okay, one last Anders Norén-designed WordPress theme. Fukasawa is a minimal masonry blog theme for photographers and collectors.

    Fukasawa features a beautifully minimal layout that displays your posts, images and videos in a Pinterest-style grid. It’s perfect for sharing your content and, in particular, your images. There’s support for the image, video and gallery formats, and presents your galleries in a beautiful slideshow above your posts. Regular old posts look great as well.

    Like other Anders Norén themes, Fukasawa enables you to load new posts without reloading the page using Jetpack’s Infinite Scroll feature, and display your images in a beautiful grid with Jetpack Tiles Galleries.

    You can also change the accent color, upload your own logo and use the sidebar widget area (including five custom widgets) to give Fukasawa a personal touch.

  • Make

    Make is a free open source builder theme that – according to its developers – has been refined over 5,198 times. Okay, that’s a lot of development time, but what makes it special? Its biggest feature is its intuitive Make Layout Engine, which is basically a page builder for WordPress. It’s designed to work like a native component of the WordPress page editor, so if you feel comfortable writing a post, it won’t be much of a learning curve getting used to building pages.

    You can take care of all customizations using the Theme Customizer in WordPress. Every detail, big or small, is yours to customize, including fonts, line height, spacing, even word spacing.

    Make is WooCommerce compatible, so if your plan is to build an online shop you won’t have any trouble selling physical products. If you want to sell digital goods, Make is compatible with Easy Digital Downloads. And if you want to add forms to your site, simply drop in Gravity Forms.

    This theme is also responsive, SEO-friendly and retina-ready.

For more, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to free WordPress themes, our list of the best 45 free WordPress themes, and our posts about free high-quality WordPress themes and free responsive WordPress business themes.

Seriously, when did the standard of free themes in the WordPress Theme Directory suddenly get so good? This list is a collection of our favorites. If you have a favorite that we missed, share the link below in the comments!

James Farmer

James Farmer CEO of Incsub, WPMU DEV, CampusPress & Edublogs