Recently I've been doing a lot of work with WordPress, developing plugins and developing themes. I've looked into some of the top WordPress premium themes to see how they work and what makes them different.
Which made me think what makes a premium WordPress theme Premium?
Really the only difference there is between a free WordPress theme and a premium WordPress theme is the price. But in order to start selling Premium WordPress themes you will need to add a couple more features in theme than the Free WordPress themes.
There are a few ways to sell WordPress themes, you can either sell them on your own website or submit your theme to a WordPress marketplace.
Introduction Into Premium Themes
One of the most popular WordPress theme marketplaces is ThemeForest, on here you can sell your WordPress themes for up to $40 a theme. The quality of WordPress themes on Themeforest are of the highest quality and you will need to include many features in your theme for it to be sold on the marketplace.
To have a WordPress theme that is of a good enough to be sold on a marketplace would class a theme as premium as it is good enough to charge money for the theme.
Looking into the themes which is on the marketplace I can compare these to free WordPress themes to see what makes them different than the premium WordPress themes.
Here are just some of the benefits you get from premium WordPress themes.
- Image Gallery
- Page Templates
- Blog Section
- Social Media
One of the most important parts of a WordPress theme is the design, if your theme has a good design it will be easier to sell.
WordPress will include a number of files in your theme, header, content and footer. These are the important areas of the page to have a good design.
Make sure that your design has stylish.
- Page Titles
- Blog Titles
- Social Media Buttons
- List styles
- Image Alignment - left, center, right
- Message Box Styles
One thing I found in common with premium WordPress themes is that they all provide you with loads of customisation. All of these themes provide you with a themes options page. These are pages created by the WordPress developer which they add user inputs to collect user customisation for the theme.
Some of the most common fields to change are:
- Theme Options - To edit the theme logo, change the stylesheet, upload a new favicon, Add Google analytics code, enter your feedburner URL and add custom CSS.
- Styling Options - Change the background colour or change the background image.
- Fonts - Change the font on all your header tags or the main content text.
- Social - Providing you theme with your social media profiles will make it easier to link to them in parts of your theme or display your latest tweets.
Here is what some of the theme options page look like.
Being able to change the fonts on the theme will give the owner of the website massive customisation in changing the style of your website when using your WordPress theme. The WordPress developer can add a section in the themes options panel to change the fonts for all headers and content information.
If you are going to have an option to change the fonts on your website then you need to choose between as many font options as possible. A good service to use to add full customisation is to use Google Fonts, with Google you can use an API to get all the fonts on the service.
One of the advantages of using Google fonts is that all the fonts are from an online directory so when new fonts are added to the directory they will automatically come up in your theme.
One of the most important parts of a WordPress theme is being able to add Widgets to your theme. The wordpress developer can assign areas of the theme where the user can add widgets.
WordPress Widgets are WordPress Plugins that add visitor visual and interactivity options and features, such as sidebar widgets for post categories, tag clouds, navigation and search. They were originally designed to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress Theme to the user in the sidebar, which is now available on properly "widgetized" WordPress Themes to include the header, footer, and elsewhere in the WordPress design and structure.
To add a Widget to your theme it requires no code experience, all you have to do is go to the widget section of your theme and drag and drop widgets into the slots which are defined to display widgets.
To active your WordPress Theme Widget options:
- Go to Appearance > Widgets.
- Choose a Widget and drag it to the sidebar where you wish it to appear. There might be more than one sidebar option, so begin with the first one. Once in place, WordPress automatically updates the Theme.
Preview the site. You should find that the "default" sidebar elements are now gone and only the new addition is visible.
- Return to the Widgets Panel to continue adding Widgets.
- To arrange the Widgets within the sidebar or Widget area, click and drag it into place.
- To customize the Widget features, click the down arrow in the upper right corner to expand the Widget's interface.
- To save the Widget's customization, click Save.
- To remove the Widget, click Remove or Delete.
Common Widgets To Use
- Display the most Recent Posts from your blog in a widget.
- Display the most Popular Posts from your blog.
- Display your Twitter Profile
- Display your Facebook Profile
- Display your tweets
- Display your Facebook Stream
- Display the Recent Comments of your blog
- A Login form
- Display posts from a category
- Dislay a Google map
- Display a search box
- Text area
- Advertisement slots 125x125 or 250x250
- Recent Flickr photos
- Video widget
- Tabbed widget
- Links list
- Tag cloud
WordPress themes are normally used for personal websites which means that they would most likely need to display a portfolio section.
The best option to use on premium theme is to use a new post type to define the items in your portfolio.
On many WordPress themes you will find that you can customise the layout you use on your portfolio section.
Single Column Portfolio
Two Column Portfolio
Three Column Portfolio
Four Column Portfolio
One of the best benefits to using a premium WordPress theme is that they will come with many different page templates.
The above images you will see a preview of the portfolio pages which can come with premium WordPress themes.
Others pages which commonly come with premium themes are:
- Blog page template
- Contact page template
- Full-width page template (no sidebar)
- Sitemap page template
- Default Template
- Author Page
- List Of Authors
- Price Boxes
- Recent Posts
- Search Result Pages
Blog Page Template
As these are WordPress themes then the blog post pages are going to be the most popular pages which are going to be in your WordPress themes. The files used for this are the theme index.php and the single.php theme files.
This page templates are going to either display a section of all your blog posts or they will be used to display a single post.
Contact Page Template
The contact page template is quite simply a custom form which can will send an email to the admin of the site.
These pages are very important to your website because it gives your visitors an easy way of getting in contact with you.
Archives Page Template
This page template is an important page for SEO and new visitors to your site. This is a central place for search engines to come to get a link to all of the blog posts you have currently published. Having this page means that you will also be getting traffic to some of the older posts on your website.
These pages can be useful to any new visitor to your blog, having these pages means that if someone likes you newest content they can easily come here to see any other pages they have missed out on.
The author page is sometimes known as the about us page, it is a place to come to learn more about the people behind the website.
If you are a company then on this page make sure you write about the history of the company and the direction the company is heading. This is also a prime place to put any products or services you currently offer.
If your theme is a portfolio then this is a great place to tell your visitors what your website is about and how they can get in contact with you.
List Of Authors
This page template is useful for blogs which have multiple authors, most blogs which consistently post every day are ran by multiple authors.
Use this page as an about us page for all of your authors on the site, it saves you creating an about page for each author.
WordPress blogs comes with all the in-built features of WordPress and one of these great features is the ease of the admin user to create menus for your blog.
From the dashboard area the admin user can create multiple different menus and attach category pages or single page templates to the menu. The best thing about this is that you can group the menu items by giving them parent and child menu items in an easy to use drag and drop interface.
- Login to the WordPress Dashboard.
- From the ‘Appearance’ menu on the left-hand side of the Dashboard select the ‘Menus’ option to bring up the menu editor. You should see something similar to the screenshot below in your browser window:
A big benefit of premium themes is that they will most likely come with custom post types which allow you to easily add slide to any page of your blog.
Some of the top themes come with multiple jQuery sliders which use amazing transition effects to display a slideshow of images on any page you want.
A popular slider to use on many WordPress themes is the nivo slider from dev7studios.
16 Beautiful Transition Effects
The Nivo Slider makes displaying your gallery of images a beautiful experience, by using amazing transition effects ranging from slicing and sliding to fading and folding. There simply is no better way to showcase your amazing work than to make the presentation of it looks just as beautiful.
Shortcodes were introduced in WordPress in version 2.5 and they allow you to run a bit of PHP code from a code that you can use in your content.
Shortcodes are written by providing a handler function. Shortcode handlers are broadly similar to WordPress filters: they accept parameters (attributes) and return a result (the shortcode output).
Here is just a list of some of the most popular WordPress shortcodes.
- Add Columns
- Images with alignments
- Message boxes
- Content Toggles
- Content Tabs
- Content Accordion
- Recent Posts
- Popular Posts
- Clear floats
WordPress Themes Marketplaces
Now you have learnt all the additional features that come with WordPress themes I'm sure you would like to know where you can get WordPress themes. But not just any WordPress themes but the best WordPress themes.
To get the best you need to look at some of the best WordPress premium theme marketplaces.
This is my favourite WordPress Theme marketplace, this is because of the high quality in themes they provide. All the themes on this marketplace are created by freelance WordPress developers or design agencies so you know the standard is always going to high.
Themeforest is part of envato network which sell all types of premium standard files for web and graphic designs.
There is an in-depth moderation process to be accepted onto any of the marketplaces to guarantee the highest standard.
At ThemeForest you can buy and sell HTML templates as well as themes for popular CMS products like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal with prices ranging from just $5 up to $40. Items are priced on the complexity, quality and use of the file. The site is home to a bustling community of web designers and developers and is the biggest marketplace of its kind.
Top 5 Themes On ThemeForest
U-Design WordPress Theme
U-Design is a very powerful theme which suits both, users with no programming background as well as advanced developers. It will help you build your site in no time to your liking with minimal effort. It empowers you to set any color to elements such as backgrounds, links, text, menu links, etc. You can completely change the look and feel of your site in seconds. You can also choose from over 200 fonts, including Google Font Directory and Cufón fonts. This number will grow with time since many new fonts are being added to the Google fonts library. The theme also features 6 (six) Home page sliders for you to choose from.
Modernize - Flexibility of WordPress
Modernize is a new era of wordpress theme. You can discover many new awesome features in this theme. For example ‘Page Builder’, it allow you to create page easily by drag-drop module. Moreover, it comes with many options on that Also, to change color elements, it won’t be a big deal anymore, with our new admin panel, you can access to almost of all elements color. Admin panel in this theme is a real feature rich. You can also create unlimited sidebar, choosing over 350 fonts or if you want to use your own, we provide a cufon uploader. Modernize has 15 predefined background pattern but if you want to use your own background, again, we have a custom background uploader. You can also translate each elements to your language via this admin panel.
Striking Premium Corporate & Portfolio WP Theme
Striking is an extremely powerful and flexible wordpress theme – actually a “Super Premium” theme as it has extraordinary features and coding that are not found in the normal premium WP theme. It is the theme you buy when you want to create a website in every way you imagined possible. In fact 5000+ Themeforest purchasers tell me it is the most feature laden and customizable theme they have ever used. The top seller on Themeforest in 2010/2011 period, I invite you to view the demo, and features below, to see for yourself why it is the best solution to your web design needs.
Scope: Agency / Business WordPress Theme
Scope is the perfect theme for the creative agency, freelancer or general business. Strong lines, strong colours and a bunch of super-awesome features to keep you busy.
Karma - Clean and Modern WordPress Theme
Karma is a Premium WordPress Theme built on a highly intelligent framework. It’s the only theme on Themeforest to feature the amazing new CU3ER v1 3D slider. Whether your a wordpress pro or just a beginner, you’ll have absolutely no problems at all working with this theme.
All of WooThemes are built on there own custom made WordPress framework which provide massive amount of flexibility and customisation.
WooThemes deliver top quality, cutting edge WordPress themes and superior customer support. Give your WordPress powered website a professional new look, and be up and running in no time at all.
Top 5 Themes On WooThemes
Canvas is WooThemes most ambitious theme to date! Every element of Canvas is highly customizable through the options panel, so you can make the design, layout and typography exactly like you want. If you are after a highly customizable blog design or just a starter theme for your next client project, then Canvas will most definitely work for you!
Simplicity is a business theme that is hugely customizable with a clean layout, featured home page slider, and custom post types for testimonials, portfolio items, mini-features and slides. Make this theme your own and completely configure your home page how you want.
Shelflife is a clean, e-commerce focussed theme with a homepage dedicated to featured, popular and recent products with dedicated spaces for mini-features and promotions powered by their own custom post types, as well as a widgetized sidebar and footer regions.
Buro is a beautiful business theme designed by Juanma Teixido with a responsive layout to display your website content optimally at all resolutions and browser widths, and on all media devices. A perfectly responsive building block for a web designer’s next project.
Delicious Magazine is versatile enough to be used for a variety of purposes, like a food website as we’ve demonstrated on our preview. It includes a big featured area that captivates the user with large images, and also a sub featured spotlight area that makes your homepage look like more than a blog.
Other WordPress theme marketplaces to try are:
Build Your Own Premium WordPress Theme
If you can't find any themes that you like in these marketplaces or if you feel you can develop better themes then why not make your own WordPress themes.
There is loads of WordPress tutorials and snippets out on the web, so you will have no trouble finding the information you need to develop all the things you want for your new WordPress theme.
If you want a little helping hand getting started you might want to try a WordPress theme starter theme or a WordPress theme framework. These can have all the functionality already built in so you can concentrate on designing the look instead of playing around with theme option pages.
Thesis WordPress Theme Framework
On of the most popular WordPress frameworks is The Thesis Theme for WordPress.
The Thesis Theme framework is a premium template system for WordPress that is designed to serve as the rock-solid foundation beneath any kind of website.
Over 42,712 people rely on the airtight SEO, incredible design flexibility, and lightning-fast loading times that Thesis provides.
Blogs To Get Information
There are so many blogs which are dedicated to provide information on how you can develop your existing WordPress theme.
The best blog to get information on WordPress is WP Tuts+.
Wptuts+ is a site dedicated to teaching people how to use WordPress, develop widgets, plugins and themes, successfully scale sites, find interesting WordPress resources, and build a freelance business around the platform. Over 25 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call home, and it’s by far and away the most successful blogging platform online.
I highly recommend subscribing to their RSS feed to keep up to date with all the latest updates, if you don't use RSS they are also on all the top social media networks.
If reading blogs isn't your thing when it comes to learning about a new subject then you might be more comfortable with reading books about WordPress. There are plenty of books you can read to learn all about WordPress.
The WordPress books I recommend are ones which are developed by the people behind WPTuts+, they currently have 2 books available Rockstar WordPress Designer part 1 and part 2.
During the course of the book you’ll build THREE WordPress themes, a blog, a portfolio site and a general site with menus and submenus. Each theme demonstrates different aspects of WordPress theming and all three are packaged in with the book so you’ll have Photoshop, HTML, CSS and WordPress PHP files to refer to. You can take a look at the three sites online here:
As a web designer or developer, WordPress is one of the most potent tools available at your disposal. In Rockstar WordPress Designer 2, Rohan Mehta teaches you to take advantage of WordPress 3.0's more advanced features, including:
- Using Metaboxes
- Advanced image functions
- Custom widgets and option pages
- Using shortcodes and custom post types
- Internationalization and translation issues
- Crafting threaded comments, breadcrumb
From the examples given in this article hopefully you now know the difference between a premium WordPress theme and a free WordPress theme and all the great things you get from spending a little bit of money to get the best.
If not hopefully this gives you some inspiration to create your own WordPress themes. maybe you could even sell theme on some of the WordPress marketplaces.