Premium WordPress Theme Showdown and Discussion


So I love WordPress, in case you hadn’t realized. I use it frequently for personal sites, family sites, and client sites. It’s easy to implement and upgrade. The plugins add great functionality, and the available themes are amazing.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. There are some really great themes out there. A lot of them are free. Some of them are paid or “premium.” The premium themes I’ve experienced have been both good and bad mediocre.

I purchased a non-profit developer license for Mimbo Pro. While it has some great features, and has been updated twice, it wasn’t quite the deal I had anticipated, and ProThemeDesign hasn’t added any new themes, ever. It worked great for the APC Humble site I worked on, but I’m not sure I would use it again, despite the extra I spent on the developer license.


Then there is Revolution. Originally started by Brian Gardner, the Revolution themes instantly gained popularity and were widely praised. However, I didn’t make the purchase for a while, contemplating the whole concept of premium themes and wondering if they were necessary for me to do business.


Then Brian dropped this bomb. Revolution themes were going to go Open Source. This was wonderful news. The plan was now to earn money from supporting the themes, rather than the themes themselves. Interesting. Cool. Brilliant?

So I jumped on board, purchased the full developer license for all the original Revolution Themes, which in turn granted me a lifetime membership to the Pro Support club for RevolutionTwo, the new site, as well as continued support for the original Revolution themes.

Now, I have yet to build a site using either the original Revolution themes or the new Rev2 themes, but I do use the Code Blue theme for this blog, and I like it. I like almost all of Brian’s themes, including his older stuff, because he follows my design strategy – simple, clean, with good spacing and typography. I hope to use several of the Rev themes in the coming months.

Back to premium themes. Woo Themes are gorgeous. When they first launched, I was hesitant, especially after I saw their initial offering. I don’t like their pricing model. I think they should offer more developer-friendly packages. However, right now they have a buy 1, get 4 deal going on, and I’m on the verge of dropping $150 for four premium themes that I can use for various projects.


$150 isn’t much for the quality that these are, but it’s still spending money on something I could get for free elsewhere, to some extent. I’m just not sure how I feel about premium themes. I guess I’m on the fence.

Wordprezzie has Ice Cream Dream, which also gorgeous, but a little expensive.

ice cream dream theme

What do you think? If you end up with any of these themes, please let me know in the comments how you use them, and I’d love to talk shop with you sometime. I’ll also post updates as I launch sites with WordPress, which I plan on doing a lot more of in 2009.

3 thoughts on “Premium WordPress Theme Showdown and Discussion

  1. as much as i like those themes, i'm also kind of a roll-your-own guy and usually prefer to build my own themes incorporating elements from other themes that i like. that's part of the fun of wordpress! 🙂

  2. Philip – I agree with you for most things, but to be able to quickly apply a premium theme and customize just a few things might be worthwhile in some instances. For instance, I will use the Revolution themes for non-profits and churches that I develop for, because they don't require a ton of customization and can be implemented quickly at a low cost.

    However, one issue you run into is that several people might have VERY similar designs if they rely too much on a base theme. There is much to debate on the topic.

  3. i'm with you 100% about quick and easy templates for non-profits, charitable causes, or cheapie clients. but for my personal sites, i always like to be at least a little different. speaking of which, i'm super sick of my current site, it needs a makeover somethin' fierce. 🙂

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