The Top Premium WordPress Themes on the Web

istock_premiumNothing beats the thrill of starting a new site on the web. You have fresh ideas, your thoughts are wide open, and you’re ready to fill a brand-new site up with all your vision.

As exciting as this moment can be, the prospect of finding just the right WordPress theme to fit that vision presents a daunting task. There are thousands of themes available out there. Which one is best?

Go ahead and browse the web. You’ll find endless free WordPress themes, so many that your brain gets tired and your eyes start to melt in your head. You may not find anything that looks as spectacular as you’d like, either.

So you decide to take a chance on a premium WordPress theme – and it truly is taking a chance. You may end up paying hard-earned money for a theme that isn’t what you expected, isn’t well coded and isn’t really any better than the free themes you could’ve chosen.

It’s easy to get taken in by a pretty package. It’s easy to think that because you’re paying for premium, you’re going to get something really good. And you might, too. You might find yourself enthralled by a great color scheme, spectacular graphics, or some flashy look.

What about the rest of the theme?

With free themes, the risk of making a bad choice is minimized. You can download the theme, try it out and if it’s not to your liking or too complicated to work with, there’s no loss except your time. Scrap it and find another.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to try out premium themes. The demos don’t let you see if the code is a mess or whether the site is easy to use. You can’t know what you’re really getting unless you buy, and if you’re on a budget, the price of a premium WordPress theme may be your only shot.

To help you choose a great theme that not only looks good but is well built, here are my favorites for premium WordPress themes:

Studio Press

125x125Studio Press and themes by Brian Gardner top the list. The site offers a wide variety of themes, and each have nice, clean code. Even James can read it. If you want to get your feet wet and dabble with CSS, you couldn’t do better than one of Brian’s creations.

Studio Press themes offer designs for magazine-style blogs, photo galleries, business sites and real estate companies, to name a few. Following the current trend of offering support forums, Studio Press themes give buyers access to an extensive knowledge base as well as developers and designers ready to answer any question.

We also suggest opting for the Studio Press Pro Plus membership option, if you think you’ll want multiple themes. It gives access to downloads for all themes, plus future releases and retired themes as well.


Thesis is absolute brilliance sprung straight from the mind of DIY Themes’ Chris Pearson. The options panel in the dashboard has a multitude of settings for nearly every aspect of customization.

With Thesis, you can easily arrange your blog to suit your style and taste with a just few clicks here and there.

I’ll admit that Thesis and I enjoy a stormy love-hate relationship. Thesis can be a frustrating theme to work at times, as it has two separate custom files, one for functions (the actions your site performs) and one for custom CSS (the visual styling of your theme).

If you’re used to working exclusively with traditional CSS files, it’s a little harrowing to learn what’s involved in setting functions for Thesis and getting the CSS to cooperate. Be prepared to spend time on DIY’s help forums and going through a lot of trial and error if you don’t have developer skills.


flexx125x125iThemes offers a wide range of themes in their store for you to choose from. Amongst them are Flexx and Architect.

Architect is a lovely little theme, best suited for those who want more of a static site appearance than a blog. This theme allows you to use a larger background image and have main content laid on top, which is great for getting fancy with lighting and texture. The code is easy to work with and customizations are a breeze.

Flexx is another do-it-yourself type of theme boasting thousands of possible layouts. The options panel has different settings to arrange every aspect of your site’s layout. Move navigation around, add or remove sidebar columns and customize which widgets appear where. Just click and save. Flexx also allows for static or rotating header images, with or without fade effects.

The code is a little tricky to manipulate, since so much of the theme’s potential is automated in the options panel.

Arthemia Premium

arthemia-premium-300If you want all the bells and whistles a theme offers, Colorlabs’ Arthemia Premium is the way to go.

This theme has a magazine-style layout, widgetized sidebars and video post capabilities. The lower categories bar below the featured header section can be customized to your color scheme, or if you’re up for a challenge, customize it with images instead of text.

The code for Arthemia isn’t for amateurs. There’s a lot to be found under the hood, and it can take novices some time to figure it all out. If you have that time to spare, Arthemia offers a ton of potential.

Press 75

press7125x125Press 75 by Jason Schuller (who also does theme work for Studio Press) has some amazing themes geared towards video blogging.

I’ve seen his themes from behind the scenes, and as with the Studio Press themes, the code is clean and easy to follow. Jason also offers support forums for his themes in case you get stuck.

These are just a sampling of the premium themes available today, but that’s plenty to give you a good place to start looking if you’re in the market of building a new site.

Feel free to share your favorite premium themes in our comment section, or let us you’re your experiences with any of these.

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