If you’ve had to search for a WordPress theme recently, you’ve probably realized how many are available. There are thousands of premium themes all claiming to be the best for your site, but many are relatively unproven.
With all of those themes vying for your attention, some names will seem more familiar to you. Premium themes typically become popular because they work for many customers and are well supported, so you can generally be more comfortable with laying out cash for them.
This article will look at some of the most popular premium WordPress themes for 2016, based on a combination of factors, and highlight some of their top features.
Why Choose Premium WordPress Themes?
Before we get into our selection of the most popular premium themes, let’s address the big question: why choose a premium theme when there are so many free themes available? For many people, a free theme seems sufficient and has the advantage of being free; however, there are some advantages to premium themes.
Firstly, premium themes are often better quality than free ones because the revenue generated gets funneled back into future iterations. Additionally, premium themes typically come with support, which can help you get the most out of the theme and its features. When you add in the more advanced functionality, higher security standards, and more responsive updates found in premium themes, the advantages are clear.
Once you’ve decided to go with a premium theme, you need to find them. You have two main options to choose from: marketplaces and theme shops. Marketplaces like ThemeForest and Creative Market have a variety of themes for sale, often categorized and with reviews and ratings to help you find the perfect theme. Theme shops like Elegant Themes (hello!) and StudioPress are more focused, but usually provide excellent support.
Choosing a premium theme requires a little more thought than just looking at the price if you want to avoid making a mistake. You should also consider the reviews and reputation of the developers or theme shop and the support offered. Make sure the theme provides the features you need but doesn’t lock you in so you can’t change themes in the future.
We’ve previously written a more in-depth discussion on choosing between free and premium themes.
How We Chose Our List of Popular Premium Themes
To start with, there really is no standard definition of “popular” when it comes to WordPress themes. A theme can be considered popular based on the number of downloads, installs or sales (i.e. quantitative), or based on the reputation or brand awareness (i.e. qualitative).
Both measures of assessing a theme have their challenges. Using numbers seems like it would be the most objective method, but in many cases those figures are not available. While marketplaces like ThemeForest do show the number of sales, private theme shops often do not share their figures, making comparisons difficult.
The other route of deciding on the most popular themes based on name recognition, brand awareness, or reputation is not an exact science. You could perhaps try to measure search engine queries for theme names, but there is still some bias likely to be introduced.
Ultimately, there is a large element of unavoidable subjectivity in the process of identifying popular themes. We’ve used a combination of available figures, other rankings and overall reputation to create this list of our picks for the most popular premium themes.
We capped our list at 15 to keep the post manageable, but there are of course many other themes that could be included on this list, so your picks might be different. Without further ado, let’s take a look at our list of the most popular premium themes for 2016!
The Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes
While we admit to being a little biased, it is no secret that Divi has become the most popular theme in the Elegant Themes arsenal. The flexibility of the in-built Divi Builder enables to you create just about any layout you can imagine. It’s perfect for non-technical users, but powerful enough for advanced users who want to completely customize their site.
Currently the top-selling WordPress theme of all time on ThemeForest, Avada is described as a swiss army knife of a theme. It includes powerful easy-to-use tools via its Fusion Core plugin, including a visual page builder, shortcode generator, and mega menus (to name a few). Combine those with advanced theme options and you can create completely unique layouts without touching a line of code.
The Genesis Framework from StudioPress is a powerful theme framework which enables both novices and advanced developers to build websites with WordPress. The framework provides a secure, search engine optimized platform for serious websites. The wide variety of child themes available (such as the very popular Foodie Pro theme) provide unique starting points for custom sites.
4. X Theme
The fastest selling product on ThemeForest when it was introduced, X Theme continues to be a top seller. From their front end page builder – Cornerstone – to their custom built extensions and page elements, this theme makes creating unique websites easy. Four distinct design styles (called ‘stacks‘) are provided as starting points.
Canvas is a highly customizable theme from WooThemes, used by many as a starter theme for custom projects. The powerful options panel enables you to customize the design, layout, and typography of the site, giving you a custom look and feel. With out of the box integration with all the Woo plugins, including WooCommerce, Canvas is a solid foundation for your next website project.
Enfold is another top-selling and highly rated theme on ThemeForest. The high rating is largely due to the theme’s focus on user-friendliness. From the drag-and-drop page editor to the outstanding support and step-by-step tutorials, Enfold is easy to use for those just getting started. Features like an integrated form builder and advanced options make it ready to provide you with a beautiful site in no time.
BeTheme (like several of the other themes on this list) includes pre-made layouts for a quick start, but it claims to be the “biggest theme ever”, with over 190 layouts available. You should have no trouble finding a design to start your project which you can then customize using the in-built page builder.
While you could use this theme to create general websites, OptimizePress has made a name for itself in the world of high converting landing pages, sales pages, and membership sites. The live page editor enables you to view changes immediately, as you start from 30 pre-tested templates. You can get OptimizePress as a plugin, so if you’re really interested in another theme, you can still add the OptimizePress magic.
The granddaddy of drag-and-drop WordPress layouts, Headway has been around since 2009. You can start a page from any one of the pre-built layouts, then edit with the in-built visual editor. Create any layout, then completely customize through the Design Editor or custom code. Headway enables you to save snapshots of your designs so you can rollback changes at any point.
Thesis departs from the standard WordPress theme philosophy and is a design and template manager. Without code, you can completely customize every aspect of your page template using a unique visual editor. With access to a Thesis API to add custom code as needed, Thesis does have a bit of a learning curve, but it is an extremely powerful way to work with WordPress.
11. Responsive Pro
Built on the very popular free Responsive theme, Responsive Pro adds powerful customization features. You can use the Theme Customizer to modify colors, typography, and other options. The theme includes in-built support for major plugins such as bbPress and WooCommerce. This simple and flexible theme offers a good starting point without all the complexity of some of the other themes on this list.
Bridge is a beautiful multipurpose theme and currently a top-seller on ThemeForest. With over two dozen layout concepts and over 100 demos, you can choose a starting point to fit any website project. With full typographic control, including font packs and access to custom CSS, you can create a completely unique design to meet your needs.
The uDesign theme is a very powerful and user-friendly multipurpose theme that is highly rated on ThemeForest. A focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and making sure the theme is completely responsive and mobile-ready makes uDesign a solid choice. Powerful customization options and over 2,000 fonts to choose from will help you transform your site into something unique.
Salient aims to provide you with the platform to create beautifully responsive designs with their theme. With over 1,000 icons, over 600 fonts and unlimited color possibilities, your theme will be completely unique without touching code. A powerful theme options panel and an advanced page builder enable you to go deeper into modifying your site and page layouts.
This list wouldn’t be complete without throwing an e-commerce specific theme in the mix. Flatsome is the top selling WooCommerce theme on ThemeForest. The included page builder enables you to create any layout for your store’s pages. The theme also includes e-commerce specific features to make your website stand out such as multiple product grid styles, sale bubbles, and quick zoom product images.
When you need to choose a theme for a WordPress website, and you’ve decided on using a premium theme (which we advise!), the most popular ones are often a good place to start your selection process.
We have provided you with our list of the most popular premium WordPress themes for 2016 based on a number of factors. The list should give you a headstart for your projects this year if you were feeling a bit overwhelmed with the number of themes out there.
What has your experience been with the themes featured in our list? Please let us know and subscribe to the comments section below!
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