It used to be very difficult for consumers and businesses to create professional looking websites without the assistance of expensive web designers. Now there are many website template services that offer great looking, SEO-friendly and responsive (mobile-friendly) website designs for a fraction of the price. This comparison article will cover all of the best website template providers so you are able to make an educated decision. Please note that we use the terms theme and template interchangeably (they mean the same thing).
Best Website Template Winners
ThemeForest is our winner for overall best template provider. At the time of this writing they offered a whopping 21,663 themes. They are high-volume site like TemplateMonster, but we feel like the templates are higher quality (our sites are powered by Sahifa from Tielabs). It’s very easy to spot quality templates because of the large number of user reviews. In other words, you almost can’t go wrong with a ThemeForest theme that has a ton of reviews and a high rating. There are low upfront costs ($1-90 per template) for the templates themselves, and most also come with a default 6 months of support by the template author that can be renewed for a low fee. For CMS systems such as WordPress, the templates are easy enough to install, but if you need professional assistance ThemeForest offers it for an additional fee.
The designs we reviewed were impressive, designed with the latest web technologies such as HTML5 and responsive design, and supporting popular CMS platforms such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. What’s better is that templates are tagged with these terms, so you can, for example, search for a listing of all themes that are developed with responsive design and are on WordPress.
TemplateMonster has the largest selection of templates to choose from out of all the sites reviewed with over 50,000 templates. They are also one of the first theme providers, having been in the game since 2002. With plenty of quality designs, there are some obvious duds in the mix too, and we’ve run into some trouble with their templates in the past. The price of the template is based on the complexity of the design. Some themes go for as little as a one-time $10 fee, but you can find some templates that go for upwards of $300 before the installation cost. They also have frequent sales, so keep an eye out for Template Monster promo codes.
There are plenty of styles to choose from, including numerous flash and video sites. Rest assured, if you can dream it, chances are this site can accommodate your vision for your webpage. There is an option to buy a design exclusivity, ensuring your page will be truly one-of-a-kind, but expect to pay upwards of $3,000-$4,000 for the right to guarantee no one else has a site like yours. More practical options are available for the general public, and with all of the widgets and customizations you can do, you can personalize your site to your liking.
TemplateMonster also offers an optional installation fee for most of it’s templates which is discounted with each design you purchase, but generally runs about $50. We like this site for its large number of unique designs, but you might get lost in the options. And we’ve found that honing in on the right template is not as easy as it was with ThemeForest, as they’ve only recently added user reviews.
RocketTheme doesn’t publish how many themes they offer, but from what we can tell it’s a lot. They also support multiple platforms (although not as many as our top 2 providers), which, along with a host of other criteria, puts them in the running at 3rd place. From what we can tell they appear to specialize in Joomla theme, and offer extensive Joomla customizations. They also support Magento and PHP. Uniquely, most of their themes are duplicated across the platforms. So while it may appear that each host has its own collection of themes, there are, in reality, far fewer than what appears. If that seems confusing, so too is navigating around RocketTheme’s website.
RocketTheme has a “club” entry that allows you to choose multiple themes for your website, but only one is allowed at any given time. So if you have multiple sites you are developing, the fees begin to build as you try to diversify them. You can, however, apply one theme across a multitude of sites for one lower price. Template prices range from $50-300 and the support on this site is fair and decent, but we recommend starting your search elsewhere for better selection at a similar price.
Some template providers excel at certain platforms, SEO, speed, or design capabilities. Since they are not options for everyone, we’ve placed them in their own unique categories below.
StudioPress gets our top spot for focus on creating speedy WordPress templates that are SEO-friendly (SEF is the technical term, stands for Search-Engine Friendly). This means the code is simple, robust, the sites load quickly, and are compatible with top WordPress caching (for website speed) and SEO plugins. The StudioPress site is easy to navigate, and their theme chooser feature makes finding the perfect template for you fun and convenient. WordPress SEO experts consider the Genesis Framework that StudioPress provides to be one of the best on the market. Additionally, StudioPress claims to stand behind its products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Lastly, existing StudioPress template owners get significant discounts on further theme purchases.
Studio Press also have the option to buy a package for all their themes, but it is considerably more expensive than that of some other template website options. With that being said, this might be the most impressive of all of the WordPress-only frameworks. We like StudioPress for its transparency on its pricing, which will cost you between $60-$300, and for its highly-rated customer service. Every design comes with 100% support and updates from a great number of developers. There are also a few free (albeit limited) number of themes available.
Best Website Templates Comparison Table
Due to the size of our Best Website Templates Comparison Table, it has being placed on a separate page so that you can reference it more easily. Take a look at our Best Website Templates Comparison Table (or click on the image on the left) for details of the companies and services that we review in this article. We will continue to add to this table and article to provide more companies for comparison.
Subscription-Based (and Other) Theme Providers
Below you’ll find an alphabetical listing of other popular template websites we’ve reviewed. A lot of these are subscription-based (which means you pay annually for access to many templates – this is fine for developers but not ideal for the single website business owner that only wants to pay for a template once) and focused on only one platform (frequently WordPress). This niche approach disqualifies them from being overall winners since many of our readers won’t find what they’re looking for there. However, if you’re a developer in need of a particular platform and purchase themes frequently, these providers could be a great option.
DreamTemplates markets itself as a niche website, catering to flash and videos. They have a large number of templates to choose from and most of them put video and flash at the forefront. They also have Microsoft Word and Powerpoint templates available, making it easy to customize a business presentation or sales pitch. It is priced a little higher than our top two, but DreamTemplates is hard to compete with if you are seeking a visually-driven website.
DreamTemplates has a great number of templates to choose from, but stand apart for their volume of flash and video templates. This is a photo and video junkie’s cup of tea. DreamTemplates is a subscription based site, and charges $60 for a full year of web design templates. You have access to all 6000+ of their templates, and can use up to 50 designs at any one time on as many sites as you wish. So this would be very helpful for someone developing or managing several websites at once.
DreamTemplates also has a large number of MS Word and Powerpoint templates to choose from. They allow for multiple web development platforms to choose from as well. Whereas some other sites are more focused on offering a greater number of design elements to choose from, DreamTemplates focuses more on the unique needs of the user, and offers plenty of options for those niche needs.
The yearly subscription seems to be the only drawback. Some sites allow you to buy individual templates and not have to pay yearly, but for the high-quality flash capabilities, $60 might not be too high of a price. Photographers would be wise to use this site, as would digital scrap bookers or photo-bloggers. The Powerpoint and Word templates are also great for business purposes. For those who are more concerned with the visual element of their design, we really like DreamTemplates.
ElegantThemes is an all-for-one type of website where you have access to all 76 of their themes for a one-time flat rate of $39. The selection is limited, but there is enough diversity to keep the upstart website creator happy. The designs are not all that impressive, but you have the ability to test one style, and if your viewership isn’t where you’d like it, you can change the design completely until you find the best website template for you. There is no room for customization outside of completely changing your theme and starting from scratch with a new design.
We like ElegantThemes for someone who isn’t exactly sure what they want in their webpage. If you have a basic blog, or are trying your hand at e-commerce for the first time, this might be a great option for you to get started. This website would best serve someone who isn’t sure what they want their website to look like, and would want to try a few different looks before ultimately (or not) settling on one. There is low-risk investment, and the option to have a completely new design every day of the week if you want to.
ElegantThemes will only work with WordPress designed sites. While WordPress is the most popular content management system website platform, make sure you are running on this medium, or you will pay for a product that will not work with your site.
The big sell with iThemes is the ability to create your own theme with their template builder technology for a price range of $80-$387. Their website is chalked full of helpful tips on creating your own sites, including a free 60-page eBook to teach you the basics and some advanced methods on design and development. There is a helpful classification system that allows you to choose your theme by color or style if you aren’t interested in designing your own template. iThemes makes designing your own page simple and if willing to spend the extra time learning the process, there can be some remarkable designs created by users who have never tried their hand in building or designing webpages.
iThemes also offer very basic templates to give you a starting point if you are creating your own site. With moveable headline bars and side bars, this is a great site if you want to truly customize your site to be your very own. If you are buying a stock template, however, there is a low number to choose from, and the price won’t lure you to iThemes. What you are paying for with iThemes is the ability to truly create your website from scratch. You will pay a little more for it, but for some, there is a charm to molding your site to fit your EXACT needs.
There is a lot to like about Templatic. They have built in ad space to many of their templates and are able to tailor the advertising to fit your audience, which can bring in extra money. They also do a great job of integrating social media into the templates, so your audience can comment and post to your site with their social media handles. The staff at Templatic is primarily the designers of the templates, so you know when you have a question, the right person would be easy to find. Templatic is a bloggers dream, due to the fact that the web themes are coded and designed for maximum search engine results.
Templatic encourages the user to earn money by applying built-in ad space in their designs and will help find advertisers to put their logos or ads on your page. This is another WordPress-only template site. Template prices vary from $65-$300 and they also charge a $35 fee if you want to use your purchased design on more than one website. Something that caught our eye was that customer support for this site is only good for one year, then you’re on your own. This would be fine for someone who is planning on keeping the site going year to year and is fine paying a premium for the support, but for those who are just looking to get a design, there are other providers that are more accommodating.
One cool feature of Templatic is that there is social media login (SSO or Single-Sign On) integration into most of the designs, so users can login or comment on your page via their social network login without having to create a username and password unique to your website. This is available on any website, but typically has to be customized or installed via third-party plugin. This can help increase engagement as it removes a hurdle for the visitor to jump over. This will also allow for increased exposure for your site on social media sites.
The design elements are easy to understand, and the staff is populated primarily by designers, so when you have questions about a particular page, you might be talking to the person who actually designed it, so you will receive knowledgeable help. We really like Templatic for people looking to gain exposure to their site with low-to-no advertising dollars. Bloggers will love this site, the designs are sparse but impressive. If you aren’t as concerned with the design element and more focused on the functionality of your template, this could be the theme provider for you.
WooThemes is another site that encourages a subscription purchase for access to all 94 themes in its library. We like this site because it has enough templates to keep most users happy, but also offers plenty of customization options to those designs so users can find something that they like, then customize it to really fit their needs. Flash is supported, and there are some very texture-rich designs if you browse their catalog.
The price for one theme is higher than most, ranging from $70-$200 plus subscription fees. There are also limitations to some of the lower-priced options, like not being able to use stock pictures from their database.
Another issue with this website is that it only works on WordPress supported websites. This site is best served for people who manage multiple sites and are willing to buy the “club membership option” that allows the use of all designs, stock photos, and flash capabilities.
Payments might be difficult due to WooThemes only accepting Visa and Mastercard for payment. The membership will bill you every month, which has its drawbacks, but the designs on this site are very good, and might be worth the expenses if you’re looking for a site to really “wow” your viewers.
Who’s your favorite website template provider?Tagged With: Reviews, Templates, Web Design