Template Monster vs ThemeForest vs Elegant Themes vs StudioPress vs ThriveThemes & More!

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Best Overall
ThemeForest logo
Best for SEO
Studiopress logo
Best Subscription
Elegant Themes logo
Best for eCommerce
Best for Advertising

Want a professional looking website but don’t want to pay the high fees web designers charge? It used to be difficult for consumers and businesses to create polished websites without expensive designers. Now there are many website template services that offer professional website designs for a fraction of the price. Ready to start designing your website? This comparison article will cover all of the best website template providers so you can find the right fit for your needs.

Best Website Template Winners

First, the basics. Before you start your search, you need to be aware that these website template services don’t actually host your site — you’re responsible for owning your own domain(s) and choosing a hosting service, be it WordPress.com or one of many other hosting services. See our Best Web Hosting Services comparison article for our top choices.

Next, a few words on licensing. Your rights to use the templates (also referred to as themes) you purchase from our best web template services vary greatly. Some, like StudioPress and Elegant Themes, allow you to purchase full licenses for their themes and use them on as many websites and domains as you’d like; some are much more limited, depending on the type of pricing package you purchase (RocketTheme, for example). And if you’re a website developer, be aware that some services’ pricing plans we reviewed don’t allow for re-sale of their templates. As you might imagine, the pricing varies widely with your options, but we’ll spell out the pricing and licensing details in each of our reviews below. Be careful to read the terms and conditions for any web template service you’re considering.

Finally, let’s run through some other factors you should consider when choosing a website template service.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What platform will you be using? A lot of services have WordPress only templates.
  2. Do the designs stand up to the look you’re going for?
  3. Do you want mobile-ready (responsive) designs? In today’s mobile society, we feel this is essential.
  4. Will you be creating an online store and need an ecommerce template?
  5. Do you run a web business and need multiple templates?
  6. Do you want to use your template on multiple websites?
  7. How much do you wish to pay? Pricing can vary greatly.

We’ve broken down all of these questions for you in our reviews and pros and cons to help you find the best service for your needs. Note that we use the words theme and template interchangeably.

Best Selection and Overall Winner: ThemeForest Review

ThemeForest logo

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ThemeForest is a large network that allows designers to sell their templates, but unlike 99Designs there are set prices (no bidding). As a result, you have access to a huge selection and variety of templates, replete with user reviews and feedback. With your purchase comes a fixed period of technical support from the theme author that is extensible (in most cases), and you have the option of adding on professional installation or extended licenses for reselling of the template. There are many ways to search for and narrow down the theme you’re looking for – you can search by CMS (ie. WordPress), functionality, price, and user reviews. Customization capability and features vary widely, and not all templates are “quality checked” by ThemeForest, so be sure to read the user reviews prior to purchasing (and making sure the average score is sufficiently high!).

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable pricing
  • Largest selection of templates with user reviews and feedback
  • Extended technical support and licensing available
  • Good community forums, blogs, FAQs
  • No money back guarantee

Pricing & Licensing

Prices vary widely on ThemeForest; the licensing terms do not. With each template you have the option of purchasing a regular license ($19 – $100+), which entitles you to a single-use license either for you or your client. The catch is — you can’t charge your client for the finished product. If you’re a website developer wanting to sell your finished product, Theme Forest charges anywhere from $900 to $3,000+ for an extended license for the same single-use template (includes the template and a “buyer’s fee”).

Best for SEO: StudioPress Review

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StudioPress, in addition to being a great service for WordPress templates, wins for best SEO web template service. All of their templates are housed in the Genesis Framework, which is widely known as one of the best WordPress frameworks, providing fast loading, secure, transferrable, and SEO-friendly code. Their templates translate well on mobile devices (ie. they are responsive), and their combination of competitive pricing and ease of use is hard to beat. The site is easy to navigate, and their “theme chooser” feature makes finding the right template fun and convenient. Every template comes with 100% support and lifetime updates from their developers (and existing customers get steep discounts on future purchases), and they give you a lot of widgets and plug-ins to create your website. This service works exclusively with WordPress, which may turn some customers away, and they don’t have built-in advertising in their templates (although if you know code you can work it in). If you’re looking for captivating and polished designs, StudioPress is one of the best.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive pricing
  • Purchased templates can be used on unlimited number of websites
  • Lifetime updates and support
  • Built-in SEO in every template via the Genesis Framework
  • Good variety of widgets and plug-ins
  • All templates are HTML5 and responsive design (will look good on mobile devices)
  • Excellent tutorials, blog and community forums
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Learning curve with customizing designs
  • No ecommerce templates
  • No built-in advertising
  • WordPress templates only
  • WordPress backend interface is somewhat minimalist compared to others

Pricing & Licensing

Like Elegant Themes reviewed below, StudioPress also offers generous usability when it comes to licensing. With any theme purchase, you’re granted unlimited uses of themes, meaning you can use them on as many websites and domains you own. You’re also allowed to sell websites you create as a developer using their templates, however the buyer won’t have access to StudioPress’s automatic updates and support. The theme design remains the intellectual property of StudioPress.

Genesis Framework

  • $59.95
  • Must be purchased to use a Studio Press theme
  • Provides security, SEO optimization

StudioPress Theme

  • $79.95 – $99.95
  • Includes the Genesis Framework, unlimited updates and support and tutorial access

Pro-Plus All-Theme Package

  • $399.95
  • Includes all 48 Studio Press themes and all features from lesser packages

Best Subscription (If You Need More Than One Template): Elegant Themes Review

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Elegant Themes is an all-in-one type of website where you have access to all of their 87 themes for a one-year flat rate of $69 for basic service. We’re really impressed with their designs – elegant, as their name suggests, but slick and very professional looking. And setting up your website with their templates is easy and intuitive. ElegantThemes might best serve someone who isn’t sure what they want their website to look like. 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. Elegant Themes templates only work with WordPress. The downside? There’s no technical support via phone, live chat or email – only through forums, but we hear from customers that their tech support through the forums is good.

Pros

Cons

  • Good price for access to all themes (87)
  • Templates are updated regularly with new features
  • Templates can be used on unlimited number of websites
  • Ecommerce templates
  • Intuitive and easy to set up
  • Money back guarantee
  • Good community forums, tutorials & blog
  • Must renew each year unless you pay $249 for lifetime plan
  • Number of available themes (87) hasn’t changed in years
  • Technical support is only available in forums (not phone, email, or chat)
  • No SEO or advertising built into templates
  • Not all templates are responsive design
  • WordPress templates only

Pricing & Licensing

Elegant Themes is one of the most generous services when it comes to licensing. With every pricing plan you have access to all of their themes, and you may use one or all of them on an unlimited number of websites and domains that you own. You’re also allowed to sell websites you create using their templates, however the buyer won’t have access to Elegant Themes’ automatic updates and support. And you can’t claim the theme as your own intellectual property.

All plans come with access to all themes, regular updates and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • $69/year for Personal plan
  • $89/year for Developer plan (also includes complete access to plugins & layered Photoshop files)
  • $249 lifetime one-time charge for all features

Best For ECommerce: Templatic Review

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There is a lot to like about Templatic, another WordPress-only template service. Many of their templates have built-in advertising space, and they are able to tailor the advertising to fit your audience. Their ecommerce templates are top-notch, with all the extensions you’d want to sell online. They also do a great job of integrating social media into the templates, so users can comment on your page via their Facebook login, giving you more exposure on social media sites. All templates are coded and designed for maximum search engine results, and roughly half of their templates are responsive design. The designs aren’t quite as impressive as our top two picks, but there are a lot more themes to choose from. Any drawbacks? Templatic only provides developer updates and support for one year after purchase. There’s also a limit to how many websites you can build your purchased themes into.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive pricing
  • Intuitive interface
  • Built-in SEO in every template
  • Good variety of widgets and plug-ins
  • Excellent tutorials, blog and community forums
  • Excellent ecommerce template options
  • Developer updates and support for one year only
  • Added charge to use templates on multiple websites
  • Not all templates are responsive design
  • Customers report that some template themes can be buggy
  • No money back guarantee
  • WordPress templates only

Pricing & Licensing

Templatic has several pricing and licensing options, which are overall fairly affordable compared to their competition. With the multiple domain-use plans, you’re granted permission to re-sell your project to your clients.

Standard plan

  • $65 for one template
  • 1 domain license
  • 1 year technical support and updates

Developer plan

  • $99 for one template
  • License for up to 5 domains
  • 1 year technical support and updates
  • Photoshop (PSD) files

Club membership

  • $299 upfront fee; first month free, then $19 per month
  • Access to all templates
  • Unlimited website and domain usage
  • Access to member-only forums and premium support
  • Photoshop (PSD) files

Templatic also offers Installation Service:

  • $49 Basic: includes theme and plug-in install, and adding sample data
  • $79 Pro: all Basic benefits plus WordPress install, logo upload, footer credit removal and sample navigation menu
  • $179 Premier: all Pro benefits plus 3 hours consultation/custom work with WordPress expert

 Best Web Template for Advertising: Thrive Themes Review

Thrive Themes logoVisit Website

ThriveThemes is our number three pick for Best Website Template Service. This is the service you’ll want if your website is geared toward converting visitors into customers or if you create and maintain these types of websites for your clients (note they only have WordPress templates). Their designs are simple but polished; however, they don’t offer nearly as many templates as other services. ThriveThemes excels with their features like Thrive Content Builder (view the video below), landing pages, Thrive Leads, pop-ups and a host of excellent plugins, all optimized for maximum conversion. Their tools and customization are among the best we’ve seen. You can purchase single templates for as low as $49, but you won’t get all of the features. So, their member subscription is the best way to go. Starting at $149 per year, it’s an investment. They do offer a 30-day money back guarantee and get excellent customer reviews.

Pros

Cons

  • Professional looking, attractive designs
  • All templates are responsive design
  • Use templates on unlimited number of websites, depending on pricing plan
  • Option to purchase a single theme for one-time use (for budget conscious consumers)
  • Built-in image optimization & icon library
  • Excellent plugins and widgets
  • Plugins for e-commerce
  • Built-in Google fonts, opt-in forms, social sharing, galleries, related posts (cuts down need for plugins)
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Excellent video tutorials, blog, Help Center
  • Pricier than most
  • Must renew subscription monthly or annually
  • Only 10 templates to choose from
  • Technical support via email only
  • No community forums
  • WordPress templates only

Pricing & Licensing

Single Theme Purchase

With ThriveThemes, you can purchase a single theme for a single-site license (e.g. $49 for the “Rise” theme) or an unlimited personal use license ($67). When purchasing single themes you’re not granted permission to use that theme on your clients’ websites. As we said above, purchasing a single theme, however, doesn’t get you access to all of ThriveThemes’ excellent features.

Thrive Themes membership pricing plans give you unlimited access to all templates, plugins, updates and support.

Personal License

  • $20/month + $97 startup fee
  • $147/year (no startup fee)
  • Use on unlimited number of websites you personally own

Agency License

  • $30/month + $147 startup fee
  • $247/year (no startup fee)
  • Use on unlimited number of websites for yourself and your clients

Content Builder Video

Learn more about Thrive’s unique Content Builder in this video:

Best Website Templates Comparison Table

Website Template Comparison TableDue to the size of our Best Website Templates Comparison Table, it appears 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. Over time, we will continue to add to this table and article to provide even more companies for comparison.

Comparing Other Website Template Sites

Below you’ll find an alphabetical listing of all the template websites we’ve reviewed.

DreamTemplate | RocketTheme | Template MonsterWooThemes

DreamTemplate Review

DreamTemplate logo

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DreamTemplate markets itself as a niche website, catering to flash and video templates, but they also offer a wide variety of website, CSS, MS Word and Powerpoint templates. For $59.95 per year 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 – a great feature if you’re developing or managing several websites at once. The downsides? DreamTemplate’s designs look somewhat outdated, and you have to use HTML editing software and Photoshop to transform your templates into fully functional websites (i.e. no WordPress, Joomla, etc. specific templates). And searching through their 6,000 templates is cumbersome – the site could use better search features.

Pros

Cons

  • 6,000+ web templates
  • Affordable annual price for large number of templates
  • E-commerce templates
  • More than 300 free website templates
  • Can use 50 templates on unlimited number of websites
  • No WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc. specific templates so you will need to know HTML and Photoshop
  • SEO and advertising isn’t built-in to templates
  • Templates aren’t responsive design
  • Limited search options, especially for vast number of templates available
  • Customer service available only via ticket or email

Pricing & Licensing

DreamTemplate’s annual subscription give you access to all their templates, and you can use 50 templates on as many websites as you’d like. If you’re a website developer you may use these 50 templates for your clients, but if you exceed 50, you’re required to purchase an additional $59.95 membership. Each membership grants you unlimited websites for 50 templates.

  • $59.95/year subscription
  • 30-day money-back guarantee (provided you download 20 templates or less from Dream Template)

RocketTheme Review

RocketTheme logo

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RocketTheme provides templates compatible with WordPress, Joomla, phpBB, and Magento. There are few themes to choose from and most of their themes are duplicated across the platforms. So, while it may appear that each platform has its own collection of themes, there are, in reality, far fewer than you think. 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 you can only use it on one website (one site license). So if you have multiple sites you are monitoring, the fees begin to build as you try to diversify them. Template prices range from $49-$300 and the support is decent, but we recommend looking elsewhere for better selection at a similar price. This is not the template service for those who need flexible access to multiple platforms and site licenses at the same time.

Pros

Cons

  • Templates for WordPress, Joomla, Magento and phpBB
  • Single template purchases are reasonably priced
  • Good variety of extensions and plugins
  • Community forums and blog
  • Premium technical support if you’re a Club member
  • Club pricing is higher than other services for what you get (fewer themes, fewer site licenses, etc.)
  • Themes aren’t as sophisticated as other top services
  • Not all templates are responsive design
  • No SEO or advertising built-in to template
  • Site licensing much more limited than most competitors
  • Support and updates only available when you’re a member

Pricing & Licensing

RocketTheme’s pricing and licensing options are confusing, to say the least. For starters, the fee you pay for either a single template or club membership applies only to one platform. For example, if you purchase their “Acacia” theme in Joomla format, you don’t get the WordPress “Acacia” template. You’d have to purchase that separately. And the same rules apply to club memberships — you get access to all the templates from only one platform (you’d subscribe to the Joomla membership, for instance).

Single Template Purchase (for one platform only)

  • $29-$49
  • 1 site license
  • Lifetime access to template and its related extensions

Club membership

As stated above, club membership with Rocket Theme entitles you access to all their templates in the platform you subscribe to (Joomla, WordPress, Magento or phpBB). Club membership also includes premium technical support and updates, but to continue with support and updates you must renew your membership.

Basic

  • $59 for 3-month subscription
  • 1 site license

Standard

  • $79 for 6-month subscription
  • 2 site licenses

Plus

  • $99 for 12-month subscription
  • 3 site licenses

Developer

  • $300 for 12-month subscription
  • Unlimited site licenses

Template Monster Review

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Template Monster has the largest selection of templates to choose from out of all the services we reviewed. With plenty of quality designs, there are some duds in the mix too. But there are plenty to choose from – responsive design, flash, e-commerce and more. And they offer templates for just about any platform you can think of, including WordPress, Joomla, PrestaShop, Magento, etc. Single-license template prices range from $15 to $300. This includes 24/7 support. But, where TemplateMonster can get really expensive is all the added fees they charge for things like adding your own logo, changing the color scheme, accessing plug-ins or extensions, many of which other services include in their pricing. There’s also an option to buy a design exclusively, ensuring your page will be truly one-of-a-kind, but expect to pay upwards of $4,000 for the right to guarantee no one else has a site like yours. If you know what you want upfront, TemplateMonster can be an excellent service, but you have to be careful of all the additional fees, which can get confusing and expensive.

Pros

Cons

  • Extremely wide variety of affordable templates
  • Templates for WordPress, Joomla, Magento, PrestaShop and more
  • E-commerce templates
  • Good variety of extensions and plugins (but they charge extra for most)
  • Customer service 24/7
  • Good tutorials, FAQs and blog
  • Tons of additional fees to fully customize your template that add up quickly
  • Not all templates are responsive design
  • No money back guarantee or refunds
  • All templates are single-use only, unless you purchase one exclusively ($4,000+)
  • No community forums
  • Many templates are not optimized for SEO and code can be clunky

Pricing & Licensing

TemplateMonster’s pricing can get confusing, unless you know exactly what you want up front. Your only option if you want to use a purchased template on multiple websites and domains will run you $3,000 to $4,000 (but, if you’re a developer, you’re granted permission to use the template for your clients’ websites). There are no subscriptions or clubs like some other services that give you access to multiple templates for one fee; you purchase each single-use template for a flat fee, ranging from $15 to $300. But it’s somewhat unclear how much customization you can do with that flat-fee purchase.

Here’s an example of optional add-on fees for a basic WordPress template that’s $75:

  • $29 for MotoPress Drag and Drop
  • $49 add your logo
  • $99 change your color scheme
  • $79 essential plugins

In this example, which is fairly average for Template Monster, a customizable WordPress template that offers good features, will run you $331. And remember, that’s for one single-use template.

WooThemes Review

WooThemes nobo

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WooThemes’ (under the WooCommerce umbrella) WordPress-only templates are some of the most polished and professional we’ve seen, and they offer plenty of customization options to their designs. Flash is supported, and there are some very texture-rich designs if you browse their catalog. Prices are on the high side for a single theme, ranging from $49-$139, but like some other services you can pay a set fee for access to all 55 designs. There are limitations to some of the lower-priced options, like not being able to use stock pictures from their database. And the all-access fee of $399 is per year is higher than average (although if you renew after a year that fee is cut in half). All in all, Woo Themes is definitely worth looking into if you can afford the higher price tag.

Pros

Cons

  • Some of the best designs we’ve seen
  • Most templates are responsive design
  • Unlimited domain usages for all pricing packages
  • Focus on ecommerce templates
  • Easily customizable
  • Excellent Help Center, videos, blog, community forum
  • More expensive than many other services
  • Site licenses, updates and support for one year only (must renew)
  • Customer service via email and ticket only
  • No money back guarantee
  • WordPress templates only

Pricing & Licensing

While WooThemes’ pricing is a bit higher than some of its competitors, they do offer unlimited website and domain usage for all templates purchased — and you can re-sell your finished product without any added charges. The downside? You must renew your site license each year. Although the renewal is only 50% of the original price, many of WooThemes’ top competitors grant a lifetime license.

Standard packages: $49-$99/year

Developer packages (includes layered Photoshop PSD files): $99-$139/year

All themes package (includes layered Photoshop PSD files): $399/year

How To Pick a Website Template

There are literally hundreds of thousands of website templates to choose from. Hopefully this review helps you narrow down the options and figure out what to look for. There are lots of criteria to consider when choosing a website template, not just how it looks (although that is important too). Is it responsive so your audience can view it from any mobile device? Does it have good SEO coding, or e-commerce support? And what are your support/update options? The template you end up with could have a huge impact on your website’s success, so make sure you consider all the options before making a decision.

Which website template service are you leaning towards? Did you discover a favorite template?

Sally has coupled her passion for writing with her (slight) obsession for the latest high tech gadgets. While she’s not daydreaming about the beach, she’s taking advantage of all the activities her hometown has to offer in the Blue Ridge foothills.

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1 Comment on "Template Monster vs ThemeForest vs Elegant Themes vs StudioPress vs ThriveThemes & More!"

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DSB33
DSB33

I’ve used Template Monster a bunch, they’re awesome!

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