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Fan Favorites: The 18 Most Popular WordPress Themes with a Claim to Fame

Dying to see your website’s popularity skyrocket?

Start with a popular WordPress theme to get the party started.

Joining the “in” crowd has plenty of benefits.

We’re going to break down what makes a WordPress theme popular.

What makes one particular WordPress theme spread like wildfire?

What’s the magic spark that attracts hundreds of thousands of people to download and install the same WordPress theme on their sites?

Well, truth is, there’s not one single factor that determines the popularity of a WordPress theme.

But they mainly seem to be popular based on: quality, design and what you can do with them. (Price comes into it too, to an extent, but free themes and premium themes have different customer bases, so to me it makes more sense to compare them separately rather than lump them together.)

Why You Should Check Out the Most Popular WordPress Themes

Okay, so why should you care about which themes are the most popular? For one main reason, really.

Having firmly cemented its status as the CMS king, WordPress is currently used by nearly 75 million websites—and it’s still growing. This makes it by far the most popular content management system in the world. 

With such a relentless demand, it makes sense that there are thousands upon thousands of WordPress themes and theme stores (literally too many to count) floating around out there on the world wide web, purely in response to that huge demand.

Sure, all that choice is great when you’re creating a website, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it can be pretty overwhelming, too.

So, where can you start your search for the WordPress theme that will ultimately become the entire foundation of your site?

This is where I always suggest starting with the most popular WordPress themes—after all, they’re popular for a reason! Users like them enough to keep downloading them, so you can’t deny that they certainly must be doing something right. They’ve earned their strong reputations among customers, which means that the themes are high quality and satisfy the needs of the people downloading them.

You might be wondering why you’d want a theme that everyone else has. You want to stand out and be unique. That’s where the customization factor comes in. These themes are often highly customizable and give you more than enough options to make your website unique to any other website using the same theme.

And now, for the next question: Free or premium? Your answer will depend entirely on your reasons for creating a website, as well as what your circumstances will allow. If you’re a small start-up, a brand new e-commerce store or simply a one-man personal blogging operation (without the intention of making a profit) then you might want to go with a free theme—at least to start.

Remember, you can always scale your website (and spending) up as you grow, upgrading to a premium theme when you’ve expanded enough to require the extra functionality. A nice plus is that many of these free themes offer premium versions, so you won’t need to make a huge jump to a new theme when it’s time to upgrade.

Premium themes will always offer more than free themes, whether it’s deeper and more complex customization or built-in integration with extra plugins and features. So, it’s worth keeping in mind that, when your website is at the point where it’s making consistent money, you should consider investing in a premium theme in order to support your goals.

Now, with all that to think about, here are the most popular free and premium WordPress themes (as of this date) so that you can get your site off to a running start.

The 18 Most Popular Free and Premium WordPress Themes

Most Popular Free WordPress Themes

1. Twenty Seventeen


Active Users: 1 million+

User Rating: 4.5/5

One of several of WordPress’s own themes on this list, Twenty Seventeen is the newest addition to the default theme range on the free WordPress repository (a new version is added every year). With WordPress’s excellent reputation, it’s really no surprise that their free themes are as popular as they are.

Twenty Seventeen is versatile, flexible, mobile-responsive and translation-ready. In the last three months, the theme has reached downloads of more than 4,000 per day, with well over a million installs in total since its release a year ago.

Download Twenty Seventeen

2. Twenty Sixteen


Active Users: 800,000+

User Rating: 4/5

Last year’s offering from WordPress, Twenty Sixteen is still close to the top of the list (as are a few more of WordPress’s free default themes, which just goes to show how they continue to be used even as newer versions are released). This one is fluid and polished, with all the same accessibility, integration and responsiveness of any good WordPress theme.

At its peak, Twenty Sixteen was hitting more than 2,000 downloads per day. While this has dropped off with the release of a newer version, the theme is still firmly holding its position as one of the internet’s most popular.

Download Twenty Sixteen

3. Twenty Fifteen


Active Users: 500,000+

User Rating: 4.5/5

Twenty Fifteen is, like its successors and predecessors alike, a really well-built and flexible WordPress theme that’s relied upon by hundreds of thousands of users. It’s quite blog-focused and image-focused, highlighting the content across your site with its clean, minimalist design and typography.

With more than half a million users and a consistent 4,000 to 6,000 downloads per day, Twenty Fifteen is easily still one of the most popular WordPress themes that you can get without paying a cent.

Download Twenty Fifteen

4. Twenty Fourteen


Active Users: 400,000+

User Rating: 4.5/5

Rounding out WordPress’s winning streak in the list of most popular themes is Twenty Fourteen, a sleek and polished design that continues to do what WordPress has always done best: show off your content without distractions.

White space, minimalist typography and clean color schemes all work together to put your content in the spotlight without getting cluttered.

Despite having been around for a few years now, Twenty Fourteen is still reaching average downloads of more than 4,000 per day—proof that a classic, seamless design will never really go out of style.

Download Twenty Fourteen

5. Hestia


Active Users: 20,000+

User Rating: 4.5/5

Hestia is built in material design, Google’s own design language developed back in 2014. The language was based around the idea of paper and ink, and as such, is designed to give web pages more depth and movement with features like lighting and shadow effects, responsive animations, transitions and padding.

This is pretty great for a free theme, and as a result of its material design, Hestia gives you beautiful, engaging websites that are alive and responsive to users as opposed to static. I’m not surprised to see it make the list of most popular themes—and even better that it’s free, as well!

Download Hestia

6. Consulting


Active Users: 20,000+

User Rating: 5/5

The free version of Consulting Pro, this theme has everything you need to create a professional, modern website or blog. It’s built reliable and responsive, with plenty to customize including unlimited colors and sidebar designs, over 600 Google fonts, social media icons, more than 100 shortcodes and 10 widgets.

While Consulting doesn’t have the same high download numbers as a lot of the other themes on this list (but still sees a modest and consistent 300 to 600 per day on average), it has maintained a 100% five out of five user rating since its release—which is definitely something to be proud of and duly noted.

Download Consulting

7. Sydney


Active Users: 100,000+

User Rating: 5/5

Sydney is incredibly powerful and engaging, especially for a free theme. Endless customization possibilities, dynamic parallax backgrounds and seamless social media integration all work to make your website stand out from the crowd and draw users in right from the very first page.

It’s really no wonder that it’s as popular as it is—especially with young business websites and freelancers. Sydney is easily still getting up to 2,000 downloads each day and is actively being used by more than 100,000 site owners all around the world.

Download Sydney

8. Twenty Twelve


Active Users: 300,000+

User Rating: 4.5/5

And now for the final WordPress default theme on the list. (Notice how Twenty Thirteen was skipped and didn’t get a spot—are people generally still a little superstitious of the number thirteen, perhaps?)

Twenty Twelve, despite being over five years old now, is still actively used by over a quarter of a million people and sees anywhere between 1,500 and 3,000 downloads per day (with some huge spikes of over 4,500!).

I find this very impressive for a theme that, even just due to its name, might seem dated. But WordPress clearly knows how to keep even their older themes modern, fresh and appealing to new audiences—Twenty Twelve is fully responsive, simple and streamlined, with all the customization options you need.

Download Twenty Twelve

9. Total


Active Users: 50,000+

User Rating: 5/5

Total was released only about a year ago, but has already established itself as one of the internet’s favorite and most popular free WordPress themes. It’s incredibly versatile and can be tweaked and customized to suit just about any sort of industry niche, and comes automatically translation-ready, SEO-friendly and compatible with every browser.

Another theme with slightly smaller user and download numbers, Total still holds its own among the big ones with a perfect five out of five rating and consistent downloads of around 500 per day. If it keeps this up, by the time it’s five years old I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on par with WordPress’s own releases.

Download Total

Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes

10. Divi


Price: $89/year

Active Users: 400,000+

User Rating: 4.5/5

And now, to delve into the premium themes! Divi is probably one of the most well-known WordPress themes as well as one of the most popular, developed by the industry leaders Elegant Themes.

Just as much a visual page builder as a theme, Divi lets you customize every element of every page and see all your changes in real-time—and you don’t need to enter a single line of code!

It’s all drag and drop, which I love.

There are almost half a million customers actively using Divi for their website and it’s worth noting that, for the yearly fee, you actually get access to all of the themes in the Elegant Themes range as well as every new update.

Download Divi

11. Avada


Price: $60

Active Users: 300,000+

User Rating: 4.7/5

Avada is one of ThemeForest’s best selling themes of all time—and this is no mean feat, especially because ThemeForest is easily one of the biggest WordPress theme stores with more than 30,000 themes available from developers all around the world. So, you’d expect Avada to be something pretty special—and it is!

Lovingly referred to as the “Swiss Army Knife of WordPress themes,” Avada does anything and everything from show-stopping portfolios and professional business sites to niche industries and e-commerce. It’s loved by over 300,000 active users and the ratings are glowing.

Download Avada

12. Flatsome


Price: $59

Active Users: 50,000+

User Rating: 4.8/5

Designed specifically for online stores, Flatsome’s popularity just goes to show how many businesses require good e-commerce support from their theme. It comes smoothly integrated with the latest version of WooCommerce and offers endless options for customization—just some of the reasons for the theme’s loyal following of 50,000+.

With a particular focus on creating a great user experience, Flatsome’s browsing, shopping and checkout process is seamless and easy to follow. It’s also fast-loading, flexible and super easy to work with—whether you know how to code or not.

Download Flatsome

13. X


Price: $59

Active Users: 100,000+

User Rating: 4.7/5

On top of having a really cool name, X is also a much-loved and much-used premium theme from ThemeForest that continues to get thousands of new downloads every month. It features multiple designs to suit a variety of industries and niches, the Cornerstone page builder and a unique stacked layout that will make any website look great.

Users seem to really love X, with the general consensus across reviews being that this is the last theme many of them will ever buy because there’s no need to find another WordPress theme after downloading this one.

Download X

14. Jupiter


Price: $59

Active Users: 60,000+

User Rating: 4.7/5

Jupiter claims to be the fastest theme available on the market based on the website speed test Pingdom, so if you’re planning on shelling out cash for a premium theme, you can’t go wrong with this one. Released about four years ago now, Jupiter has a loyal fan base just shy of 70,000 users and growing.

It comes with over 140 pre-made website templates that can be further customized to suit any type of business, millions of style combinations and the best plugins on the market all included for free. Jupiter is a theme jam-packed with tools to bring all your ideas to life.

Download Jupiter

15. Onetone


Price: $39.95

Active Users: 80,000+

User Rating: 3.5/5

It’s uncommon to find a good premium theme for under $50, but Onetone is one of the special ones.

It’s packed full of features and looks so beautiful and sleek that you’d never be able to tell it’s a budget theme—so this might be a great option for you if you’re just dipping your toe in the water of the premium theme market. There’s even a free version of Onetone that you can trial out first if you’re still a little hesitant.

It comes included with a package of child themes, a dynamic and engaging HTML5 video background, a ton of fonts and shortcodes, and regular updates every month or so. Onetone is the perfect starter premium theme.

Download Onetone

16. Total


Price: $59

Active Users: 20,000+

User Rating: 4.8/5

Nope, that’s not a mistake—there are two themes called Total on this list!

There’s no relation between the two, though. Both are developed by different theme stores, so it’s just a coincidence that there happens to be both a popular free and a popular premium WordPress theme called Total.

This premium Total is designed by one of ThemeForest’s Power Elite Authors, WPExplorer. That makes it a pretty safe bet in terms of design, coding and UX—and it is, in fact, a total package. It’s been purchased over 25,000 times and has maintained a phenomenal 4.8 rating since its creation four years ago. Pretty impressive.

Download Total

17. Enfold


Price: $45

Active Users: 100,000+

User Rating: 4.8/5

With the exception of a few of the most well-known names at the top of this list, premium themes very rarely see sales numbers in the hundred thousands.

Especially premium themes by independent developers.

But here we have Enfold: a multi-purpose and beautifully designed budget theme with advanced mobile capabilities, by an independent developer through ThemeForest. And its sales numbers have crossed into six figures!

This is an amazing feat, but quite honestly, it’s not that hard to see how it got there. Enfold is modern, flexible, very affordable and incredibly user-friendly—and it comes with an integrated drag-and-drop page builder that’s 100% unique.

Download Enfold

18. SociallyViral


Price: $59

Active Users: 40,000+

User Rating: 4.5/5

SociallyViral is the lucky last premium theme to make a spot on the list. Focused on boosting your website’s engagement, social sharing and traffic in order to, in turn, increase your revenue, this theme is big on social media integration and search engine optimization.

If you want to create viral content, SociallyViral is the theme to help you do it. Dozens of websites using the theme are getting more than 100,000 visitors per day, and their most famous example, ViralNova, was a roaring success of a website that eventually sold for an unbelievable $100 million.

Download SociallyViral

Final Words on Joining the Popular Club

The theme you do finally decide to go with for your website will depend on a wide variety of factors specific to you.

But looking at the most popular themes—and by most popular, I mean a combination of the most downloaded and the most highly rated—will give you a solid idea of what to expect from a good WordPress theme.

Because after all, these millions of people that are actively using, loving and relying on these themes can’t all be wrong!


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