Are Free WordPress Themes Really Free?

Are free WordPress themes really free?

Well, that depends. No upfront cost to you, but did the last person to modify the theme add anything nasty to it?

Now I don’t have a problem giving credit to a theme’s designer for their work with a link. I do object when they add some kind of Javascript where they control what links show up at their say so, even if the links are invisible to your average visitor, they aren’t invisible to the search engines.

Even worse is when some kind of spyware code is hidden somewhere in all the theme’s files, code which could say anything, do anything. You have no idea unless you decode what they’ve hidden.

Real life example:

DO NOT DOWNLOAD and use this theme without rewriting the entire footer.php file.

It contains some code which starts with


and continues with a bunch of jumbled up letters and such. What does the code do? I don’t know, I’d have to decode it to find out but since it is code often used by hackers/spyware I don’t want it on any of my websites. So Do Not Download and use this theme as is from

In fact, I’d check any of the themes on their site very carefully before using, better yet, not use them at all. I checked out another theme they provide and found the same eval code in that footer too.

WordPress gets better all the time, you can now download free themes inside your wordpress admin panel under appearance. Next time you want a free theme, check out those. I’m not saying everyone that offers free wordpress themes embeds bad stuff into the code. Use caution, use trusted sources. I’d check out themes listed on Smashing Magazine, again, do your due diligence.

Another option is to pay for a premium theme from a trusted source such as the Arthemia Premium theme from Colorlabs and customize it for your needs. Check out WeMagazine for Women as a cool example.

Free isn’t always free. Use caution, use trusted sources.

2 thoughts on “Are Free WordPress Themes Really Free?

  1. Heidi,
    I always enjoy reading your posts! Thank you for putting IT out there.

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