As a human that builds WordPress sites for various other humans, I’m always running up against free themes that are loaded with malicious code. So, alas, thank goodness I found this post from Siobhan McKeown at WPMU.org on “Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes.” Even though the post is dated 2011, it is still a valid read that teaches you how to look for malicious code. At the end of the article, there’s a list of some sites that offer free themes. Let’s look at those sites in 2013:
ThemeShaper – This site was put together by a group of people who actually worked for Automattic developing themes for WordPress.com (Automattic is the parent “company” that created WordPress ala Matt Mullenweg). They offer a theme tutorial to help you create your own in 16 lessons starting from scratch! So, why download a freebie when you can create your own? They do offer a free theme – the _s theme, and a link to get Themmatic, a free WordPress framework, too.
Theme Lab – Lots of themes and tutorials all by one guy – Leland Fiegel. He does, however, states that he has no responsive design themes but offers links to premium themesters where you can purchase them, such as Studio Press. For freebies, he says to check WordPress.org’s theme depository for responsive design themes and you’ll get a few.
Theme Hybrid – Offers around 29 themes and about 21 plugins plus their own framework called Hybrid Core. They have also started a club for $29 a year in which you can find more documentation, information from Justin Tadlock and support forums.
Arras – Offers one WordPress theme titled, well, Arras. The theme demo shows how the theme can be used. The site has a forum and a blog in which users can ask questions and get help for the theme.
Smashing Magazine – I do ♥ Smashing Magazine! Not only can you find beautiful, free WordPress themes, but also lots of inspiration, free vector art, icons, graphics, tutorials and all sorts of other things regarding Web design. Just drool over these links to information on responsive design – from tutorials to implementation. Delicious stuff!
For not free (premium), sites offered include WPMU Dev, Graph Paper Press and Woo Themes. I might add, but with caution, themes purchased at ThemeForest.net, but do be careful and check the theme as there have been reports of base64 code showing up. A great way to check is to install the Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC), which you can download for free at WordPress.org. You can also run your domain through Sucuri Security for free to see if anything pops up.