WordPress themes can run the gamut from niche uses to all-purpose. They can also vary considerably in both quality and price. Note that, just because you’ve paid for a theme that doesn’t guarantee quality.
While there is no shortage of premium themes available for purchase, the quality of free WordPress themes can sometimes exceed the expectations that you would have for something that can be downloaded and used for free.
We’ve collected some of the best free WordPress themes for building your site in 2016. The themes have all been developed to the highest of standards by some of the top names in the WordPress community, all are responsive, so will adapt to any screen size, and all have been designed with latest design trends in mind.
Not a professional designer/developer? Not to worry. Some of the themes below feature page builders, allowing you to create complex, feature-rich layouts with no coding necessary. Likewise, there are themes aimed at professionals looking for a basic starting point in their site development. There is something here for just about every need and skill level.
To make things easier, we’ve categorized the themes for you. There are themes for Writers & Storytellers, Photographers, Creative Portfolios, Businesses & Corporate Sites, Ecommerce & Shopping, Bloggers, Magazine Layouts, Masonry Layouts and Landing Pages.
Themes for Writers & Storytellers
Built to let your words stand out, Libre is a theme that specializes in long-form writing.
Skrollr is a WordPress theme aimed at helping you tell a story. Photos and videos display at full-width and it’s all mobile-friendly.
Saga helps authors emphasize their writing and photography in beautiful ways. Mobile navigation is built right in.
Longform lets you tell your story in unique ways with the ability to publish posts in chapters, timelines and other attractive formats.
Editor features beautiful typography and a uniquely functional tabbed sidebar. The tabbed sidebar content allows you to go well beyond the standard collection of widgets.
Radcliffe is a simple, yet lovely theme featuring large, full-width images and stand-out headlines.
Themes for Photographers
Pho brings a masonry-styled layout to feature your photography. There are also several font choices included to help your words make an impact.
Tography uses CSS animations to add an interactive feel your photo blog. The included filterable portfolio lets users quickly view the various categories of your work.
Fullscreen is a one-column theme that features a unique, side-scrolling home page with a clickable gallery.
Like the layout of Pinterest? Gridsby offers a similar grid layout that opens your photos up into an opaque window.
Tracks is a “bold and beautiful” theme that really gives each post its own moment in the sun. Large photos and bold typography make for an attractive, yet uncluttered feel.
Isola is created by the folks at Automattic, so you know this clean theme will both look great and use WordPress best practices.
Also from Automattic, Espied is a responsive, grid-style theme that provides great visuals of your work.
Themes for Building a Creative Portfolio
Daily comes with a full screen intro panel and a very clean, well-spaced interface.
Illustratr features bold typography and a grid-style portfolio layout. There’s also an expandable footer area.
StanleyWP is a WordPress theme based on Twitter Bootstrap that features a drag-and-drop home page builder. A very simple and clean layout.
Ravel is a dark theme that uses an interesting blend of layout and typography to stand out from the crowd.
Proper exudes class with its simple layout and use of CSS animations/transitions.
Jane Morris is great free WordPress theme for photographers’ portfolio sites. It offers the power of Bootstrap for ease of customization and maintenance.
Gridby is a lovely Bootstrap theme that places your portfolio in a stunning grid display. There’s also an equally exciting storytelling layout that adds in bold typography.
Sketch is a very clean and minimal portfolio theme that lets your images do the talking.
Pure includes lots of great layouts and built in features like pricing tables, tabbed content viewers, buttons, icons to bring your portfolio to life.
Themes for Business & Corporate Sites
Sydney brings bold imagery, built-in features like a slider, animated charts, filterable portfolios and a stunning layout to promote your business.
CleanPort is a sharp-looking theme with a clean layout, custom widgets and is fully responsive for mobile devices.
Business World is a stylish theme aimed at businesses both small and large. Included are specialized layouts and page templates to help you properly represent your brand.
It’s time to see Mia Ittalonni. The full-screen slider for this free WordPress theme looks very impressive. You can also embed video and audio files into its pages to create an appropriate atmosphere and relate more about your restaurant.
Using a drag-and-drop page builder, Make provides a number of gorgeous layouts. It’s great for online stores as it is compatible with both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.
BLDR features a page builder and enough goodies packed in to create just about any type of website. Special page templates are included for testimonials, service lists and projects.
Zeal is a stylish multi-purpose theme that can be used to build any type of site quickly.
WordPress Themes for Ecommerce & Shopping
Mystile is a free WooCommerce theme that is a bit of a blank canvas. It can be a great starting point for creating a beautiful and functional store.
Hype works with the Shopify Ecommerce platform and allows you to combine it with the power of WordPress.
Store brings a clean interface and intuitive design to help you sell with WooCommerce.
Themes for Bloggers
Hew includes a nice splash of color and an expandable header that opens up to navigation and other available widgets.
Cody is clean, colorful and makes for a great personal blog. The look of blog post meta is especially fun.
Eighties is a single-column blogging theme. There is a sidebar, but it is only available by clicking an icon, which opens it up into a nice overlay window.
Intergalactic uses large photos along with bold typography in order to create a slick look while also being highly readable.
Nulis was built as a single-column blogging theme that makes great use of whitespace and featured images for you posts.
Casper, inspired by the Ghost blogging platform, is a super-minimal WordPress theme that ensures your content is front and center.
Allure is a very modern WordPress theme for fashion bloggers. That said, it could also be a good choice for photography or travel blogs as well.
Gateway features an elegant look with an array of useful shortcodes through use of a separate plugin.
Receptar is inspired by modern cookbooks and takes advantage of a tantalizing split-screen look on individual blog posts. The navigation is especially delicious.
Vito sports a very simple layout along with some CSS animation to add a touch of class.
Lingonberry uses WordPress post formats to create an attractive way for different types of content to stand out.
Yuuta will feature your posts as a “visual diary”. You can even add a background image to each post.
Hoffman is a great theme for showing off your photos. There is a nice slider feature for individual posts.
Moments is a modern-looking theme that makes great use of colorful accents. It’s just the right mix of style.
Themes for Magazine Layouts
Good Magazine is a clean and responsive WordPress theme that’s perfect for any content-rich publication.
Have a lot of content to feature? Bloggr is a magazine-style theme that makes good use of columns to help you feature multiple articles.
Semicolon uses a simple grid-layout of posts that lets you display lots of content without overwhelming your visitors.
JustWrite displays content in a way reminiscent of some of the top news sites. It’s advertising-friendly, as well.
Themes for Masonry & Tumblog Layouts
Fukasawa is a masonry theme that is great for displaying photos or perhaps even Pinterest-like news and resources.
Crates is a “tumblog” theme that uses a grid system. There’s also an optional 2 column blog layout to make an extra impact.
Nova uses masonry to get your content seen in an elegant way. It’s also WooCommerce friendly.
Great for showing off your artwork, Pieces can help you create a lovely collection of content.
Themes for Landing Pages
LandingSumoWP20 takes advantage of a drag-and-drop page builder to let you quickly create a stunning landing page.