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January 14, 2011

I belong to an excellent group of web developers, writers, designers, and content producers in the Comox Valley, known as the “Comox Valley Web Posse.” Recently, they posted a link to an interesting article “Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else.

Now while this doesn’t apply to us here at Array Studios, it’s an interesting enough read for anyone out there who works with WordPress, as well as a great illustration of the “Perils of Free,” enough so that I thought I might share it on our blog. If you don’t have a clue what WordPress is, read on while I summarize the important moral of the story.

What is WordPress?
For our readers who aren’t part of the industry, WordPress is an Open Source (meaning free to download and modify) Content Management System that is very popular right now within the Web Development Industry. A quick history – it started out as a free blogging system, and has since exploded to the point that many professional designers use it as their platform of choice to build your website upon.

(Here at Array Studios, we use our own Content Management System which we call EVO. )

One of the biggest pros about WordPress is that it is so easy to download and install, many people who only have a quasi decent idea of what they are doing online are able to get it setup for themselves. Of course, these same people are then unlikely to be able to design and implement a nice looking website for themselves. But not to worry, because again, you can do a quick search around the internet and find many FREE WordPress Themes that look fantastic. Download and install your choice as per instructions, and TADA: You’ve got yourself a decent looking, free, content managed website.

So Why Does this Article Say I Shouldn’t Look for Free Themes in Google? Sounds Like a Pretty Good Deal to Me!
Well, the article does a really nice job of going through the top 10 search results for “free wordpress themes” and analyzing the themes. What they came up with is pretty scary.

  • 8 Out of 10 of the top results had embedded Malicious Code (including the top 2)
  • Of the 2 that did not, 1 contained Themes with numerous pieces of broken code
  • Many of the sites contained themes which were actually stolen from other sources.

The only site in the list of ten that was safe, was the official theme database. It was in the Fifth Position in Google.

One Final Thing We Have To Note
Okay, we don’t want to upset any of you out there who ARE loyal WordPress users, but we have to note one final thing for those who don’t know how these systems work.

There is a lot of discussion about whether or not WordPress is safe to use. Whether you agree with these assessments or not, it cannot really be argued that WordPress is great as a CMS only if you are very careful about keeping it up to date.Therefore, if you DO want to use it, consider finding a developer who can help you manage your site.

Alternatively, spend the money and get a site properly designed and developed by a company who cares about you as a customer, and will make sure your website is kept vulnerability free.