Choosing the right WordPress theme is exceptionally important: the right theme can make a site, and vice versa for the wrong theme.
The best WordPress themes are typically premium themes. We’ve been making WordPress themes for the last eight years, so we can attest to the extra value packed into premium themes – and also the huge amount of time it takes to develop a single WordPress theme.
Yet, pirated versions of premium WordPress themes are readily available through file sharing sites. Why pay for a WordPress theme when you can get it without paying?
If you’ll take our word for it, you don’t need to read on, but if you need persuading of the multitude of reasons theme piracy is a terrible idea, we’ll happily explain in plentiful detail.
1. Pirated WordPress themes are a very serious security risk
WordPress themes are generally safe when kept up-to-date. Pirated WordPress themes, however, pose a dual security threat:
- Pirated themes can include compromised or malicious code.
- Pirated themes are not up-to-date versions.
We’ll cover the former now and the latter later. With a pirated theme, you don’t know what you’re getting. Pirated themes are very often compromised, either harnessing your site for spam (we’ll cover this later as well) or adding malicious code which offers a “backdoor” for hackers.
When using a pirated WordPress theme you run the risk of having your site hacked; this is not only exceptionally inconvenient and time consuming to deal with, but it can also get very expensive very quickly. It’s not a risk worth taking.
2. You don’t get help if anything goes wrong
Access to professional support from a theme’s developers is a huge part of the value that comes with purchasing a WordPress theme, and this is something you miss out on when using a pirated WordPress theme.
You get both the peace of mind that if anything goes wrong you can get it fixed right away – and at no extra cost – and assistance with any customizations or additions you want to make to the theme. At WPZOOM we even offer free installation of the theme onto your WordPress site and our Support Team goes above and beyond expectations every single day – that’s how 97% of customers are very happy with our support.
What’s more, the support that comes with a premium WordPress theme is incredibly cost effective. Developers get huge economies of scale when supporting their themes and hiring an external professional for an hour to provide support can be more expensive than straight-up purchasing the premium theme. The value added here is really not to be overlooked.
When you pirate a WordPress theme, you get none of this – and that sucks. You could, of course, try and bluff support access anyway and claim you’ve lost your email receipt. We see this fairly frequently at WPZOOM, but we can instantly tell if a WordPress theme has been pirated, so it doesn’t work :)
3. Pirated WordPress themes are often infected with spam
Pirated WordPress themes are bad for SEO. The motive for distributing pirated WordPress themes is often to acquire spam links on as many sites as possible, so to achieve this themes will be edited to include spam links, typically in the site’s footer.
Spam links on your site is really terrible for SEO. Search engines will punish your site’s rankings if you’re hosting spam links. Furthermore, visitors may see these spam links and will rightly judge your site to be unprofessional. This is, of course, easily avoidable: don’t use pirated WordPress themes.
4. You don’t get security or feature updates
It’s imperative you keep your theme up-to-date. As we reported last year, WordPress and WordPress themes are secure, but they must be kept up-to-date to remain so. WordPress receives three major updates a year, so no time can be wasted with this. Furthermore, security breaches are expensive for businesses:
A report by the UK Government (2015) found 74% of small and medium sized businesses had suffered a security breach with the average cost of the worst breach at £75,000-£310,000.
With pirated WordPress themes you don’t get updates, and it’s unlikely you’ll have the latest version of the theme at any time. This poses a security risk. Pay for a theme, however, and you’ll get the updates that keep your theme compatible with the latest version of WordPress and in doing so you’ll be taking an extremely important step towards making your site secure.
Security is exceptionally important but it’s hard to get excited about security updates. New features, on the other hand, are something to be excited about. Not getting updates with pirated WordPress themes means you’re also not getting any new features added to themes.
Here, for example, is how our popular magazine theme Tribune has changed since its release in 2010 (it’s had over twenty updates since then):
With theme developers increasingly moving towards single multipurpose WordPress themes that have significant features added over time, rather than themes which are released once and rarely updated as we saw in the past, legitimately purchase a WordPress theme and you will get exciting new updates and features which can improve your site.
Security and new features: these are things you’ll only get when you have the latest version of a WordPress theme – something you can only have from purchasing and don’t get with pirated WordPress themes.
5. Piracy is illegal
The final argument to roll out explaining why pirating WordPress themes is a bad idea is that it’s stealing. It’s morally wrong; piracy is illegal. In the world of piracy legality is rarely seen as a deterrent – and indeed the arguments employed in this article stand strongly irrespective of legality – but it is worth explicitly noting pirating WordPress themes is stealing WordPress themes, and that’s wrong.
It’s worth noting that even for themes distributed under a full GPL licence that permits unlimited sharing, piracy is still illegal: obtaining a GPL licensed theme not under the conditions of the GPL – i.e. through piracy – invalidates the licence. Thus, if you’re stealing GPL licensed code, it’s still stealing. Furthermore, many themes are only part licensed under the GPL, with proprietary copyright in place for design elements, precisely to protect against piracy.
Pirated WordPress themes are a terrible idea
WordPress themes are very time, resource and skill-intensive to make, and developers rightly charge a very reasonable price for their themes. Customers get huge value from having an easy-to-use and install website design and further significant value from after-purchase support, tutorials and updates. Together, these make WordPress themes a very attractive value proposition.
On the flip side, pirated WordPress themes offer you only the website design, with the possible downsides of security problems, spam links, SEO issues, no updates, no support, expensive security cleanups and breaking the law.
When faced between the two, it’s safe to conclude pirated WordPress themes are a terrible idea ;) If you want a new WordPress theme, check out our latest themes.