The Two Approaches of Premium Themes

“Premium,” that is “paid,” themes have gained a significant footing in the WordPress community in recent years. There are many designers selling them, and there’s no shortage of buyers.

What makes a theme worth paying for, though?

There are two main angles in which designers approach selling a premium theme. WooThemes and ThemeForest illustrate them well.

WooThemes LogoWooThemes takes the value approach. They charge more than ThemeForest, $75 for a single-site license for a theme, $150 for a “developer” license, which allows you to use it for clients’ projects and such. Then they have their themes club, in which you pay a recurring fee for unlimited access to their catalog. For the price, though, they pack a lot in.

Each WooThemes theme includes several different stylesheets, each in a different color. A variety of useful widgets are built-in to the themes (Flickr, Twitter, featured posts, etc). Some of the themes include a basic 125×125 ad manager. There are a lot of nice features baked into their themes.

ThemeForest LogoThemeForest‘s offerings tend to load up on the goodies less, and focus more on the design itself. Some of the themes include multiple color schemes, others don’t. The themes tend to include the original PSDs, so you can customize them greatly if you have the know-how. Their themes are very good visually, and priced much cheaper than WooTheme’s offerings, generally in the $20-$30 range.

Both methods work, and seem to be profitable. Which do you think is a better value? Cheaper, more style-oriented design, or pricier options with more features?