We have lawyers and others asking about the best WordPress themes and it is something that occupies the minds of many small businesses and others who want to save costs by using nulled themes, being essentially ‘rip off’ or pirated themes.
As with any pirated software of entertainment, it is an ethical question that should raise serious concerns for lawyers, in particular but anyone in business.
The use of nulled WordPress themes carries risks relating to website security, SEO, legal and privacy issues all of which can be avoided with free WordPress themes and plugins.
WordPress is open source and so it can be argued that using pirated themes that are based on premium wordpress themes is therefore an open season for anyone wanting to build a website.
Maybe, but it is also depriving the premium themes owners of revenue and, much more significantly for the website owner, exposing them to potential risk through malicious code or seriously compromised security.
1. The Security Risk
While the idea of getting a free theme may sound great, it carries the major downside of potential malware or malicious code.
Whatever your business of operation online may be, the last thing you want is to be hacked via a coding problem, risk having your data and website hacked, incur data theft and potentially risk being dumped by the search engines because you have malicious code on your theme.
Paying for premium plugins and premium WordPress themes may be an issue for you, but it’s nothing compared to the risk of losing everything with data loss, reputational damage and all the other issues that come with using either a nulled WordPresss theme or nulled WordPress plugins.
2. The SEO Risk
Using a pirated WordPress theme can also create major SEO problems. If your theme is one that carries the bad code then it can not only be difficult to detect, after all that’s what it’s malicious for, but it can attract spam links to your site and generally create a situation where any SEO advantages and your website’s SEO rankings that you might have been developing will be lost.
The losses incurred, including potential loss of customers’ personal information and personal data, may be sufficient to actually require a complete website rebuild, or even a business rebuild and rebrand given the damage that can occur to both the site and your business brand.
3. The Compatibility Issues Risk
Having a nulled version of a theme can also create ongoing issues, such as compatibility with plugins that you need. If you have key plugins that you need that are failing to work with the theme then you once again have problems.
This can happen with SEO plugins, plugins for a membership website, achieving the regular updates that the legal developer would be providing and so forth. The lack of compatibility and support from original developers is a big downside to using a nulled theme, just as using an outdated version of a ‘legitimate’ theme can create issues.
4. The Privacy & Legal Issues Risks
We have already mentioned issues relating to potential loss of personal data, but the invasion of privacy that can occur through having a valid license for your theme can be yet another major problem. Security breaches that occur through malware and the like are a headache you do not want, let alone legal issues and data loss coming from a nulled theme.
There is also the possibility that your site could be helping to distribute illegal material, become embroiled in a dark web application or compromise the security of other sites, which can lead to legal issues.
So too with the question of copyright over some of the code being used. The licensing of code and that used in both themes and plugins can vary considerably, so part of a license may validate the use of some plugins, but not others.
The same with themes, which can see an illegal breach of copyright of the license owner as a result of the use of nulled wordpress themes.
5. The Advanced Features and Functionality ‘Miss’
Any good website needs to keep pace with the changing environment online and having access to the new features from the theme developer, as well as the functionality and security that a good WordPress developer will provide is something that helps you to maintain and enhance your web presence.
However being unable to use the latest version of a theme and use the WordPress updates that developers of these products will provide means that such advanced functionality and new features is lost, as are the automatic updates that come with premium wordpress plugins and wordpress themes.
The lower price of having nulled plugins or free wordpress themes is well and truly nullified itself by the downside risks.
What You Can Get As Free Downloads
There is plenty of free plugins and free WordPress themes that can be used to avoid the problem of using nulled WordPress themes.
For instance, you can use some of the top rated WordPress themes that often come with all sorts of built-in functionality and top support.
Certainly you can add the premium versions of most of these themes for more features, but the free download you can get from these themes is often enough without the need for playing around with some nulled wp theme that can bring you nightmares.
The same goes for the wordpress plugins that can build up your website for nothing (other than some effort and occasionally some hard work).
For instance, if you popup plugin you can get a free version of OptinMonster. If you want a contact form you can get a free version of WPForms Lite, if you want an SEO plugin you can get All in One SEO for WordPress and so it goes.
The reality is that with these free themes and plugins you can sometimes get more than you might from even a paid, premium product. You can also ensure you’re getting the latest WordPress version and have free alternatives from the WordPress repository that save you the stress, potential legal liability and the worry of having nulled software.
Finally, consider the ethical aspects of this issue. With the open source software provided via WordPress you have a ton of opportunity to obtain some very smart functionality and software for your website without the need to undermine the people who are working to create these products.
Part of your web business must be the requirement to ensure you are protecting customers’ personal information, avoiding unnecessary security issues and legal proceedings and getting great website rankings.
‘Premium’ features do not need to require a paid theme and they certainly do not require a nulled theme when so many WordPress products offer the opportunity to build a robust, secure and successful website.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear how you run, what themes and plugins you love. And subscribe to our site here to get more key insights and advisory articles like this.