One of the discussions that I’ve seen crop up more than once is the debate as to which should those themes for which we pay be called Premium Themes or Commercial Themes.

Though I personally call them Premium Themes, there have been times in which I’ve casually referred to something as a Commercial Theme. And this is something that we could all debate ad nauseum and probably still not come up with a definitive answer, so I realize the potential futility of writing a post like this, but my curiousity is piqued:

What is the best term to use when talking about themes that much be purchased?

For me, it’s a matter of looking at the basic definitions.

Premium or Commercial?

For the average consumer, I think it’s vary to say that “premium” and “commercial” are treated as synonymous. And, depending on the context, I think that’s fair.

But looking at the definitions of each, are they different:

  • Premium: a sum added to an ordinary price or charge
  • Commercial: intended to make a profit

Honestly, both of these definitions work, don’t they?

On one hand, Premium Themes are adding a charge to software that would usually be free for the sake of support and so on. And on the other, Commercial Themes are also meant to make a profit.

So perhaps the two terms continue to work just fine. But then the next question that comes to mind is:

What word is the most aesthetically pleasing term to potential customers?

Perhaps that sounds like a weird question to ask, but don’t pretend that the way a product is marketed doesn’t influence how you feel about purchasing it. Watching any television commercial for anything will show you that.

This is what "commercial" invokes, no?

This is what “commercial” invokes, no?

So what sounds better to the average consumer and why?

  • “Here you can purchase Acme, our first premium theme.”
  • “Here you can purchase Acme, our first commercial theme.”

Personally, I find the word premium to be better because the word commercial tends to feel a little too, well, commercial. It feels like going to a big box store to purchase just-another-product off of the shelf that’s packed up in a cardboard box and styrofoam.

On the other hand, premium sounds more elegant in the way it’s presenting itself. This is saying that “yes, there’s a lot of WordPress themes, but this one is a step above.” It sounds as if they are of greater quality and more care has been taken into producing them.

One raises the vision of an assembly line, the other raises the vision of handcrafting and personally investing in creating something with an air of quality behind it.

No, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. That is to say that commercial products can still be build with care, but I am saying that something simply sounds more personal when it comes at a premium.

To that end, my personal opinion is to say that we’re shipping premium themes to our customers. But that’s just me: I’m genuinely curious on your take and why (because I know a number of you have differing opinions on this).