Why I Don’t Use Themeforest Anymore
A recent article from WP Tavern on what the WP community thinks about Themeforest encouraged me to write about why I no longer use it for themes.
UPDATE: Here’s a new post from WP Tavern that just came out today (Feb. 25, 2015). It’s an awesome read regarding Themeforest. http://wptavern.com/envato-continues-to-rake-in-the-cash-from-wordpress-themes-packaged-as-complete-website-solutions
What is Themeforest?
Themeforest is a massive marketplace for all types of designs for websites, including static HTML/CSS templates and themes for the major content management systems. With the immense popularity of WordPress, the WordPress section of Themeforest is understandably the most popular. WordPress users can grab all types of themes, ranging from all-purpose/general themes to niche themes, such as themes for photographers and churches.
Why Themeforest isn’t as Great as it Sounds
For new and novice WordPress users, Themeforest seems to be a gold mine. Why wouldn’t it? It’s got thousands of themes that look nice and even incorporate all types of functionality. This means that many users can grab a theme that meets most, if not all, of their needs. I admit that I loved Themeforest when I first started learning WordPress but that was before I got into development and became knowledgeable. I now know from experience that Themeforest is loaded with mostly poor quality themes that sell because people love all the flashy design features, shortcodes, etc.
There are a few main reasons why I do not use Themeforest anymore and will not in the future. First, I have grown to cringe at the thought of bloated theme administration panels that let users customize their website by simply inputting some numbers and selecting some fonts. Sure, these admin panels make for easy editing but almost all of the options can be substituted for some simple CSS. Instead, themes become incredibly bloated with hundreds (or thousands) of lines of code that allow for such easy editing. Not only are the theme files larger, the database becomes larger in order to save those options. All this added bloat for things that could be done with a couple dozen lines of CSS.
Second, most of the themes are poorly coded and have basically no flexibility. What do I mean by flexibility? Take the Genesis Framework for example: Genesis is probably the most flexible theme you’ll find on the market thanks to all of its available hooks. Those comfortable enough with code can control every area of their site with true flexibility. Not a single theme on Themeforest offers this type of flexibility. This means that you will need to hack the theme’s files and attempt to navigate the shitty code to make changes that would be very simple with Genesis.
Finally, the types of themes from Themeforest create something called “theme-lock”. Theme lock occurs when a WordPress user cannot change his or her theme without gutting most of the site’s functionality. Once the theme is deactivated, it deactivates things like shortcodes and custom post types that were registered by the theme. Without these features that the user has heavily incorporated into the site, things fall apart. Page/post content will display the literal text for theme-dependent shortcodes and custom content will disappear. In a nutshell, this makes the entire site a huge mess and a major pain in the ass to clean up. Any code that creates functionality belongs in a plugin, not a theme. Themes are for display ONLY.
UPDATE: Another huge reason for why I don’t use Themeforest anymore (I was reminded by Denis’s comment below) is that Themeforest’s licensing is inconsistent. Rather than every product being 100% GPL like WordPress plugins and themes should be, there are varying license options and this creates uncertainty when it comes to using it. For example, some parts of the theme are GPL while other parts may not be. I don’t like using products that are not full GPL in the first place and the Envato licensing terms for themes and plugins are not something I like or support.
There are three theme providers that I recommend as alternatives to Themeforest themes. I use them all for different purposes so I will list them based on use and user ability:
- Genesis Framework – Genesis is my #1 favorite theme. As it’s name indicates, it is a framework that is built on top of with the use of child themes. It is the most flexible and fun to work with. The community is also phenomenal. However, you will need to be comfortable with some code (mainly actions and filters) to really get the most out of Genesis. Read why I use Genesis and you should too.
- Headway – Headway is an awesome theme builder that lets users build any type of layout imaginable visually (no code required). It’s good for beginners who have some familiarity with WordPress or are willing to learn enough to become comfortable.
- Elegant Themes – I’m a personal fan of Elegant Themes and that all started with Divi, one of the most popular theme’s available for WordPress. The designs are beautiful and the support is great. I recommend Elegant Themes if you are a beginner or for building a quick, simple site that looks awesome right away. Before using Divi, though, make sure to consider theme-lock and read Chris Lema’s post on how Divi operates behind the scenes and potentially changing your theme in the future. You need to be mindful of future changes to your website and how themes like Divi will impact those changes.
The main thing to remember about all of these vendors is that they are well-known and you can rest easy knowing you’ve purchased from a trusted source rather than some (possible) fly-by-night developer on Themeforest.
What do you think of Themeforest?
Before I end, I want to point out that this post is my general point of view but it happens to be shared by many in the WordPress community, especially those who know what they’re doing. I am not saying that EVERY theme/product from Themeforest/Envato is crap. While I might purchase something if I really liked the thought of it, I’ve pretty much written off purchasing from Envato because my reasons for not doing so greatly outnumber the benefits.
If there are any WordPress developers out there who use Themeforest themes for client work, I’m interested in knowing your reason for doing so (for the sake of conversation).
What themeforest does with it’s themes should be considered illegal. For example: Elementor themes with ripped off pro features recreated and branded with some knockoff icon is piracy. I have seen this numerous times. My biggest gripe with this is when you go to update and they are snoozing on updating all of this.
Tony Gaddis says
I just bought a bold themes theme through themeforest and about 1 week later my card had three fraud charges against it. This is really the only unusual charge source I have used the card at. I think they are hacked. If you google you can find many articles about wordpress plugin vulnerabilities.
We purchased the Avada theme from Theme Forest and found out it is completely garbage. Fair enough, our mistake, but to warn others from making the same Rookie error, we posted a negative review, which was completely honest.
The authors had this taken down and then three more times afterwards, as we continued to post.
Themeforest took the side of the author, without writing to us first and simply locked us out of our account.
No sense of fair play to their own customers and are not interested in printing negative reviews for a shoddy product that brings in money to them – CROOKS AVOID
Ya I can see that they remove these reviews all of the time! Seems to be to happening everywhere now.
Here is my late review of this high class, extreme professional con-factory cult.
Rather than duplicating my review I just place a link to my original review. Hope this is allowed.
In short, but, I highly recommend to steer clear of this fake, rude and arrogant folk. I’ve experienced much waste but they are topping everything.
I was locked from my account just for changing my email address. After contacting support, I’ve got this “we’re using our discretion and will not be re-enabling your account”. I was member for 5 years, bought themes. No ideas what could go wrong. Such companies should not exist in a real world.
StudioPress.com Website Speed test of their site LOL!
Binaria Informática says
Well… about Themeforest I have nothing bad (or good) to say, but it’s true that WPBakery (Visual Composer) is terrible, try Beaver Builder with Beaver Themer and you will understand quickly what I am trying to say. To do anything in Visual Composer is a pain, I don’t understand why is included in every almost every template world around.
I’m professional web developer, so I feel confortable with code (html, css, js, jquery, nots specially with PHP but ok), It doesn’t mean I have to re-invent the wheel every time, so I use tools that are “human feeling”, and then I change or create tons of code anyway… but again… visual composer sucks, it is true, I work faster with Beaver Builder, Elements or other builders.
Thanks for sharing your opinion, I have to agree to the theme-lock is very frustrating as it will often leave behind broken shortcodes and other broken elements.
I have also started to despise ThemeForest – mainly because of its licensing model. Most of the themes are fine (i.e Salient or Avada), but I’d rather have a theme that I can use on unlimited websites than buying a seperate license for the theme for each website…
So what are the best alternatives? Divi seems cool, but the ET plans are too expensive for me. Genesis Framework, maybe?
frank gram says
what exactly happens if I use a single license theme on multiple sites?
There are many ways to use or support the plugins without envato. Envato are just cancer. They popped up like cancer does and everytime they have been carved away they come back with more shit themes and code and infesting the web with their greed business plans.
I walk past their offices everyday and seriously want to go in there and rip the CEOs head off. Cunt has ruined all this,
Rob W says
I also wonder how their support fee works… do the theme developers get any of that? Every 6 months I pay Themeforest to renew my support for the Enfold forum and have been doing that for years. I wonder how much of that the Enfold developers get?
I do find it a nice one-stop shop for themes and other items but I wonder about the business model.
I’m dumping themeforest too. What may work one day, may not work the next day. Then because the plugin’s have licensing issues, your outta luck. Ouch ! Good luck going through their lousy theme code !
Marquis Hunt says
So long story short, we both had our hearts ripped out from the same theme for totally different, but same reasons at same time.
Developers don’t put the work into each feature. They assume once it works, nothing else can go wrong. But this mindset is permeated in the community of both WP developers and users, because in general, WordPress as a base with most of its legacy plugins and themes always just… work.
With Themeforest, I have been burnt by a couple of scripts, but as I’ve done more with developing, I actually use it MORE than I use to.
Why?? Because I use it to get a taste of features, or how the code is written, or how some things are integrated. Like a junkyard, I don’t have expectations that things are going to work UNLESS I MAKE THEM WORK.
The pro with Themeforest is a lot of scripts that are available utilizing APIs that I probably just don’t have time to learn.
So, its fun as hell. I feel that it can overwhelm or put a beginning in the wrong spot. But I feel like for a veteran programmer, its a nice place to gain some inspiration and some ideas on integrations and hacks that maybe weren’t easy to do or weren’t thought of before or needs one more function to make it what you want it to be.
Recently I bought business listing theme, and even though its bloated, I’m extracting couple of key functions out of it and disabling others and using it for a specific as a stealth release for a product I wasn’t going to finish in time. Although there were some issues, it did its job pretty well and the plan is working out pretty well.
So Themeforest, at the end of the day, is also a great toolkit to have if you do want to build a site. Its good to identify and play with functions already built first, then it will help you identify how to build your product better.
Because I work on so many offline aspect of my business, this is usually the best way I can learn. And it also has made me a much better code writer as well as knowing limitations of the scripts and what I will ask of outsourced developers when making my own scripts.
So I guess you can say I’m a kid in a candy store when it comes to Themeforest. Although some products aren’t great, like a junkyard, it does the job and bides time before I build my own stuff.
Marquis Hunt says
My foray into theme buying is very sporadic. And sometimes I will run into something cool that ends up being in the Themeforest marketplace.
The website is akin to going to a junkyard. There are so many parts for so many things! Maybe you can fit this code here, or wow! This one can set up an interface for MongoDB along with pre-populated fields for a customized CRM! Or this has 40 PSD templates I can use for my newsletters.
My very own Amazon marketplace clone??? Why the hell not!
When I become a billionaire, I will let everyone know my story of how I found someone who built an exact replica of a billion-dollar site, and I snagged it for 59.00 and … I’ll skip over how I got enough content to make it viable.
Yea, so I assume most people buying those “next Facebook” like themes aren’t rolling in the dough, as if you start with a cookie-cutter mentality, its going to spill in all the facets of building a site properly. Building a business properly.
I always was someone who built simple programs with php and when it was too advance or take too much time, I would outsource it with the database design and query expectations of the front-end. I thought it was all just “place code here, and now it works!”
To be fair, I have been told that I’m a great project manager and that the work put into some of my projects were equal to a veteran designer, but in general I made a ton of mistakes. Because I thought it was all cookie cutter.
One theme on Themeforest, I wasn’t experienced enough to realize that you can’t find a complex theme and try to ADD complexity to it. One theme had 3 functions I wanted, and I thought adding two more would put me over the top. $1200 later I ended up with a long email from a developer on how sorry he was he couldn’t finish the project, or give me my money back, because of how convoluted the theme was.
For months I had blamed him for wasting my time, That was until, I realized a friend who also bought the theme had a decent website running until a plugin update had a brutal conflict with the theme. And both the plugin and theme were staples to the solutions to the website’s functions.
Nuala Mahon says
How can I migrate back to a more simple wordpress theme. I could not get on with Envato. But when I moved it back everything is in boxes, my media library is not visible at the top of posts page. How can I get rid of all the Envato stuff and just return to a simple theme?
Craig Brown says
I came to the exact same conclusion myself, and mostly use these themes; Ultimatum, Toolset, Oxygen2 builder, brizy, Tesla themes, visualmodo themes
Todd Peterson says
I mostly agree with you, but I have an issue with VisualModo: Their themes look very pretty on their site, and you can do some neat things with them, but they are not developers. They are basically graphic artists who have cobbled together some very slick themes using 3rd-party plugins.
Before purchasing, I asked “is this compatable with WooCommerce” and they said “yes.”
I have run into at least 3 compatibility issues with WooCommerce, and every time they said “but look at our demo, it looks great. We can’t be held responsible for that.” However, every other theme I’ve tried (over 20) does not cause these issues, so it’s obviously a problem with them, and not Woo.
I will grant them this – I’ve asked for a few tweaks that they HAVE done for me, but (as I said) they are graphic artists with some coding abilities, not programmers.
marc devisch says
I have recently stopped using Envato Themeforest products. was very disappointed in their extremely poor customer service. Bought a theme called Kitring, installed it and found a bug. Sent the screenprint of the bug and then went nuts about the comments i got. “impossible”, “product was tested by them”… until someone even insinuated I would have changed the code, which was not the case. Started a dispute through paypal and finally nobody was willing to help me. 65 dollar wasted money and much more dollars of frustration. enough Envato now, their “quality control” clearly is not worth it.
Charge back! I just did after being refused a refund on a template called “The Seven(7)”.
I typed in google “wp photography theme no bullshit” which led me here 🙂
Right now I’m using a veeeery popular envato photography theme. Turns out its unusable if you are in fact a “real” photographer. They implemented a 6 year old free media gallery plugin which breaks the picture upload if you want to say do 300 pictures or more. As a photographer these numbers are essential to provide gallerys for our customers.
It’s nice but just not for professionals as advertised. I would appreciate it if someone could give some more tips (some are already mentioned above) for professional wordpress themes for photographers if there are any.
Thnaks to the post author for bringing the topic up!
You’ve got to love it. As several here have commented, Themeforest is an interesting “de looks” place [take off of “delux”] to start out looking for themes if you’re newbie. Which, I am sure we all were at some stage.
My last run-in with Themeforest was when I found 2 themes I liked. Well, they looked “nice” in their demo’s. Like a doos [you’ll have to look it up], I got suckered. Unlike most of the stories here, this one has an interesting turn.
With these 2 theme I had much the same issues others have experienced here – to mention a few, the documentation supplied was for some other theme or project. Stuff didn’t work. It was bloated with VC hell, slider this, that and the other – not to mention OptionTree – which was an Envarto thing but has seen no support in the past of couple of years, any support was a “run around” – and so on.
As per what seems to be the “usual”, I had no joy with the theme’s developers. As part of the process and, for some reason, I did a Google search on the name of one of the themes I purchased. 2 names came up – one an HTML version and the other – the one I bought – being punted for WordPress ready theme.
“Interesting”, I thought. I looked at the HTML version of the template and looked at what I had bought. The HTML version seemed much the same thing I am sure but without all the bloatware.
Thought I would do the same thing with the other theme I bought. Low and behold, I seem to have struck gold. The same damned thing and by the same team – I mean the team doing the WP conversions. Seems like these guys have been picking up HTML templates and “converting” thing into WP themes. Nothing wrong with that – had they done a “professional” job. Well, they had – but not in the customer’s favour.
Net result, I asked Envarto for a refund. They had me jumping through hoops with a whole lot of stuff going backwards and forwards. I prevailed. I got my refund and with that money, bought the 2 HTML themes – both exceptional well written, so I thought. One of them I am using on one of my websites at present
On one of the comments, someone suggested that some group or other in the Envarto “eco-system” seems to have found an interesting way of gain access to some naive, unsuspecting or maybe “innocent” buyer’s websites and /or servers. Kind of starts off with the now usual, “please send us your website URL and access details and we’ll fix up the issue for you”. Yes, sure – as in pulling the other one.
Added to this, is the Envarto “support” ticketing system. No doubt a “money spinner” for those on in the racket. Usually, the first place of call is the theme’s comments section – here to post a question. “Sorry, we can’t answer this one for you here, please go to our support page and create a support ticket” or some such.
With all this, all I can say is, “buyer beware”. Do your research and make sure you know what you are doing. And, if you don’t, ask others.
I have a couple of issues with Theme Forest.
Firstly, It has helped to create loads of “Web Designers”. Cowboys who can’t code, but can create websites without needing to.
They have saturated the “Web Design” market, charging next to nothing. They can do this because they aren’t actually doing anything. All the client is paying for (unknowingly) is data entry and a crappy site.
But then the site breaks. They reach out to developers to try and get it fixed (since the guy who made it doesn’t know how) and they think they’re being ripped off. It makes people distrustful of real “Web designers/developers”.
Another reason I don’t like the themes on there is similar those mentioned here. Bloat, Visual composer, HTML output, head order….
I tried to use a theme, but hated everything about it and gave up after 5 minutes. I dislike them. And I wouldn’t wish Visual Composer on my worst enemy, never mind a client.
I prefer making a theme myself with underscores as the base, and Advanced Custom Fields in the back-end. Simple, fast and effective.
I have 100% control over every piece of PHP, HTML, CSS and JS that is on the site.
I also like my head order a certain way… tidy and ordered:
Themes (and plug-ins too sometimes) have no regard for the head order (or SEO in general) and just have everything all over the place. Nope!!!
Themeforest is a cheater says
I bought a theme from this company but met a lot of issues i asked a refund but no any response, i asked a Paypal dispute, they locked my account, there is some digital assets and balance in my account. they promised to unlock my account once i cancel Paypal dispute, but , after i cancel Paypal dispute, there is no any response from them. Total cheater and fraud.
kiri Scott-Carter says
Has anyone experienced this…
I updated a theme from envato (I get theme update emails every month telling me to update) and everything seemed fine but when i came to make a few changes e.g adding new members of staff the Theme/CSS broke and the style sheets weren’t pulling through. I had experienced this one time before and i had to pay for support (as it had run out) to ask the author to help me fix it, I got an email telling me to refresh with an update and the problem seemed to sort itself. Recently the same thing happed again last week (again my support had run out) but this time i asked a web developer friend to help me out as i was sure the issue was in the code. He told me it was and he had to manually fix it (something i am not that advanced at doing). the site is working perfectly now and he said not to do the update the theme again.
Am i right in feeling that this is a bit of a scam by paid theme authors/theme marketplaces to get you to pay for support? and has anyone else had the same thing happen?
Nilesh Shiragave says
You are right. Yes I am also not fan of themeforest. Because now every theme comes with long list of features. Most of the features we never going to use but those codes remains inside the theme and it increases the loading time. Recently I was working for a client and it was just 5 page website with simple layout but they used a theme which was loading 20+ css and js files inside the theme.
Steven Haffley says
I wonder if the fact that your #1 recommendation offers you kick backs via your affiliate code has anything to do with why you recommend them.
Genesis give you higher commissions than Theme forest?
Dan Hughes says
Seems highly unlikely. Firstly, the author is using Genesis himself. Most folks like the themes they use…. or they would stop using them. Next, Envato is way easier to promote than Genesis. Envato appears cheap, looks super flashy, has a huge range of products. To get paid someone only has to load money into their wallet, they don’t even have to buy a theme. While Genesis is excellent, it appears boring, they only sell a handful of products and product names are so well established that ranking for their keywords would be time consuming and costly.
Finally, the commision difference between Envato and Genesis is minimal. 30% Envato, 35% Studiopress.
Do you frequently imply that people you don’t know have no principles, and will say or do anything for a buck?
Not that it’s any of your business, but I only recommend products I’ve used and trust, whether I’m an affiliate or not. I highly recommend Genesis because it’s top-notch quality. I don’t recommend Themeforest because it’s a lot of crap, and there’s no consistency.
If you want to defend Themeforest for whatever reason, you should do so based on the merits of Themeforest, rather than trying to discredit others by questioning their motives.
Patrick M says
Thanks Ren, you wrote a great review and helped steer me towards a new direction. I really appreciate it your help.
I the internet suddenly deleted everything Envato, Themeforest & WP BakeryI would do a happy dance.
I cannot tell you how many issues I have with client sites who used their themes or builders before they hired me. It’s easier for me to rebuild the sites than go through the hassle of troubleshooting all of the errors, bloat and nonsense.
I bought a theme from Themeforest recently and all tough the theme works, I had a question for the author. He does not reply and neither does Themeforest. I suppose to have 6 month support. It’s a disgrace. I had bought some themes a long time ago and at the time they were quite helpful. I think it depends on who you buy it from.
I agree with you. I am going through a similar problem where they make their money off the WP backbone but do nothing to support WP.
I took a chance and missed the mark. My lesson learned, use a repeatable developer that has a an active forum and will provide tech support for not only the theme but the whatever platform the theme has been built on.
I am going through the same thing now. I bought some themes and I even paid for them to install it and it won’t work. I have emailed the author and no help.
But this depends on the authors, not themeforest. I bought themes from wonderful authors with < 24h response time (fair) and easy incident management e.g. via ticksy.
Others are crap and don't react. So rate the stuff you buy. But I still can't see what envato/themeforest got to do with it. They just provide the marketplace, not the products and services.
Very good article, everything exactly to the point. We are no longer with Envato too and offer our software only on our own website.
I have a good grasp on HTML and CSS, but am a complete novice with PHP (I study finance/marketing full time so have just been using CodeAcademy to learn code). I am stuck trying to choose between using Divi or challenging myself and using Genesis.
Any wisdom you could lend here would be much appreciated!
I am a newbie developer, i am going to develop websites for customers, i was thinking to use themeforest themes because i think it is easy customized and no hassle of coding so i save time, but after reading this post i need a recommendation from you guys for the best framework and theme builder like genesis, Beaver Builder and CSS Hero
i need the best framework which gives me best performance.
hi i use themefiorest last year but there is no support in most cases thi smena if you buy something and in most cases this dotn work then you contact author he dont answer or just send message to you like i reply soon or read this linkxxxxx now we buy wp sms pro and ? dont work w econtact support create support account write dotn work and send login thats all user must do bu t10 days after suppoirt send us many message but never login and check plugin just aks for login we say we send we check it on support account wbesite and there was our login that we send and day later we send new password because we change it today themeforest close our account we can not comunicate with other seller we buy items from and dont ask us or contact us we think reason is because we coyp all we write with support in public comments and other user can read that we send our login
https://codecanyon.net/item/wp-sms-professional-package/9380372/comments search for robertnbg thats we are then you see that we on public commetns hide some letter of login like test to texx but not on support account we dont understand why themeforest delete account without contact us because we think seller sell items and themeforest earn money if many user read no support no work bad support then they dont buy
Hendry Wu says
The opinion is very correct, especially when it explains my own headaches from themes bought on ThemeForest.
As an user without coding ability, it was really as locating a gold mine as mentioned in your post when I found it at the first place. However the user experience really went worse as time passed – poor performance on loading, or things go difficult when changes/updates need to be done.
However, it’s still a pain in the a** that users like me are still forced to buy themes on account of one simple reason: we don’t do coding AT ALL(although we still crawl for answers from experts on web).
for me the most annoying thing (forgetting how the credit purchasing system means you always lose money) – is that when support has expired you can’t even ask the developers a simple question anymore. Most developers maintain their own support forums but they are all switching to ones where you login with your envato account. When your support period expires it locks you out of the support forums so you cannot see your old tickets and communications with the developers – so when they release an update to the theme and it doesn’t work or it breaks something you have no choice but to pay almost the full cost of the theme again to get it fixed – it feels dishonest and almost like blackmail. What was doubly annoying is I bought my theme before they changed the rules about support periods and they retrospectively applied them to previous purchases which under UK law in most cases would be illegal. When i bought my theme it was under the assumption that i would at least be able to ask developers simple questions and get basic support for the lifetime of the product. Envato are so damn shady it seems they are just leeches that squeeze every penny out of every product without the slightest thought towards its users.
Isaiah Bollinger says
How do you feel about building sites via a framework like Foundation and using Advanced Custom Fields to control the content on the backend. We have had a lot of success with this, and build massive sites like winemag.com this way.
The one challenge we run into is it is a more expensive and most businesses want a cheap WordPress site that is not feasible with this methodology.
Deepak Singla says
This post clears the doubt surrounding Themeforest. I agree with the people and of course with Ren that flexibility, clean code and support are the key ingredients to be present in the theme providers. Genesis and Headway are good since having a flexible interface.
I use TemplateToaster, a flexible theme builder compatible with all the major CMSs and it works great.
Rijo Abraham says
Themeforest themes are cheap. Who cares about php code when they are there to buy themes for some specific purpose? Thinking from the buyer perspective.
If it weren’t for the price politics of Themeforest (one license $60 per active auto-update capability!), we would’ve stayed with X or Jupiter…but that’s just a nuance, also in regard to overhead costs and mere catastrophic organization of licenses, not too mention the perverse amount of money the theme developer makes or would make on one agency alone…Funny part is, even with activated license, you still for the most part have to manually reinstall the included premium plugins…which means 50-100 sites temporarily non-functional, even with ManageWP or whatever. (Originally posted in the Facebook Elementor group by me.)
thanks for the article Ren!
Just studying about templates. I m a photograher teaching landscape and macro photograpy. Also teaching photo editing and giving lectures. All mostly in the Netherlands. Probably also selling online courses and course materials later. I want a separate website for my me as a photographer and me as a teacher. I m looking now for the teacher site.
I was thinking of using Genesis and the Author Pro template by seeing a book as a single course. It seems to fit but I m not sure if I can modify it enough to get rid of all the book like things.
Any ideas of the flexibility in this template or suggestions for other templates?
To say TF/Envato and everything on there is crap is too broad a generalization. There is alot of junk on there and there are also alot of well coded, easy to use themes. I’ve had Genesis framework for 6 years now and it’s a very solid framework and is great for custom work and if you are a developer. If you are not a developer or can;’t hire one, it’s not very good. The themes are tired and boring and lacks many features unless you can custom code. Every theme you list you are an affiliate for, notjing wrong with that, but something to note when trying to decide on how bias you are.
FYI, Headway themes (I have owned since V1.4)has tanked, is no longer supported and has left thousands of developers out in the cold with stranded websites that cannot be updated.
TF isn’t the only place where you can find crap.
Acee Baba says
ThemeForest trying to hack the market. Theme developers are upset. Theme Users are upset. Now it making a big problem with the new offer of $19 for theme install and setup.
But Envato team ignoring a point that Themeforest become popular because of developers like me who but themes and setup for others with a reasonable price.
Do you guys think Now Themeforest should decide what will charge our customers?????
It’s a poor try to keep standing in the market with offer of $19/month.
Thanks for this. I’m building up a blog, news and portfolio site, but cant seem to decide on a theme to use. I do have programming experience, I just want something I don’t have to work too hard on just to make posts and customize each individual page and such.
I’ll check out the Genesis framework for wordpress. Thanks mate.
Maria Martinez says
I’m a prospective blogger who is totally overwhelmed by the prospect of building a blog I can customize with virtually no tech experience. There are some ThemeForest themes I love the aesthetic of (and frankly Genesis/StudioPress themes seem so outdated), but I do want to begin blogging responsibly and protect my content as well as any future changes I might want to make to my blog. I’m still confused on how child themes work exactly, but I’m “in the market” for a child theme (the aesthetic portion of the blog from what I understand) that is more modern that the templates I’ve seen on StudioPress, though I’m totally open to Genesis for a parent theme. Any direction on where to find updated parent+child themes would be soooo appreciated (I’m aiming for a fashion/lifestyle blog, btw & I’m a serious beginner aka no coding knowledge whatsoever). Thanks for the awesome and informative post.
I do agree with Ren’s article but I would however hasten to add that Themeforest themes aren’t all doom and gloom as mentioned above. If you have a couple of months to learn code you could do that and try at going at it alone. However if time is an issue here are a couple of things that I hope will be helpful:
1. A child theme is not a standalone theme. Let’s say you select a theme on themeforest or any other marketplace it usually comes with it’s particular child theme. The main purpose of a child theme is to give you the ability to tweak with the appearance of your site using code but without altering the parent theme. This ensures that whenever updates are made to the code of the parent theme they don’t break your site(mess up its appearance.) To that end you can’t use Theme/Template A’s child theme on Theme/Template B.
2. As a “Newbie’s” guide to selecting a theme to use I would recommend that you take a look themes that are categorised under “Popular,” as these tend to have a lot of users that have used them for years even. Also what I found helpful was looking at the comments and support section of every theme that i have bought. This helps you get an understanding of the merchants that you’re buying from in case if you run into problems later on. The last thing is I would recommend is using themes that utilise page builders like Visual Composer etc.
Camila Arzate says
I have been a long time customer for ThemeForest. Until today.
1st case: They sell the Visual Composer plugin, that is advertised as: IT WORKS WITH ALL THEMES!, well that is not true. For example, VC didn’t work on the Theme Enfold, which I have on a client’s website. It . The plugin author replied letting me know that, in fact, VC does not work with Enfold. I managed a refund. Because if it didn’t work on the client’s website… Well, why would I want it?
2nd Case: There is a theme called The 7 by Dream-Theme. I bought it, after installation and hours and hours of customization I discovered, the theme was showing a blank screen for my mobile users. 5 emails, 5 days LATER and NO ANSWER AT ALL, I had no way to fix it and no way to get a response, the knowledge base is trash (beyond poor).
Their welcome email came from email@example.com, but guess what? They don’t answer that email (I repeat: The welcome email comes from firstname.lastname@example.org BUT they don’t reply that email) they supposedly have a ticket system that I need to use, and that was never specified in the welcome emails. In fact, that is something you need to find out on their website, you need to register, etc)
Of course, I got a response when I rated them with 1 star, just after the uninstall of the theme. The author was beyond RUDE with me, not even offering help, letting me know that I should know about their ticket system! I mean… how could I not know!??
OF COURSE, I was again requesting a refund, that is NOT premier support. What was ThemeForest response?
“Thanks for your email. Author seems to be responding to all inquiries here:
Therefore, we are unable to issue refund in this case.”
So, I need to enter to the comments section and wait until the support team answers or try to find an answer in over 10,000 comments. That is NOT premier support (as they advertise), and they do not protect their customers. I have bought other products from ThemeForest, which I am very happy with, like Enfold or NewsMag (great support!) I just want to buy what is accurate. And a fair trade for my money! I am never buying from Envato again, I am very disappointed.
I am wondering for the alternatives. May I have your opinion on the combo as an alternative?: Beaver Builder+ Beaver Builder Theme + CSS Hero? Thanks!
Hi, Camila. Sorry to hear about your frustrations with Envato.
When it comes to visual building, Beaver Builder is one of the best ways to go. It certainly knocks the socks off of Visual Composer. You can use the Beaver Builder theme, or go with something like Genesis for a really solid foundation.
I have not used CSS Hero, but it looks like a terrific tool and it has some nice recommendations.
Overall, I’d say that the combination of Beaver Builder and CSS Hero is one that is definitely worth taking for a spin if you’re looking to customize your layouts and styles without needing to write any code.
Ren do you feel the same way about Genesis today as when you wrote this post? Or have you moved on from there?
Hey, Andrea. I still use Genesis for pretty much all of my theme work. Still love it and recommend it.
I like Envato Market, have a variety of theme to choose, and obviously you need to have the knowledge to update or make the template accord your necessities. WordPress is more commercial, you don’t have to actualize anything, just fill and that it! but then you can find that more that one person has the same website.
Jose Lopez says
I have had good and bad experiences with ThemeForest, the ‘Envato Quality Check’ means nothing to me now. Thanks for the great post!
Personally I find that using Genisis with the Dynamik Website builder is by far the best solution out there. If you haven’t already check out Dynamik.
Clyde Price says
Thank you so much for you input. I am very new to blogging and so I wanted to nice theme that suited my needs. I am a budding gaming blogger. The youplay theme seemed nice at first. Then I started losing my mind. All I really wanted to do was change my banner, footer, and background. I was surprised at how hard it was to do. I even went on the envato site and asked for help. They had suggestions and stuff, but my changes didn’t seem to stick for one reason or another. I was losing my mind. This explains it. Thanks. And thanks for the suggestions.
As a non-programming, blogger that learned wordpress through trial and error I agree with a lot of the points in this post. In the beginning I used themeforest for many of my projects and spent a lot of money on them.
Later I realized the limitations that the themes bring when in terms of bloat and difficulty when it is time to change themes again.
Eventually ended up working more with Make theme by Themefoundry, Genesis and Divi. I choose based on my client’s needs for the backend.
I think there should be some stronger coding standards in Themeforest. However there will always be a market for those looking for dazzling features.
I warn all my clients to choose wisely when using themeforest to make sure the theme code won’t slow down their site and it is flexible enough to expand on later. Many of my content blogger friends have yet to understand this, yet I still keep preaching.
Isaiah Bollinger says
Thank you for explaining why Themeforest Sucks. We have a really hard time explaining the value of the custom themes we build using advanced custom fields on the backend to control content. I hope more and more people realize why you cannot go the Themeforest Route. I might want to update my blog just saying never go Themeforest hahah!
Envato is not the only problem we have today. Genesis, Divi, Avada everyone is a problem. And the way Studio press is marketing Genesis, it seems that they want people to believe that a custom WordPress theme is bullshit. And with their false marketing promises like ” It expedites development process ” . There is absolutely no need for a framework at all. We were all happy with our own custom WordPress theme where we can simply update our WordPress core without getting it crashedl
Genesis is the most popular theme framework for WordPress for a reason. As a developer who’s done both custom themes and Genesis child themes, I continue to use Genesis because it does expedite the process, if you know how to use it. I’ve spent a lot of time working with Genesis, and volunteering in the support forums, and I’ve found that most of the people complaining are doing so without understanding how it works.
Also, I’ve never heard anything from StudioPress that would indicate they believe custom themes are bullshit. They only talk up their own product, which is normal. Their product is also recommended by some of the most influential people in WordPress.
While they may not be for everyone, as a framework, Genesis does its job very well.
I had attempted to learn Genesis in the past but got frustrated with it as a graphic designer. 1wd.tv pushes its ‘Lego block’ web site builder products to help; in the meantime I have built sites for clients using Avada because its simple enough for them to understand the admin and flexible enough to do a lot of different layouts. To me, short codes are a ‘Lego block” kind of approach that doesn’t lock people into particular layouts, as long as people continue to use that theme; I doubt Avada theme will fly by night, but when it’s time to update those sites, I am certain that developers will be using a different approach in a few years. I can understand that the code is bloated, and it isn’t perfect, but my clients like the admin. Ill take another look at Genesis.
Matt Whiteley says
I would also like to jump in here and throw full support behind Genesis. I’ve been an avid Genesis child-theme developer for 5+ years and it absolutely does expedite the development process if you understand the action/hook/filter functionality.
When you combine Genesis with Advanced Custom Fields you can pretty much create anything in a way that makes it very simple for clients to maintain, without all the bloated code that many ThemeForest themes come with.
I could certainly understand it being a bit difficult to understand for a graphic designer, but you do need to learn some php to work with the actions/functions/filters, but it is well worth it. That and the StudioPress community is wonderful.
I have a base child theme and a core functionality plugin that I start every project with and it certainly expedites the process.
Steve Raven says
My problem with ThemeForest, and Envato in general, is the hidden extras in pricing when you get to the checkout that are not mentioned anywhere on the sales page.
I will not on principle pay an extra 10% plus handling charge for using my card.
If shops operated in this fashion in the UK, they would be shut down!
Interesting point, Steve. Thanks for brining this up. They’re the only vendor I’ve come across that operates in this manner.
It seems those extra fees they charge are a way of offloading the fees they owe to their payment processor. Personally, I’m of the belief that any fee owed to a payment processor (i.e. PayPal, Stripe, etc.) is part of doing business, and is a seller’s cost for selling. Therefore, processing fees should be calculated into the final price charged for a product. Showing one price, but charging the customer X-amount more than the originally stated price, is, in my opinion, not a very good look, especially since we’re talking about digital/downloadable products that don’t require any shipping or handling. It leaves a lot of people wondering why they’re being charged an extra few dollars for, seemingly, nothing.
While I can agree that there are many themes on TF that are plain crap, there are also a lot that are very well coded where the developers have spent years critiquing them to be the best possible masterpiece of code possible.
Authors who do not support themes once there is a bug should be removed from TF, but they seem to keep them anyways, especially if they are selling well. It’s a business at the end of the day and there are so many items listed, it must be a huge job to deal with them all. I can see both sides of the coin here, but you do have a valid point.
Theme forest is a scam and run by bunch of loosers , report here
Here report there are scams
Tad Ingram says
As a developer, I have to say that TF and Envato in general are a pain in the ass when it comes to the theme review process. Yes, most of the theme they are are crap. I’ve downloaded a few. The code is crap and BADLY written. So, I thought – having been a dev for over 20 years – I’d write a really well coded them. And I did. Eight months later, I am STILL attempting to get past these reviewers.
They do NOT care about well coded themes. They care about the demo site design, and making sure esc_attr and esc_html are used everywhere, even when it doesn’t need to be. Granted, I am not a designer by trade, by my current design is – according to others who have helped with it – better than most of the crap on TF. Still, all they care about it complete and utter perfection from new people, completely forgetting the flooded the market with crap for years. One of the TF admins who refuses to pass me recently passed a much, much lesser theme…but he’s not American. Ever notice most of those shit theme are done by muslims? Just sayin’.
I just purchased Qode’s Bridge Theme and it comes with visual composer which I had never used before. Visual Composer SUCKS SO FREAKING HARD. It is horrible
The one thing that annoys me more than anything and that is a misrepresentation of prices….what you see isn’t what you actually pay…
Strange how $59 dollars becomes $73,76 when you go to pay for a theme…
I know this post is old as dirt but the information is still relevant today (Even more so). That being said, is there any reason that Toolset was not mentioned in your article.
They offer a great set of tools that you can use to dev WP sites ( I have used them on several), without sacrificing usability, design and development. Or is it that you have never tried their tools?
Let me know what you think
Hi, David. I’ve used Types for registering custom post types and fields, but that’s all from the Toolset suite. It was quite a while ago, and I’ve since moved to registering CPTs with code, and using Advanced Custom Fields or CMB for custom fields. I’ve heard good things, but, as a developer, I’d prefer to write the actual code rather than using something like Views. However, Toolset definitely has some cool features.
I too have an issue with Themeforest. They do have some nice themes and we develop sites for clients, but when I can I don’t use them. The affiliate program is a colossal waste of time to promote. I’ve never been paid anything from them, and can never get the links to work properly as well. Big name, bad program. Thanks!
I couldn’t agree more about Themeforest and Envato. My fist experience starting out with WordPress was a theme from Themeforest labeled the ultimate theme. The theme was good and so was support. I bought a plugin that I thought was a WP Plugin and it would not install on the theme and the developer was of no help. I ened up charging back the plugin and then began the nightmare. Envato shut account down. Afte a long battle, Pay Pal refunded me and since my knowledge is a little bit better and everytime I look at a theme that looks descent it usually comes from Themeforest and I will absolutely never buy from Envato or Themeforest again. I have found a few developers that I like and stick with them. The reason I came across your blog was I did a search on Elegant themes versus Themeforest. I was interested to see your comment about the positive points on Elegant, but have read so many negatives about support. I have already read Chris Lema’s post. In my opinion it is not a good idea to throw all your eggs in one basket no matter what. I looked at a few of the other themes on Elegant that looked unique, but was wondering if it was difficult to obtain the look. Divi does not look like anything special and the look it has is already starting to become dated IMO. Looking at some Divi built sites that are probably the best of their clients is mediocore and I would guess that is the best of the best. It looks like they use a lot of photoshop designs in them. I am still hashing out trying Elegant? I use visual composer on all my sites and I do not like being at the mercy of that plugin.
Thanks for the post, I hope some of the better theme developers start marketing on their own and stray from locking up so many people to Themeforest and Envato. Unfortunately a good developer is not always a good marketer. I give Elegant credit for that. I switched from Rapidweaver to WP and it was easier to build a better looking site that ran faster than WP. From a business standpoint, I had a hard time selling Rapidweaver to a potential client due to the fact that you needed to own a MAC and purchase the software and could not hand it over to anyone.
Great post on Envato and I too get annoyed with how difficult it is to get Visual Composer licenses correct, updates, etc. I bought the AIT themes club and though the themes look really nice, it’s almost impossible to use with an existing site that used Visual Composer. Anyone else had any experience or suggestions on the conversion?
If I only buy the genesis framework. And I don’t know anything about codes. Will I still be able to start a Content/Sidebar – two column blog with it?
Do they give any basic/by-default/inherent child theme to start with?
Thanks in advance.
William Beem says
Genesis framework operates as a barebones theme, but there are child themes available from StudioPress and other theme vendors. You can easily do a two-column blog with it. You don’t get a default child theme, but the Genesis framework does come with any child theme bought from StudioPress (not necessarily the case with a 3rd party child theme vendor).
my 2 cents worth regarding ‘envato’ – after many years [I don’t sell there] I had learned to avoid themes like the plague. I own many, but found only 2 of them usable. I learned to dislike authors that boast all the many plugins that come with their theme for free – it is probably the worst of all culprits for any theme, because you do not own a license for those plugins and depend solely on the grace of the author to update.
The much hailed Visual Composer – what a disaster to have to clean up when daring to use some custom code with it.
Needless to say – although I am not a friend of WP in the first place [because in my humble opinion it will never be a true cms] wp is only good if used with a framework like genesis.
Lately, facing a large project, I opted to go back and again use TYPO3 [which now has finally shed the dinosaur cloak].
I am not a professional coder, or programmer for that matter, coming from the design corner – but learned over the years that both aspects have to be considered equal – coding and design – to produce a solid website that has the capacity for infinite expansion in any direction.
Not an easy task – but definitely a worthwhile one. And that automatically excludes envato to a 90% degree.
[because in my humble opinion it will never be a true cms]
I’ve built many types of websites that are not “blogs”, recently a voter info site with 40k plus voters that are displayed on a map and searchable. Since my decision to track to WP only sites, I’ve never had to surrender on a project because of any WP deficiencies.
I don’t even offer simple web design anymore (blogs). Theme sites selling fixed themes (stuck themes) make it too competitive. I prefer complex jobs, usually conversions, typically from html and asp. We can clone any site appearance with WP. Ironically, our recent clients are mostly owners of complex and costly .asp sites. They like the look but are intimidated by the back-end…preferring the simplicity of WP’s content management.
I’m not saying that there are things WP doesn’t offer that other CMS’s do…just that stating WP is “not” a CMS because it’s features are different is narrowing the definition from the general to specifics.
Hey, Michi. Thanks for the comment and sorry to hear about your experience with TF. I also have a significant collection of TF themes that I don’t touch. They’re too troublesome to work with, too limiting, too bloated and Envato’s licensing is off-putting enough to discourage use from a non-technical point.
I won’t even get started on Visual Composer because I’ll need a hard drink afterwards (and I don’t even drink)! 🙂
Regarding your WP-as-a-CMS remark, Like Neal said, WordPress may be different from other content management systems but that certainly shouldn’t act to discredit it as a legitimate CMS. In fact, it’s actually become a lot more than just a CMS. With the JSON API, for example, developers can build web/mobile apps using WordPress strictly for content management. This means we can build completely separate applications while still utilizing some of the best features WordPress has to offer (posts, users, etc).
WordPress is highly flexible and I, too, have yet to experience a project that I couldn’t complete on it. Yes, it’s even better with frameworks like Genesis and other awesome things that let you really ramp up its power (i.e. Gravity Forms, WooCommerce, etc.) but its default flexibility allows plugins and themes like those to exist. With enough code know-how, some pretty amazing things can be done.
I am not that much of a developer and yes visual composer was such a headache when I started to work with it(developing shortcodes for it still is). I think Visual Composer needs time a few days and you will get along well(this is from those customers of mine with few coding knowledge).
I agree that theme on TF, sometimes are not that great, also I do agree with option panels toooooo many unnecessary lines of codes but let us be frank here can a person with no coding knowledge has a website similar to those on ThemeForest without hiring someone with some coding knowledge? The answer is a big no. I am not defending TF, HELL no, but I think (SOME OF) these themes are designed the way that let every one patch up a blog, a shop, a website in general, I can not help to not to love the idea, even though I hate Envato and its policies.
I stumbled across your post and was quite amazed that so many people had bad experiences with Themeforest. I myself used Themeforest for several themes and clients and my frustration level has increased over the years with Envato. Currently we are developing our own themes, just to know that the code quality is good. Of course not all themes are bad, but it’s quite pricey to test out several themes and see which themes are good and which are not… I wrote my own piece on what I think is should be done: https://medium.com/@danj/why-wordpress-com-is-loosing-millions-of-dollars-5db22936c143
Allison Reed says
I completely agree with your point of view, and after such a long “comment history” and your well-grounded arguments it seems like there is nothing to add. We admire engagewp and would like to offer you long-term partnership with our company.
Please, let me know if there is a chance that you are interested
Hope to hear from you soon
It’s been interesting to read up on Theme Forest today because I’ve been jumping from site to site with articles that are focused on the bad. However, as a former theme forest author, I left and focused on my own theme site, and now a newer one. Their site is seriously saturated with themes that are, as many have mentioned and I have to agree, horrible code, but for someone visiting the site, they see themes with lots of eye candy, and that is one of many problems…
Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that most themes that go live at TF are getting less than 100 sales each; actually less than 60. To break-even, an author really needs to bring in 300 sales to gain back the 2-3 months it takes to put a theme together, but that is just not happening anymore. There are many reasons that have been suggested from an article at PremiumWP http://www.premiumwp.com/themeforest-authors-report-50-70-drop-in-theme-sales/ of why authors have seen a drastic downturn in sales, most of which I have to agree.
Perhaps Envato’s policies are finally catching up to them. They allow too much garbage themes in and then have a nuclear option if you file a dispute. Nobody likes a bully, no matter how well they rank in Google.
I think it’s a lot of stuff that is beginning to collect as time goes on. It appears to be taking effect quickly. Granted, I can say that there are a lot of talented theme authors there, but when dollars are at stake, policies and rules start to morph into abuse on both sides. It’ll be interesting to see where Theme Forest is in a year and to what changes Envato decides to make (and enforce).
Thanks a lot for the comment, Andre.
While I have never sold on TF, I can imagine it must be frustrating. After all, there are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of themes/templates that look almost identical and function similarly to others. There’s not much differentiation at all, at least on the surface. I’d say the key difference between high and low volume sellers really comes down to how well the seller stages/markets it. I’ve seen themes that look really nice with very little product description and very few sales. Then I’ve seen the giant themes with huge sales that have laid out demos and descriptions as bloated at the theme itself. I suppose this is a basic principle of sales in general but my point is that it’s probably safe to assume that some of the best developers aren’t the best marketers and their sales reflect their (lack of) marketing abilities more than their coding abilities.
It does boil down to the fact that themes are a commodity and buyers are trying to get the most flash for what they pay. If the buyer doesn’t know any better, 100 theme options and 5 image sliders are going to be perceived as providing more control than something with 10 options and no sliders. After all, what theme seller is going to present the idea of theme lock and warn about the bloat and potential security-vulnerabilities associated with their monstrous theme? Features are instant sellers for do-it-yourself-ers, quality code and best practices aren’t and, thus, the obvious emphasis on eye candy and marketing.
Jason Xie says
Is it just me or by “Bloated” means too much code “Loaded” at the same time? you can have 1 million theme options but if you only load 10 of them when a single page is loading still considered as “bloated”?
Also some complaints about 100 css files with 100 js files, is it better to have one gigantic css file with thousand line of codes or have 100 css files then “aggregate” them during page load?
Child themes? that is better than bundling plugin with theme? seriously? doesn’t having child themes means everything in functions.php is loaded twice? once for the parent and the other is for the child theme? all function must use if (function_exists….. ramen type?
WordPress coding standard is best… you are joking right? wordpress itself made of tons of ramen type of coding, heck even core doesn’t understand proper class protected, private access, everything else is public. not to mention “filter” and “actions” that is hacky and crazy, ever tried to unhook any hooks made with object attached to it?
So in summary, why nuking themeforest author and saying that their code is horrible when even wordpress “standard” coding itself is horrible at different level, go and learn truly good “standard” coded PHP framework such as laravel or symfony if you want clean coding.
As you’re vouching for the code quality of Laravel and Symfony, I assume you already have at least an idea of the answers to the questions you asked. Bloated themes are ones with tons of files and options. Retrieving each option requires a call to the database, which slows the loading process. Many calls will lead to a noticeable difference in speed. Furthermore, loading additional CSS and JS files results in new HTTP requests, which also leads to a slower loading process. That’s why it’s best to load as few files as possible. For example, it’s typically best to concat and minify JS files so that only one is loaded.
Yeah, seriously. You’re incorrect here. A child theme essentially lays on top of the parent theme. Nothing is loaded twice unless there’s duplicate code in the child theme. For example, Genesis child themes initiate the parent theme’s functionality while only customizations are contained in the child theme’s files. Nothing is loaded twice. Also, bundling plugins with themes is not a very good practice. What happens when that plugin is discovered to have a security hole and needs updated right away (i.e. the recent Revolution Slider vulnerability)? Users have to wait around for the theme developer to update the plugin within the theme and release an update. That extra time and step can be the difference between a hack and not.
No, I’m not joking about following best practices. Are you trying to imply they don’t matter? Just because WordPress itself doesn’t contain the cleanest code in the world, that makes it okay to ignore coding standards in your own plugins and themes? Are YOU serious? If that was the case, WordPress experts wouldn’t work so hard to write secure code and to release patches to close security vulnerabilities so that users’ website aren’t attacked.
William Beem says
I used Genesis for a few years and finally gave it up, preferring to use themes from Envato. The simple truth is that Genesis is far behind in design and support is poor. The folks at StudioPress are getting slower and slower about putting out new themes. All of their energy goes to the RainMaker platform and podcasts. Products like Premise and Scribe are now dead to those of us who don’t want to use RainMaker, despite the fact we paid good money to get them.
Elegant Themes is doing great work, but even Divi can’t handle everything you want to do. I wanted to control full width photos and sections, but Divi couldn’t handle the dimensions. Neither could any theme from StudioPress. However, I found support for my needs from themes on ThemeForest, like Story from Pexeto and Ink from CodeStag.
Most of us who run a web site are not designers or coders, nor do we wish to spend time doing that kind of work. We want to create content for our visitors, not create custom code for Genesis. It’s a difference in priority. For the majority, Genesis is outdated and poorly supported. That’s great if you want a web theme that looks like it was designed in 2006, but there is little support for modern design.
There are certainly bloated themes on ThemeForest, but there are also some outstanding pieces of work. I’ll continue to shop there as needed.
Hello, William. To start with, I agree with you that it seems StudioPress has begun to spend a lot of time on their Rainmaker platform. Given its price, I guess I understand why. However, I don’t ever intend to use it so, personally, I would like to see a little more time go into producing new Genesis child themes. That said, they have released a few excellent ones within the recent past, such as Altitude Pro, Author Pro and Cafe Pro. More of the variety is seen with the third party community, though.
I have to disagree with you on the design of Genesis being outdated, at least partially. Genesis at its core is a framework that works with child themes. The Sample child theme is intended to be minimal to allow for easy customization. Personally, I really like the Sample theme for this very reason. In fact, most of the child themes from StudioPress are intentionally minimal. Brian Gardner, the founder of StudioPress, is a minimal designer and has created many of the child themes with a minimalistic approach. Yes, some of the child themes are more plain than others and some, I admit, even appear outdated.
Genesis child themes, especially ones from StudioPress, are more intended to be customized to some extent. This differs from what you get with Themeforest themes and other themes with built-in designs, like Divi. These types of themes are created to look like a full design out of the box, without any coding needed. Genesis is not that way. There is indeed a tradeoff, though. While Genesis and many of the available child themes may not be the most trendy/gorgeous designs available, you do have the flexibility to create any look you want. If you prefer not to code that look yourself, going with a theme like Divi or something from Themeforest is fine but you are giving up flexibility and are locked in to what those themes provide in terms of settings.
In short, Genesis is all about making development a quicker, easier task. That’s why it is the most popular theme framework for WordPress. Themeforest themes and Divi are about giving you something nice without the development. As you mentioned, it all boils down to priority: what you want to do and how much control you need. There’s no better illustration of this than looking at the code for each theme!
Lastly, regarding Genesis support, it’s popularity has led to a very large community of users and people offering Genesis-related services, products and support. There are many generous folks on the StudioPress support forums offering help for free. Additionally, there are tons of third-party resources such as plugins, themes, and tutorials, many of them free. Genesis is, from what I’ve seen, probably the most third-party supported tool for WordPress. Getting back to the relatively infrequent addition of new child themes on StudioPress, I hope to see them begin to accept more work from third-party developers (like they did with the Community Pro child theme that was recently released). This will give developers a better outlet to sell their child themes and increase selection for users.
Thanks for commenting and bringing up some good points!
10 starts to you !! A person who gets the real problem with StudioPress !!
The designs are not appealing and are NOT functional for the use of small business without hiring a developer to create a custom theme version. Small business need designs out of the box or with feature options that do marketing work and content presentation work.
In my experience, after buying the child theme bundle on sale, there is NO child theme that works. Not one. And I don’t have the time or desire to learn coding. I should not have to hire a dev to make a simple site usable. My time and limited budget needs to be spent on content and marketing.
What may be a “problem” to you is considered a major advantage to most Genesis users. One of the main purposes of using Genesis is ease of customization. Although there are some really nice child themes as of late, the designs are not the main selling point.
Yes, Genesis requires code to make the most out of it. If someone cannot code or is not willing to invest in a developer who can, then Envato may be a better choice to some, though I’d recommend against it.
I have to disagree with this. Not every small business needs such features out of the box. Many small businesses are willing to hire developers to build/customize their websites to give them a custom feel, rather than a canned design that can be found on many other websites. In fact, many small business owners don’t even want to worry about their website. After all, that is why there’s a market for developers who provide custom development services. In my experience, a lot of Envato users go with those themes to keep things as cheap as possible because they’re more “new” business owners than “small” business owners.
Actually, they all work. Every one. There’s a difference between something not working and not being capable of getting it to do what you want.
Genesis is a true framework (the best selling theme framework for WordPress). That means it’s mainly intended to be customized with code. It’s not a theme/page builder, it’s not a drag and drop editor, and it’s not going to get you a fully customized design by means of visual tools. That said, it’s lightweight, well optimized, and extremely flexible. If those things don’t matter, then great(??). If pre-determined design options are sufficient, then great. But saying Genesis doesn’t work because it doesn’t provide those is not fair.
I have twenty Themeforest themes. Used to love them. Now my sites are downloading link old 56K modems (well not quite that bad). I should have spent my time learning WordPress dev instead of hundreds of hours trying to change a link color or move a picture or customize just about anything.
Ugh. The hours I spend digging thorough thousands of lines of css just to find the one specific bit of code needed. Usually I found the specificity a nightmare.
Not to mention the increasing price of everything at Envato.
Thanks for this post and telling me about Genesis, etc.
Glen Sutton says
Ren, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Envato. I don’t use them either. I purchased a few things years ago and just wasn’t happy. I am building my we design company and I have searched high and low trying to find the best tools to build non-bloated, well-coded, modern, responsive websites.
I’ve had much hair-pulling expenses working with WordPress. I’ve had things get broken when working with 3rd party plugins or when switching between one theme and another theme. I also regularly hear about the security issues with self-hosted WordPress sites. Why does the world love it and use it so much?
From my understanding, most people that know a bit about the web, want a WordPress site and therefore it makes sense for me to offer that to my clients. So with that in mind, I think that from all of the many hours I’ve put into testing things out, Divi 2 by Elegant themes is probably at the top of my list, even above Visual Composer by WP Bakery. Although, Divi has LOTS of limitations and I had to invest in 3rd party tools to get more out of it… and it is still lacking.
With that being said, Elegant Themes just announced what is coming to Divi 2.4. Let me tell you guys that it looks really amazing and I encourage all of you to check it out. They’ve also told me that v3 is going have a front page editor among other things, so the future is looking very bright.
I’ve also tried Headway and like it too, but Divi just helps me get a site designed more quickly and I am more happy with the results.
Just a question for all of you: why do you all stick with WordPress over something like Webflow (and integrating a CMS if need be? That is what I am currently using and used to design my site.
Thanks for commenting.
There are many reasons why WordPress has become so popular. It’s flexible, easy to use (relative to other content management systems) and completely open source, making possible the right to do with it whatever you please.
Using things like Divi, Visual Composer and other related plugins/themes don’t really constitute web design in a full sense because they are used to create sites with options, similar to what you get with something like Squarespace. They’re tools that allow users to build sites without actually having to know about the technology behind them. Sure, you can crank out websites quickly and easily but you’ll eventually run into the limitations that you alluded to. Also, tools like these that allow you to build with options and drag-and-drop features will add bloat to a website because it takes much more code to create that functionality. I think Divi is nice but it has its disadvantages as well. For example, it leads to theme-lock and can cause headache when switching to another theme.
For more flexibility, I’d recommend looking into things like _s and the Genesis Framework. _s (pronounced “Underscores”) is a starter theme used to create themes from scratch while Genesis is a framework that is used to build child themes on top of. Personally, I use Genesis for most of my work because it provides everything I need as a developer and I don’t have to start from square one every time.
They’re very different. Webflow only generates static websites. WordPress gives you what you need for data driven websites right out of the box. The WordPress community is very large and creates amazing resources for people to learn. There are also tons of plugins to achieve things without having to code it all yourself (i.e. Gravity Forms). The list of benefits for using WP goes on and on. That said, you can still use Webflow to generate the HTML and CSS but convert everything to a WordPress theme.
If you’re going to get into the game of offering WordPress design/development services, I’d sugest learning the basics first. Read blogs, comb through the Codex, etc. The more you learn about the ins and outs of WordPress, the better prepared you’ll be to handle the things you need to handle as a service provider.
P.S. A friendly heads-up: the “p” in WordPress is capitalized.
Glen Sutton says
Hi Ren, thanks for the detailed response. I took a look at both _s and Genesis. There are some nice looking child themes for Genesis, but I don’t know how that would be much less bloated than a typical WP theme of Themeforest. Maybe I will learn how to taken the Genesis foundation or _s and run with it. I’ve already been scared off by the complexity of designing and developing WP themes. lol.
BTW, there is a Mac app called Pinegrow that just released a new version that can convert HTML websites into WordPress sites. If I could get the hang of that, then I could church out WordPress themes.
It’s far less bloated. Just comparing the file sizes will prove that. Genesis child themes also don’t include full options panels with dozens of settings (Dynamik aside). With Genesis, you get a smaller footprint through fewer files and settings saved to your database.
Regarding the use of theme generators, there are various tools that do this but I don’t recommend using them on client work without a solid understanding of how themes are built. This would be like me calling myself a physician because I know how to search WebMD. It’s almost inevitable that, at some point, you’ll have to modify theme files to customize markup or modify queries/loops so having an understanding of PHP and how themes work is essential. Generating them will give you a nice look but it doesn’t teach the way things work.
If you want my advice, I’d suggest just playing around with creating some themes from scratch (you never have to use them) to get acquainted with the basic code requirements. Even with creating Genesis child themes, you become familiar with things like WordPress hooks and similar code concepts. Forcing yourself to research and write code is the best way to learn.
Jeff Yablon says
Hey Ren …
Interesting piece. Given its age, even MORE interesting that GOOG just pointed me at it in alerts. No kidding.
I happen to have written several pieces about Envato AND theme lock-in this week, in case either you or your peeps are interested:
… and I think I’ll be sourcing you against this one soon. I think you way-overstated your case, but i also think Envato really is starting to become more a detriment than a useful resources in many ways.
hope all is well … good luck to the Cavs.
Hello, Jeff. Can you explain what you think I overstated?
Jeff Yablon says
Ren, what I hear as the message is “this is all <fill in a bad word)".
I concur that a lot of it IS. And I have issues with the very idea of Envato; it’s too mall-like, and that’s even less useful when you see a picture but are buying something that doesn’t actually look like what you thought you were buying than the way life is in an actual mall where you buy what you buy.
But there is some really high-quality stuff at themeforest. “X” comes to mind immediately.
Now is it a needle-in-a-haystack situation? You bet. But so’s finding a custom developer who A) is any good and B) you wanna work with.
So as a consumer it’s “caveat emptor”, and as a seller it’s “where can I make the most money?”. And son of a gun, that fits my mall analogy, doesn’t it?
And malls are …. not what they once were, but also not going away.
So … I hear you saying “stay out of the mall”, but that’s too much. A better way to put it is “only go to the mall when it makes sense”.
Following your Mall analogy…..imagine a Mall that bans you from buying from any store in the mall (for life) because you wanted your money back from Sears for the toaster that caught on fire when you plugged it in.
If Ren is guilty of “overstating”, you are guilty of “minimizing”. Envato’s all or nothing approach protects the crap thus encouraging more of it.
Jeff Yablon says
Neal, that’s fair. And horrifying. And sadly probably not COMPLETELY unheard of in the real world.
Seriously, didn’t know Envato did that. Amazing. I certainly do NOT mean to minimize …
First, I apologize for calling you John in my last comment…lol. I get on auto-pilot while typing and John came out. I do know your name, though! 🙂
Like I mentioned in the post, I don’t think EVERY seller is crappy. For example, Array (formerly OK Themes) provides good stuff. The developer, Mike McAlister, creates beautiful themes that are coded well. He certainly falls into the group of high-quality developers on Themeforest. However, there are many more developers who pack everything they can into a theme to boost sales without any regard to the future of the user’s site.
“Going to the mall when it makes sense” is true but most people aren’t aware of what they’re getting into when they do go. Like Neal said, Envato turns on you if you try to get your money back on a crap product so buyer protection is virtually non-existent. Unfortunately, Envato seems to be all about the numbers. For these reasons, Themeforest is not a place I feel comfortable purchasing from and that’s why I recommend alternatives. If my money is going to be taken without any type of assurance that what I’m buying will work and benefit me, I’m not buying.
Jeff Yablon says
Funny you mention Array, Ren. One of the links I included above is a story about Mike GOING BACK to Envato.
Listen, they are what they are.
In the front page/doorway to our shop, we actually have verbiage that says “we DON’T recommend Envato” … and then link to a page where we describe why.
And, we participate in their affiliate program FROM that page, with the idea being “you’re going anyway, so we might as well get a taste”.
Point being, I mostly agree with both you and Neal. But speaking of you knowing who I am, as you know my approach to all of this stuff is pretty pragmatic; I’d much rather acknowledge a problem and try to walk readers/clients/whatever through it than take a “STAY AWAY!!!!” position.
But that’s me; it makes people who love my work love it more and people who disagree with the way I do things … well, you’ve witnessed that, eh?
BTW: I was gonna let the “John” thing slide 😉 .
Hi, I am not a developer, I am blogger who has minimal knowledge in coding and designing, my previous designers installed me a smart mag theme. I am using a lot of plug ins which is really slowing the site and certain plug ins like yoast are conflicting with the theme. I want to change the whole framework and theme, but the designers are still insisting that theme forest themes are good, I was browsing through google comparing both , when I cam across your article. I will switch over to genesis now, thanks for the article 🙂
Joe Njenga says
I don’t think its fair to brand every publisher on themeforest as bad. There may be a few cases of poor products but not all of them. I have bought useful products from them as well as what you are referring here as ‘garbage’ but I never once whined about my decision to purchase since I understood their rules before buying.
That’s a quote directly from the post. And there are more than “a few” cases. If there were only a few cases, this topic wouldn’t be so widespread and written about as much as it is. If it was only a few cases, not almost every theme sold on Themeforest would include custom post types that trap data into the theme. You may be happy with your purchases but are you aware of how most Themeforest themes are built? Have you ever tried changing Themeforest themes on a website with a lot of content? Understanding their rules before purchasing is one thing but not knowing that what you’re purchasing is low quality is very different.
Joe Njengah says
I acknowledge your point esp the lack of buyer protection since it leaves buyers vulnerable. I thought the standards were high as outlined in most of those products sales pages and thought theme-forest requirements for authors have set the bar too high for industry and even for new entrants. I was surprised to find come across this post.
I have not bought as many products as you guys but the themes are somewhat bloated with multiple layouts, page templates, page builders and plugins but it seems like that is what the market wants.
I too have had these ‘nightmares’ with one of the themes from there . My recent ‘nightmare’ with was only a month ago after a client purchased it and asked me to customize it. A job that would take two hours ended up taking days since i was suppose to disable the responsiveness so that we have a desktop version for the site with links to the bottom to the mobile version. To cut through the chase, I ended up using a different framework coz every attempt to make edits it threw all manner of errors. Worse trying to disable responsiveness for VC composer blocks would not work. For the first time I felt tied inside a box in a way coz the client likes the way it appears on the live demo but wants we remove all the responsiveness and create a mobile version.
From another perspective ; If my memory serves me right, I came across a post last year that emphasized the fact that most buyers on themeforest are actually buying the SAME item but in different design.
So, I somewhat agree with your concerns but also acknowledge some products are amazing esp the plugins. Like a mega menu plugin it would take me days to code such a plugin but i can get it at 20 bucks so it does help ease my work in someway.
My conclusion is that the seller reputation and support should be key considerations before you make a purchase there.
Like I said in my previous comment…I was happy with 40% of my purchases. That’s pretty crappy odds. Toss in the thermal nuclear retaliation from Evanto if you cannot get any response from the author and file a chargeback.
One theme I bought was pulled entirely from themeforest….it was broken from the start and the author apparently cut tail and ran.
IMHO….Themeforest is the craigslist of wordpress theme sales. Sharing this information isn’t whining…In my case it’s simply stating a fact. Buy enough themes there and you’ll eventually get bitten and a chargeback = banned.
John Locke says
Great post. ThemeForest is very much a crap-shoot, but it is very difficult to tell which way it is going to go until you start working with a theme. Many clients find me when they need their site fixed because their ThemeForest theme is no longer compatible with certain plugins or WP core, and need to start over or get custom code.
TF has some good themes, but far more bloated and non-maintained themes. But this is not the biggest problem.
Developers and agencies can simply choose not to use TF and actually discover dedicated theme shops. You mention the Genesis framework, but The Theme Foundry, Array (formerly Okay Themes), Elegant Themes, UpThemes, Press 75 and dozens of others are better alternatives. Retraining developers to find and use these sources is part of the healing process.
(One agency owner I talked to had no idea there WAS anywhere else to get WordPress themes.)
The biggest problem is the illusion that a great looking site will cost $40 to $60, and clients and devs both get bamboozled by this. The demos look great, everything looks easy, but it is only easy about 30% of the time. The cost of themes and the unsustainable theme features arms race is a large part of what damages the expectations of cost and quality for WordPress development everywhere.
I respect the fact that Envato is trying to improve code quality requirements, but it has a long way to go.
Also, I like Elegant Themes, but avoid Divi and other visual builders for the same reason I avoid themes with built in Custom Post Types. Portability is something that developers should consider for the clients. It makes it difficult to change their website down the line, and increases the later cost to them.
Hey, John. Portability is a huge emphasis of mine and that’s why I do everything I can to not only separate design from functionality (theme vs plugin) but to separate anything that would need to stay even if the theme is switched, including certain design aspects. I use Genesis for all of my client because it’s so lightweight and, additionally, I keep it as lean as possible by creating at least one plugin to contain things most often included in a functions.php. In case the client ever decides to switch themes (whether through me or not), keeping these non-theme-dependent things in a plugin makes switching much easier. While I love everything about Genesis, I even try to stick with WordPress code over Genesis code when possible (i.e. WP_Query over the Genesis custom loop) for the same reason.
I’m actually working on an opinion post that is basically my collection of thoughts on legitimate WordPress development and the expectations that have been created by products like TF themes so stay tuned for that one (I’d be interested in your thoughts).
I’ve used Divi theme quite a bit, and love the ease and flexibility, especially since I believe that clients (small biz owners, coaches, and consultants) should be able to easily update their own websites and not be tied to a web developer (and the related costs) to change their logo or header slider images.
However, a friend just shared an article with me “Divi Theme Forever” http://chrislema.com/divi-theme-forever/
discussing that all that makes Divi easy (drag and drop blocks) means it wouldn’t easily move to another theme… making me ponder how important that is in the future for a client (ie will they just keep the blog posts and comments – simple to export – and they would typically be redesigning the pages anyway?)
… that seems to be similar to precisely what you said you dislike about Themeforest, yet you recommend Divi.
“Finally, the types of themes from Themeforest create something called “theme-lock”. Theme lock occurs when a WordPress user cannot change his or her theme without gutting most of the site’s functionality. Once the theme is deactivated, it deactivates things like shortcodes and custom post types that were registered by the theme. Without these features that the user has heavily incorporated into the site, things fall apart. Page/post content will display the literal text for theme-dependent shortcodes and custom content will disappear. ”
Just curious about your take on that.
Hi, Ange. My #1 theme recommendation is always Genesis. After that, it would probably be Headway.
The reason I like Elegant Themes is that they are established and offer good support, something not seen from many theme authors on Themeforest. Personally, the only times I ever use Divi are for very basic websites that I essentially “throw together” for friends or family members who tell me simply to put up something that looks nice and I know will never need to change the design. Divi is nice out of the box and easy to use so I like it for these types of things. After all, why spend days or weeks on customizing a Genesis design when I know the person and they don’t care one bit (plus I’m doing it for free)?
Yes, you are correct that Divi will create a scenario where the user is locked in and will have a hard time changing themes. This is something that users need to consider when it comes to choosing a theme. Since it had been a while that I last visited this post, I updated it to include more information to help in this decision-making.
Thanks for this article. I’m ready to upgrade to a premium theme now and I’m totally overwhelmed with the amount of options. I will look into the three you suggested here. Take care.
John Pickering says
Agreed with all this.
It would be good to find a place to buy divi child themes..
Good read. To add when you buy a theme and its buggy because its badly written or does not uses WordPress good standard theme guide lines and gives you nothing but head aches, Trying to get your money back from Themeforest is almost impossible. I have bought over 100 items and have issues with about 50% of them. More so lately than before. In past 3 months about 70% of purchased items are poorly written. No longer use them. Just a pity some clients buy their own theme from them. AIT developers are the worst. They totally by pass WordPress Standards! I too am moving away from them.
That’s one of the things that really sucks about Envato. I understand that there are dicks who will purchase something just to download a product then immediately request a refund. However, completely refusing any refund creates a lot of risk when purchasing from them. Like you, I’ve wasted more money than I care to think about on crap products. If buyers had some protection against legitimately terrible themes and plugins, I would think higher of their operations than I do. The way I see it now, Envato is all about Envato. They’ll approve pretty much any garbage that will sell because they make money and they flat out refuse refunds because they don’t want to give it back. Paired with their lack of standards for supporting products, it’s pretty clear that Envato does not care one bit about its customers.
Perfectly said! That’s how I feel! Very frustrated!
Most of Themeforest templates put a lot of css and scripts directly in the head, their is a lot of unneeded code that make the website slow to load and the HTML markup rarely meet the best practice causing a really poor SEO score. The final product is rarely as good as the product you buy at Themeforest because it is not design for your need.
I’m batting about 40% on Envato purchases. I’ve purchased about 10 products and the most recent has me considering blocking them via my hosts file so I’ll never be tempted again. Frankly, the support sucks. When you do get screwed with a poorly coded theme, cannot get the author to address it, a paypal dispute is considered to be a nuclear option by Envato. Your hands are tied…Envato’s refund policy makes the IRS look like cub scouts.
Full disclosure…I’m a happy Headway user, having had a developer license since 2012. I’ve built hundreds of sites with Headway but I do get the occasional client that insists on a prebuilt premium theme. If I had the same dissatisfaction rate overall as I do with themeforest products, I’d be out of business. Initially we priced a store bought theme job cheaper than a custom Headway job but because of the poor design and in most cases limited “customize” options…we end up with as much if not more time hacking functionality or styling into the themes.
I’m done with Envato for good.
Hey, Neal. I could not agree more on the rigid refund policy of Envato (and “rigid” is putting it very lightly). They don’t even give you a few days as a courtesy and, personally, I think it’s bad business given the amount of garbage available for purchase. Essentially, it’s making the Envato purchase experience a crap shoot by encouraging poor quality because the seller does not have to worry about refunds. This creates a “Buyer Beware” experience. I’ve purchased a lot of stuff in my days from Themeforest and Codecanyon and
at least half100% of it sits in my account because it’s garbage and was a waste of money. After so many times of buying something only to feel like I just flushed my money down the toilet, I said screw that and wrote off any more Envato purchases.
Headway is a solid choice for a theme-builder. It’s reputable and you’re pretty much guaranteed a working product with support, none of which you get with Envato products.
I know where you’re coming from on having a client that insists on using a TF theme. I’ve had a few of them myself and I really don’t take them anymore for couple reasons:
1. The client usually believes that because “most of the work is already done,” the service I provide should be dirt cheap.
2. It often turns out to fall short of the client’s expectations because is doesn’t look as “pretty” as the demo. As a result, I’m responsible (in the client’s mind) for the disappointing results simply because I agreed to take the job. Most people don’t get that those demos are using HQ stock images and other various design assets to stage it for increasing sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if the demo itself was a highly modified version of the actual theme. I’m definitely not about to spend countless of hours hacking a garbage theme the client insists I use just so they can get what they want and argue about paying me less.
Ultimately, I try to avoid anything to do with Envato, especially clients that want me to use a Themeforest product. I’ve found my disappointment level in client work (and overall WordPress work) to be much lower.
Ren, I could have written a 5000 word comment on Themeforest & Envato and still not covered all the frustrations. Your comment about highly customized demo’s hit one in particular. Just in the past 10 months I had two jobs where I could not get the client’s themeforest themed website to reproduce functionality of the demo without edits to php & css.
End users assume the demo’s are “out of the box” creations and that their inability to reproduce the appearance of the demo is a result of their skill level. In one case we quoted over $500 to modify the theme…just to make the client’s site do what the demo did.
While I’m still on the soap box…the most recent (and last purchase from Evanto), the author claimed extensive doc’s and even directed comment questions to the doc’s…which turned out to be nothing but screen shots of the admin panel. There wasn’t a single note or comment on the entries they had in the screenshots.
IMHO…Themeforest depends on customer “Churn” for their business model. Without the gullible end users buying highly hacked demo’s and the high junk percent of products where garbage authors are protected by the blanket Envato terms…they would be 1/10th the size.
I now warn all my potential clients that are looking at a premium theme from Evanto to read every page of comments and to stay away from any product with less than several thousand purchases.
That doesn’t surprise me at all. I will say that I had a great support experience from the seller RightHere when I first started using WordPress. They actually signed into my admin, fixed some JS errors and update the plugin for me. Unfortunately, those guys are the exception. Every other time I’ve submitted a support request regarding a purchase of mine, I’ve received a disinterested response that failed to answer my questions in any meaningful way (and that’s IF I got a response).
Aside from poor quality and crappy licensing, I never recommend anything from TF because I try hard to protect others from theme-lock. You’d probably be hard pressed to find a theme without shortcodes, custom post types, etc. Since most people will eventually change themes at some point, all of these features will be lost and the user is left with tons of shortcodes that don’t render and lost content. Combining presentation and functionality into a theme is never a good thing and that’s pretty much all TF has.
Daniel Rico says
Great post, for my experience with Themforest I want to say that people like me go there because of the affordability of all themes, plugins and stuff we can get, and I’m not talking only about wordpress, I recently have to learn magento and other ecommerce systems and I have to say that it was a HUGE saving of money when I just bought the theme for only $89usd, I asked a few developers for doing the exact same ecommerce site on magento and it was a scary standard price of $1500usd, just the theme. So, for the people or agencies that does not have a developer or they cant afford one, Envato its a great really great option. Then you can spend your time selling and not developing. Of course there will be issues with all the support, customization and troubles, it happens the same with a developer, but that’s the fun part of the thing, solve problems and go online with your product!!!
Hi, Daniel. Being the largest theme vendor for multiple platforms, including WordPress, and having such relatively affordable stuff, it’s easy to see why so many people purchase there. The one thing I’d like to say about not spending the money to have a developer build a theme for you is that there certainly are trade-offs: bloat, lack of flexibility and perhaps not 100% what you want in exchange for affordability. It’s not wrong for someone to purchase a theme from TF (or anywhere else for that matter) to save money but the phrase “you get what you pay for” certainly applies. For less than most TF WordPress themes, Genesis is an amazing framework that provides the most flexibility you’ll find in a theme but it does require coding ability. If someone doesn’t code but still needs a lot of flexibility, I would suggest spending a little more and going with a theme builder like Headway.
I confess that I have often used ThemeForest, and mostly with success. However, I always check that the themes that I choose support best-practice WordPress functionality, like child themes, filters & hooks, etc., that the author is well-rated, and that the comments and responses reveal the author’s proficiency and attitude in a good light.
Notwithstanding, my top 2 reasons for avoiding ThemeForest:
1. If a theme author leaves ThemeForest, then updates and support ends. Envato wipes its hands of it and you’re left exposed. This can leave a site vulnerable if it becomes necessary to update WordPress (e.g. a security update), and the theme is not compatible with the updates WP release.
2. If you buy a theme and develop a site for a client, the client cannot download updates nor get support directly. Either you (as the original purchaser) remain the go-between for updates and support, or the client has to re-purchase the theme directly from ThemeForest.
Hey, Denis. Excellent points you brought up. I’ve updated the post to also mention the TF licensing issue, which is something I forgot about when I wrote the post. Thanks for your comment! 🙂
I was curious if you had tried the Ultimatum theme. My understanding is that it is a drag/drop interface similar to Headway.
When I started reading your post I thought you were going to advise folk to avoid drag and drop WordPress site builders and label them as bloated too. I was assuming that the drag/drop capability would lead to “extra” code the way short codes can.
Thus I was pleasantly surprise to see you recommend Headway. Headway is a theme I am considering, after Ultimatum. Any thoughts on how the two compare or perform?
I actually have a review of Ultimatum (link below). If you want my opinion of which to choose between Ultimatum and Headway, I recommend Headway. Although there is certainly a learning curve to it, I believe the interface is much better. Also, the reputation of Headway is superior in my experience. You’ll also find more community help for Headway (see Corey Freeman’s site Headway101.com).
Check out the Ultimatum post and let me know if you have any more questions.
Avinash D'Souza says
OK, I’m neither. I’m neither a dev nor use Themeforest for client work.
I’m on the other end of the table so I think I have a say here too… 🙂
There’s a tiny problem with sorted devs: they tend to become unavailable or unaffordable really soon. The ones who don’t are never seen because they don’t have much of a ptf to look at.
Which means when a user is out looking to upgrade his website, he’s got a waiting period to deal with or a hefty bill. I think the problem lies with users expecting all code to be shipped from India at rock bottom prices.
While that’s ideal, it’s rarely the reality. Also, price and quality are USUALLY correlated in a market mechanism.
So that leaves a user with a few choices…he either scours the interwebs for code hacking stuff together(I’ve done that and it’s painful), learns how to build a theme(I’ve tried that too but have realised I’m a far better designer than developer) or…saves himelf a nightmare and goes a marketplace way.
To be fair, I’ve hated the hacky quality of code and have uninstalled quite a few plugins. But you’ve gotta admit that half the users who buy stuff from Themeforest end up quitting it in a bit. Because they’ve bitten off more than they can chew in general(running a website, business).
Helps to not lose too much cash before that stage.
The affordability factor is definitely one of the top reasons Themeforest is so huge (I’d say the #1 reason). Your point that those who purchase from Themeforest often end up quitting is a good one. I think that someone starting a business and is building the website for the business themselves using WordPress and a Themeforest theme stands a good chance at burning out quickly. The reason for this is because WordPress, while not difficult to learn, takes time to understand and those who aren’t experienced in it will have difficulty getting their site up and looking nice and, eventually, just give up. I know because I was there. The Do-it-Yourselfers would be best served to use something totally free and easier to use or to just make the investment to have a professional build the website for them. I wish more people starting a business knew that it’s not realistic to think about succeeding without spending any money on the important things. Yes, it’s understandable that people want to save money or try to minimize potential loss if the business idea fails but starting a business is a risk financially and time-wise and to succeed, both need to be invested.