A fellow WordPresser sent me an email today asking about WordPress Theme Providers and I thought I'd spend a few more minutes on the response and share it here for everyone.
I’ve got a new project and I’m debating about recommending they purchase a responsive theme, or if I should design one myself. I was trying to remember something you said from past meetings. Did you say avoid ThemeForest? If yes, why?
I do prefer themes that are backed by a strong brand – someone like WooThemes – but sometimes ThemeForest is the right choice. It all depends on what you want from a theme. There are plenty of well crafted themes on ThemeForest. I've met Jake Caputo, aka designcrumbs on ThemeForest, and he has some really great work. If you do buy from a marketplace you the buyer have to vet the product.
The first thing that springs to mind is quality. A theme marketplace that sells themes from any author doesn't have the same rigorous standards that a company would. This could mean that the code uses unconventional standards (making it hard to customize), there could be some bugs, there could be anything really.
Whereas most themes from a theme shop are pretty similar. If you download one of the free themes from WooThemes and give it a go you'll see that it's pretty easy to customize and we do follow best practices.
Another aspect that's related to quality is reliability. You should know how often the theme author updates. Recently WooThemes released WooCommerce 2.1 and despite giving theme authors months of notice many themes broke after the update. We were flooded with support requests as were the theme authors. Had the theme authors been a bit more reliable they would have followed our updates and released a patch prior to the WC 2.1 release and prevented these problems in the first place.
Just to be extra clear here. Most themes didn't break – only themes that overrode WooCommerce templates. If a theme overrides a WooCommerce template they're responsible for keeping those templates up to date. We knew the update was coming and patched all of our themes & plugins weeks before the release.
If you do buy from a marketplace make sure you know how reliable your theme developer is and if they aren't known for being reliable then make sure you make a backup before every – single – update. Actually you should do that anyway but be extra thorough when you check the site after the update.
Many themes add support for various features (from plugins). For example almost all of the WooThemes themes have support for Features, Testimonials, Our Team, Projects, Sensei, and WooCommerce. A couple also support JetPack infinite scrolling.
This depends entirely on the theme provider. At WooThemes we'll obviously support our own plugins but we most likely won't support another Features plugin since ours is pretty darn good and we don't need to support another.
You can't discuss anything without discussing price. Typically Theme Forest theme's are a bit cheaper than our themes. Most of ours are right around $100 and most of the Theme Forest themes's are around $50. If price is the ultimate factor then your choice is already made. You'll have to compare the
If it isn't already abundantly clear I tend to prefer quality over cost. A meagre extra $50 to save hours of my time and the client's patience? Yes please! You may however have different needs and you may want to go the marketplace route.
I hope that explains a bit of my decision making progress when buying themes. 🙂