Does ThemeForest do enough for its customers?

By WP Community

This is an open question to the community: does ThemeForest do enough for its customers?

I’m talking of course about the Web’s largest premium WordPress themes marketplace. My feeling is that it does a brilliant job of supporting theme authors, but I feel it could be doing more for its customers. Perhaps I’m alone in thinking this. In any case, here’s some context to what I hope might be an interesting discussion.

Envato, the company behind ThemeForest, recently announced price changes to all the premium WordPress themes in its marketplace.

This announcement was made rather abruptly and took quite a few people by surprise. The overwhelming response however has been supportive of this price rise. The work of authors on ThemeForest has long been undervalued and the general consensus is that it was high time for an price raise.

I fully support theme authors on ThemeForest. I also support ThemeForest itself. I’m an avid user and the WordPress theme I’m using right now on this site was purchased there. I think ThemeForest houses some of the best WordPress themes to have ever seen the light of day and I’m in favour of paying more to support the developers and their work.

My bone of contention, as you will see in the video, is with Envato and its relationship to its customers. I want to see Envato, theme developers and customers benefit from each other’s loyalty, trust and care. In the current configuration, I don’t think Envato is doing enough to communicate with its customers and to offer them the value that they deserve.

What do you think? What’s your experience with ThemeForest? I’d love to know. I’d also like to keep this discussion as constructive as possible.

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17 Responses to " Does ThemeForest do enough for its customers? "

  1. ox says:

    I hate ThemeForest. Their pricing for Multisite use is ridiculous, thousands of dollars for one theme, come on. There are theme authors who actually are OK with a buyer using their theme on MS for one license, but because they sell through ThemeForest there is nothing they can do about it. TF = greedy and stupid.

    • wpliving says:

      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t intend this blog post to be in any way an anti-ThemeForest piece. As I said in the video, I’m a TF user and I support the work of the theme developers there. However, I value everyone’s opinion and you certainly seem to have a strong sense of conviction in terms of the multisite issue. I know you’re not alone in this. Perhaps it’s worth me digging a little further into this matter to see exactly why it is the price is so high.

    • Tom Brady says:

      OMG thank you for saying this ox, the MS thing really gets my blood boiling. It feels like I’m being penalized for using a particular type of wordpress installation…

      And as Will points out in his video, the company’s ethos is supposed to be about more than just making cash and supporting open source. Such a contradiction on that one.

      Aside from the MS issue, I’ve had some good experiences with single license themes. The one thing that kind of does annoy me though is the number of obsolete themes in my download section. I mean, no disrespect to the authors or anything, but some of those dudes just disappear and Envato does jack all about it.

      In fact if you look at their T&C you’ll see a line that exempts them from any responsibility when it comes to theme updates and maintenance. In other words there’s nothing to stop authors making some quick cash and high tailing it out of there…

      IDK, I guess the more I think about it, the more I think they could be doing more. Giving more open source themes and plugins back to the WP community for example. That would be cool. I mean it’s not like they’re short on money right? Interesting topic though and glad someone’s talking about it.

      • wpliving says:

        Thanks Tom. I too have a number of themes that I can no longer access or use:

        But note the top right sidebar section that prompts you to “download your purchases immediately as themes may be removed from time to time”. That disclaimer pretty much says that it’s to be expected.

        Short of binding authors to a specific time contract, I don’t see how you could get around that one.

  2. ox says:

    I don’t have a problem with the price per se, it’s their choice. If they don’t want me as a customer I’m free to just stay away. The problem is that their rigidity kills potential business – some authors are willing to sell to me but the TF terms won’t allow it. That is always, always a bad thing.

  3. ox says:

    To be clear: I support the creators too. But as a MS network admin they won’t allow me to.

  4. james anderson says:

    I will lean towards a “yes” answer.

    I purchased a theme I wasn’t happy with (bloated code) and recevied a full refund 48 hours later. No questions asked.

    I don’t expect them to provide tech support and it is obvious that both WordPress and major web browsers and viewing platforms change dailey. What the public gets for their $35 or $40 is amazing.

    I do feel that the rush to add more and more features is actually hurting themes lately however. Sites like themetrust and the excellent themefoundry are filling the void with faster loading themes with less bloat.

    Amazing to think that five years ago templatemonster was the leader…but looking at them now it is painful to see how far behind they are.


  5. james anderson says:

    On a side note – you have considered a quick review of themes from the ? I have no connection to them apart from buying the portfolio theme. The code is so clean and bullet proof and loads faster than any wordpress site (check google and pingdom results) I have ever seen.


    PS: (no need to post this in this thread – just a quick question)

    • wpliving says:

      Thanks for the input James. Good to hear that you were able to get a refund for your theme. I’ve been in that exact same situation. Bought a theme with bloated code (makes you wonder just how stringent the acceptance criteria are for themes on TF), but I didn’t do the refund thing, because the theme author insisted that I wouldn’t get a refund on the grounds of alleged poor quality code. To be honest, I couldn’t be bothered chasing that one up.

      You’d hope that in line with the recent price increases, there will be more stringency when it comes to checking code.

      On the matter of ThemeFoundry, yes I’ll do a review of one of their themes. I’ve followed for them for quite a while and I like Drew Strojny’s approach. He’s a clever guy. I’m kind of waiting for a new theme from them and then I’ll look into it.

      • james anderson says:

        Drew and the themefoundry are finishing up a new photography theme to be released this month. Should be a stunning theme from the screen clips posted.


  6. Chris says:

    Hey just to be totally clear.

    When you buy a regular license theme from themeforest is it correct that you can’t use the same theme on a second site you own. Is this correct? Do you have to buy the same theme again for the second site if you’re really loving that theme?

    How is this regulated?

    • wpliving says:

      Hi Chris, here’s the relevant section from the TF license:

      While their terms and conditions are somewhat ambiguous, unless my reading is completely askew, the single license is for a single “application” of the theme which I take to mean for use on a single site and their extended license is for use across multiple sites, hence ox’s point about the extortionate pricing for multisites.

  7. Wil Webs says:

    I am a customer with ThemeForest/Envato, I even have a small deposit with them. Although I am not happy with their pricing policy either – nor with their latest price increase – I think I will continue purchasing themes through ThemeForest.

    My biggest problem is the support forum. Some authors have created and are hosting a support forum on their own site. However, the majority of the authors is serving their customers through a non-searchable comments system and e-mail. I am sorry but that just terrible. Basically, this my biggest concern when I am considering buying a new theme.

    All the best — Wil

    • wpliving says:

      Thanks for your feedback Wil, good to hear some insight into theme support. I think you’re right, support with TF needs a radical rethink. I appreciate that it would be a fairly big undertaking to support all the developers and their customers, but their has to be some sort of compromise to standardize the support experience. As it stands it’s totally arbitrary.

  8. Japh says:

    Hi Will, thanks for opening a constructive discussion, and sorry I’m a little late to the table.

    At Envato, we certainly try to cater to our buyers as well as our authors. It’s true that sometimes we can get a little caught up in our excitement about doing something and our communication may not fully explain the benefits for all groups. We’ll try and do better at that in the future.

    As you can see from our post mentioned above, considerable analysis and thought went into this pricing increase and re-organising items to reflect their true value to our buyers. It will also encourage our authors to produce better quality items, and provide a higher standard of support, both of which are a big benefit for our buyers!

    We want to see buyers, authors, and staff benefiting from each other’s loyalty, trust, and care too. We’re actively working to improve these things.

    Also to the other commenters here, thanks so much for your feedback on the Multisite issue too.

    WordPress Evangelist @ Envato

  9. Darren says:

    Sorry, Envato and ThemeForest are borderline fraudulent. Just Google the dozens of horror stories — terrible support, fraudulent sales, refused refunds, etc. You don’t want to do business with a company like this, no matter how pretty their themes are. Stay away…

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