WordPress Premium Themes & Plugins On ThemeForest/CodeCanyon – From A Consumer Point Of View
To date I have purchased over 142 items from the Envato Marketplaces & (written a buying guide which might come in handy). These are a mixture of WordPress themes, plugins, images and more. I use it daily and am always on the lookout for themes and plugins, scripts etc. It’s a great marketplace and I will continue to use it.
However, a couple of articles (massive props to WPTavern for highlighting this article by Philip Arthur Moore) have highlighted problems with Themeforest WordPress themes. Now all of these issues are relating to code specifics and errors, buggy themes and more.
Which is great if you’re a coder however what does this do to you the consumer? Surely not all the themes/plugins on Themeforest, CodeCanyon etc are duds? No, no they are not quite frankly a lot of them are great as are the authors who take the time to create them.
The Problem With The Themeforest & CodeCanyon Is This
I can see the points highlighted by Philip and indeed the comments listed on the WPTavern post about the problems with the two marketplaces. It’s all down to quality at they end of the day. As a consumer not a coder by trade I have indeed fallen foul of errant plugins and indeed themes.
I have been refunded a few times due to lack of communication/support by some authors which basically means I will never use them again. In fairness to Envato they are pretty hot on this and will get you to explain your case and justify it. I have no problem with that, I call a spade a spade.
There is no real emphasis on support on the marketplace. Everything is sold as is and is left down to the individual author to provide you the customer with support. Some do, some do not. Some just disappear into the ether like a thief in the night and will post a response in the comments field 2 weeks later.
The main issues with WordPress themes & plugins listed on Themeforest is language. Some theme authors do not speak your language be it English, German, French whatever or wherever you are from, you will no doubt encounter problems. Sure some themes have multilingual instructions that will help you, however these are merely just conversions and when it comes to support time if they do not speak your language you are most certainly screwed.
This can lead to downtime and scrapping the theme or plugin completely.
Other issues that arise are overly complicated WordPress theme controls, it’s great to have options however sometimes these controls are not actually created by the theme/plugin authors and are merely rehashed versions of admin panels. Often color pickers are buggy and do not work or indeed conflict with other plugins, which leads to the deactivate/reactivate step to see what is causing the problem.
Couple this with some themes not being structurally sound and being hard to index by Google you could effectively be building a website that will never get found.
Offsite support forums, by this I mean support forums located offsite away from the marketplace and on the own authors web space. Great, however I have seen a variety of ‘support forums’ that lack any real support and of course are emptier than a hermits address book.
It’s Like Putting Lipstick On A Pig
Some of the themes and indeed plugins look awesome in the flesh there is no denying that. However do not be lured in like a moth to a flame with gorgeous looking themes & plugins. Anyone can polish a turd, sadly it will always remain so. Again I have fallen foul of this, so take my word on it!
What Steps Can Envato Take To Improve Quality On Themeforest/CodeCanyon?
Well I have a few ideas. As a consumer it’s easy for me to sit here and extol virtues or berate. However I truly believe the below would benefit the marketplaces, improve quality offered and reduce the output of themes & plugins until they have been thoroughly gone through.
Language:- It would be useful for theme/plugin authors to rate their language skills between one and ten and show this on their author profile. Obviously with 10 being fluent and 1 being unable to speak the language.
As these two marketplaces are used worldwide it would help others double check whether or not they want to purchase a theme with someone who cannot support in their native tongue.
Support:– Support for the themes should be on the marketplace itself. It should be listed on the item listing in question. The section noted above “Authors can choose to support their items but this is optional and may vary” is enough to put anyone off buying from the marketplace full stop.
Personally if the theme/plugin developer does offer to support customers this tab should be replaced with issues and customer resolutions. Offsite support forums can be doctored to show only the easy fixes for consumers not‘real problems’ that people are encountering.
Think something like the comments feed but with proper indexing off typical issues and resolutions listed by people who have purchased the theme/plugin. This would help the developer answer questions specifically as the current comments section can vary from a support question to something else. Let’s keep them all in one place in a ‘support tab’ for people that have purchased the theme/plugin. Not all mixed in together.
I firmly believe this would not only influence more purchases it will provide piece of mind.
Reduce Releases: I am positive the guys and girls at Envato have their hands more than full with approving themes, scripts plugins etc. However I would reduce the release schedule and spend more time on approvals, perhaps draft in a team of noted WordPress contributors or indeed skilled developers to rip apart the themes & plugins.
Increase Prices: This has already happened I remember themes have gone up on Envato I remember the days when themes were $35-$40 dollars a pop now they are up to $60.00.
Why not add a tick box to the theme/plugin sales page to include premium support and charge accordingly. Offering a premium support level for a theme or plugin listed on Codecanyon or Themeforest will reassure potential customers and not lead to hap hazard buying of themes & indeed plugins.
That way the developer gets an income and is more inclined to ‘actually provide support’.
This Is Just My 10 Cents Envato
Like I said they are ideas, this post is not a witch hunt and I am not saying do not use Envato marketplaces however I think these ideas would help other consumers in making the right choice.
What do you think Envato could do to improve theme quality and plugins released on their respective marketplaces?