ThemeForest theme nets over $100,000 per month, sadly

The Envato blog highlighted a record breaking theme on their blog today, for achieving $100,000 in revenue per month, two months in a row. All in all, this theme, Avada, has achieved nearly a million dollars in revenue since its release last August. And it represents everything I hate about the theme landscape today.

avada-options

Few of the features in Avada belong in the theme. Your choice of half a dozen sliders, multiple custom post types, ridiculous shortcodes, options panels galore, and much more insanity is baked into this theme. And they call them features. And it makes me very, very sad.

I understand the need for quickly configurable website options, but this is simply not the way it should be. I feel bad for every one of the twenty thousand plus customers that sets up their website with this monstrosity of a theme, only to change their theme in two years or less and spend hours and hours trying to make their existing content work.

I should note that I'm not upset at ThemeFusion, the makers of this theme, themselves. In fact, the design is quite nice. And some of their options are great. But they are just one player taking advantage of what buyers clearly think they need. I'm upset that there aren't better options out there that help solve the problem people like ThemeFusion are trying to solve, but in the right way.

There is great potential in the theme market, or as it should be called, the website solutions market. People could be really innovating in providing simple and flexible solutions to meet people's needs. Instead, so many folks are packing everything under the sun into these themes, on marketplaces that only support the theme, not the solution.

I'm ready for the real innovators to stand up and disrupt this madness.

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121 Comments

  1. That is, of course, only half the issue. The other half is the “website developers” who will buy this theme for $45, then turn around and sell it — as is — to their client as a website build for thousands.

    I do love this on the theme page:

    Pure genius.

      1. Reality is often funny and sad at the same time. And, as someone had said, people love to collect, not to curate or make a choice of any kind. And that’s obviously the reason why do they prefer themes containing as many “features” πŸ™‚ as possible. And that’s why I don’t think I’ll ever have a chance to be competitive on markets like TF.

  2. I agree whole heart-ad-ly – but as they say don’t hate the player, hate the game. As bad as it is I am sure they are laughing all the way to the bank. The days of being a purist in the WordPress game are gone as even WordPress.com tries to take market opportunities away from the little people with their niche themes.

    Good for you Brian for pointing this out…

  3. 20,000 users has got to account for something. Users want options, oh but wait we as devs always say “they think they want.” How are we to know? Feedback. The feedback I always get, is “give me more options.” It’s like a game of tug-o-war. We want to say no, the people using it say yes.

    So what’s the answer?

    I think it lies in automation.

    1. Half of my job as a consultant is to tell clients, “no.” Yet, in the theme market, so many providers are willing to say, “yes.” Even when it’s not in the best interest of the client. They simply don’t know what’s best for them, often times.

      I think there is real money to be made by someone willing to tell their buyers what they need to know, versus selling them the world of what they think they need but don’t.

      1. It’s interesting I’ve seen companies scale back on companies for the users to only ask for more options, for the company to then say no, use CSS. Was just having this same convo on Twitter with someone, and that we’ve conditioned users to expect more, as they think it’s the only way.

        To change the expectations will be a big group effort (let’s kill off IE8 while we’re at it). πŸ˜‰

        Nick

      2. Yes but we’re in the service industry. These guys are in the ‘product’ business. I remember one of the fundamentals about product businesses is they need more features than their competitors.

        Oh, what you mean your theme only has 502 shortcodes? OUR THEME HAS 900 SHORTCODES THAT YOU’LL NEVER USE.

    2. Standardized modularization. Get half of these features (universal color picking, layouts, etc.) into a *mandatory* built-in WP Customizer and the bloat disappears.

  4. Ok, maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but couldn’t all this be sold/packaged with the theme as special “modules” but just don’t call them plugins, to be installed as features are needed, otherwise keeping the theme lean. OK, maybe you can still call them plugins, because they do just that with their sliders.

    Maybe it could look kind of like Jetpack in the backend, and the user only installs the “feature module” if it is truly needed. And then possibly even carry the “feature module” over to another theme – they could sell it as “carry your modularized content into our newest look” or something like that.

    Envato could even set up a tiered pricing and charge extra for the number of “feature modules” you purchase on top of a base “module set”. Maybe everyone makes more money this way, including the “website developer” @Chris mentioned, he can charge extra per feature set…

  5. Ben May
    Oh, what you mean your theme only has 502 shortcodes? OUR THEME HAS 900 SHORTCODES THAT YOU’LL NEVER USE.

    Winning.

  6. I agree with this post completely. Apart from the mentioned issues of customers changing the theme in 2 years and losing content, there’s also the problem of optimization. No matter how properly the code for all these options is written, users will always end up with 100 more shortcodes they’ll never use. And 10 sliders they didn’t like. And the list goes on…

    The problem for us, theme developers, though is that *this* is what (most) customers want. Even if we try to educate users on the advantages of using a niche or a less bloated theme, they’ll still think that a theme like this is the best option. And that sucks…

    It’d be great to hear your suggestions on how this can/should be improved, because I’m running out of ideas.

  7. I agree with the premise, however need to point out a mistake in your post. The maker of the theme is actually ThemeFusion on ThemeForest, not ThemeFuse which is another premium WordPress theme shop.

  8. I think you are confusing the companies Brian. The company that created this theme is called Themefusion… Themefuse is a totally different company.

  9. I agree that themes like that are not moving WP in the right direction Brian.

    However, many of my customers will never be comfortable with installing 5-10 plugins after installing a theme in order to get everything setup properly. There is a middle ground somewhere that we are trying to find, but I don’t think it will be found until WordPress is easier to use.

    Until then, I think “all-in-one” themes are still going to be popular.

  10. Brian Krogsgard
    I’m upset that there aren’t better options out there that help solve the problem people like ThemeFusion are trying to solve, but in the right way.

    I understand where you are coming from with all the options etc., but in my opinion, ThemeFusion is doing this the right way. And they have over 1,000,000 reasons why. Just because this product isn’t for me, or something I might recommend to my clients, it doesn’t mean it’s not useful for someone else. As the saying goes, one mans trash is another mans treasure.

    Wouldn’t we all like to have created a winning product formula to be bringing in $100,000 per month? I sure would.

    I haven’t tried the theme myself, and I probably won’t so I can’t comment on the code or design of the theme itself… But all in all, I can only say job well done to ThemeFusion.

    You yourself said that the theme design is quite nice. Doesn’t that speak for itself? What can I say? I’m a capitalist πŸ™‚

    1. You missed the point. The blame lies with ThemeForest (and lesser so with the purchasers). ThemeFusion is just the player. Successful player, at that.

    1. What’s even worse is that the theme probably loads all 6 jQuery slider plugins on every page whether you use them or not.

      1. It has a ton of extra jQuery, including 2 different versions of the main jQuery ibrary getting called on the same page.

        I had a back-and-forth email discussion with the creator about this (a client of mine bought the theme – and loves it). The discussion did not endear them to me, and I’d have concerns about performance.

        They also deleted my performance questions from the Themeforest comments section πŸ™‚

        1. Every theme update, we try to focus on theme’s performance and if you give our documentation a go, you will understand that while there are many sliders and plugins within the theme, each feature / plugin can be disabled if you are not using them and resources for those plugins will never be loaded again.

          If you have any other feedback, send me personally at me @ mharis .net and I will definitely reply to you.

  11. Both sides here are right. Customers ask for the stuff but developers do give into the request.

    So let’s change the debate!

    * Instead of “SEO Optimized,” why not “Supports Yoast WordPress SEO plugin”?
    * Instead of “Infinite scrolling blog page,” how about “Supports Jetpack infinite scroll […and sharing and galleries and gravatar cards…and…and]”? (Props to The Theme Foundry that released a theme today that does this.)
    * Instead of AMAZING CUSTOM POST TYPES, go with “Supports Custom Content Portfolio plugin for beautiful portfolio management.”
    * And while many of them make me want to cry, there are plenty of shortcode plugins too.

    All of those plugins probably handle their features better than 99% of the themes out there anyway. And better yet, for the vast majority of customers who think they want a feature but never use it, they don’t have to install the extra plugins and their sites are better for it.

    For one of my plugins (Feature a Page Widget), I offer support for two plugins that offer TinyMCE and HTML excerpt support instead of building the feature myself. I’ve had no complaints.

    Some day (http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/22316) there will be an easy way for plugins and themes to rely on or recommend other existing compatible plugins, but there are already (http://tgmpluginactivation.com/) some ways (http://ottopress.com/2012/themeplugin-dependencies/) to make it work (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/plugin-dependencies/).

    1. I don’t think that’s the right solution either. What happens if/when that plugin goes belly up? Having a base/core with minimal options, with purchasable add-ons I think is where it’ll eventually end up. Let 3rd party folks and marketplaces fill those gaps that base/core lacks.

      1. That’s a valid point, though the alternative again ends with every theme (or theme shop) having their own SEO plugin, their own infinite scroll plugin, their own slider plugin(s), etc.

        I don’t know if WordPress will ever get to having canonical plugins for stuff like that, but, at least in the cases where there almost is a canonical plugin (Jetpack, Yoast, etc.) I’d go with that.

    2. 100% valid point and as the co-founder and developer of ThemeFusion, I can tell you that we are going in that direction within the next 3 months. Building support for plugins that are already built is our goal.

      Unfortunately, shortcodes are a huge problem for us. We can use an already made plugin but since we are more than one year old now, we need to add our custom-built 43 shortcodes in our plugin.

  12. That is to say, at least with a premium extension there’s more motivation to continue dev instead of stalling out on a great idea you had, getting bored, and not supporting the free plugin anymore.

  13. Theme buyers aren’t idiots… actually, they are pretty smart, and they understand their own needs a lot better than the “community” does.

    Why not give Avada some constructive criticism?

    I’ll be using Avada on the website for my next product… which by the way is a WordPress plugin.

    That’s right. I make WordPress plugins. I have since 2008. I comply with the GPL. I go to WordCamps.

    1. Louis Reingold
      Why not give Avada some constructive criticism?

      Go right ahead. They delete criticism, constructive or otherwise, from their comments on TF, and they’re rude and dismissive in email.

      1. No, we never do, we have an entire feedback thread on our site at http://theme-fusion.com where we regularly engage with the users on how to improve our product and listen to their feedback.

        We also provide temporary immediate patches that gets pushed into an update later on if a user requests.

        1. I just wanted to drop in and say after a year that we’re still using Avada on that site. The conversion rate is great, the plugin we’re selling (called Prosociate) has made almost $100,000, and the site is really easy for us to manage.

          We need the ability to move really fast when we do a launch. We tweak and tweak and tweak to optimize the conversion rate.

          I have a partner who handles general marketing, sales copy, and AB testing, and without Avada or a similar tool, he wouldn’t be able to make a lot of the tweaks without the help of a developer. And that would add back-and-forth time and stop us from optimizing our conversion rate during a launch, where we get a big burst of traffic for a very short period of time.

  14. Most people who buy themes like this don’t just buy it for 1 project, they tend to re-use it for other projects and sometimes use the premium plugins for other purposes. It’s like buying a bundle with a website, the fact it works great with the theme is a plus.

    Why buy a 1 dimensional theme, buy the parts separately and then spend days configuring and styling it when I can have it all in one package? It’s like buying a new bed without the mattress and duvet set.

  15. Most of you dev guys think we buyers are some idiots to buy ThemeForest themes. Well we are not. I am not a coder and cannot customize a Genesis framework like you can and I don’t want to hire you for thousands of dollars for a design that I might like to change a few months down the line.

    So I head over to ThemeForest and shell out $45 for a theme that has it all and lets me become the developer and design a page or site like I want and not what Studiopress wants me to.

    I save thousands of $$$ and if I feel like changing the design, I shell out another $45 and save thousands of $$$ again. And I don’t care about WordPress best practices or what should be in a theme. Who are you to decide that anyway? I like the cafeteria approach of themeforest themes. You have any issues with that?

    1. “And I don’t care about WordPress best practices or what should be in a theme. Who are you to decide that anyway?”

      Hmm… we’re the folks that help develop WordPress maybe?! Perhaps you are aware that it is open source (meaning everybody can contribute to it). So I’d say we know a bit about best practices πŸ™‚

      Also, it seems that you are not completely aware of the differences between paying thousands of $$$ to hire a designer vs buying a theme.
      When you pay thousands of $$$ to hire a designer, you don’t only get a “design” per se. You get a website built that was thought out carefully according to what type of audience your business serves and with usability in mind. You might think that this won’t make a difference, but this is, in fact, what makes the difference between an average website that performs “well” (as in, gets some customers) and a great website that performs greatly (as in, gets more customers and builds meaningful relations with them).

      If you think that a 45$ theme will do that for your business, then go ahead and keep buying it.

      1. What about content lock? You add some slides then you change the theme and find that the slides are gone and the funky homepage you spent 3 mintues to setup (with the awesome drag & drop feature) is no longer working.

        Anyways, my company (not me) does the same thing and I don’t like it, it’s fast, it’s a great money maker for the company but at the end, you are not proud of the result. I do custom themes for my company and it’s easier for me to create a theme form scratch that serves a single purpose than editing a “multipurpose” theme from TF.

      2. I can very well make a page using ThemeForest theme that’s usable and change the layout when I want to. That’s the entire idea behind getting those themes. Of course some exotic designer might lose out on a client but that’s ok. πŸ˜‰

        1. If you feel like your UI & UX design skills are at the same level as those of a designer who spent years learning and perfecting his craft, then great. You should be making websites for thousands of dollars.
          If not, well, good luck for your business and for yourself.

          1. You’re missing Trishan’s point. You have no idea what Trishan’s design skills are. There’s also a word of difference between UI & UX “design skills” and compositional design.

            I think there are some folks our there with both skillsets, but knowing code has nothing to do with visual design. Theme buyers know what they want it to look like. I’ve yet to work with a developer who didn’t try to override my decisions about visual design because their taste was different.

            It’s like your mechanic picking your car’s paint color and putting a spoiler on when you went in for a new alternator. Some people even fix their cars themselves at home.

      3. Well considering I have used a certain theme from Themeforest, Udesign, on multiple websites that all dominate their respective markets says that you’re wrong and have an elitist attitude. Saying you can’t take a theme in a box from ThemeForest and make a compelling website that does really well is just ignorant. You know this and everyone that read your comment knows this, as well as all of the people who run pre built themes on successful websites.

        The fact is most customers don’t want to spend a lot of money for a website. It’s hard convincing someone that a custom coded wordpress website is a lot better of an ROI than a prebuilt theme. I’m an honest businessman, and unless the client has a really special need, I normally tell them that they can get a prebuilt theme website developed for a lot less money. The good themes are able to do just about anything a client needs, and with proper hosting and tweaking, it will perform as good as one I hand code from scratch. When using a quality pre built theme I am able to pass on considerable savings to my clients, and I have yet to have one come back and tell me it’s not generating them the income they wanted.

        Why not be honest and just say you’re pissed off that someone built a theme and sold a $1,000,000 worth on Themeforest? That’s what this post and comments scream. If the market(customers) weren’t successful using these themes, they wouldn’t be selling like hotcakes.

        1. Robert,

          I don’t think you get my intent. I’m all for selling WordPress themes, and people buying them for their websites. The problem here is the structure of the theme, the mentality of bundling *everything* into the theme itself, versus appropriately segmenting theme display from plugin functionality.

          Indeed, it’d difficult for many people to understand why it’s a big deal to separate theme display from plugin functionality, but it is. Long term, the buyers lose when they buy a theme with this much bundled into it.

          But do not think I’m not in support of the theme market. I am. It simply needs to be disrupted so that what buyers think they need better aligns with what they really need, and that is a marketing and education problem. Currently, themes are being sold to meet the needs they think they have.

          Like I said in the post, it’s tough to blame sellers for that, but the practice needs to change.

  16. I started with html in the notepad days, so I’ve seen a lot of stuff come and go. I like these themes. To code these myself would take hundreds of hours if not more. It makes sense to cut out the most time-consuming part of a project and get the entire package.

    And having a zillion “features” means I can accomplish the nutty things clients ask for. No, I won’t use every feature. I don’t use all the tools in my garage on every project either.

    To me it makes sense to let someone else do what they’re great at and let me take that work and add my value to it.

    Regarding the increasing complexity, I have seen at least one project with the intent of creating a tool that brings back the simplicity of blogging – not full site management – http://tryghost.org/. No, I’m not affiliated in any way.

  17. I bought this theme for my client for it’s galleries. he has $300 to update his old front page website form 2001. He specifically said. DO NOT PUT ANY OF THOSE SLIDERS ON MY WEBSITE. He has wanted only the minimal style and functionality. and I spent 5 hours total on it. WIN, WIN. Sorry, but I think the the author is being too dogmatic. Ont thing about this them I love as a web developer is that I can child theme it and strip the nonsense ut and I have a minimal theme that is responsive and If I don’t like a feature (as a developer) I can change/modify or delete it. None of the sites I have made with this theme look like what the author is talking about. It’s all about how the designer implements it and yes some people over do it. But I have seen some that dont’ as well. Including myself.

    1. I agree Eric and I don’t see a problem with this Theme. It’s excellent for developers, what you don’t want just strip. It’s a solid working responsive theme.

  18. With all the effort and talent of this WP community, it seems like a little structure and organization might help to streamline and optimize the performance of various plugins/features.

    I’m currently in the market for a quality reliable mixed-height “grid portfolio” theme for a small architecture studio, and have recently discovered Theme Forest. I am excited to find so many “nice looking” themes, but I’m totally overwhelmed that my search terms only narrow down to 1,200 choices!

    This thread reminds me of the BioBricks Foundation, which establishes guidelines for synthetic biologists to share (open source) DNA components which are designed to work together with other shared “standardized biological parts.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioBrick

    If WP could establish development guidelines and offer a registry of the best features, I’d be happy to pick and choose “features” from a central location, which are the most supported and reliable components.

    As a consumer, I thought the whole point of Open Source is to capitalize on the combined energy and talent of the broad community, not to repeat other people’s similar work over and over with less quality control.

    Obviously, I’m new to these WP concepts…

  19. Recently, a former client ‘upgraded’ from my child theme to Avada. The new site is 4.9Mb with over 115 web server requests – including 17 stylesheets and 39 scripts.

    Google recommends a maximum file size of 300kb for search engine optimization. And server requests generally account for 80% of page load latency.

    With the trend in mobile usage (WIFI, 3G, etc.), there’s obviously a performance hit that will reduce overall site visitors, page views, and ultimately conversions.

    In the end, site Analytics and A/B tests will determine the ROI vs. opportunity cost of bloatware like Avada.

  20. I’m a designer not a developer. I wish I could develop frameworks and themes but I just don’t have the skills and may never be adept at it. But I can dew sign, modify, and sometimes reverse engineer.

    I currently use Catalyst and Genesis frameworks when I design from scratch. They seem to work well and handle all the baseline things I need. Then I start adding on until I get the site I need. That way my sites are relatively lean.

    But I like the idea of themes as it gives me a head start in serving my customers. I tell customers up front, if they are tight on budget, they can save on my design fees by purchasing a pre-designed theme. I also tell them they might be locked into certain modes of functionality if the go the theme route. I don’t really lose out since the customer still pays me fairly for my time spent on their site – whether it’s 10 hours or 100. The only customers who want themes anyway are the ones who have no real budget or need something NOW.

  21. I have a question:
    What is it that makes a theme bad? I’ve heard “bad” themes have options or design hard-coded into it, but what does that really mean to me?

    What else makes a theme bad?

    Or, if I’m shopping to buy a new theme, what should I be looking for so to know if it’s coded well or not?

    Feel free to email me if you don’t want to post.

    1. Robert, thanks for the question. I’ll do one better than email you or comment here. It’s a great question for non-developers and consumers, and I’ll answer it in a proper post. That’s valuable information.

        1. If you have this post, I’d like to see it too. I’m confused with all the dialogue above as an end consumer. Is the software bloated or not? I have almost same criteria as you Robert. What did you find?

    2. Currently, purchasing a theme I’m looking at only 3 things:
      1. load speed (using tools.pingdom.com to test the theme’s preview, considering a theme which preview loads in 1-3 seconds and is not larger than 2Mb as good);
      2. speed on a quite old (2008) macbook (1/3 of most recent themes at themeforest are quite slow on it)
      3. whether or not I’ll be able to switch to another theme, from different author without loosing my data (custom typed posts mostly). Have to say themes that meet this requirement are rare gems, especially at TF, just because authors there are forced to add as many features to their themes as possible. To avoid sticking to particular theme I’m just ignoring the theme’s built-in custom post types (in case they do exist), and use 3rd-party plugins.

  22. The theme looks very simple. I wonder what the hoopla is all about. Its all about the first impression you get out of it. Very often I’ve bought themes based on face value alone, but when I’m half-way done customizing it, its not all its cracked up to be. Nowadays I really take time to play around with the demo theme site before settling on a theme.

  23. I think themes are a great option to use, but it isn’t to he sole solution for designing a website. I like to use them to show clients ideas if what they have talked to me about, and use it as a tool to get the right brief from a client, then if needed build it based in that design, or sometimes use it. I think it is very hard to write something off when especially it is a very large and successful market. Also people wanting to learn design can easily buy a them as they are cheap, and learn how certain elements work.

  24. I just someone send me the theme and I had a look at the code in Avada. It’s *horrible*. I had high hopes that despite all the options which lead to bloat, the authors had done a good job at coding it. My hopes were smashed when seeing the code.

    Almost the entire theme is made up of poor code decisions. I’m not talking about things that come from “giving customers what they want”. The code written to do so is absolutely horrible. I cannot stress this enough. I honestly can’t believe this theme was allowed to be in the market. I guess money talks.

    I don’t mean to “pile on” and bash, but after seeing the code I felt a duty to come back to this thread and share.

    I’m willing to share some screenshots of the Avada code if anyone is interested in just how bad it is.

    1. I’m actually pretty curious on seeing some screenshots. Let’s consider it a “learning experience”, on what NOT to do. If anything this will help new devs reading these comments, and what exactly to avoid.

    2. John Parris
      I just someone send me the theme and I had a look at the code in Avada. It’s *horrible*. I had high hopes that despite all the options which lead to bloat, the authors had done a good job at coding it. My hopes were smashed when seeing the code.
      Almost the entire theme is made up of poor code decisions.

      I’d be interested to see some of those examples, particularly if you can give some suggestions for how they should have been coded.

  25. Personally, I’ve found that what customers love about the Avada theme is the first impression with the Revolution Slider or the Layer Slider. Not the theme itself, but the premium plugins.

    Unfortunately, the customer doesn’t care who coded the theme, where it came from or whether it includes premium plugins and they probably have no idea what a plugin is.

    I’m a developer and have made themes from scratch, but to compete with themes like Avada, udesign and more, I’d have to start bundling plugins like the Revolution and layer slider etc. If you take a look at the top selling themes of the past several weeks, you’ll see that most, if not all, include bundled plugins.

    Judging by the sales, this is what we should be doing! It’s obviously what customers AND developers who download the theme want.

  26. I used a couple of their themes on client websites (client asked for them not I) and I really can’t stand the unnecessary features. Now, I just deal with Genesis. That’s it, that’s all.

  27. If you will allow a non-developer to chime in. In my effort to find a theme or framework to build out my own site with all the options I find attractive/appealing, there never seams to be a complete solution. It would be great to take the features of several themes that you like and mix them together but, as you know, it doesn’t work that way. I know, I know….plugins. How convenient….just search for 5-20 plugins that will magically solve the problem without breaking things and remain compatible throughout numerous, independent updates. You know the real world is much different than that.

    Isn’t it better (even for many of you developers) to use a tool that eliminates as much outside code as possible that has conflict potential? When you guys “hand over the keys”, do you really want all the problem emails from panicked customers when an update to something takes their site down?

    I know enough to appreciate the problems with “bloated code” but, honestly, it’s the lessor of 2 evils in my opinion. As a business man, I understand your different revenue streams, but I see much more success for your kind building more reliable sites than regularly fixing your old ones.

    I haven’t purchased their theme yet but it seems plenty fast compared to many other “less bloated” options. Just my 2cents.

  28. It’s great article, but as themeforest/codecanyon author I must disagree. As MikeS stated, like it or not users will go for more features, do some silly stuff and rate your product purely if something goes wrong (plugin developers experience this as soon as their product launches). Most of the users that contact you for support have at lest 10 plugins, and you can only dream what hell is breaking loos while their site is executing.

    So in my opinion, to avoid problems there is only one solution, there should be no need for plugins, or frameworks, if you want your customers to be satisfied, build everything there is into your theme and make it as intuitive it can be with millions of options. Even Avada was simple when it was released, They didn’t complicate it because they wanted to, they did it because there is no other way.

    1. Disargee. It’s of course way simpler to ignore the simple fact that there are thousands and thousands of plugins our customers can install on their WP sites… we can cut corners and write simpler code which does not care about plugins. But that’s just a bad practice. Yes, other developers (plugin authors too) can write buggy, unstable code which will ruin the theme no matter how much effort you’ll invest into its development, but that fact can’t justify our ignorance of wordpress standards (including those which differentiate themes from plugins)

      1. Hello Sergey,

        The problem is in the ideal vision of plugins and themes. For this system to work you need to have fully functional plugins and themes which usually isn’t the case. WordPress evolves with time, and good practice now will not be good practice in a year or so.

        Due to the fact that some plugins / themes stop selling, development of these items usually stops half way. Standard customer doesn’t know that his plugin is faulty and blames it on the theme he just bought. I’m not saying that plugin / theme idea isn’t good, I’m saying that at this moment, with this user base, relying on the principle can ruin a perfect item.

  29. hi Brian ,

    i am not fully agree with you. As a theme developer we need to incorporate new features in our theme to attract more customer. But the best theme is in which you can customize your theme according to your need without any adverse effect.

    1. The issue is not with adding features themselves, but with adding features that break your customers’ sites when they inevitably change from your theme to something else in the future. Themes should cover the display of content and plugins should cover the creation of content. Having themes handle content creation is just asking for future trouble.

  30. This our little story: When we released our first theme it had only a few features because we wanted to keep it simple, leave every extra functionality to plugins and avoid making it bloated. The theme have a very great design and it became very popular. After a few hundred sales we started to receive feedbacks and lots of feature requests. You see, people want the features, they want all this buttons, switches, form elements, color options, they want to control everything, they want to have the ability to configure their site the way they want it and not the way you give them, they do not like to be limited. Well, creating and selling themes is a business. I think the same happened to the authors of Avada and i can understand them.

  31. Wah . . . wah . . . wah! I dare you to post this comment!

    There are 3 types of people in this world:

    1. Those who “Watch other people make it happen”
    2. Those who “Wonder what happened”
    3. And those that “Make it happen!”

    This site, as well as I bet most of your own, could benefit from this theme! If y’all know so much more, then where is your theme? I’d live to buy it so I could be as great as YOU!

    Stop wasting your time on dis’n others, get off your buttocks and make it happen. Stop researching and finding fault and make some money! If any of you were as smart as you think, you wouldn’t spend the time to comment or read others posts (myself included).

    Until then, I will go and buy the AVADA theme and save time! If you’re the best designer out there, we should talk. I am in need of a EXCELLENT designer who can take AVADA, or your personal theme, and make it look as good as the AVADA demo.

    Thanks and stop hatin’!

  32. Fred, more power to you. Enjoy Avada. But pleasevdon’t come here half-cocked, all high-and-mighty. Your resolution of learn to build a better mouse trap is just wrong. It’s not hate for which I (and others) expressed opinions, it’s experience. Don’t insult me (or others) because we are not coders. Where is YOUR solution? Where is YOUR theme that solves everyone’s issues? By your own words, you should build a better theme or shut up.

    Personally, I’ve bought a few themes from ThemeForest. I bought them with the intent of using them as-is so to leverage their strengths and not try to use them for a purpose for which they were not designed.

    My experience has been mediocre to horrible. One theme in particular, from a foreign developer was broken right out the gate and it took MONTHS for him to fix issues with his own theme. He had built-in conflicts with his own javascript and his CSS was poorly written. It should never have been released.

    The problem is there are developers who want their piece of the cash cow and I don’t blame them for that at all. I wish I could code a theme, and I am learning, but thats a couple years out for me. But there are some who are horrible business men, lacking any real customer service skills, or they have been short sighted and lack a real technical support structure, or they simply don’t give a damn and release poorly coded product. It’s irresponsible. If they want to pretend to be a business, they need to act like a business and be mature enough to build a great product before they release it.

    But as a customer, I expect…no…. demand, that functions of a theme to actually work as advertised. I don’t care if the theme is $5 or $50.

    I have only experienced a sliver of themes available. I bet there are very good ones, I hope rock solid in their design and code, but I don’t know which ones qualify. And I don’t know which theme builders act like a true business either. Thats the main reason I’m on these boards.

    Until then, I’ve concluded I am not going to use themes (unless a customer REALLY REALLY is adamant on one). I will use a framework and build my own themes.

  33. There is great potential in the theme market, or as it should be called, the website solutions market. People could be really innovating in providing simple and flexible solutions to meet people’s needs. Instead, so many folks are packing everything under the sun into these themes, on marketplaces that only support the theme, not the solution.

    Just wanted to say, very good idea to include quote feature πŸ™‚

  34. Personally, I think Avada is not the best theme, but with the hype they’ve got, most non-developers fall for it. Look at the comments on http://themeforest.net/item/avada-responsive-multipurpose-theme/2833226/comments – which reveal a lot about the customer – basic questions like: how do I change the speed of this, or colour of that. Then again, most in-the-know developers don’t care about perfection, and go for the easiest option for their client, bing-bang-bosh, job done = Avada. It’s not about high-art, it’s a WP theme, solves a problem, like thousands of others – hyper di hype.

  35. BTW – it’s worth noting that ThemeFusion have opened up a
    ~ ‘new customer centre’ ~, they must be busy helping customers change the speed of this, or the colour of that…

  36. But they are just one player taking advantage of what buyers clearly think they need

    Exactly…

  37. … anyway, once Linked Data becomes real, there won’t be websites or web UIs – it will just be data visualized (on mobile) – “OH, yes, that’s an Avada website” – borrrring.

    Good night…

  38. How about for folks that don’t want or can’t afford a developer? Clearly then, they just don’t deserve a web presence. Certainly not a 101 option like a pre-built theme that puts together plugins in a combination that might work, as opposed to what they would come up with on their own. If developers were already handling this market niche adequately, there wouldn’t be such demand for products like Avada. I read a lot of fear-mongering on this thread, like the Luddites smashing equipment that they feared would make them irrelevant. How about taking this kind of demand and offering a service in the same price range that met the need for basic advisement for people who want to just maintain their own sites?

  39. I’m surprised at all the hate that goes on toward the devs of Avada. I think it’s all jealousy really. You can rant all you want that there is bloat, or bad code, or whatever, but realize that many arguments web developers use to defend their relevance are to soothe their own egos. Many small-site customers don’t give a crap if their website loads in 1 second vs 4 seconds.

    Get over yourselves.

    If you are “all that” then develop a tool that meets the needs of the popular consumer….if that’s your business model.

    If you are a business-to-business developer, Avada or any pre-made theme is not the way to go. At least it hasn’t been for me because every client wants a unique design based on their content and brand.

    I’ll use a theme if I have to, but it tends to only be for smaller clients. I also tell them they can’t design their site if they choose the theme. I stipulate they need to direct their content to match the templates. I then explain why going a custom route vs a theme route has advantages. I usually get the sale.

    Any customer who wants too much for too little is not the person I want to be working for anyway.

    So back to the Avada crew. I’m jealous of their success. I’m jealous of any developer who is successful selling themes. I wish I had the skills to develop themes as opposed to developing websites using Genesis. But I don’t hate on them. They are playing on an even playing field and deserve all the cash they can get because they have a product consumers want. I have not purchased the theme because regardless of it’s success, I can do everything it can do myself.

    I also think they have really lucked out. The fortune of Avada is a freak phenomenon of nature. There are other themes that look far more interesting, but once Avada gained momentum it became self-reciprocating.

    On the other hand, I hate the fact that all themes are so popular. I hate the fact that web tools are getting pretty close to developing websites for pennies that take me hours to create. Right now, my clients use my because they get a personal relationship and personal service. I’ve lost other clients because they could care less about relationships and shop only for price. I

    It’s my job to offer value-added services that no fancy tool or theme can offer and target those customer who appreciate those personal or service qualities.

    Graphic design and now web design has always been a tough field. Nothing new there.

    1. It’s definitely all jealously. None of the criticism is in any way warranted. How dare these people criticise a successful business?

  40. Neil
    Why buy a 1 dimensional theme, buy the parts separately and then spend days configuring and styling it when I can have it all in one package? It’s like buying a new bed without the mattress and duvet set.

    Buying a theme like this is like buying a new bed that comes with six mattresses.

  41. I actually liked your recent post discussing simplified themes, and utilizing the built in WordPress customization controls rather than all the nonsense theme admin panels everywhere. I think UpThemes is going this route.

  42. Yes Avada has some features for rookies but it does not worth to buy as it is very slow loading theme. Why would you need 3-4 different sliders in a same time? Ok I know you can disable but still unnecessary addons. I think interested person can learn basics of designing genesis or thesis.

  43. “I’m ready for the real innovators to stand up and disrupt this madness.”

    So, why aren’t you doing it?

  44. We tried this theme once and unfortunately we were amature bloggers. We got refund by rejecting this theme.

    That was a wrong turn I guess.

  45. hmmm the theme is actually great as many others. What buyers make with the theme is other thing. Even with this kind of themes, you can make simple things one by one.

    At least the theme give you a lot of possibilities. Is better than you trying to install each plugin and test it. also it comes with some good examples so that you dont need to start from the beggining.

    Eventhough the theme is great and help people building sites, it is not easy to manage it. so the theme like many others are not for everyone.

  46. Themeforest is a saturated market thats why even elegant themes are rejected there.In case if your theme got approved, it is soon become invisible due to the
    arrival of new items.Solution to this issue is that Authors can submit their themes on those marketplaces which are less saturated like themifycloud.com where
    chances of approval are high as well as number of sales because your item will not be made invisble by rapid new arrivals.

    1. You are right in general, authors should not rely on a single themeshop like TF. Unfortunately, themifycloud (5 downloads make a theme “popular”!) and other newcomers are at the moment in the middle of nowhere themselves, so authors should be very selective choosing the places where they’ll submit their themes. And I’m still think that setting up a standalone theme shop can be more valuable, at least in the long run.

      1. “And I’m still think that setting up a standalone theme shop can be more valuable, at least in the long run.”

        Absolutely agreed. Sometimes the best way to stand out, is to just stand still.

      2. I absolutely agree, I was discussing the very same thing just half an hour ago with a colleague. There should be more marketplaces, so to give authors more choice. Competition helps improving the market, in fact we were even thinking of launching a marketplace ourselves. The main hurdle would be to attract authors and customers, as TF’s popularity is huge and anything else risks being seen as a waste of time, due to limited traffic.

  47. In my humble opinion it’s a SHAME to have a theme like that which is pretty limited when it comes to the page builder.

    The admin panel gives me headaches.

    Of course most of the questions are: how to change that and how to update that because it’s a mess there and you get lost easily even if you are a web person.

    1. And by the way, I think this trend on themeforest to buy plugins and bundle them in the themes to have it say: SAVE $80-xxx worth of .. bla bla

  48. So are you saying its better to use WordPress with a crappy theme, and use the free plugins that are not coded as well, instead of buying a premium theme on Themeforest, that is well lets say coded better, and has plugins and features that are better?

    Some are coded on Themeforest as if they were right on WordPress.org for free.

  49. I am a cheapskate, and I am not rich, but if I were rich, I would still be a cheapskate, and buy a theme off of Themeforest to save money from paying the prices for developers to do it for me.

    I rather learn to code and do it myself, then pay the prices of developers prices.

  50. All I can say is one good thing about having a pre-built theme, is even if you aren’t going to use all that is in there at the first time, you will at least have something to go back and use later if you want without getting it as a separate plugin, which separate plugins have more http requests than it built into the theme. Themes are customized pre-bought plugins into them. Made to work within the theme.

  51. I can pay a developer thousands of dollars to develop my site. Or I can buy a theme for $50 and spend hundreds of hours of my time (equal to thousands of dollars) to develop my site.

    If I’m young and have more time than money, this might make sense (especially if I have good design skills). I end up with bloatware that looks good.

    If I’m old and have more money than time, it makes more sense to hire a developer team skilled in UX, design, coding, SEO to design a lean site.

    Those of us who spend $50 for a theme thinking of saving thousands of dollars must remembers that time is money.

    1. Well Said….the point to understand is that developers use the theme demos as discovery of the clients needs in consultation. Never ever have I had a client who bought a theme, squished all their wonderful stock photos in have produces a quality looking site. The concept is far better then the reality. In truth you really do need a professional who understand what these elements are, how to place them, whats the correct site architecture, what is the user experience, what is the ultimate concept and how it brings relevancy towards the brand. Its far more then just a developer buying a theme, piecing it together then a puzzle and walla package it and sell it. And as most people know no matter how much a theme has options people are unique as their business and they need custom CSS. I on the other hand see a great benefit to authored themes that nobody has discussed. It allows the current design to be compatible with newer versions of wordpress and plugins since the theme author is now doing the updating on the code rather then me and I see this a great selling point and positive. It also cuts down after support because inevitably the client gets into their backend sees the 8-9-10 whatever plugins need updating and does so and the who site breaks which then in turn leads to them calling you and saying ” I did nothing I swear” and its your development you should fix it and Im not paying. This can happen and has happend in the 9 plus years as Web Brander and like any good economics plan just let the people who are best at what they do, do it and you manage the bigger picture.
      At least thats my two cents worth. My only gripe is that what these themes do is give the illusion that creating a functioning, converting, rankable and relevant website is all about plug and play and doesnt take much thought or skill at all and we are basically key board monkeys.

  52. I am jumping from a simple theme to one like Avada because plugins don’t always work with your theme. I spent money on a premium theme. customized it, then tried to use a mega menu plugin (a very popular one recommended by the theme’s support person) and had difficulty getting it to work with the theme. Then paid the theme shop an additional $100 to get it installed, which they did using some custom code, but whenever I add anything new to the menu it breaks. I’m not out $165 plus wasted time. Can I protest through PayPal? No idea. The shop is in India and I feel I have little recourse. Next time, I’m getting a theme with a mega menu installed in it! I should have launched by now and instead I’m starting over.

  53. This thread is absolutely the best.. I’m currently working with a client at the agency where I work (my day job that loves to blindly cater to clients) who INSISTED we use the Avada Theme because it is so popular. I’m a pretty seasoned PHP Dev with about 6 years of WP experience and I can truly say, I HATE THIS THEME… from a strictly development perspective. The shortcodes alone will never get a client’s website looking nearly as good as the demo without a good deal of background knowledge of dev… Maybe the simple stuff but the layer sliders, the tabs, the accordians, all that stuff… not as user friendly as it would seem for a client who might not have any idea how setting it up works.

  54. My take…unless they stop rolling out so many changes and options (without testing them more thoroughly) the theme will eventually crumble under the weight of its own success. They are trying to cater to so many people with so many option. The slightest change they roll out has far to many unintended consequences. They are not testing their changes sufficiently prior to rolling out updates and are being inundated massive support requests after each update. The end user is suffering from the speed results of the theme being to large (which with work can be optimized to increase load times) and also from all of the errors and differences introduced by EVERY updated. Testing on their part is horrible!

  55. I bought the Avada theme, and then due to various reasons, I wasn’t able to use it.

    I contacted sales to see about getting a refund. Week after week, I got a support reply saying that they were sorry for being behind.

    I then filed my first ever claim with Paypal, have used them for 6 businesses since Paypal launched, Perfect record with PP.. But I lost the claim.. Envato provided false information to win their case!

    And now there isn’t anything I can do about it.. Envato is a shady company and I’ll never use them again! I had an account with various other items that I purchased, but because of filing a claim for the refund for Avada, Envato locked my account so now I no longer have access to download products I bought in the past..

    I’ve never had to deal with something like this.. Not in 19 years of web developement…

  56. I just bought Avada and love it. It does have have ton of design options, but for obsessive-compulsive personalities who want control over every design aspect of their website, it is perfect!

    It’s true that takes time loading -I can’t argue with that. But the trade-off is a perfect presentation of your content.

    Although there are a ton options, it is organized well and consistently in the back end. After a while, using it feels smooth and the creative possibilities are endless.

  57. Avada actually made me love the web more… since the time a project takes decreases, more thought is put in design and plugin creation. The ripple effect also affects potential normal website customers, since they get to work with people that have to top functionality and design as displayed in themes like this. Finally renewing several corners of the web at a fast pace.

    I read no such thing as a hint of a concrete alternative or concept that would be so different from Avada that you would eventually apreciate it.

    My 2 cents anyway

  58. I would still stick to GENESIS any day.
    Simplicity and Easy SEO are the most important factors and Genesis does this effortlessly while the child themes look amazing and a super fast

  59. A serious security issue was found with one of the sliders that’s packaged with this theme back in September, and a huge amount of sites with the slider installed were compromised.

    Although it was several months ago, I’m still seeing sites with old versions of the slider, so make sure you or your clients have updated and changed MySQL login details.

    http://blog.sucuri.net/2014/09/slider-revolution-plugin-critical-vulnerability-being-exploited.html

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