This post was originally published in September of 2010 on my old Site “The Blue Jeans VA”. It was time for an update, a lot of things have changed in 4 years!
Last week we looked at Free WordPress themes so this week we are going to take a closer look at another source of WordPress themes and templates from WordPress Theme Marketplaces.
A WordPress Theme Marketplace is usually a place where the designer can set-up a store and add themes they have created and sell through the marketplace. Each marketplace has their own process, some will require review before selling but some do not.
I can get lost in a theme marketplace, it can be soooooo much fun to look through if you love themes. This is a source of inspiration, great functionality, design tips, find out what is trending, and what clients are looking for. But, it can also become simply overwhelming with all the options and features available. You will find just about everything under the sun.
It reminds me of walking through Costco. I have to go in with a list or I get distracted and forget what in the world I came into the store for!
It used to be that I would pretty much say hands down no, do not use these. A lot of the time you would run into the same issues as you would with Free Themes, lack of support, bad coding, and more.
Thankfully, over the years things have improved. Many marketplaces are now require that the theme go through a review process to ensure quality.
There are some incredibly cool themes to be found in these marketplaces. They wow factor draws you in and you see the flashy, fun, and amazing options available.
But, here is my caveat to what I just stated above, the coolness factor can blind you and keep you from being as careful as you should and tempt you to buy before doing your research.
Just like free themes… you have to be careful. Many of these themes will work just fine out of the box, but as soon as you need to customize (a little or a lot) you may run into trouble unless you know your WordPress and CSS styling code. If you don’t, then, don’t! You be headed for a major headache and a nice sized bill to find someone to help you fix it.
It is not uncommon to have a client contact me after spending hours and hours trying to get the theme to do what they want. As a small business owner this is a drain of your time, energy, and finances, it may not be worth the effort.
When should you use a WordPress Theme Marketplace?
If you are just getting started and you want something with more bells and whistles then the default WordPress theme, this might be the place for you to start. As long as you understand that what you see is what you get. That there won’t be much you can do in terms of customization. Be looking for “move-in-ready” themes that you just love the way it looks on the demo site.
And of course, there are always exceptions. There are some themes that give you lots of point and click options to help you customize your site, awesome. If you find one, go for it. As long as you have done your due-diligence and checked the theme out first.
Do Your Research
- Support: Does the theme provider offer any? Some have forums, some have discussion areas and sometimes it is just an email. Some offer great support, some you never hear back from.
- Documentation: Do they offer any training videos or downloadable manuals to help you with the themes set-up?
- Reviews: When you search for that theme in Google what do people say? Are they asking the same questions over and over again or are you hearing seeing old questions that never get answered. Or are you hearing glowing reviews with big thanks I love this theme?
- WordPress.org Support Forum: This is also a great research tool, go to the forum and type in your theme, what are people on the forum saying?
- Ask! Ask a WordPress geek, ask your contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, find out if anyone else has worked with the theme find out about their experience using the theme?
- Quality Check: What is the company policy on reviewing themes for sale? Do they even have one and what is the process?
Doing just a few minutes of research up front can save you time, money and frustration. This is your business, this is your presence on the web, make sure it is going to work for you!
There are many and I have purchased themes from some over the years and have liked what I have seen.
1) Variety: The biggest pro is simply the incredible variety of options. You will find amazing features and functionality for just about every need imaginable. Like I said earlier, I visit these sites just for inspiration!
2) Move-In-Ready: Once you find what you are looking for and have done your research install the theme you should be good-to-go. You can tart blogging within minutes, now that is pretty awesome!
3) Affordable: When you are bootstrapping your business, as many of us do, the pricing in these marketplaces are not so scary and are usually in the $30-50 range.
My 2 biggest pet peeves are support and coding of the theme. I’ve seen too many websites trapped by themes from WordPress Theme Marketplaces and paying me significant money to jump into the back end of their site to try and figure it out. If there is good theme support I usually can get an answer and some help but a lot of times what should be simple becomes complicated. But sometimes you get a fast and easy answer, I like it when that happens!
I’m not trying to scare you off of these (okay well maybe a little) because there are some great themes out there by quality designers and coders who love what they do and are great at it. Please, please, please do your research first.
WordPress Theme Marketplaces to Checkout
If you want to take a closer look and do some research – the 2 that I visit the most are:
- Theme Forest
- Creative Market (also a great pace for Genesis Child Themes! But, I’m getting ahead of myself, we will cover that next time)
Next up we will look at my favorite 🙂 WordPress Frameworks and Premium WordPress Themes.