Envato Targeted by DDoS Attack, WordPress Theme Authors Report Major Decline in Sales


If you’ve attempted to access Themeforest or any other site on the Envato network lately, you may have encountered some down time. The company updated customers and community members today, attributing the technical difficulties to a DDoS attack:

Since July 1, Envato has been the target of a sustained DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. The attacker, whose motive and identity are unknown, has repeatedly flooded our servers with high levels of traffic, causing our services to be unavailable at various times.

The most recent outage happened over the weekend when Envato Market was down for three hours on Friday and one hour on Sunday. This is a significant chunk of time for a market that paid out $224 million dollars to its members in 2014.

The downtime has also impacted WordPress theme authors, who continue to dominate the Envato’s marketplace. According to Ben Chan, the company’s director of growth and revenue, 30 of the 31 sellers who make up the Power Elite wall of fame (selling $1 million+ worth of items) are WordPress product authors.

The power of the WordPress economy on Envato is undeniable, but sales have taken a sharp decline in the past couple of months, even before the DDoS attack. According to PremiumWP, which cites reports from elite theme author Chris Robinson of Contempo and many others, sales have suddenly declined 50-70%.

“Sales have declined over 70% starting from May with each passing day getting worse,” Robinson said in the members’ forum. “I’ve also spoken with other elite authors explaining the same thing. One example going from $1500/day to $700 – sure that’s still a great deal of money BUT what the hell is happening?

“This isn’t just one or maybe twenty authors, it is marketplace wide affecting everyone. A marketplace wide decline in sales of this magnitude doesn’t just happen due to vacations, or other buyer factors. Going through the years of sales data (since 2008) this has never happened, I’ve personally gone from $2-3000/week to less than $700/week…that’s insane!”

With new authors and products entering the market every day, the market share for established authors is slowly diminishing, but members are not convinced that this is the sole cause of the sharp drop in sales.

FinalDestiny of TeoThemes, another author whose sales are declining, blames the one-size-fits-all theme products for gobbling up a greater slice of the market share.

“Everybody is tired of these huge, monster multipurpose themes having the same price as normal themes, and that’s pretty much killing the marketplaces. But Envato couldn’t care less, as long as they get their share,” he said.

In another thread, which ended up getting locked, there are 27 pages of comments from users speculating about why their sales have been dropping. Members cite seasonal buying fluctuations, piracy, Themeforest’s recent drop in Google search rankings, VAT and hidden price additions on checkout, and unfair pricing advantages for monster themes that claim to do everything, among other possible causes.

In one thread, titled “More than 50% sales drop for most of the authors. Does TF care for Authors?“, an Envato community officer offered the following comment:

We don’t really give sales updates over the forums other than to say your sales can go up and down for a multitude of reasons. Try not to assume the sky is falling every time the USA has a long weekend :) We have fast and slow periods throughout the year same as any business, and your portfolio will no doubt have peaks and valleys as well.

This kind of generic reply has left theme authors scratching their heads, despite multiple threads in the forums popping up with concerns from those who are alarmed by the sudden drop. Many WordPress theme authors depend on Themeforest as their primary source of income. In one reply, the Aligator Studio seller sums up their concerns and frustration with the inability to convince Envato of the unusual circumstances that are affecting large numbers of sellers:

We are not talking about valleys and peaks, we’re talking about a general traffic and sales fall, from New Year until now, especially after April. We’re not talking about regular ups and downs (sometimes steeper, sometimes not), due to longer weekends, summer holidays, and general and the usual stuff happening here in the last couple of years.

It’s not a sky falling – it’s inability to pay our bills, we’re not fanatics that foresee the end of the world.

Envato has yet to provide an official statement about the marketplace-wide decline in sales, apart from recognizing the network’s unavailability due to the recent DDoS attack.


65 responses to “Envato Targeted by DDoS Attack, WordPress Theme Authors Report Major Decline in Sales”

  1. Perhaps buyers have wised up to how crappy most of the code is on Envato. We’ve personally tested three or four of Envato’s best sellling video plugins and they are absolute crap (we publish FV Player ourselves so WordPress video is an area we know very well.

    We’ve also implemented/improved some “cool” Envato parallax type themes for clients. While the themes might look great out of the box, by the time one is done with even basic performance optimisation, one would do better to start coding from scratch.

    Of course the right answer is neither (not Envator and not Scratch) but to take a really solid theme from one of the better coded houses (we’ve been very happy with Studiopress code and less happy with most others.

  2. Based on my own experience and the experiences of clients as well as discussions with developers I know, there are a few seemingly serious issues with Envato.

    The number one complaint about Envato theme authors I have heard is that they try to make their themes “Monster” themes. Too many people don’t know that a theme isn’t supposed to be an all-in-all solution. They visit Themeforest and find out they have these “Great” themes that are supposed to do all these things, but if they don’t do everything needed, and plugins have to be added, the plugin functionality of theme overrides any plugin activated and once there is a conflict, it is nearly impossible to resolve because the theme author comes back and says, you have to have the plugin developer comply with our theme. That’s not a very good way to do business. And when a theme like that costs 48-68 dollars it really upsets people.

    Second complaint I hear is the licensing Envato uses. More and more developers are coming into the market with licensing which allows multiple installations of a theme. There are varying types of licensing which allow for up to unlimited installations. Those developers don’t choose Envato because of the licensing restrictions. And that is hard for Envato to beat.

    Third is the fact that, as @Alec Kinnear points out, there is a lot of crap on Envato. And if someone tries to get a refund for any purchase, there is no guarantee there is going to be a refund. Some items on Envato are horrible. And most people won’t find that out until after they purchase. Comments don’t always tell people what they need to know. Envato and authors of that crap aren’t saying anything either.

    Last thing I will mention is the tendency of items to disappear after a purchase has been made. Try getting a refund if the item goes away from the downloads list after five days. It won’t happen. Envato is not (from my experience and the experience of a lot of people I know) a consumer friendly place to buy.

    That’s all I am going to cite because I personally think Envato should be doing some serious listening. If they are, they should be hearing what those of us who help others are hearing. Many, many people are tired of Envato.

    And given Google is very customer satisfaction oriented (when it comes to other websites) search engine, it is logical Envato will continue to drop in popularity both in searches and their own repeat business. Just my take on things.

  3. As PremiumWP showcases a list of possible reasons of the drop, I have to say the list is quite accurate for the most part, and even Alec Kinnear is correct on the TF code. I was once an author at Theme Forest but pulled out to focus on my own site. Since then, I now I have a new theme site up and running with no real desire to return to TF. Out of curiosity, I’ve tried a few of the popular themes there and was horrified at the code. One theme had over 16 CSS files loaded (one with over 35K lines of css), over 30 javascripts, 13 Google fonts loading….etc.

    Anyway, I will leave the theme review out. The problem at Theme Forest is something I had an idea would happen at some point when I noticed earlier in the year that the average sales a new theme now gets is well below 100. To really break-even, an author needs around 300 sales to make back the time they put into making a theme…generally 2-3 months of development time.

    The sales are just not there anymore because of the saturation of themes. The list that PremiumWP has posted in their article pretty much sums up what I’ve been noticing over the months. The time has long passed to become an author at TF, and if one didn’t get in two years prior to 2015, your chances are like playing the lottery.

    I mentioned that I pulled out of Theme Forest as an theme author, and to be honest, I’m glad I did. I noticed that some elite authors have pulled out.

    • This is evolution in action. In any area where money is to be made competition leads to oversupply, and then once supply exceeds demand, a period of rationalization occurs – some people survive, some don’t. Eventually the marketplace stabilises again and normality returns.

      • I do not think it’s evolution. Take a look at their traffic stats – they’ve started losing about 1 million visits per month starting from Jan 2015.

  4. Top developers should setup a new marketplace where they can define better rules and quality for their crafts. They shouldn’t make themselves dependent of Envato. It is time to create new opportunities if Envato is not listening to them. To sell themes for $50 is ridiculous if you want to sustain good quality and support.

    • I think there are three people who have said that, are we all competition? I know for one, I am not. If you are accusing someone why don’t you be specific. Because your statement leaves it as anyone above you is the competition and that is not a true statement.

  5. I think the sales going down the toilet is because there are so much competition.

    If someone wants to charge $300 for a theme…I can go somewhere else for $50.

    There is even Fiverr (I haven’t tried them). So much competition.

    There is also theme authors who think they are “hot shit” and charge an arm and a leg. Other “more humble” theme authors charge less.

    • So you don’t think it’s proper to charge what you want for your own work? “more humble” developers aren’t necessary humble, but with the saturation, it’s a race to the bottom. Stuff as much as you can in a theme and charge as little as possible. That’s what people looking to build a WP site without any coding are looking for.

      • Hi Karen,

        As far as I can tell, Miroslav Glavic is the master of a broken WordPress website, an empty LinkedIn account and a terribly outdated Twitter profile (last post 2009). WPtavern has the atmosphere of a venue for WordPress professionals. A couple of folks like MG could really do a lot of damage to the ambience here alas.

        • my linkedin profile…I just haven’t updated it with anything. I tweet daily. You are looking at my original twitter account @Glavic. I use @MiroslavGlavic

          I think people like YOU do more damage. Yes it is you who i talked about the competition thing. You create themes, yet you call your competition crap. That is exactly the problem.

          I find it very unprofessional when someone says their competition is crap. instead of attacking competition, point out the good things about yourself, that is true proffesionalism.

  6. I don’t find it odd at all.
    Speak to those who have made purchases from Envato and you’ll likely hear this scenario repeated:

    I purchased a Theme and within a few months I see this:
    “Download not available
    Item removed by either staff or the author”

  7. Very interesting read for sure. I founded ThemeSnap.com back in early ’08. We were strictly Drupal themes till around 2012, when we were approached by a few other authors wanting to sell on ThemeSnap.com. So, we transitioned to more of a marketplace.

    The DDos attacks must be happening right now, as I could not access Codecanyon from my location several minutes ago. Seems back up now though.

    I know Envato’s business model pretty well and they are definitely the 600lb gorilla in this space. I can say that, in many respects, the comments above are true, i.e. questionable code in themes or poorly optimized, too many “do-all” multipurpose types of themes, etc. And, in my opinion, it really seems that the huge amounts of sales of a handful of their multipurpose themes at the normal prices of $48-58 has really taken a chunk out of other author’s potential sales.

    Chriss above had a good point about author’s being able to sell on other marketplaces. That very thing prompted us to changed some things about ThemeSnap.com from the beginning to potentially attract more authors who want a little more versatility for their hard work, such as: 1) Authors can sell anywhere with no % penalties, 2) Authors can set their own theme pricing (within reason) 3) Better author payment rates 4) Author collaboration platform 5) Discount pricing options to drive more sales for holidays, etc. and a lot more.

    Concerning TF’s sales drop, I can probably dissect some of TF’s SEO changes that they have implemented over the past 6+ months. Google has had a fair number of algorithm rollouts, like their mobile updates, more Panda and Penguin updates, etc. I’ll see what I can spot as far as fluctuations in those areas. If I find anything significant, I’ll post back here. Just changing the way a marketplace categorizes content could have a huge effect on rankings.

  8. I bought around 4-5 themes from Envato – very well respected themes there. Soon, I had to find out: how bad and heavy code they had, incompatibilities and so on.
    My target being very fast websites, best SEO results and Woocommerce compatible, I gave up on all of them.
    So my take is this: people got to know Themeforest quality and they figure out that they are doing a big compromise buying there. Compromise that less and less people are willing to make – that’s because more and more people are getting educated regarding the right approach in doing a website. And Themeforest never was the right approach.
    So my take is this: the time Themeforest authors won’t improve their themes quality, the sales will continue to go down. Step up your game or die.
    For the moment they are dying which in my opinion is very good.

    • I agree, I’ve gone full circle with themes due to the points you have raised. I do however use a couple for prototyping such as Avada & X.

    • Yep, same here. Most of the best selling themes that purportedly support WooCommerce, don’t really do so. They make changes to the WooCommerce template, rendering proper WooCommerce extensions (mostly on Woothemes.com) that uses these hooks to not work or not work properly.

      Then they tell you to pay to fix THEIR mistake. =.=

      And then they go around complaining that Envato owes them a price increase. But how so? They just won’t produce a theme that works well, instead of sloppily overwriting hooks and all.

      • Can confirm. The root cause of lots of tickets we see in WooCommerce support is poorly built ThemeForest themes. Steer clear.

        • Thanks James :) I learn the best WooCommerce themes are those built by Woothemes themselves. Major themes shops are ok, but TF themes on the majority, are bad :(

  9. WordPress plugins and themes using GPL are competing with other repositories that provide similar, or even the exact same, software for free, so as one commenter said here, it’s a race to the bottom. Many authors use a hit it and quit it approach. Offer a product, make however much money they can, then introduce a similar modified product as new, because they aren’t getting recurring revenue to continue quality development. The result is “you get what you pay for.”

    The alternative is to find a reputable author/company who sells products and services from their own web site, and charges a recurring fee to support continued development. Having a long term financial relationship with an author/company will save a ton of frustration and disappointment. This approach has worked very well for us and our clients.

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Todd. In a 100% GPL environment, your theme or plugin can be instantly cloned and rebranded on dozens of sites or multiple times on a site like Envato. If Envato doesn’t vet their authors for exclusivity and support and long term maintenance of their themes, Envato is finally getting exactly what they deserve.

      Envato is exceptionally greedy as well. You have to offer them an exclusive product or they take some thing like 80% of the sale price. Envato is very far from a co-operative model.

      As a client (we buy a lot of WordPress technology in addition to what we generate ourselves: there’s so much good inexpensive pro code available it’s much better for the clients to work as an integrator), one is far better off with a smaller companies with dedicated developers who are focused on one or two products, selling off of their own storefronts.

      It’s ironic: we once coded an exclusive social media version of our FV Player plugin for Envato (you have to go for exclusivity or you will be robbed blind). Our motivation: we’d found that the video plugins on Envato didn’t really work and Envato was running a contest with rewards for new video plugins.

      The Envato experience:

      1. Our plugin was rejected as not original enough. I won’t argue the point now, but I think it was original enough. The big difference between our plugin and the rest of the recycled video plugins on Envato was that it worked. FV Player should work. Not only do we work on WordPress integration and ads integration for Player full time, we license existing cross-platform technology from Flowplayer.

      2. There’s no way to answer the email rejecting your plugin (you are advised to use their contact form, as if Envato is some huge cellphone company).

      3. End result, Envato still doesn’t have working video plugins.

      4. Lots and lots of unhappy Envato video plugin users end up buying FV Player in the end.

      So Envato looks like a lose-lose proposition for both developers and users. Without a buddy on the inside, you can’t even exchange emails with Envato.

      • @Stephen Cronin,

        You make a good point. In fact, you can pick almost any well-known WordPress site you can think of and see a similar pattern of decline. So I don’t think this has much to do with Envato.

        But nor do I think it has much to do with Alexa. If you look at the dates when the steep falls start to happen, it looks to me that they largely coincide with security updates to core. (And we have had a lot of those recently.)

        I suspect that what’s actually going on here is that many users (actual and potential) are being put off because they have heard that WordPress is insecure, and now think they see evidence to back up those claims.

        The irony, of course, is that those updates made WordPress more secure. But, as Sarah Gooding has reported before, that’s not always how these updates are perceived.

  10. Well, as a simple user – who does not know a lot about good code – I have to say that there is a thing I like in Themeforest: there are here some very creative people. Maybe they are not good coderq but some of them know how to create a sexy or impressive theme. The best looking themes I saw are on Themeforest. And if I am not very good in coding, I know something about design.

    • If you have a busy site, Li-An, code quality is very important.

      First issue: performance/hosting. Your hosting bills could triple with a bad theme and your visitors could be waiting not 2.5 seconds but 12 seconds for a page load. As hosting even a moderately busy site can cost about $250, tripling that bill with worse performance with bad code quality is a very expensive proposition.

      Next issue: updates. WordPress.org is always updating core (a lot more than I’d like quite frankly as we are in the business of business websites and not hobby sites). With a poorly coded site, the chance for breakage is very high. Have fun fixing your pretty site, especially if the developer has abandoned the theme.

      Third issue: compatibility. If you are running a business site, there’s a very good chance you’ll be using event or ecommerce or courseware or membership or bbPress software to enhance the visitor experience or as your primary business model. Poorly coded sites are notoriously incompatible with advanced plugins.

      For our FV Player WordPress video player, we spend a great deal of time working to fix theme issues: broken jQuery links, out of date jQuery libraries, missing default footers. You want to be working with standards compliant code.

      If you plan to do any business with your site or plan to have more than a few hundred visitors/day to your site, you are far better off starting with a high quality framework like Justin Tadlock’s ThemeHybrid or Studiopress’s Genesis theme and having a good CSS designer add avantgarde style on top.

    • Hi Li-An…for most end-users, decisions to purchase a theme are based on how a theme looks and how big the feature list is. No one can blame them for that because at first glance, you experience the “WOW” factor and even I will admit the designs and features of themes here are impressive (just not the code). Visual design is just half of what is important, coding is the other half, but unless the end-user has code experience, they will never know if the theme they get is coded well or not.

      It really starts with the reviewers at Envato because unless they start reviewing themes for WordPress coding “Standards” in addition to just the design, this problem will keep going.Most themes at Theme Forest would not pass the review from wordpress.org. I’m lucky enough to submit my themes to WordPress for review, and trust me, they do very thorough reviews of code which is necessary for stability, compatibility, and security, among other factors.

      • Hey Andre,

        Our WordPress theme submission requirements are published on our site if you’re interested. We’re hoping to update these later this year, but we’ve been rejecting items for things not listed (such as functionality needing to be in plugins rather than themes) for some time now. Every new theme also has to pass the Theme-check plugin and we do review the code.

        Themes from before Septemeber 2013 may not meet these requirements, but we’re looking at ways to encourage more authors to update their themes to meet the requirements when we update them.

        • Hi Stephen…I’m late with a reply, I’ve been busy. Anyway, I would love to have the chance to ask some questions in relation to submissions and reviewing at ThemeForest, but here is not the best place as it falls away from the post’s topic. If it’s possible to contact you, let me know. From time-to-time, I have thought about adding my themes to Theme Forest.

          Back to the post and comments here…I like hearing from the source (as yourself) that code is reviewed, and that functions that are plugin based are being rejected, although recent themes are missed on these accounts. I did mention to Li An that it starts with the reviewers at Theme Forest but I should correct myself in saying it starts with the theme authors, then the reviewers. (Unfortunately we cannot edit our comments here, lol).

  11. Personally I think the new VAT laws have made the biggest impact. I used to buy things all the time on Envato but with the added 20% VAT I am now a bit more money conscious. In fact I would say my buying habits have halved…I can’t be the only one.

  12. I think these one size fits all themes and poorly coded themes on marketplaces (like Envato) are generally turning off a significant portion of business stakeholders for the websites they are being used on, and giving WordPress a bad name for enterprise level businesses in the process. Often the code in some of these themes is so inefficient, sloppy, bloated, or all of the above, that these themes simply cannot perform efficiently or be maintained effectively. Not to mention that even the most feature laden theme is still going to require some customization in most instances. Depending on the project, the customization could end up costing you more than developing the theme from scratch if the developer has to fight with a poorly coded theme when doing customization. Add to that the fact that a custom theme is going to perform better since it only has what is needed (no bloat); it amazes me that anybody uses marketplace themes to begin with.

  13. I never buy these WordPress themes on Theme Forest I rather buy the templates ( they really do have some great designs )

    I then make WordPress themes myself using only what I need because it it is true most of them are not good for page speed compatiblity seo etc

  14. I think that people are lumping all envato items together and then are pinning poor user choices with that to draw the conclusion all envato themes are bad. Those themes that come with 4 slider plugins spell out in documentation if you don’t need it don’t use it or conditionally load it. Now most users are not going to do that.

    Everyone talks about code quality but if you are an intelligent buyer and know how to run a website properly there is no reason to have a slow website. Most cases buyers who have slow websites don’t read the documentation or just lack common sense and thus are making poor decisions.

    I am not an authorized of any plugin or theme but if you look at what you are getting and stick to the documentation… There really shouldn’t be any problems with themes as long as you do some basic research.

  15. Everybody hates ThemeForest (except, you know, their customers). But no one stops to think why they’re so successful (hint: they don’t force their authors give up their property in order to sell it).

  16. Hi All,

    Disclaimer for those who don’t know: I work for Envato!

    I think we’re looking at two different things here. The DDoS attack is not is not directly related to the sales concerns expressed here (we believe it has had very little impact in fact). We see the DDoS attack as an attack on our community and we’re doing everything we can to defend against that and to make sure that there is as little disruption to our community as possible.

    On sales – Envato’s marketplace dynamic is growing and changing fast, with overall net sales at record highs. As competition increases, some authors are definitely experiencing a loss of sales compared to what they have experienced in the past. However, it’s also worth noting that some niche themes are selling quite strongly, so I don’t think it’s as simple as the multi-purpose themes taking all the sales.

    A couple of people mentioned not being able to re-download themes after the item has been removed from the marketplace. This does happen from time to time and we recommend all buyers download their files immediately after purchase and store them locally. As you may be aware, we are planning to introduce some changes around support. If authors opt-in to providing support, they will need to support buyers for 6 months. This should help buyers have clearer expectations about what they are getting and reassure them that the item will not disappear shortly after purchase.

    As for the quality of items available from our marketplaces, we’re always working on that and the quality level is always improving! We also have a few more initiatives in store for this year which will help in this regard – we take quality seriously and will continue working to improve it.

  17. The big question I have is this – are other theme sites also experiencing a decline in sales that started in Jan 2015 and suddenly got worse in May?

    I am trying to understand if this is an Envato problem or a theme marketplace problem. If Envato is down, then the others must be up (assuming the overall demand for WP themes has stayed about the same).

  18. I wonder if the google ranking was affected by the mobile-friendly update, which would have hit them around May. The mobile site is poor at best. Could be a factor.
    My personal gripe with themeforest is the author commission rates. they take a lot and really do nothing for it. If you want to be successful on theme forest you still need to advertise heavily yourself to drive traffic to them, as most/all the top themes do.

    • Do nothing for it? They provide MASSIVE amounts of traffic and a huge number of potential customers.

      That’s what they do for you.

      Try achieving even a fraction of that traffic on a newly established site (or one that has been around for a long time) and you’ll see just how valuable that traffic is. The commission they take is cheap suddenly.

      • Pippin, I’m a fan, I was just looking at Affiliate WP, but I’m gonna have to disagree with you. With the size of the market these days and with the amount of new themes added daily, the traffic you receive from them is fleeting. Unless you get on the popular page, (which only once came for me organically on TF) the traffic doesn’t sustain longer than a couple of weeks to a month – in which case you have to advertise and drive the traffic to your listing yourself – so then what’s the point of giving them 30%-50%. Outside of the first couple of weeks they’re doing nothing for it other than facilitating the sale.

        I’ve now removed all my themes from ThemeForest and am about to release a “new” site, to sell my themes independently. Time will tell.

  19. Hey guys, we are TF Elite authors and i can tell say for ourselves that we don’t really like where the market is going (bloated and feature-rich themes) since it will hurt us in the long run BUT this is where the market and buyers are. Surely Envato can work closer on this issue but this is not the case globally, customers are used to and want more features for the buck so i don’t think this will go away now.

    We are in the same bandwagon with everyone else (because we need sales to live and pay people who help us) with a popular theme for startups, it is somewhere in the middle between multi-purpose and single-purpose WP theme.
    I admit that our code is not the best out there, but i would like to think on a way how we can make a feature-rich theme better suited for coders&end customers alike so if anyone can volunteer to provide an audit and deliver some questionable ideas that can be used to solve most issues addressed in this topic- i volunteer to provide a free theme copy and a nifty reward

    • Check put themereview.co

      Top notch reviews from very qualified people. Very reasonably priced.

    • > Surely Envato can work closer on this issue but this is not the case globally, customers are used to and want more features for the buck so i don’t think this will go away now.

      There’s definitely a disconnect between the way themes should be built from a design and development perspective, and what customers want. It’s just the nature of what the theme economy has turned into and I personally think that the ship has sailed when it comes to creating small, presentation-only themes with specific plugins.

      But I digress.

      > I admit that our code is not the best out there, but i would like to think on a way how we can make a feature-rich theme better suited for coders&end customers alike so if anyone can volunteer to provide an audit and deliver some questionable ideas that can be used to solve most issues addressed in this topic- i volunteer to provide a free theme copy and a nifty reward

      Seriously, much respect for looking to have your code base audited and improved, and I also respect your position in terms of how the theme and its functionality should be organized. It’s also a nice move to try to make it as solid as possible for developers who may extend it and as usable for your customers.

      That said, asking for a voluntary code audit is something that I don’t think you’re likely to find – that’s not to say that the WordPress community isn’t generous (I think we are and I think that we’re also all volunteering our time in a lot of ways), but some of the most talented WordPress developers I know and who I’d trust to perform an audit are people that I believe are worth paying.

      Compensating them with a copy of the theme that they just audited (before or after the code review) may not align with their needs. That is, if someone was to perform a code audit of your theme but wasn’t a blogger or wasn’t someone who had a use for it, then it wouldn’t provide much value.

      For some, it might – I don’t want to speak for everyone :).

      But as an elite author, as someone who understands the principles of building a sustainable business and paying the people who help you (as you’ve mentioned), I think asking someone to conduct a code review and getting some estimates on how much it would cost may end up going further than someone volunteering to do a code review.

      I hope that makes sense. At any rate, again, major props for wanting to move your code and product in that direction and I do hope that theme sales turn around for you (and all who are impacted by ThemeForest).

      • Tom, thanks for a detailed reply! Just to make it clear theme copy + pay is provided to the reviewer since it’s clearly a lot of work :)

        Generally, i think the issue is that developers&customers expectations seems to be out of sync here, it is really hard to make something to suit both camps today especially if you are also working under platform (e.g.:TF) but I believe there should be a better way to make a feature-rich themes (i know from the first hand how hard it it to develop something from multi-purpose themes) and I want to try and find it.

        P.S. as an intermediary solution i just heavily invested in our theme’s HTML version that way anyone who is familiar & want to work with with latest development frameworks can use it to make a light-weight WP theme (or any other actually) for a client fast hope this makes sense for our clients

  20. As far as I think envato themes are often not that, i often them often with clients on thing budget… they are cheap, ok support, and the bloating is shitty, yet useful.
    a theme that give you 5 different header and 5 different post display has 25 different alternatives.
    I need only one, but i can choose which one.

    if someone will able to create a plugin which can reckognize the bloated code and strip it down to the only alternative I need… will get my money forever.
    I don’t know if it’s technically possible… (for theme author I think it’s)

  21. Wait I’m always seeing blog posts of the “Top best most stunningly best awesome themes of July” and those lists are nothing but theme forest themes. You mean I’ve been reading lies all this time?

  22. Well, I think what bugs me the most are the generic answers from Envato, it reminds me of the “good” old days when I was working in a multinational company :) . Sadly it seems I have to go back there :(. Yes, you can’t blame them, they can’t just say, yes we’re collapsing, you’d better jump ship now than later.

    I do not believe the Envato market is growing, in fact I do believe that the whole WP market is experiencing a decline. The main reason: more and more SaaS business shows up for specific niche (portfolio, blogging, e-commerce). This is not necessarily a bad thing, actually it’s a good thing, only a small percentage of dev teams would be able (or have the means) to work/implement complex systems, it will practically wipe out the middle man (those who were buying themes/plugins & resell) and the end user will have a better experience, not worrying about updates, conflicts, hosting (even if he pays more and it’s charge / month).

  23. I’ve bought more than a few themes at Envato. Some were simple and some were mega themes; some themes and support have been solid, some have been exasperating.

    But I think there are two reasons not discussed yet that could be causing a drop in sales.

    It used to be the case that someone who purchased a theme at Envator could post tech support questions in the theme comments and potential buyers could evaluate the theme and author by his or her replies in solving the problem. Now most authors ask for private messages or they tell buyers to post the question in their forum. All potential buyers see are the problems as they’re posted, not the solutions, and it adds to the hesitation to buy. Let’s face it, not all buyers at Envato can fix broken code. ;-)

    An even bigger issue is the fact that so many theme authors — including best-selling ones — use and customize premium plugins they don’t keep updated very well, such as Revolution Slider and Visual Bakery. If a buyer replaces the author’s custom versions with the original, things can break, including author support for issues that arise. I’d be curious to know how many of the multitude of WordPress sites that were taken down by Revolution slider hacks were attacked while buyers were waiting for theme updates with fixes.

    • Good points, sjmcweb.

      WordPress sellers just shutting down forums and open support is a huge community problem. It’s cooler and more big company to solve things behind closed doors. I’m surprised to see such a Microsoft like approach taking root in our community. Woo did this a while back, Thesis did it, iThemes just did it. Notably Studiopress have not done so. There are about 135,000 posts in their customers only forum. Where would YOU rather be a customer? Note we walk our talk for our FV Flowplayer video player. With proper support forums, customers can instantly search to find info and past threads about CSS or Cloudfront issues for instance, educating themselves before they ask their own questions.

      The bigger issue I think is that supporting and securing an advanced website incorporating twenty or more significant pieces of technology (to get to twenty, I’d consider our video player plugin one, a gallery plugin another, an ecommerce plugin yet another, a slider plugin still another, an advanced SEO plugin, user uploads still more) is not a hobby. Some reckless fellow decided to tell people WordPress is easy and free. Well bare bones WordPress (no advanced themes) is sort of easy and kind of free. Even running free barebones WordPress is a minor headache.

      We plan to make it a bit easier with BusinessPress, a security revisions only while labelled version of WordPress with ten to eighteen month update cycles.

      Still, maintaining hosting and a website requires both time and expertise. If (would-be) publishers don’t have at least some time and some expertise available, they are much better off using a hosted service, whether WordPress.com or Squarespace or Blogger or Shopify. If your hosted service is so popular that it requires custom functionality not available in one of those services, you should have the resources available to hire one of the experts who frequents WPtavern.com to build it right for you.

      The laughable “pro” – everything but the kitchen sink – themes on Envato deserve to die a miserable death. With the update and security issues, they are doing a disservice to web publishing and WordPress. As more than one of us has noted, it’s usually better to rip out your typical Envato theme and start from scratch with the required functionality.

      PS. Okay, as proof of concept, they have a function. We rebuilt from scratch a website for a major television network (HotBench.tv) where the proof of concept had been built on an Envato theme. But everyone going in knew that the Envato code was entirely unsuitable for use in a production site.

      • Alec, nothing personal, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but is it actually possible for you to leave a comment without plugging your foliovision player?

        Just curious, as this is the eighth or ninth time I’ve seen you do it this week on this blog. It’s a bit overboard, man. The plugin is fine and all, but pushing it into every conversation you join gets a little bit spammy, sort of thing. You’re forcing it. That’s all I’m saying here.

        • Hi Otto,

          I like to talk from experience and to speak concretely. I’ll think you’ll notice that I’m naming a lot of other names too, Otto.

          While you may prefer conversation behind closed doors, I’m a kind of out there in the open, nothing to hide sort of guy. As far as I can see, this is not the plugin repository so why don’t you just let me be for once in your life.

          If you do have some free time, don’t you have something better to do, like add Github support to that nasty non-collaborative SVN over at WordPress.org?

          • Hey brother, wasn’t trying to make it personal or anything. Just something I noticed over the last week or so. That’s all.

          • Otto is right. You do constantly promote foliovision player in your comments and it’s getting super tiring. I’m fairly laisez faire on moderation but it is approaching spammy levels. Let’s keep it focused on the topic at hand, no personal stuff about how folks ought to be spending their time. That waters down the discussion at hand.

          • I stand by my point which is the lack of transparent support in the biggest players in the WordPress space will be the death knell of our collaborative platform.

            An even bigger issue is the absurd WordPress update pace senselessly destroying commercial websites and themes (and sometimes plugins, though less often) in its wake. WordPress should offer milestone security releases (as was discussed prior to v2) which are updated for a year or more (there’s no way a commercial site should have to update its fully functional code four times/year).

            Both of these issues are hitting Envato hard. As Envato is the most successful WordPress marketplace, one could consider it a bellwether for the ecosphere.

      • I personally find Alec’s last comment offensive as a reader. That was uncalled for. Maybe closing these comments might be in order at this point. Alec seems to be highjacking it anyway.

        You are promoting your project complete with links, Alec. That is actually called spam anywhere else. Otto called it correctly.

        Suggestion Alec, if you have an issue with someone deal with it in the appropriate place. This is NOT that place.

      • This is the great thing about 100% GPL products. If you are unhappy with them, you can do whatever you want with them, including fork them. FV Flowplayer is 100% GPL, correct?

  24. We get a customers who buy a super-duper theme only to find out that they are unable to master and make it work as promised. Just to go down to the options page and you will usually find a big mess. Most of the times people are scared from the abundance of settings. But what they don’t see is the code. They do not see that each option corresponds to large chunks of code and to a bloated code logic. I do not understand why FT promotes a theme that is advertised as suitable for a landing page, a blog, a portfolio, an e-shop, a company site, a restaurant site, a church site, etc. They have a theme that is advertised as suitable for 120(!) types of site. My suggestion to FT is to adopt a modular approach to the themes they sell and have a more flexible pricing.

  25. I was an envato member, not crating stuff but a buyer, I bought over 150 items there from codecanyon, themeforest, graphicriver etc etc, I don’t know how someone ended with one of my files purchased there na dthis guy made it downloadable for free on some crappy websites and ended up with my account locked, I have explained that if I wanted to share what I have purchased I would have done it with all iteams purchased and not an outdated script. Yet, I was accuse of piracy and account locked, they gave me 30 minutes to download everything I purchased, yet, if I am not a coder, what the point of having deprecated themes and codes since I can’t get any support anymore. Anyway, since then, VAT came into force (I am actually wondering where VAT goes, since they carge us but do they actually pay governments who claims it? I doubt so. I am not really into these updated on authors licences etc so I can’t say. Anyway, I still had fait with envato, when you are not a coder and you are looking for something to make and look nice, then, it’s the quickest way and created another account last week or so, purchased a wordpress theme just to find out that it’s all mess and badly coded, I have requested a refund and will see, but I am done with Envato, their poor support (unless you made them a few thousands bucks). I am still bitter about my old accout lost anyway, a few hundreds dollars lost in their profit and a dozen of website I cannot update by myself anymore, you can imagine some of my customers faces when they will find out.


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