Which Theme Company Has The Best Word Of Mouth?

Due to the recording schedule change for WordPress Weekly, these polls will now be conducted every Tuesday instead of every Friday. This week, I want to know which theme company in this list has the best word of mouth advertising. Now, I don’t want you to guess but if the company you continuously hear about from others as a recommendation is in the list, vote for them. If not, add the company name to the comments. No one better mention Thesis because they don’t count.

In my own opinion, WooThemes has the best word of mouth advertising right now. In fact, I’m very impressed with the marketing aspect of the company. Everywhere I look I see Woo this and Woo that. Also, they are doing some cool posts on their WooCamp blog with the theme ShowDowns. While most commercial theme authors have a showcase featuring sites using their theme, ShowDown takes it a step further by getting the audience involved.


41 responses to “Which Theme Company Has The Best Word Of Mouth?”

  1. i gota agree, woothemes dosnt just offer you themes, they also offer you realy good content on there blog and some good freebies. While otheres just post the themes and let it die there lol

  2. Indeed, woothemes has got some real nice word of mouth marketing. There whole marketing strategy has worked for them as you see any good designed blog or blog around wordpress, you’lll see there ads all over.. that surely helps in building the brand.

  3. I voted Woo, but I would add elegantthemes to the list. You do not hear much about it, but it actually gets more traffic than press75.com for example. And people are satisfied about what they buy there, for a great price, I gotta say!

    I guess it is just missing some advertizement, or a good marketing strategy… I guess that as the developer behing elegantthemes does not state his name, it does not help him…

  4. Why doesn’t DIYThemes (Thesis) count? It’s amazing how many people say (in their forums) that they came and bought the theme because someone told them to check out Thesis.

  5. I suppose it depends what you mean by best? And I’m not saying WooThemes doesn’t offer great themes, support and articles, because they do, but they definitely have the most word of mouth advertising; maybe that’s more a reflection of who I follow on twitter. As for best, elegant themes have an incredibly high reputation, as @Jeremy said.

  6. Come on Jeffr! Do you think that it’s ok to post such polls, ignoring other developers from wp-community such as ElegantThemes, PremiumThemes.net and WPZOOM? Now really, wtf are Spectacu.la or “Themes by Jestro” ? :))

  7. As an early Revolution customer, it has to be said that Brian Gardner has always treated his existing customers very well, all the way through the transition to becoming StudioPress and, then, going GPL. His a sense of duty and personal humility have earned him a lot of trust and built up a loyal community. This approach, of ongoing engagement with the customer, although it seems like common sense now, was pretty revolutionary in the premium theme market at the time, the guy is an innovator. Brian was also the first one with the imagination and the balls to go GPL, the others followed.

    Adii’s “rockstar” style is more about glitzy self-promotion and looking forward to the next sale, so, I’m not surprised that more people are aware of WooThemes. Their themes are impressive and, like StudioPress, the full developer package costs $200 but you also have to pay a further $20 every month (there are cheaper levels but you are not given the layered PSDs, which are pretty important if you want to adapt the themes).

    Cory Miller’s iThemes is okay but, as a customer, I was disappointed that they tend not to update their themes (or, at least, not the one that I purchased) and there is no sense of community. There designs are not as good or varied as StudioPress or WooThemes and their developer package is way, way too expensive at $500, just insanely expensive for what you get. They must make a lot of sales to the corporate market or something, because there is no way that regular developers would opt for iThemes over StudioPress or WooThemes.

    Press75 is another proposition that doesn’t seem to make much sense as a developer package. Jason Schuller is a good designer, with a very distinctive style, but he doesn’t seem to work as fast as others in this market and there doesn’t seem to be much variation between his 10 themes, 4 of which are video-oriented. It might be the case that one of his themes would be perfect for a particular project you are working on and, therefore, totally worth the $75 for a single theme, but I can’t see how anyone could use the $275 developer package as the basis for their Web design business, not when cheaper and more varied developer packages are available elsewhere.

    OF COURSE, any premium theme is a bargain when you consider the amount of work that goes into each one and anyone setting up a Web design business these days is lucky to have both WordPress and all these talented designers putting so much work into making you look good.

    If you are trying to build up your own business, I would recommend starting out with the StudioPress developer package ($199) because the community is good and the themes are good, clear examples and you’ll soon amass an impressive portfolio of your own adaptions.

    Then, once your business has grown enough to justify it, I would buy the WooThemes Club Membership ($200 + a further $20 per month) because you will, absolutely, need those PSD files.

    Between those two packages and some hard work yourself, you will be able to create a wonderfully varied portfolio and meet the stylistic tastes of just about any client.

    Lastly, don’t forget, there are tons of incredible free themes out there too, paying for something does not necessarily mean it will be better or easier to implement but, if something does save you time or allow you to do a better job, it is worth every penny.

  8. WooThemes gets my vote as well. They seem to be mentioned everywhere over the past couple months.

    I think Solostream are great “Word Of Mouth” wise, they don’t advertise anywhere (not that I know of, except for affiliates) and don’t get very noisy community wise but they do have a strong customer/user base, I have noticed this since helping out tech support wise on their support forums, the forum is always busy.

  9. Ok.. now what is up with the poll. Nobody has voted for Spectacu.la but they are in the hole -2%. How can you go below zero in a poll?? But on that note, I’ve had nothing but a great experience from Dave and the Spectacu.la crew. They’ve only got a few themes, but customer service has been top notch.

    But what about many of the other theme developers:

    And for that matter the theme frameworks: Thesis / Hybrid / Thematic

  10. I’d say Woothemes currently. I think Brian Gardner lost a bit of word of mouth momentum transitioning to the new Studiopress name but will climb back pretty easily anyway.

  11. Nice to get mentioned, but clearly we have to stop being so terribly English about promotion and get out there a bit more.

    Then again, theme development has had to take a pause. Many thousands of downloads, but very little money coming in. Not enough people want or need support, and those that do have a nasty habit of e-mailing in or just commenting on themes. And I’m being too nice in humouring them.

    Our corporate stuff over at Interconnect IT, however, is doing very nicely.

  12. @David Coveney – I’m not entirely convinced the free to download, pay to get support model is going to work long term. I know that when RevolutionTwo first launched (pre-StudioPress) they used this model but fairly quickly reverted back to the standard pay to download w/support model. I wish it did work, we’d make Gravity Forms free to download in a heartbeat if we thought that enough people would opt to sign up for support, etc. But I have major reservations about it.

  13. I would have to say WooThemes & StudioPress are the ones that initially come to my mind. I agree with donnacha in that having a Dev membership with both can equip you to build virtually any type of site.

    Theme Forest is another theme reseller that is overlooked. The Envato brand has extremely good word of mouth and Theme Forest sells some exceptional WordPress themes.

  14. @Brad Potter – I have bought a couple of Theme Forest themes but found them to be very poorly supported and hardly ever updated. If you read the comment threads for the most popular themes, you will find a lot of unanswered questions and complaints.

    Obviously, this is down to the individual theme authors but I think the overall model there, in which the theme author does not have much of a long-term interest in a site or customer-base that does not belong to them, does not give creators much motivation to provide support or to update their work. It is a good model for most of Envato’s business – selling stock art, audio, Flash widgets etc, stuff that does not require support or updating – but it is not great for WordPress themes.

    I am a big fan of Envato’s Tuts network, yet another resource that is making it easier than ever to create amazing sites.

  15. I also stick with Woothemes as the one better marketed. As an example, on blue Host, as soon as you finish installing the wordpress through cpanel, a woothemes’ banner shows up.

    Studiopress definitely has the better support, however their designs are getting outdated and not following up with the others. It is time to stop moving divs around and start designing new themes.

    All the others lack of something. Whether is the support, the code sucks, the owner sucks or they are breaking the GPL license etc and etc.

  16. @donnacha – I see your point but there are some pretty good theme developers on ThemeForest who offer competent support. Probably a good idea to review their support responses before purchasing. Personally, I have received good support for the themes I have bought there. Perhaps purchases there are better suited for more advanced users.

    That said, my money was spent first with StudioPress and then WooThemes. Brian’s themes have been instrumental in my WP learning and I have been really impressed with many of the recent releases by WooThemes both in design and code.

    @harris Ort – Brian has tweeted that he is looking for a good designer so I expect we will be seeing good things ahead from StudioPress.

    I think Darren Hoyt and Ben Gillbanks are two others to keep your eye on. They have what looks to be a great theme on the way. I recently bought Darren’s Gravy framework/base theme/photoshop file which was a steal at $15.

  17. Not to boast, but I’ve been happy with the word-of-mouth advertising I get at Theme Hybrid. I buy absolutely no ads, have no affiliate program, and don’t really promote the site that much myself. I’ve been extremely happy with the support of the Theme Hybrid community getting the word out and letting folks know about their experiences.

    If I had to choose another theme site that has great word-of-mouth marketing, probably the best, it’s StudioPress. But, WooThemes definitely has the best marketing campaign going on.

  18. Hey, I could have added all sorts of theme companies to the list but then I’d be faced with a mile long poll. Using hindsight, I should have used PollDaddy to just ask one question and provide an open field for users to tell me their answer instead of choosing from a list. Pretty cool to see the discussions taking place here on why you’ve chosen one over the other.

    @Benjamin – I have no idea why WP-Polls lists anyone at a negative percentage. It did this with a different poll I ran as well. Could be a bug. Guess I should notify Lester and see if he knows about it.

  19. Heh – I saw Adii asking fans to vote, so decided to do similar and… look, there we go. Now if I just had 10x as many followers on Twitter I guess we could do better.

    But it’s interesting to see that one of the key tricks to marketing is just, you know… asking.

  20. Adii asking fans to vote completely wipes out any validity this poll might have had but illustrates, probably better than anything else could, what I meant when I said that he is all about glitzy self-promotion.

    This is, of course, just the Internet and we shouldn’t take any of it too seriously but, quite simply, this is cheating, it shows a complete disregard for the poll and the discussion and should disqualify WooThemes.

    Before it got hijacked, the poll was running around 17 votes for WooThemes, 10 votes for StudioPress.

  21. @donnacha | WordSkill – While I agree that the poll was going well before folks started passing links around to vote for them, this could easily be turned around so that theme authors listed or not listed could use their marketing skills to get people here to vote for them or put a good word in for them which would really be a good test of how well their marketing is.

  22. @donnacha | WordSkill – I dunno. Voting in the poll because somebody asked you to would pretty much fit the definition of “word of mouth”, wouldn’t it?

    The poll doesn’t ask “which theme provider do you like the best”. If it had, I might have chosen StudioPress instead of WooThemes. I voted for Woo in the poll because I see their ads every-freaking-where. Their name is in my face all the time, therefore, that’s the one I thought of when I heard the poll question (before I even saw what the choices were). I must conclude that advertising works.

  23. @Jeffro and @Dougal Campbell – Not that it matters greatly, but isn’t the poll meant to be about who has the best word of mouth i.e. enough enthusiasm among their existing users that they recommend the company to their friends.

    There is a huge difference between that and marketing, I don’t think anyone would deny that WooThemes has the best marketing, willing to do anything to pump their numbers, but that has nothing to do with word-of-mouth, in fact it is quite the opposite.

    That is like saying that a company has good word-of-mouth because they give big affiliate kick-backs, it makes a mockery of the whole concept.

    But, again, it doesn’t matter greatly, all online polls should be taken with a grain of salt, it is just a pity, and a disservice to all the the theme designers who didn’t try to game it, that a post on your site now gives a misleading impression and is, effectively, one big unpaid advert for WooThemes.

    Nothing against WooThemes, I have already recommended a combination of the StudioPress and WooThemes dev packages as a good basis for any Web designer starting out, I just think it is a pity that the community is allowing the most ruthless marketeers to pull it along by the nose.

    Is no-one else worried about the rapid commercialization and increasing BS-quotient of the WordPress eco-system?

  24. I think a bit of stats would go well with this poll. People may have a favourite in the list, or may criticize the poll itself, but the truth is woothemes is now leader in this business niche, far in front of all the other. Another thing is the websites in this poll clearly do not play on the same level. A quick look at google trends gives us a bit more insight on the figures. I started by selecting the poll websites, then I kept only the ones actually appearing in Google trends.

    First conclusion: Woo! Woothemes is defintely above. Not so surprising though, Adii keeps transparency in his business, and his marketing methods are far more developed than any of the other market places. The number of people behind woothemes also makes a difference; a one-man company often makes less noise. Then imho, the brand Adii has built around himself also helps him selling: after all, isn’t he the “WordPress Rockstar”? Who in the WordPress community has got so famous? Small Potato is the first name that comes to my mind (and God knows they loved each other ;) )

    I think that may be a key point for marketing your brand: you got to market yourself as well:

    Let’s have a look at elegantthemes.com for instance (I am not even a user of their themes, its just the perfect example here): their theme club is maybe the cheapest on the market right now, for a big amount of good quality themes, however Jeff did not include it in its poll, however the website stats are bigger than many websites quoted here: big proof the company needs to get more coverage! Then lets look at the owner… Who knows his name? Even on elegantthemes’s blog, he is “admin”. A quick look through the terms and conditions on the site tells me he is Nicholas Roach. I was not able to find more info about him.

    No personal blog, no twitter account… Or they are well hidden, or not good enough for Google!
    No big advertisement, a few affiliate links, a few articles and giveaways on design blogs such as noupe, and most of all, not too much activity or comments on WordPress blogosphere…
    That’s a sign for a potential customer, don’t you think?

    Don’t you think that could be the beginning of a recipe for a good brand advertising? Don’t you think that’s what makes the difference between all these websites? In the end, shouldn’t we all follow the advices Adii gives on his own blog about brand advertising? You may or may not like the man and his methods, but they seem to work pretty well, he wins everything so far :)

    Sorry for the long post :)

  25. As an aside, Justin Tadlock’s comment, earlier in this thread, contains a good description of what word-of-mouth actually means:

    I buy absolutely no ads, have no affiliate program, and don’t really promote the site that much myself. I’ve been extremely happy with the support of the Theme Hybrid community getting the word out and letting folks know about their experiences.

  26. @donnacha | WordSkill – Well I think asking people to vote for you if they are happy with your services is exactly what I would call good word of mouth. Nothing bad in it, as you said yourself, when you are happy with something, you recommend it to your friends:

    isn’t the poll meant to be about who has the best word of mouth i.e. enough enthusiasm among their existing users that they recommend the company to their friends.

  27. @Jeremy – I do understand what you mean, you’ve got to have some sort of following and loyalty to be able to get people to do your bidding, but I think that if you stand back and think about the nature of polls, this sort of behavior means that the only thing any online poll will tell us is “Who is best at gaming online polls”.

    Word-of-mouth is, by its nature, something that can’t be faked, it has to be earned through the long, slow, painstaking process of giving outstanding service and support to your users.

    Everyone knows that if you ask people to do something, a certain percentage of them will do it, especially if it only takes a few seconds. Gaming an online poll is easy but companies with dignity and genuine pride in their product don’t do it because, ultimately, it undermines their credibility.

    As a general rule of thumb, you want the person you buy themes or plugins from to be focused on supporting their users (and earning actual, real word-of-mouth in the process), rather than distorting online polls or other opportunistic stunts.

  28. I missed Adii’s comment earlier:

    Our marketing would suck balls if our products & after-sales service weren’t backing up that hype. So why not promote oneself!?

    Yes, I agree that if you’ve got it you should flaunt it and, more importantly, when you’ve got other people working for or with you, you actually have a duty to flaunt it – within reason.

    In Adii’s case, what he did by branding himself as the WordPress Rockstar was very astute. No doubt, other companies in the WordPress eco-system could learn a lot from WooThemes but I believe there are some things that push hype and promotion too far and, as such, are counter-productive.

    For instance, why game an online poll so openly when you were already winning? Wasn’t it enough to have 17 votes when your nearest competitor had only 10? That was impressive. Suddenly pushing it to almost 100 is just ridiculous, buying you short-term hype at the cost of long-term credibility.

  29. Polls are great fun until people take them seriously ;-)

    Did Adii intentionally game the poll? No, but he intentionally promoted it. It skewed the results because no one else did, thats all.

    Did Woothemes gain more exposure from this? No, the people on WPTavern would mostly already be aware of them (or already become aware of them by seeing the name in the poll), and his Twitter followers already know about him/them.

    Did Woothemes win some coveted prize? No, its just an unscientific poll on a blog like so many others that we all enjoy from time to time.

    Did Adii do anything good? Yes, he delivered a whole bunch of traffic to WPTavern, some of whom may never have been here, and some of those might subscribe and stick around. Isn’t that nice?

  30. @Paul – Sure, some great traffic for Jeffro, but you’ll notice that none of the 80 or so voters that Adii sent over stuck around long enough to make a comment, this sort of thing tends to be hit and run.

    To say that, in asking people to come over and vote, he didn’t game the poll but, rather, promoted the poll itself, is like saying that the Taliban, in threatening to kill anyone who voted in Afghanistan, didn’t deliberately affect the election but, rather, intentionally discouraged the environmentally destructive use of ballot papers.

    To say that his actions only resulted in a skew because the other companies failed to do the same thing is nuts. Are you seriously suggesting that our best designers should be wasting their time trying to rig polls instead of improving their themes and supporting their users?

    There is, of course, a commercial gain in having a poll on an independent website that seems to suggest that WooThemes is ten times more trusted and liked than their nearest competitor. Don’t be surprised if you start to see this wonderful result mentioned in their publicity material. As Adii says, “why not promote yourself?”

    But, no, it is not a big deal, I’m just calling it as I see it.

  31. We found Theme Hybrid by word of mouth, after literally spending four weeks looking for a ‘theme’ for our new site. We’re writers, didn’t know what the hell about what the hell. We wish Justin had more promotion, it would have saved us a lot of grief to find him sooner. But talking of promotion or who is more popular doesn’t mean thing when it comes to the balls behind the product. We are not idiots where common sense is concerned. Justin Tadlock offered us a great product, excellent support and a very affordable club plan. He is a patient instructor and takes the time (we don’t know where he finds the time) to address every issue that we have had. (our issues are technical ignorance) He has created a great community. Most important element of all. Trust. Looking forward with your endeavors is a wonderful thing when you know that your foundation will last. We don’t have to worry about it. We have Justin.

  32. Cool poll idea. It’s been interesting to read all of the different comments about this poll. Honestly, Woo has some sick marketing campaigns going on right now that really get their users involved. Props to them.

    I think someone said it above, but seriously every WP site or blog I go to, i always see some sort of Elegant Themes banner and he’s a pretty cool guy to offer what he does for the price he does.

    Overall Woo has got it going as of right now, but who knows someone might come out of nowhere and give them a run for their money ;)

  33. Thanks for this poll. Got to know some of the new guys in town abt whom, I’ve never heard before. Surprised to see Studiopress gets less votes than spectacu.la . Congrats to all.

  34. @Pavel Ciorici – I hear your pain but theres another way around. Lets keep raising the bar unless wp community can’t afford to ignore us? :). This is tough way but perhaps the best way around.

    Speaking of word of mouth, me thinks Thesis wins. It doesn’t have to be in the list though.

  35. As I mentioned on the latest episode of WordPress Weekly, my goal was to get a feel for the theme company that people were hearing the most about. Unfortunately, WooThemes sort of ruined the poll as I was unable to keep it to just the community doing the voting. So, I’ve since removed the poll results but the post and comments will remain.

  36. Ok the post is closed, but where are the results? :S

    I am looking for them and i can not see anything. I was actually looking for the list of the WordPress premium companies and now i remember that post! But now nothing :D


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