It’s not often I have an experience so horrible that I feel compelled to write a negative review. Themeforest.net has managed to draw my ire, however.
I’m not a particularly strong PHP developer, so if I can find the theme I need within a reasonable cost, I’ll get it and modify from there. This usually saves me quite a bit of time, especially if I’ve purchased a theme – because I know I can lean on the original developer for tips on fixing or expanding the theme.
Now you would think it’s in the best interests of the premium developer to make their themes as fool-proof as possible because this basically eliminates or at least minimizes their need to provide support. I usually find that to be the case, but not so much with Themeforest.
First, The Good and Not So Terrible
Function and Form: Above all, their themes are definitely gorgeous and exceptionally functional. However, this means you shouldn’t touch their themes unless you have the back-end know-how to fix anything that goes wrong. In other words – their themes are not at all suited to newbies or even handing off to some other end user.
Support Response Time: Over the years, I’ve come to expect about 24 hours before I receive a support response. Themeforest isn’t too far off the mark here – they do respond pretty well, if inconsistently so. Their support forum is set up such that if another user tries to help you, your query ends up going back to the bottom of the stack. They could easily fix this by answering queries by originating date, rather than recency of comments, or eliminating user ability to comment on someone else’s thread.
Terrible, Terrible, Terrible
Basic Ease-of-Use: Updates are not simple, and they don’t support child themes in any simple way so any hard-coded modifications will need to be done over and over again. And if you don’t use any of the recommended plugins (like choosing a secure contact form instead of Contact Form 7), you’ll have to make hard-coded modifications. There’s also problems with thumbnails and images resizing properly, and if you don’t upload a logo precisely the same size as the original, you’ll break it. Unless you’re holding your client’s hand for the duration of the website, these themes are just too technical for most people.
Code Efficiency: It’s a bloat goat. Nothing more need be said, I think, aside from the fact this thing takes up half of our server’s resources before adding any plugins.
Code Integrity: Granted, I’ve only purchased one theme from Themeforest, but they’re all built out of the same framework so I can say with all confidence that the durability of their code flat sucks. I’m really good at figuring out why something broke – I might not know how to fix it, but I can always pinpoint why it broke – and for the first time ever, I can’t figure out why something has broken on this theme. There’s literally no good reason for this, now 6th time I’ve broken the theme.
Theme Flexibility: Don’t get a Themeforest theme and expect any wiggle room – you won’t get it. That dot is precisely that size, and there’s no way to change it. What you see on that page is exactly what you’ll get on that page, and if you use that page template anywhere else then the settings made in the back-end will apply to all of those pages using that page template. Of course you can go in and hard-code your changes, but that means you’ll have to hard-code those changes every single time they make an update. Not to mention changing anything may break something else because they have zero system in place for assuring code integrity, which is why you have zero flexibility.
Support Competency: Timing isn’t everything. If I get an answer 15 minutes later which doesn’t fix my problem, they may as well have not answered at all. I have yet to post something in their support forums that only needed 1 response, or only 2 responses to reach a satisfactory answer. Well, ok there is one thing I posted that only needed 2 responses – but that’s because I found the fix on my own. Oh wait, there was also one thread that only had one (unsatisfactory) response – their bad policy was a dead end on one thing.
Bad Policy: When you spend $55 on a theme, you expect a certain level of assistance in modifying said theme, right? Well, let me quote for you their canned response to those queries: “Hello, I am sorry but our policy doesn’t allow to provide personal modifications. Please contact third party programmer from your area.” I asked how I could find the loop to get all of their custom post type. I wasn’t asking for them to code a custom page for me – I was asking how I could get that information and how it might theoretically work – you know, what variables and what functions was I looking for to get at this information. I later found most of that answer in another thread, which brings me to…
Support Courtesy: I’ll be the first to admit I can have a rather …female doggish tone to my writing when the umpteenth thing has broken on a theme. Now I’m sure there will be 15 more of you who will raise your hand in mutual guilt. The support team should be able to provide competent support regardless of this tone, rather than showing preference to one query over another just because you don’t emotionally handle unending problems as well as the next guy.
Put it this way – if I didn’t have a dedicated developer on my team, I would’ve asked for a refund long ago. Don’t expect Themeforest and their themes to be anything but a pain if you simply must have something they’ve designed, but I would recommend using their themes for nothing more than inspiration otherwise.
Oh yeah, and feel free to keep me honest – here’s all of my support threads if the website is working right now. Yeah – sometimes even that is broken. Enjoy!