WHAT IS THEMEFOREST?
If you do not already know, ThemeForest is a huge marketplace of pre-made themes for sale for a variety of CMS platforms as well as HTML websites. ThemeForest is owned by Envato which has several different websites under its brand like CodeCanyon, AudioJungle, GraphicRiver and more.
They are a leader in the marketplace – but those that typically purchase themes from them are not aware of the dangers that are lurking in many of the themes that are made available on the site. The WordPress theme you may be eyeing up may look all pretty – but behind the scenes may be something scary.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THEMEFOREST
Yes, I personally have had many themes purchased over the years from ThemeForest…..I have never used them for website clients and never will – but for my own personal use they were fine for what I needed. I have purchased photography themes and blog themes mostly – so I know first hand the good and the bad.
2 Dogs Media has also helped several clients who had ThemeForest themes that just stopped working – mostly due to lack of updates and compatibility issues with plugins.
In the last year or so I have personally seen some level of improvement, but am still leery of using them for anything other then personal use.
WHY IS THEMEFOREST SO POPULAR?
It is simple – the themes are a hell of a lot more affordable than a custom developed website and by gosh most of the themes on there are well — pretty damn pretty to look at.
They have themes for any niche — and come with all the bells and whistles you can ever need. All this for the low low price of oh let’s say $68 or so.
To unsuspecting website owners – they get a great looking website with lots of great features for one low price. What is not to love?
Well, we are going to tell you.
And just like a friend….we are going to hopefully help you see why you should break up with ThemeForest!
When it comes to a website – no two should really be alike. Every business or blog has its own unique personality, target market and goals. In our opinion – using a template that looks like hundreds of other websites is doing your business a disservice.
For example, one of the biggest sellers on ThemeForest is Avada with over 300K themes sold. While you can customize it quite a bit – most do not because it is not as easy as they make it seem, so many websites using this theme all look the same. Just some food for thought.
One of the largest issues with many ThemeForest themes is all of the plugins that are needed to run the theme. In the past a lot of theme developers used to actually not even separate the plugins from the theme code – but thankfully that has changed.
But many themes still require you to download several plugins to have the theme working properly – many of these plugins are from CodeCanyon and run off the theme authors development license. This means you have to rely on the theme author to do all plugin updates as well as theme updates since you will not be able to access the plugins personally.
Here are some examples:
- Some have custom plugins written by the theme author which may not work with any other theme — so in essence if you change your theme in the future, whatever functionality that plugin is offering may become obsolete. See screenshot below which shows the “Goodlayer” plugins that are required. Those are author written plugins and will not work on other themes.
- Visual Composer — it is a bulky plugin that requires a lot of memory to run and has had its fair share of complaints for speed and lock up issues. It is also a plugin that inserts “short codes” into your content when you use the creative layouts. So if you do remove it at some point and want to use the default WordPress editor – you will be left with a lot of short code to remove.
- Layer Slider and Revolution Slider are 2 others that are often included – both of which we are not fans of either for coding and load times. There was even an issue several years ago with Revolution Slider having a big security vulnerability – and if you had one of these themes, you would have to wait for the theme author to update the theme in order for your site to be secure. When a vulnerability like this happens in a plugin you want to be sure YOU can control how fast it gets fixed and not have to wait on a third party.
- Many of the themes include WooCommerce and BuddyPress — most will never need these, but the code is there whether you need it or not in turn affecting site speed and number of files required.
Here is a peak at the plugins that were required for our test theme we used for this article – this is actually not too bad, but the plugins are custom from the theme author – which like we mentioned may cause issues if you move to a new theme or custom built.
You can see they also REQUIRE Contact Form 7 — which may not be the contact form you want to use. While you do not necessarily HAVE to install this plugin…the nagging notice below will probably never go away.
Another common coding issue in ThemeForest themes include custom post types. For example if you have a limo website you can have a “cars” post type -if you have a business website you can have an “employee” post type. But often the authors of themes will code these post types right into the code – when you change themes then these post types will disappear and you will need to do them over in your new website.
A better scenario is for you to use a plugin to create these post types like Advanced Custom Fields – or even a custom plugin with your post types that you can easily move to a new website. Hardcoding them into the code is a bad idea!
To put things into perspective – Slobodan Mani, a WordPress guru who is very familiar with the WordPress Review Team guidelines and has contributed to that team a couple time has made this statement about some ThemeForest themes:
There’s no way around it, some of the stuff sold at ThemeForest would never, ever make it into WordPress.org repository of free WordPress themes. Let me say that again: Some of the themes sold at Envato are not good enough to be given away for free.
Then there are the hundreds of included fonts, color changers and other backend tools that just bog down your website. Styling should be done through your stylesheet — not with extra code to allow you to push a button.
JQUERY and JS scripts are also a common problem and can directly affect various plugins that you may install in addition to the theme – but these are more advanced issues that most website owners are not aware to look for!