A few common sense suggestions for theme builders

Okay guys. Here’s my beef. I’ve been building websites for a long time and have a good hold on standards and practices. I also have a good handle on what a REAL client is looking for.

  1. Stop building every theme with 100% width, large images.
    Seriously, how many businesses do you know who have taken the money or time to have professional photos that can accomodate a full-width slideshow. Practically every theme on this site employs this 100% width slideshow idea, and it’s simply not practical. When I buy a theme to build for a say a small mom-and-pop business, they simply don’t have – nor do they hardly ever want to – spend extra money on a photo session to get quality photos. And good luck convincing a client to fork over for stocks. My recommendation: make a secondary version of your theme that manages smaller picture (or no pictures at all in a slideshow).

  2. Get your menus right!
    It is seriously disappointing to view a theme, get sold on it, only to move into responsive mode and see the navigation is absolute garbage. There is nothing, in my opinion, more ugly than the drop-down select menus. C’mon folks! Learn to integrate professional, sidebar menus with MULTI-LEVEL functions. So many themes lack a solid navigation structure. And I would say more than half DO NOT support multi-level menu items.

  3. If you’re going to do a slideshow, get it right on mobile!
    So unprofessional to see these themes that implement all these resources into building megaslide slideshows, only to have them not be responsive at all. Why would you design your desktop slider with large text, and then make it super tiny on mobile phones to where it can’t be read? I find that most of time, it’s necessary to style a completely separate slideshow handler for mobile devices, as the 100% width slideshows can be a real task to convert into a responsive design.

  4. Stop building your themes to look like a marketing firm website
    Nothing more annoying than seeing theme after theme built as if it was being sold to a design firm to use for their own website. C’mon folks! A mom-and-pop shop is not going to care to have all the flashy “10,000 coffees drank” bullshit counters, or big hipster style photos that no mom-and-pop would have without paying a professional. There is SO MUCH extra crap in many of these themes that you actually do more work removing it than if it was just built more simple.

I just wish the people that were designing these websites to sell to designers would actually work with some clients for once and test run their site designs. I think most would find that 70% of the features are either not to standard, or are useless to the end user.

Just my thoughts. Thought them for awhile. Now I’m airing them. If I was building templates, my templates would rock, cause they would be practical and employ the above suggestions which are always absent in these themes.


While I agree with many of your points on a personal level, the fact remains that this is a stock marketplace which means:

  • A simple “mom-and-pop” site would unlikely make the standard to be approved

  • The themes here are not intended to be a finished product - versatility is important to widen appeal and it has been proven time and time again that right or wrong this is what sells.

With all due respect

Why not do it then and make loads of sales?

Again I agree with a lot of your points, however authors will/have to do what sells.

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But many of the themes on this website are categorized by industry. A/C Company, Real Estate, Church, etc.
So I guess if my comments applied to any designers, they apply to those who are building industry-specific themes. Of which there are a lot.

I consult direct with clients, and based on the budget they have, I make the recommendation to go with a template, or a custom theme.

The truth is that most businesses above a mom-and-pop will shell out the money to have a custom website built, so the idea of buying a prepackaged Envato theme to deploy for them doesn’t even cross my mind. And let’s get real, no inexperienced business owner is shopping for and deploying themes on envato. The fact remains that this website is largely used by web designers (like myself) to buy and deploy pre-made themes on the cheap for small clients who can’t afford the big money custom design service.

So the designers should keep this in mind. It’s why I say I could do very well. Because I would design themes with other designers in mind – knowing very well they are often buying the theme for small-to-medium sized clients.

Btw, I’m not suggesting larger companies never utilize a pre-made theme, but most – if sold right – will shell out $10k to have a custom one built.

Anytime I know I’m going to be using a theme from Envato for a client, I’m almost invariably put in the position of explaining to my client that we need “high res photos” to fill a 100% width screen. This often leads to an attempt to sell them a photo package – which sometimes works, but sometimes doesn’t. And for the ones it doesn’t, it can go south real fast. They start getting cold feet. Start assuming more and more costs will be involved. And I have lost one or two deals as a result.

I’m not saying cut them out altogether. But if you’re going to build say a “church” theme website, understand that sometimes the church that wants to use the theme is tiny and has no image whatsoever – nor do they have a desire to develop one. This has been the case with other clients, but I mention the church scenario because that’s what I was up against today in browsing themes. Went through probably 30 church themes, and all of them suffered from one of the 4 issues I mentioned, which makes it extremely unattractive to purchase.

Again, I guess if these comment apply to any designers, its those who design industry-specific themes. They should understand that most the time, the reason a theme is even being use to begin with is because the client is probably cheap. So to assume these websites can be filled up like a Fortune 500 company is just silly. For example, most, if not all, of the home page designs are so long, ridiculous, and impractical for what the end user will actually use them for.

And to answer your other question, I have considered it. But honestly, I wouldn’t want to deal with the cheap ass people on here that would be hounding for support over a $50 theme. At $125/hr, my time is very valuable, and I would not want to corner myself as some of these designers do. Web design is also a secondary business to my primary job, which is running a news publication. So as you can probably imagine, spare time to build skeleton themes is not something I have a lot of.

If you say about sliders, you can simply put a background color or a pattern image or a gradient instead of those images.

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@crelegant and put some text as well with some cool animation.

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