Rejected for "aesthetics"

Hey everyone!

We got rejected for the subjective “aesthetics”. Included are a couple of screenshots of our theme - any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Built With Elementor

Built with Gutenberg

Designed with Figma using our CSS rules

And a live demo: Updates to the Facebook Network Ad Management service - M Media Blog - A/B tested against TwentyTwenty with on average 5-9% increase in key metrics (time on page, bounce rate (decrease by 5%), page load time (also a marked decrease) - and so on).

What exactly is required of us? We’ve built our whole CSS Framework from the ground-up, font sizing and spacing is not only correct but based on extensive psychological research (including limiting text to 75 characters per line). What does the team need to see - a pre-built site ready to go?


Looks like you’ve answered your question yourself. Any submitted theme has to be “ready to go”. On top of that, your theme designed is very far away from the expected design quality. Please take a look at the latest approved submissions to get an idea of the expected design quality. Code quality is a nice to have, but is quite secondary on themeforest.


Hmm. What I think we’re struggling to understand is - you can build something pretty or something sh*tty with the theme (using whatever you prefer - Elementor, Oxygen, Gutenberg). None of it would require to change the theme itself.

We provided a high-quality code base to let people develop what they’d like from there.

Is the onus on us to build out these Oxygen, Elementor, and any other page builder pages for the customers?

We can easily build out these pages, but the theme itself wouldn’t change - so is this really a “theme” issue?

Is the onus on us to build out these Oxygen, Elementor, and any other page builder pages for the customers?

Of course it is up to you. Most customers are not designers, you need to provide some solid demo pages to sell your product. What you’ve shown so far is extremely simple, it’s not even on the freebie level of design quality to be honest. You’ve built your framework, great, now use it to create some nice, modern looking, professional quality theme.


In that case, it shouldn’t be classified as a theme issue but a content issue, but I guess it’s semantics. Building with any of the page builders builds on top of the theme, but doesn’t build the theme itself.

We’ve included a few pre-built “fancy” pages that are included with One Click Demo Import (especially ones from our screenshots), however I think that wasn’t even seen by the reviewer. This is required to be in the preview as well, right?

Without buying other themes and considering the lack of documentation on ThemeForest regarding this, it’s hard for us to see how others do it. Are they bundling up Elementor or Oxygen with their themes? Are they using Gutenberg? Are they just dropping custom HTML?

You don’t have to buy anything, just check out their demo sites. You should really take a break and do some solid research on other items. You’ve focused way too much on the code side of things, but completely missed what is the selling point here. Design is the king. Solid codebase will just make your theme tick in the longterm, which is also important, but that won’t sell it. 99,9% percent of customers couldn’t care less about your framework. Does the theme looks nice? Is admin user interface friendly? Is it bug free? Those are the important things.

You can use whatever page builder you want, but of course that using the most popular ones like Elementor, Gutenberg or WPBakery will lead into potentially more sales. People are used to those. You really need to start thinking more like an average customer than a developer. You can always improve your codebase on the go, but you need to start with a great design.

Hah - excellent points :stuck_out_tongue: - we’re focused on making a flexible code base suitable for most anything but I completely understand how the average Envato customer is a “no-code” user.

Considering Oxygen or WPBakery seem to be paid - how does that work in terms of bundling it? We can’t include it with the theme (as far as I’m aware) as that would break the ToC’s of those page builders (essentially distributing their paid software for free). So hence my question about the standard way of doing it - do we build each page with each page builder separately? Can we use paid builders and then hope the users have access to them? How does that usually work?

You can bundle WPbakery, just do some googling to learn the terms. But you don’t have to and you can expect the user will buy their own license, which will of course lead into lower sales. But Elementor and Gutenberg are free, you don’t have to bundle those.

Again, do more research on everything, it is too much information to write here. Check out demos, check out comments sections, check out forum, check out Envato knowledge base, there is PLENTY of information laying around. You’ve just started out, it is not an easy thing to make money here and it is really about learning stuff yourself, nobody is going to lay out complete tutorial on how to make it on ThemeForest. You need to do your research like everyone else. Market is oversaturated, it is not like people are craving for new themes, so Envato will go out of their way to make it as easy as possible for the new authors come aboard. It is simply the survival of the fittest. You can do it, you just need to push much more harder. Yes, you’ve put a lot of work already, but it is just not enough. Been there, done that.

Thanks for your continued answers!

We’re not stressed at all and don’t take it personally. We know that, if need be, we can build out those designs - we just didn’t see it as a “theme” issue because the theme itself wouldn’t change. Our hope was to allow more people to benefit from a theme that we use day in and day out - letting them build however they want. That may be more of a WordPress Themes mindset than an Envato one, but I digress :slight_smile:

I think we’re just a bit taken aback, considering we’ve gone through the docs here multiple times: WordPress Theme Requirements – Envato Author Help Center and ran it through multiple Theme Checks including Envatos own - we just didn’t see it mentioned anywhere that there must be pre-built content included. We figured that was “nice to have” but not a “requirement”.

Might I suggest the docs be amended to include a section detailing the minimum required content for submission?

There is no minimum requirement content. Again, you are missing the point. Your theme either have selling potential, or not. You can’t put it into some sort of bullet point list. Just take a look at some themes approved in a recent year, and compare them to your demo. You are still thinking from the developer perspective. That won’t cut it here.

So then if I understood you correctly - it is the demo that must present itself to these design standards - correct?

One thing is the demo; from experience (a very, very long time ago) purchasing a theme on Envato required extensive effort (at least for non-tech people) to get it looking like the demo - is it still the case, where the demo presents the potential of the item being sold, rather than the actual content included within the item?

Yes, the demo is what sells your theme. People expect that they will get what they see on the demo, it is up to you how you manage that. There are no standards for that. The easier you make it for your customers to achieve the demo look, the better (demo images are usually omitted for copyright reasons).

Understood - in which case the fix is indeed quite simple :slight_smile:

The email we got made it seem like a theme issue rather than a demo one.

Understood - in which case the fix is indeed quite simple


Nailing the design is the most hardest thing here, but you will probably understand it yourself soon enough. The stuff you’ve shown on the screenshots is miles away from required standards. Just to give you some reality check, since it seems like you are extremely underestimating the whole design thing. But anyway, good luck.

@LSVRthemes learning so much from your answers, excellent posts! Thanks for sharing that

Any good design starts from a solid code-base :wink: - or rather, a good set of design rules (like defined font sizes and a nice graphic charter)

It should be a day or so in Figma, then a day in WordPress - nothing too impossible :slight_smile: Our screenshots represent the default Gutenberg Unit Test demo content, or are otherwise quick mockups for the purposes of the HTML description.

Any good design starts from a solid code-base

That’s not true at all…

I mean, we can argue the whole day. The fact is that I’ve been here for almost 10 years, sold over 10k of licenses, so I know the thing or two. And I am also mainly a developer, so I know exactly your point of view, and I am telling you that you will have to change your perspective if you want to sell themes here.

Great design takes time, if you really think you can do it in a day, then I am sorry to break it to you, but you absolutely have no idea what you are talking about. But again, you will learn soon enough. I’ve learned too. Enough talking, start doing. Prove me wrong.


Hehe - you might’ve missed my amendment then :stuck_out_tongue:

We have a design team for this so they should be up to the task - if not I will need to reconsider their employment at my company :smiley:

I think that we’ve just come from the assumption that the “theme” that Envato sells is indeed a theme (in WordPress concepts), not a design - but we’ve been proven wrong!

To be honest, your theme doesn’t even look like it would be approved on Themeforest is like 80% design, 20% code.

Let’s say I’m a blogger and I want a new look for my website, I go to themeforest, buy a theme and install it in my site. That’s Themeforest’s market. People who want a good looking design for their websites out of the box.

Don’t try to argue with the reviewer because you’re on the losing side. Understand and adapt to their needs if you want to sell there.

Watch this video: Envato's Guide to Submitting WP Themes - YouTube

I’m not sure I agree with that sentiment (regarding They are mostly about integrating as closely as possible with WP core, including Gutenberg, which our theme does quite well :slight_smile:

The rest is a case of making pages pretty.