Soft Rejection, Demo style out of the box

We’re having a bit of trouble getting a theme approved. We’ve gone through several rounds of soft rejections (as can be expected) for small changes. However, the final soft rejection reason I don’t quite understand and while I’ve asked repeatedly for clarification from the reviewer, I get nothing in response.

  1. Theme should work out of the box and it should carry the styling from one of the demo you have.

Kirki is used as the options framework for the the theme and is not activated here, but the theme functions just fine without it and lives up to the theme unit test data standards (the reviewer is aware of this based on screenshots provided). The theme default CSS also is styled using the base styles from one of the demos.

I realize the screenshot does look very plain since they only have the Theme Unit Test data imported and no logo or menu has been added. But in my experience, most themes look very generic under this data and you can’t expect a WP index page to replicate a demo. Here’s a screenshot of the demo data to show featured images and menus are working as well as a couple of our demos:

There are 6 different grid styles available in the theme, but we switched the default style to one that displayed more standard WP features (excerpt, featured image, more ‘normal’ styling, etc).

  1. Is the implication that we should set force_activation on TGMPA for our theme options?

  2. Are they asking that we embed plugins directly in the theme? I hope this is not the case as this is very bad practice, but I’m afraid this is what’s really being asked of us.

  3. Should we use the theme logo in place of the blog title in the navigation menu? Again, does not seem like appropriate theme behavior.

  4. Or are they saying that we should be forcing an import on demo data on theme activation? This is available with a 1 click install currently. Forcing a demo import seems really unacceptable for theme behavior, not to mention there are 15 demos to choose from. Doing this would also create issues for users with existing site content.

Sorry for the wall of text and thanks in advance for any insight anyone can provide.

Your blog demo looks different from what we see on the screenshot.
Try to improve default styles.

Now that’s weird, never heard about this…
If so, then most of themes with page builder would get rejected…

Any of these actions are not allowed

I had this issue too with Unyson, what I did:
Created a class with default option values, if plugin is installed, get option value from plugin, if plugin is not installed, get default value from that class. (same class is used to define default values in framework)
This way I’m sure that on theme activation, user will already have at least default fonts, colors, and layout settings.
GL !

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Really appreciate the response, DrunkPixelThemes.

We do the same utilizing a helper function for default values.

As mentioned above, the original style we were rejected matched the blogger style (reason stated was no styling). Most likely because the Theme Unit Test data does not use featured images on every post and it goes without saying that it doesn’t look the same. I think it’s safe to assume (should be at least) the header is not the issue since they haven’t added a logo or menu. The only other option I can think to try at the moment is adding in default placeholder images for posts without featured images.

Though I disagree that a theme should have to match a single specific demo style out of the box (the point of theme options and demo imports), I think you’re probably right in what the reviewer is asking for.

My thoughts exactly. We’ve never had this issue with a theme before and it’s a little shocking that most themes with page builders can be half functional, but needing to look like the demo prior to import is required.

It may be that the reviewer is new or ThemeForest policy has changed. Both are okay but I wish there was more transparency and a way to understand or address issues like this without fear of being disabled due to “review system abuse.”

This is not allowed too… I had some issues with this

Try to add a “classic” way to displaying posts (full-width posts), maybe this is what they’re looking for.
But this is just my opinion, so it’s worth nothing
Contact support and ask for a more detailed response.

I was afraid that was the case.

This is what we did the first couple times as we have in the past and were rejected on account of it not looking like the demo. This logic is a bit off and the piece I’m having trouble with- make the theme look like the demo without the demo content.

Either way, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. We’ll try one more restyling attempt and contact support for assistance.