8 Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing WordPress Theme from Themeforest

I’m a huge fan of Themeforest, the WordPress (but not just) themes heavenly marketplace made by Envato. But there’s a problem.

As for now, there are something like 6500(!) WordPress themes out of 25K themes in general. That’s a huge amount of themes, making scouting for the perfect theme an almost impossible mission. That’s why a lot of developers, entrepreneurs and others, choose the most common themes(Avada? really?), taking no “risk” nor willing to spend time on searching. Yep, it’s a tedious task and I believe that The Envato guys are aware of it. 
So, until someone will improve the internal search engine and the non-effective tagging system, I’ll show you some REAL thumb rules which will make your decision easier, and not, I’m not going to recommend any specific theme.
P.S.: I’m assuming you’ve already know what you’re looking for in a theme, so I skipped the “features” thing — design, look&feel, responsiveness, SEO friendly, ease of customization etc. and that you’ve already checked the demo.


#1

Never choose a theme with too few sales: Sorry developers. Buying a fresh theme might cause a lot of headaches for us the users. Yes, I know the Envato guys validating your theme and if they've approved it, your theme is superb, but still, only when actually trying building stuff, this is when the shit hits the fan. Believe me. 
Glitches, annoying blunt bugs, compatibility issues and more. Yes, I know, every theme has this, but no one wants to be or have the time to be a guinea pig. The newer the theme, the more chance you’ll encounter really big bugs.
Having said that, an idea for new authors and the Envato guys: For those users who are willing to take the chance with a fresh theme, why not offering them a sexy time-limited pricing just to bring them in? 
Paying the same amount for a rock solid theme vs. a new theme is a “fixed” game, don’t you think?


#2

Check the comments section: This is a cool trick. Jump to the last page of the comments section on product page. See how long does it take the author to answer questions, giving a proper answer or just being nice. Please mind that even if there’s an external support system, answering potential buyers is one of the best things authors should do, but some of them are just ignoring it or taking their time.


#3

Check the release notes: Most authors updates the built-in “release notes” section. On this section you should look for:

  • Number of versions — a lot of versions is a good signal in general, but you should look for the time gap between them. Publishing too many versions on short period is a big red light and you should review the exact changes. Fixing the same bugs again and again, releasing more buggy version — is a big red stop sign. be smart — read the release notes!
  • “Fixed” vs. “New” — Fixing bugs is a great thing, but fixing the mobile site menu on the 10th version might imply immature theme (or developer). Try to understand the type of “fixed” items and their context.

#4

Last update: on the right side of the product page, you’ll see the last time the theme was updated (or you can check the release notes for that). If it has been more than 4–5 months since the last version, check the comments section. Maybe the Author ditched the theme and tries to keep it alive without spending more time on developing, ignoring comments or saying that there will be no future updates. This probably means you might find yourself with no support pretty soon or with a broken theme.


#5

PSD included and other files: On the right side of the product page, you’ll see a list of files included in the theme package. Check for PSD files — your designer will be grateful using them and it will save you a lot of hassle if you want to give the theme a designer touch. 
If there’s no PSD, contact the author using the comments section. Sometimes they send it personally.


#6

Compatibility stuff: on the right side, there’s a list of all the supported WordPress versions and other WordPress modules that you might need this theme to support, such as WooCommerce, bbpress, WPML and others. Make sure it has what you need.


#7

Buyers rating: This one is tricky for the authors. Not many satisfied users are willing to rate anything, mainly because they have no incentive to do so. 
The problem comes with the unsatisfied users which might take this extra step and give a theme a bad review. It’s a nightmare mechanism for the author but a very good signal for you, the user. Below the stars section there’s a small link says “more information”. Click it and reveal the distribution of reviews (like in Amazon).


#8

Author ranks and badges: Envato has a cluttered badge system for sellers. On the right side of the product page, you’ll see the author name along with cool badges he gained. If you see the “Elite Author” badge, it just means that this seller sold a lot of themes (at least $75K).Simply as that, nothing more. It doesn’t mean that god came from the sky and wrote heavenly perfect PHP functions.
The more important thing is to look for a rock solid developer with a nice portfolio, maybe a review on Envato blog, featured on trending items list etc. Those features are represented by the badge system and imply a developer that cares for you and for his business.

Have anything to add? Add some notes :)