Detailed Comparison of Premium WordPress Theme Clubs

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WordPress professionals are faced with many options when deciding which membership-based theme providers are worth their investment. It is important to know how frequent future releases are, what your actual cost will be over time and what kind of support you can expect. It is also important to know what types of themes you will be gaining access to. What I will provide in this article is information to help you compare the details of popular WordPress theme clubs, so that you can more easily determine which might be useful in your situation.

About WordPress Theme Clubs

There are dozens of companies that provide commercial WordPress themes on a membership basis. Let’s first discuss what it means to be a member of a theme club, who theme clubs are ideally suited for and what you generally get as a member of a theme club.

What are WordPress Theme Clubs?

Essentially, a theme club offers membership that you can purchase to gain access to a collection of professional-quality WordPress themes with support resources. Some providers call this arrangement a “club” while others simply call it a membership. Typically, a membership must be renewed either monthly or annually in order to maintain access to theme updates, new releases and support. Customers can continue to use themes already downloaded even after membership has ended.

There is also another type of “membership”. Some companies who sell themes individually also offer “all themes” packages that include future releases, updates and lifetime support. Basically, what they are offering is a lifetime membership with no recurring fees. For the purpose of this article, I will consider these providers as theme clubs, although they do not see themselves in this way and may not be as compelled to provide new releases at the same frequency as traditional clubs.

Who are Theme Clubs For?

Theme clubs are beneficial to those who produce many WordPress-powered websites. The idea is that you gain access to a useful, growing collection of themes for less than you would pay if you bought the themes individually. Freelance designers and developers are often members of WordPress theme clubs for the purpose of having an arsenal of themes to use for client projects. Other members are those who produce many sites for their own purposes. And, in some cases, it just makes sense to join when the cost of membership is not much greater than the two or three themes you were planning to buy individually.

What do Theme Clubs Provide?

The clubs featured in this article provide commercial WordPress themes. Also referred to as “premium” themes, these are professionally developed themes that often include advanced features. The discussion of what makes a commercial/premium theme “premium” is out of the scope of this article (for the discussion, read Why Premium WordPress Themes?1 on my website). Also provided is support via a forum (and sometimes a helpdesk system), documentation, new releases, updates to existing themes and layered PSD or PNG source graphics.

Different clubs provide different types of themes. Larger clubs usually offer a wide variety of themes while others may focus more on a niche such as business themes. It is important to look at the types of themes currently available from a provider because they are likely indicators of what you will be getting for new releases. Don’t assume that every club will provide the types of themes your client projects demand. If you design sites for all types of clients, you will probably want to join clubs that produce themes covering different niches.

Comparing Theme Club Details

Let’s start taking a look at the theme clubs themselves. While there are dozens out there, I am only including 11 in this article that meet my narrow criteria. The reason for this is quality. There are clubs that might not be worth looking at. Based on my findings, these clubs range from those that show promise to those that many consider to be exceptional. You should draw your own conclusions based on your specific needs. I am not a customer of any of these companies, so my research was done from a pre-sale perspective.

Criteria For This Comparison

The theme club operators in this article meet the following criteria with at least one of their plans/packages.

  • Offers renewable membership or an “all themes” package that includes future releases.
  • Provides customer support for at least the lifetime of membership.
  • Membership includes theme updates to ensure compatibility with latest versions of WordPress.
  • Provides documentation.
  • Allows use on multiple websites (including client websites).
  • Uses GPL or Split GPL license.
  • Actively produces new themes.
  • Currently provides 10 or more themes.
  • Provides a live front-end demo of themes.
  • Exhibits professional-quality design work.
  • Includes layered graphic files (Photoshop PSD or Fireworks PNG)
  • Branding in theme footers can be removed.

WordPress is licensed under the GPL2. Therefore, since theme code is derived from WordPress, themes must also be licensed under the GPL. Reputable theme sellers license their themes under the GPL or they use a Split GPL license. The latter means that the theme’s PHP code is GPL-licensed while external files (JavaScript, CSS, images etc.) that are not derived from GPL-licensed material are not.

Comparing Apples to Apples

Many theme clubs offer a more expensive “developer” membership that includes layered PSD or PNG files. Since this article is written for designers and developers, all pricing, numbers and calculations in the table and charts below are for “developer” plans and packages. Free themes are excluded from calculations. Some memberships include non-WordPress themes which are also excluded from this analysis.

A Side-by-Side Comparison

This table shows details about companies and their themes, costs, features and methods of support. Sellers are ordered by the number of paid themes that they currently provide.

Start Date
When WordPress themes were first made available by the provider.

Monthly Releases
A six month average from September, 2010 through February, 2011. It does not include free themes.

Min. Price for All
The lowest price you would pay for all themes (with source PSD or PNG files) if you joined, downloaded all themes and then canceled before the first renewal date.

Min. Cost Each
Min. Price for All divided by Paid Themes.

Framework
Means whether or not the club includes a theme framework3 that utilizes child themes.

Lifetime Support
Indicates that support is provided even after membership has ended.

Comparison of "Developer" WordPress Theme Clubs
Data current as of March 25, 2011. Monthly Releases considers paid themes released between September 1, 2010 and February 28, 2011. Pricing and support is for “developer” plans with multiple use licenses and layered graphics files.

A Note About Code

I was originally going to include a row in this table to show which providers use W3C valid XHTML/CSS code. Nearly every provider claimed that this was the case. However, the reality is that many themes don’t fully validate because they often use CSS3, Flash, third-party code (especially social media) and other reasonable bits of Web goodness that cause validation issues. A better claim for some providers may be that they strive to produce valid code whenever reasonably possible.

Regarding server-side code: not being a member of these themes clubs, I can’t draw any conclusions about the quality of their PHP code (organization, best practices, commenting etc). But maybe that’s a good topic for another study.

How Many And How Much

If you are visually-oriented like I am, then it might be beneficial to see the data presented in charts.

Number of Themes Now and To Be Expected

It is clear that some theme producers are just starting out while others are more established. It is important to be aware of how many themes you are getting access to when you first sign up. A large collection of themes is useful. It is also evidence of how hard the company has been working for its members from the beginning (consider the age of each company).

Paid Themes Per Provider
The total number of paid (non-free) WordPress themes in each provider’s collection as of March 25, 2011.

Something that is not immediately apparent by visiting theme club websites is how many themes they release each month. I don’t mean how many themes they tell you they will be releasing, but how many themes they have actually been releasing on a regular basis. The proof is in the pudding.

Monthly Paid Theme Releases
The average monthly paid WordPress theme releases from September 1, 2010 to February 28, 2011.

Assessing the Actual Cost

Most theme clubs require a one-time joining fee plus either a monthly or annual renewal fee. The chart below shows the actual cost of being a “developer” member for the first year. Theme clubs with a larger selection understandably cost more. However, there are exceptions such as Elegant Themes4.

Also worth noting are StudioPress5 and Organic Themes6 which do not have recurring fees, so their costs will prove dramatically less than most others after a couple years. Cost should not be the sole determining factor, however. A good deal has to include themes you will actually use.

Membership Cost Over One Year
The total cost of each provider’s “developer” membership after one year.

If you want to take the “smash and grab” approach and are not necessarily interested in future releases or support, you can join and download all themes and then cancel before your renewal is due. This is a way to create your own one-time fee “all themes pack”. Look again at the table above to see which companies will provide you with lifetime support. The chart below shows the cost per theme you can expect when doing this.

Minimum Cost Per Theme
The actual cost per WordPress theme from each provider when signing up, downloading all themes, then canceling before renewal.

A Closer Look At Each Theme Club

Much can be said about each theme club. Let’s take a more individualized look at what is offered by each provider.

WooThemes: Consistent Deliverer

South Africa
www.woothemes.com7 (Pricing Details8)

WooThemes9

WooThemes started in 2008 and has established itself as the largest club in terms of number of themes available. Their Developer Club Subscription costs $200 to start plus $20 per month. They provide support via their forum and have produced a wide range of resources including documentation for each theme plus tutorials and videos. WooThemes has been successful at engaging their community of customers with an active blog, job board, busy forums and even comic strips.

Kudos

  • They promise two new themes monthly. Over the last six months, they have averaged 2 releases per month, excluding free themes. This says a lot about their commitment to provide for their members.
  • WooThemes supports customers who have cancelled their subscriptions.
  • They produce a wide variety of themes (33 niches according to ThemeSorter10).
  • Their Playground11 lets you experience the back-end of every theme.

Concerns?

One complaint is that WooThemes is expensive. However, I believe that the cost of their developer club is proportional to what it provides. They have the largest collection and release the most themes per month. They actually have the second-lowest minimum cost per theme of all sellers in this group.

Elegant Themes: Affordable Quality

United States

www.elegantthemes.com12 (Pricing Details13, see Terms14 for developer license fee)

Elegant Themes15

Elegant Themes started in 2008 and has developed a reputation of being one of the more prolific theme producers. They are known for their low cost and high quality. The cost is a mere $39/year plus a one-time fee of $89 if you plan on using their themes for client websites.

Kudos

  • Affordability. They offer the most themes for the lowest yearly renewal fee.
  • The quality of themes is much better than many would expect for the price paid.
  • They averaged a healthy 1.7 new releases per month over the last six months.
  • Elegant Themes provides a respectable variety of themes including not only blog, magazine/news and business themes but also portfolio themes and niche themes for real estate, events, product showcasing and more.
  • They offer a 30-day money back guarantee.

Concerns?

The standard license allows for multiple use but only on your own sites. In order to create sites for clients, you must pay a one-time $89 fee for a developer license. This is still a great deal but unless you read the fine print, this is easy to miss. It also cannot be paid for at the time of sign-up (members pay for it as an upgrade). I don’t consider this to be a major concern, just something to be aware of before joining.

Templatic: Robust Variety

India

templatic.com16 (Pricing Details17)

Templatic18

Templatic is an India-based company that produces a wide variety of WordPress themes. Especially notable are their full-featured e-commerce themes. With over 50 themes and more than one new release each month, they are one of the largest and fastest growing providers. Their club may be a good solution for those needing many different types of themes for client projects. Club membership is $299 plus $15 per month.

Kudos

  • Large variety of nice-looking themes. I was able to classify their themes into several dozen niches.
  • They offer several full-blown e-commerce themes complete with shopping carts and online payment handling.
  • They offer individual support via their helpdesk in addition to forum support.
  • They continue to provide support after cancellation.

Concerns?

  • Members have been told to expect two new releases monthly. However, from September, 2010 through February, 2011, they have averaged 1.2 new releases per month. Even when counting free themes, they have not met their own expectation. Still, they are releasing a useful amount of new themes regularly.
  • The English used on parts of their website and theme demos is sometimes awkward which can come across as unprofessional.

StudioPress: Unlimited Everything

United States

studiopress.com19 (Pricing Details20)

StudioPress21

StudioPress is not technically a theme club. They are included in this group of providers because their Pro Plus All-Themes package ($249.95) includes all current and future theme releases plus lifetime support. This is in effect a membership without recurring fees. The simplicity of their “Unlimited Everything” philosophy is refreshing. They offer many business, gallery/portfolio and women’s interest themes produced by both StudioPress and talented collaborators.

Kudos

  • No recurring fees.
  • Lifetime support, updates and future releases.
  • They have averaged 1.3 new releases per month during the last six months.
  • Their popular Genesis Framework22 is included. This is a great tool for developers and more savvy WordPress users.
  • StudioPress has a 30-day refund policy.
  • Their selection of themes geared toward women is commendable.

NattyWP: Fading Away?

United States

www.nattywp.com23 (Pricing Details24)

NattyWP25

NattyWP has been around since 2008 and currently offers 28 premium themes plus future releases for their members. The cost is $300 per year. They have a selection of the most popular types of WordPress themes: magazine/news, business, portfolio and blog.

Kudos

  • They offer support via a helpdesk. Most clubs do not provide this type of private/individual support.
  • Members continue to receive support after cancellation.
  • Their offerings cover the most common needs.

Concerns?

They have released only two new themes during the last six months (their frequency of releases was greater in the past). Their website looks the same as it did in 2008 and their forum seems to be inactive, so you have to wonder how much their heart is still in it.

WPZOOM: Second Wind

Moldova

www.wpzoom.com26 (Pricing Details27)

WPZOOM28

WPZOOM redesigned their website very recently and with that introduced a membership option. They have averaged one new release per month over the last six months while selling themes individually. At the time they introduced their new theme club, they commented that they would be releasing one to three new themes per month. It sounds like they might be stepping it up a notch which would be a great benefit to new members. WPZOOM’s specialty over the last couple years has been magazine/news and portfolio themes.

The cost of their developer club is $299 for the first month then $19/month thereafter.

Kudos

  • A dream for frequent magazine/news theme users.
  • WPZOOM provides lifetime support even after a member cancels.

Concerns?

Developer club pricing is higher than other providers who offer more themes. I hope to see WPZOOM expand both the size and variety of their offerings for their new members.

Obox: Solid Offerings

South Africa

www.obox-design.com29 (Pricing Details30)

Obox31

Obox had its beginning as a web development company run by brothers David and Marc Perel32. Two years ago they turned their attention to theme design and have built up a collection of 24 premium WordPress themes (more for Tumblr33 and Posterous34). Their membership costs $125 to start then $15/month to maintain. You can expect about one new WordPress theme release per month. Their offerings are mostly made up of blog themes with a dash of magazine-style inspiration. Business and portfolio/gallery themes are also part of the collection.

Kudos

  • A reputation for excellent support.
  • High quality design work.
  • The OCMX plugin35 is included and may be of interest to developers.

RocketTheme: Feature-packed

United States

www.rockettheme.com/wordpress36 (Pricing Details37)

RocketTheme38

The first thing that struck me about RocketTheme when looking at their demos was the customization options that many of their WordPress themes provide. While most themes from other sellers come with several color schemes or styles, many of RocketTheme’s themes include user-friendly tools that let you create your own custom styles (go to the Crystalline demo39 and click COLOR CHOOSER at the top-right).

The cost is $250 to start your RocketTheme membership then $200 each year for renewal. You will gain access to their collection which is mostly made up of themes for business, blog and magazine/news sites. Note that RocketTheme offers separate memberships for WordPress and Joomla.

Kudos

  • Impressive customization options included with many themes.
  • They have consistently delivered on their promise to release one new theme per month since they started selling WordPress themes in 2009.
  • Their design style is unique and flashy.
  • Many features are included with their themes, especially newer releases.

Themify: Fast Start

Canada

themify.me40 (Pricing Details41)

Themify42

Themify is a relatively new WordPress theme provider. They opened their doors last year and have 13 paid themes already. They are definitely one to watch. If they keep up their pace, they could end up as one of the leading clubs. Right now they have a small selection but manage to offer many different types of themes (such as microblogging, restaurant, news, business, portfolio). Variety is a good thing for a theme club and it looks like Themify realizes this and has made it a part of their growth plan.

The cost of their membership is $150 for the first month then $20 per month for renewal.

Kudos

  • They have been working fast with 1.2 releases per month on average since last summer.
  • Clearly aiming to build a variety of themes to meet many needs.

Concerns?

The cost is a concern considering their small size at the moment. They will have to deliver a high number of regular releases to justify their $20/month renewal fee.

Organic Themes: Still Growing

United States

www.organicthemes.com43

Note: There is a “Buy All Themes” button on the top-right of their themes44 page. They do not have a page with details for their all-themes developer package. David Morgan of Organic Themes confirmed that this package “entitles the purchaser to current and future theme releases.”

Organic Themes45

Having launched in 2010, Organic Themes is another one of the newer WordPress theme providers. The company is based in a small Hawaiian town and run by David Morgan and Jeff Milone. The first thing to note about Organic Themes is that they sell an “all themes package” for developers. When you buy it, you get access to all of their current themes plus access to their future themes and support for as long as they are in business. This is in effect a one-time fee “membership”.

I don’t know if they plan to offer a formal membership with recurring fees when they are larger, but if they do (as WPZOOM just did), “all themes package” customers will probably feel very fortunate.

Kudos

  • All themes package is like a “membership” with no recurring fees.
  • Lifetime new releases, updates and support at no extra cost.
  • A clear focus on quality over quantity.

Concerns?

  • If you look at Organic Themes as a theme club, their recent low rate of releases would be a concern. However, they are not technically a theme club and thus do not promise a specific number of new releases. It is better to look at them as what they are, a company generous enough to provide future releases and support to buyers of their all themes package.
  • There is no pricing or details page that explains the terms of the all-themes developer package. They told me that making such a page is high on their priorities list.

UpThemes: Gearing Up

United States

upthemes.com46 (Pricing Details47)

UpThemes48

UpThemes opened its doors in 2010 and has produced 10 paid WordPress themes. They recently added a new team member so there is good reason to believe that they will be producing more frequent releases. As with Themify, it appears that UpThemes is focusing on producing multiple types of themes for their members. So far they provide solutions for gallery/portfolio, coming soon, app showcase, blogging, charity/non-profit, band/musician and e-commerce.

Their membership costs $159 for the first month then $19 per month to renew. This is a young theme club worth keeping an eye on.

Kudos

  • Members who cancel have lifetime support via the UpThemes forums.
  • The variety of themes in their collection is very good even at this early stage of their existence.

Concerns?

The pricing page promises members one new theme each month. This has not been the case during the last six months even when considering free themes. It is possible that the promise was not made until very recently, however. We will have to see if the expectation is met during the next few months.

In Conclusion

Developer theme clubs can be useful to freelance professionals and companies who build many WordPress-powered websites. We have learned that different clubs have different types of themes, collection sizes, release frequencies and costs. Combine this with the fact that you have your own specific requirements and it becomes clear that not every club is a guaranteed match for you. You should ask yourself a few questions when deciding which theme club or clubs to join — if any at all — in order to make the best use of your budget.

First, ask yourself if the club produces the type of themes that you will actually use. A club that offers many nice-looking themes for a low price may seem like a good deal. But is it a good deal for you? What if most of their themes are magazine/news themes but your clients are small businesses? You should also ask yourself if a club will save you money. You may not need as many themes as you are paying for. In this case, your budget may be better spent purchasing themes individually from multiple providers.

I hope this survey of likely choices will make it easier for you to decide if a WordPress theme club can help you with your work.

Further Resources

The following articles relating to premium WordPress themes and providers may be of interest to you:

(vf) (ik)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://themesorter.com/why-premium-themes
  2. 2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
  3. 3 http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Frameworks
  4. 4 http://www.elegantthemes.com/
  5. 5 http://studiopress.com/
  6. 6 http://organicthemes.com/
  7. 7 http://www.woothemes.com/
  8. 8 http://www.woothemes.com/pricing/
  9. 9 http://www.woothemes.com/
  10. 10 http://themesorter.com/sellers/woothemes/themes?f=niche
  11. 11 http://www.woothemes.com/playground/
  12. 12 http://www.elegantthemes.com/
  13. 13 http://www.elegantthemes.com/join.php
  14. 14 http://www.elegantthemes.com/terms.html
  15. 15 http://www.elegantthemes.com/
  16. 16 http://templatic.com/
  17. 17 http://templatic.com/premium-themes-club
  18. 18 http://templatic.com/
  19. 19 http://studiopress.com/
  20. 20 http://www.studiopress.com/themes/pro-plus
  21. 21 http://studiopress.com/
  22. 22 http://www.studiopress.com/themes/genesis
  23. 23 http://www.nattywp.com/
  24. 24 http://www.nattywp.com/themes-club.php
  25. 25 http://www.nattywp.com/
  26. 26 http://www.wpzoom.com/
  27. 27 http://www.wpzoom.com/pricing/
  28. 28 http://www.wpzoom.com/
  29. 29 http://www.obox-design.com/
  30. 30 http://www.obox-design.com/pricing.cfm
  31. 31 http://www.obox-design.com/
  32. 32 http://www.obox-design.com/team.cfm
  33. 33 http://tumblr.com/
  34. 34 https://posterous.com/
  35. 35 http://www.obox-design.com/ocmx-live.cfm
  36. 36 http://www.rockettheme.com/wordpress
  37. 37 http://www.rockettheme.com/wordpress-club-details
  38. 38 http://www.rockettheme.com/wordpress
  39. 39 http://demo.rockettheme.com/mar10/
  40. 40 http://themify.me/
  41. 41 http://themify.me/pricing
  42. 42 http://themify.me
  43. 43 http://www.organicthemes.com/
  44. 44 http://www.organicthemes.com/theme-collection/
  45. 45 http://www.organicthemes.com/
  46. 46 http://upthemes.com/
  47. 47 http://upthemes.com/pricing/
  48. 48 http://upthemes.com/
  49. 49 http://themesorter.com/
  50. 50 http://firsttimeonline.com/2011/03/16/premium-theme-sights-are-missing-the-mark-with-pricing/
  51. 51 http://www.themegrade.com/category/provider-review/
  52. 52 http://wpcandy.com/teaches/how-to-find-wordpress-themes-quickly-and-easily
  53. 53 http://markjaquith.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/why-wordpress-themes-are-derivative-of-wordpress/
  54. 54 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/08/19/100-free-high-quality-wordpress-themes-for-2010/

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Steven Gliebe has been building websites since 1997. His latest endeavor is churchthemes.com, a niche WordPress theme shop helping churches make and manage quality websites.

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  1. 1

    Great article. I’ve been looking into becoming a member of a few of these clubs. Thank you for sharing this info.

    0
  2. 52

    Well, folks. I sure appreciate your feedback on this article. I’m glad it has been helpful to many. Also, thank you for teaching me some things.

    If I were to do it over knowing what I know now I’d certainly include Press75, I’d probably bring in a couple others such as iThemes that don’t include layered graphics files (just sticking a little X in the chart for that) and I’d go into a little more detail on frameworks such as RocketTheme’s Gantry.

    Given enough time at some point in the future I’ll strongly consider updating this article for these reasons and also to include upated pricing and theme counts. That stuff changes like mad!

    0
  3. 103

    Templatic is pretty bad, anyone considering using them, should really give it a second thought. Poor support and poorly coded themes (very buggy). Woo is good, Press75 is good too.

    0
  4. 154

    Erik Kubitschek

    April 21, 2011 6:22 pm

    This is the most pertinent (for me) article I’ve seen on Smashing in quite some time, however, I’m happy to throw down $35 per job for Themes at ThemeForest. The quality is way above and beyond what I’ve seen with sites named here.

    0
  5. 205

    Steven, or do you go by Steve?

    Very well written article and great information but I’m just curious as to why you didn’t point out themeforest dot net? They are a pretty big site, most of my clients have heard of them, compared to half the sites on your list – I personally have heard of maybe one or two, which means my clients probably never heard of them. Any personal thoughts on that themeforest though bud? Great article again – I have already bookmarked it for future reference ;-)

    Cheers,

    Jeremiah
    Chairman & CEO
    http://www.thenerdblurb.com (Free SEO Tutorials, Guides, & Tips)
    tnbhosting.com

    0
  6. 256

    I’ve been disappointed by some premium themes in the past – the extreme focus on user-friendly backends can make customization that much more difficult if you want to do something that isn’t provided for in the theme’s admin area.

    At the same time, I find WooThemes’ Woo Framework alone to be worth the price of admission. It makes editing posts infinitely easier, and I wish I could use it as a standalone option on non-WooThemes sites.

    0
  7. 307

    Although Templatic’s themes may look the part, the code is far from finished. The theme I was unlucky enough to buy, functions of the site just didn’t work, support would claim that there was no issues (you only need to look have a quick look at the support forums to see that’s a lie)

    And then of course there is the security vulns in some of there products which they are also happy to ignore despite being told of them, and had offers to help them fix.

    0
  8. 358

    Rockettheme uses their Gantry Framework for newer WP themes.

    0
  9. 409

    Templatic offers test drive at http://test.templatic.com . I think you missed to check mark that in “Private demo” field.

    0
  10. 460

    Hi Stephen, thanks for including UpThemes in the list. One thing I just wanted to make you aware of though is the pricing listed for UpThemes on the article is outdated.

    We changed our pricing model a few weeks ago and it is $69 for a 6-month theme club membership to standard themes and $99 for a 6-month subscription to developer themes. I know you probably did the research a while ago, so I understand but it would be good to share this updated pricing with the users on Smashing Mag so as to not confuse anyone. Thanks again for including us!

    Also, we are currently working on UpThemes Framework 2.0 which will include a new layout engine, a typography engine (with support for @font-face & google fonts), and a SEO engine.

    To boot, we are releasing a new microblog theme framework that uses post formats, has 3 child themes and integrates with Wootumblog and Express App.

    We’ve got a lot going on and a lot of updates coming so stay tuned.

    0
  11. 511

    I’ve subscribed to RocketTheme before and have been amazed by their offerings. Unfortunately I found that I spend MORE time removing the fluff from their templates than anything else.

    I’m now using StudioPress and have been very impressed with their offerings and support through their forums.

    0
    • 562

      True. They make it easier for people to customize their templates, but that leaves the more advance users deleting unnecessary code.

      0
  12. 613

    Hello Steven,

    nice article but I don’t see ThemeFuse which is for me a good contributor for WP themes.
    Moreover, I see that they are referenced in ThemeSorter…

    0
  13. 664

    Templatic has terrible support after you buy their theme. They say they’re their to help, but from my experience (I bought their Job Board theme) they are absolutely terrible in helping you with any technical related questions. They do have a community forum, but there are hardly any helpful topics and nobody responds to your posts.

    I emailed their support staff and about a week later I received a reply that stated “you need to modify the core php code”. No $h!t….

    0
  14. 715

    I don’t know why my comment was removed from this page between yesterday and today but like I was trying to ask yesterday Steven, Why didn’t you include Themeforest in this equation? I really like their themes, like many other have mentioned here as well. And I half to say, I didn’t even recognize half of the other sites in your “charts” that your showing above, so I think themeforest might belong in your next one Steven :-P

    Well written article though, GJ, Cheers!

    Jeremiah R.
    Chairman & CEO
    thenerdblurb.com

    0
    • 766

      This reply is way late but in case anyone else has the same question, ThemeForest is not in this comparison because they sell themes individually. With this article I wanted to take a look at the theme shops that offer ongoing memberships.

      I love ThemeForest. So many talented designers there.

      0
  15. 817

    Gr8 article ….very nicely presented everything in graphical form and aslo showing unique quality of each theme club……good analysis….

    0
  16. 868

    nice infographic, thanks for sharing it . it helps a lot to the newbies who faces a lot of problems while selecting the right theme ….

    0
  17. 919

    Cinema Nostalgia

    April 23, 2011 5:26 pm

    I use Elegant Themes and must admit that I’m quite pleased with their product.

    0
  18. 970

    Jeremiah Reagan

    April 23, 2011 9:19 pm

    This is an awesome post! I am curious though, like many of the other “reviews” here said, where is ThemeForest? I think they are a great resource and more than half my clients and friends use them. Your charts are great too, but 3 or 4 of those sites you have listed I have NEVER heard of, I guess thats a good thing? hehe I also will throw my 2cents in at Elegant Themes like Cinema just did.. I like using them as well, they have some nice themes and it’s very inexpensive… But they don’t offer “that many” that’s the only problem in my opinion.

    Great post again Steven!
    Regards,
    Jeremiah R.

    0
  19. 1021

    Really very useful information and great article, however would be great to read something similar around Joomla template clubs.

    Thanks for excellent recourse!

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  20. 1072

    David Tisserand

    April 24, 2011 4:35 am

    Incredible ! the best theme ressource “themeforest” not listed in this post. For me the best and most complete so far.

    0
  21. 1123

    Slightly OT, but as a developer using Drupal, what’s the reason for so many great WordPress themes, and a lack of the same for Drupal? is templating a pain for Drupal, or is it simply because more/most designers use WordPress? There are some good themers for Drupal out there, but not too many (That is, if I want a site to really pop).

    0
  22. 1174

    Good article but where’s Yootheme?

    0
  23. 1225

    Em, you missed Themeforest?!

    0
  24. 1327

    Would have been awesome to see eFrog Themes in the comparison chart – I feel that eFrog’s designs are of incredibly high quality, the options panel is impressive and the code is neat.

    0
  25. 1378

    For WordPress, it’s Studiopress all the way. Some of the other clubs have prettier themes out of the box (like Woothemes), but the support at Studiopress is amazing and fast (often within 10-15 minutes), and the Genesis framework its built on is very impressive in the way its coded and documented.

    The reason I pay for stuff is support. I’m a professional and don’t have time to waste hacking around with a free theme. Easier to just ask a question on the forum and move on.

    Rockettheme is fantastic for Joomla, have not tried their WordPress.

    0
  26. 1429

    Bratu Sebastian

    April 27, 2011 3:44 am

    Great article and comparison. I agree too that themeforest is a great alternative altrough it’s not exacly a “club”. I agree that these clubs are more focused than themeforest. And themeforest is sometimes better for people looking for diversity.

    0
  27. 1480

    Sovit Ranjitkar

    April 28, 2011 3:10 am

    love to read this. i luv to visit woo themes n elegant themes.

    0
  28. 1531

    By far my favourite thing about theme clubs is that their themes tend to not only include template files, but the original design in a PSD, meaning you don’t have to deal with someone else’s code.

    0
  29. 1582

    http://themetrust.com/ has some simple and nice themes. i got good support from the dude at the helm.

    0
  30. 1633

    you guys should check out CSSIGNITER totally worth it.

    http://www.cssigniter.com/

    0
  31. 1684

    You left Yootheme !

    0
  32. 1735

    Both Woo and Elegantthemes are great deals and very high quality. My only desire with Elegantthemes is for the code to be a bit cleaner (I have to prettify the CSS everytime). I would have liked to see some information in this article about sites like templatesold that point out why their wp theme subscriptions are terrible deals (unless developing your own options panels and widgets is something you like doing) in comparison to clubs like those featured.

    0
  33. 1786

    Great article! I personally use Elegant Themes and WooThemes. Nick from ET comes up with amazing designs, but I think the cross-browser compatibility needs a bit more work. WooThemes are just great.ThemeTrust and CSSIgniter also look promising and worthy of trying.

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  34. 1837
  35. 1939

    To those who disagree in paid themes, i think you’re all idiots! You just have to understand that its a marketplace.

    Think about the water. Isn’t it supposed to be free for everyone but there are consumption fees for it. same goes here.

    0
  36. 1990

    Nice roundup.
    I have used RocketTheme for some Joomla sites and have been very satisfied but also angry and annoyed.
    Sometimes the forum is a fantastic resource to get quick help.
    Other times the response has been almost rude even though I was a paying customer.
    One thing you need to think about is that their fascination for .png files and the promotion of Fireworks. I do not have facts but I imagine that the ratio of Photoshop vs Fireworks is 10 to 1.
    I will try Woo or Elegant for my WP sites.

    0
  37. 2041

    This was a great article – very helpful. Does anyone know anything about OptimizePress? I’m trying to decide which THeme to go with for a blog site which will eventually include products, autoresponder, etc.

    0
  38. 2092

    Yuriy ( TheThe Fly )

    August 4, 2011 9:27 pm

    Steven, sorry for misprinting your name in my previous message , (*^.^*)

    0
  39. 2143

    If an article like this is going to be the level of quality to be found on WP Smashing Magazine, then you might as well stop now!

    How can you write rubbish like this? A detailed comparison? Really? So you have done the research yourself? I don’t think so, otherwise you would not have written such BS! Then again, maybe that’s just Smashing Magazine’s style? Write a bunch of bullocks and make the articles very long and get lots of comments, so you can sell the whitespace to potential advertisers by saying that you run such a popular site?

    Do yourself and your readers a favor and this time review Templatic for real! And then write a new review and tell your readers the truth!

    0
    • 2194

      Hi Piet,

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience with Templatic as a customer. As the article states, this was written from a pre-sale perspective and is meant to be an overview (not a customer review) of what various theme clubs claim to offer on their websites. I also threw in some impressions of theme appearance based on live previews. Unfortunately, I was not able to comment on quality of code or support.

      As for reviews of the themes themselves and customer support, thank you to everybody who has shared experiences. Your comments are very helpful to others in choosing a theme club. Certainly I’ve learned some things.

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      • 2245

        Oh ok, fair enough, I didn’t read that particular sentence the first time around. I guess I was more focused on what the title told me…

        -1
  40. 2296

    I use woothemes and have gotten great tutorials. I am new to wordpress so woothemes was a great help for newbies. I recommend them highly!

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  41. 2347

    Well said!

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