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Detailed Comparison of Premium WordPress Theme Clubs

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 Link

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? Link

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? Link

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? Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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.

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

South Africa
www.woothemes.com7 (Pricing Details8)


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.


  • 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.


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 Link

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.


  • 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.


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 Link


templatic.com16 (Pricing Details17)


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.


  • 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.


  • 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 Link

United States

studiopress.com19 (Pricing Details20)


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.


  • 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? Link

United States

www.nattywp.com23 (Pricing Details24)


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.


  • 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.


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 Link


www.wpzoom.com26 (Pricing Details27)


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.


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


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 Link

South Africa (Pricing Details)


Obox had its beginning as a web development company run by brothers David and Marc Perel. Two years ago they turned their attention to theme design and have built up a collection of 24 premium WordPress themes (more for Tumblr29 and Posterous). 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.


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

RocketTheme: Feature-packed Link

United States (Pricing Details31)


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 demo33 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.


  • 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 Link


themify.me34 (Pricing Details35)


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.


  • 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.


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 Link

United States


Note: There is a “Buy All Themes” button on the top-right of their themes38 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 Themes39

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.


  • 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.


  • 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 Link

United States

upthemes.com40 (Pricing Details)


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.


  • 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.


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 Link

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 Link

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

(vf) (ik)

Footnotes Link

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

  1. 1 not included? Come on!

  2. 2

    I dont see any reason to be member one of these premium clubs ,when you can find wordpress themes same quality for free.

    • 3

      Totally agree. I remember when WordPress was a community where everyone contributed and shared, now greed has set in and everyone is trying to cash in. These themes are not that special that they should be charging a fee, you can get the same features in a free theme or create your own with some extra code or plug-ins.

      • 4

        I’m not going to fault anyone for trying to make a living, and as a customer of both WooThemes and StudioPress, I’m more than happy with my purchases. That said, no one is forcing you to buy anything, so why do you care if they charge or not?

      • 5

        I also have to disagree… I hold high standards for the work I produce, and I expect to be paid for my time and work. Why should I expect a high quality, smartly-developed theme to be available to me for free, especially if I can work more efficiently by using it? Am I “greedy” if I work for pay?

        The quality of themes and support I have received from Obox does not even begin to compare with any free theme I have used, or even many paid themes I have purchased elsewhere. Gladly a member there.

        • 6

          Yes you are greedy. You should be ashamed.

          Has Obama taught you nothing?

          Capitalism is evil. Corporations are to be demonized. Money is to be given to the government for the redistribution of wealth…period.

          People have a RIGHT to free, quality WordPress themes.

          How dare you charge people for your time and work!! Stop charging people!!!! Go on welfare and let the government take care of you like Obama intended, dammit!

          You people…..really….

        • 10

          Gilberto J Perera

          April 25, 2011 11:36 am

          I agree. If you worked your butt off to design an awesome theme and you support it on top of that then you ought to get paid for it simple as that. As with any marketplace, the theme clubs that suck will not survive, those that provide awesome themes and support along the way will stick around.

          I for one have use ElegantThemes and like their stuff a lot. I also purchase a lot of themes from themeforest and so far it’s worth every penny. If you want themes with a lot of features and great support you will have to pay for it, simple as that.

          No one is greedy here, it’s called the free market.

          • 11

            I think that some clubs listed here are really expensive but I’m totally disagree that you can find wordpress themes same quality for free. When buying some premium theme you actually buy code/graphic, support and UPDATES! and as a customer of WooThemes and NattyWP, I’m more than happy with my purchases.

            Not sure why the actual cost per WordPress theme for NattyWP on your graph is so high? I know that the NattyWP theme cost only $25 which is more than a good deal.

          • 12

            With that mentality, open-source would never survive… WordPress does not charge for its service or software and it is FAR greater than any theme available.

            Why should people make money off of software that is free to begin with? that is bass ackward no?

            And for free high quality wordpress themes… check out (no I’m not affiliated with them)

            free basic (read base) themes / pay for full function themes…

      • 13

        Bobby Adamson

        April 20, 2011 6:42 pm

        I generally disagree for the same reasons listed here. If you can circumvent the process of paying for stuff then more power to you! But you can’t really fault someone for wanting to get paid for hard work, especially when others are using it to make exponentially more money themselves. That being said, you have a legitimate argument and it’s really stupid that people are down voting just because they disagree with you. Down votes are for comments that don’t contribute to the discussion, not anything that doesn’t support your opinion.

      • 14

        WoW…. I can give you both work in my company. I can offer you the best deal ever. You could make an astonishing big $0 a year if you work for me. What do you say?? it is not that bad at all, since working for free is your standar…

        • 15

          How much did the wordpress developers get paid originally? How much do *nix developers get paid? Its called FREE and OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE (FOSS) and its what ALOT of the software on the web is based on.

          PHP free…
          WP free…
          Apache free…
          mySQL free…

          It is called GREED when you take a FOSS application and use it for monetary gain without contributing back to the original project.

          • 16

            No, it’s not. In fact, there are FOSS projects out there that exist exclusively for that purpose. One of them is the PHP framework, Kohana.

            FOSS works on the principle that people who don’t like it or want it to be better will contribute, but most people will just use it. It takes an enormous amount of time to learn the code of a FOSS project well enough to contribute back to it.

            And none of these developers even CAN contribute back to WordPress. WordPress only has two standard themes. You can’t add your own themes.

    • 17

      Well no, simple because when you purchase one of the Premium Themes you also receive a support, not too mention much needed updates and fresh design every month. Sure there are many great free Themes out there however not all of them will offer the support every and any time users ask for. Quality should also be followed by reliability of the people who provide Themes, once again yes lots of free Themes do the same and don’t take me wrong here, but when you go Premium all this is very much guaranteed without searching around trying to find assistance or “banging your head on the wall” when things don’t go the way you want.

      PS Great post, very detailed as well. Also, other than Press75 you missed which was already reported I would include YooTheme. Yoo is around since 2007 as well as iThemes too.


      • 18

        Steven Gliebe

        April 21, 2011 5:38 am

        I excluded iThemes on purpose because they apparently do not include layered graphics files.

        • 19

          Steven – we have well over 100 themes, been around for 3 plus years, 16-plus member team and you excluded us because of PSDs?


          • 20

            Steven Gliebe

            April 21, 2011 12:25 pm

            I wrote the article for designers/developers who benefit from having layered PSD or Fireworks PNG files which many clubs provide. Have your customers asked for these?

            Also, I had trouble counting your themes in order to do the calculations. I saw 100 advertised but when I looked, I found less. I think it may be because you count colors/variations as separate themes? I understand technically they may be but from my perspective, for example, Flexx and Remedy are two themes rather than 23.

            I mean no disrespect. I may have missed a section of themes and I think Builder looks great, but from my own pre-sales perspective, these are my concerns/recommendations.

          • 21

            I agree Cory, i have purchased many themes with no PSD and i havent felt ive lost anything. 99% of users dont even know how to use a PSD, and the ones that do, also know how to get around not having one. Most designers these days dont even use PSD’s they just just into the code, i even do this now days. Im not going to spend days on a PSD, and another few days in code when i can just do the code and design has i go along and save days, if not weeks of theme development time.

          • 22

            Of course we want files. not flatten images.

          • 23

            99% of users also aren’t going to read this site or join a theme club.

            This was an article for designers. Why should I, as a designer, re-invent the wheel when the theme creator could just give me a PSD? If they’re good at what they do, their PSDs are already organized and presentable to the public.

    • 24

      What about support ? Are you getting same level (or even any) support with free templates?

  3. 25

    Iwani Khalid

    April 20, 2011 7:39 am

    Missing and from this list! :)

    Great post!!

    • 26

      Steven Gliebe

      April 20, 2011 10:06 am

      Thanks Iwani. KreativeThemes and ThemeBaker are great but as far as I know they sell themes individually and do not offer club/membership plans. I could be wrong.

  4. 27

    Great review!

    I think there is a reason why some themes club charge higher, they provide high quality themes compare to others.

  5. 28

    Patrick Ward

    April 20, 2011 7:45 am

    Bought an e-commerce theme from Templatic (store) and I can confirm the the poor quality of English extends into the email notifications that customers receive. While some messages can be configured through the settings the majority required extensive hacking to fix. Ended up abandoning the cart after over 20 hours of hacking and configuring. An expensive mistake.

    • 29

      donnacha of WordSkill

      April 21, 2011 8:41 pm

      Couldn’t agree more.

      This article’s use the word “robust” in association with Templatic is a joke, the quality of their themes is the worst I’ve ever seen, even compared to the worst free themes I’ve ever stumbled across..

      Even funnier is the tick mark next to “Lifetime Support” – only once you’ve paid do you get access to the forums and discover that they are full of deeply unhappy customers and only very occasional, highly cryptic comments by Templatic staff, mostly denying that there are any problems before disappearing again.

      A terrible, terrible company, what they do is quite deliberate and they have no shame about it.

      • 30

        Yep, a rubbish company! I have bought their themes and really hard to use, bad support from

    • 31


      If Templatic themes are robust, then Angeline Jolie is my grandma.

      I’ve bought themes from Templatic. All they do is recycle the codes from previous themes (without changing the variables) and offers no support when their bug-ridden themes do weird things on your live site.

      I emailed them a few times before I filed a dispute with paypal. No reply. Asked for help in the forum. No reply. Sent a message via paypal dispute. Again, no reply.

      Buying themes from templatic is like buying a polished car from a junkyard. You only learned that you’ve bought junk when you’ve paid for it and brought it home.

      I’ve been a member in Woothemes, Templatic and ElegantThemes. In term of support ElegantThemes is the best. And Templatic doesn’t deserve to be called robust.

      • 32

        My observation is that they have a “robust variety” of themes (many different niches). As for the robustness of the themes themselves, many people have provided valuable insight as actual customers, so thank you all for that.

  6. 33

    Janes Oosthuizen

    April 20, 2011 8:02 am

    Woothemes rocks.. Great designs and good code..

  7. 34

    Mark Forrester

    April 20, 2011 8:04 am

    Thanks for the feature, and honest feedback.

    We feel our monthly subscription costs are justified, like you said, given the fact we nurture each and every theme (all 90+) we’ve ever released with continual upgrades and shortcode additions, and pride ourselves on fast, efficient customer support.

    We also collaborate with the cream of the crop international designers – – to ensure variety in offering unique, beautiful themes. That obviously comes at a price!

    The WooFramework, the engine behind each of our themes, deserves a mention, and we encourage readers to try one of our free themes to get a taste of how powerful it is. Club members also get access to Canvas – a hugely customizable, feature packed DIY theme with hooks, filters and loads of layout/styling theme options.

    Big things happening at the moment at WooHQ, all of which our club members will benefit from.

    • 35

      Steven Gliebe

      April 21, 2011 5:39 am

      I’m glad you liked the article. Thanks for your sharing it with your blog readers.

  8. 36

    Great insights, I especially liked the *actual* releases per month stats. Props to the clubs burning the midnight oil!

    Where is

    • 37

      Do agree with Orman, where is Press75 ? ;-)

      • 38

        Jason Schuller

        April 20, 2011 11:10 am

        Thanks guys… really appreciate you looking out for Press75 :)

      • 39

        Ditto. Press75 is one of the earliest and most respected premium theme providers, with uncompromising quality. Membership options are now available.

  9. 40

    Very helpful information, thanks for putting it all together.

  10. 41

    Thanks for the Obox Themes feature. Puts a huge smile on our faces :)

    Looking at the 0.8 average theme release per month is something we noticed coming into 2011 which is why we hired an extra developer so we could up our output.

    Since January we have consistently launched 2 themes per month and in May are hoping to push for 3 brand new themes. We also got a new developer starting in June so that we can also up our offer in terms of theme framework features.

    Nonetheless, getting a mention on this list is great. Thanks Smashing!

  11. 43

    I really like OBOX themes. Not to mention their support is phenomenal. David and Marc are right there to answer any questions via Twitter and their support forums. Questions are answered with solutions within the day, if not a couple hours.

  12. 44

    Thanks for this wrap up. I enjoy the themes at graphpaperpress as well, especially for photos. For the price, elegant themes have some nice templates and they are easy to tweak. Ditto for woo themes even though they are pricier, their themes are a bit more robust.

  13. 45

    I use, and have been pretty happy with them, especially their support. It’s more of a specialty one though, as they only cater to photogs and designers, but none the less, they have a unique set of templates.

  14. 46

    I was a member of ElegantThemes for a while, and I have to say that I was most disappointed. Very high quality previews of the themes, but then you download them, follow the instructions to the letter and…*paf* the theme is broken all over the show.

    I’m an experienced web developer, and I could barely get their themes to actually work as the preview suggested they should.

    • 47

      I have been using ElegantThemes for over a year now and never experienced the difficulties you are referring too. I’ve used several of their themes, modify them heavily and found them to be very robust to significant traffic. And their Customer Support is fantastic!

      I personally believe that ElegantThemes is the best value of them all. I’m also a big fan of WooThemes but they are way more expensive. SoloStream are not bad either, if you need a Magazine style website.

    • 48

      I agree with both of you guys. ElegantThemes does have some good looking themes that are actually quite amazing for the price. The pricing is actually a little off in this blog post. ElegentThemes is $39 a year for the standard package with no .PSD files, OR $89 a year for the developer package.

      The support at ElegantThemes is a bit spotty. They will respond to simple difficulties that you are having, but anything that you want to customize or do a little differently they will tell you they can’t support that in the forums and you should hire a developer or do it yourself. The community is pretty weak, as there are only a few other members who will chime in and help you, mostly it’s the moderators who answer and they can take awhile.

      The solutions to some of your questions you post are kind of hackish fixes that the moderators recommend, and they recommend using display:none; a lot to solve a lot of problems.

      I got a ton more help and support when trying to update my theme from the forums at where there is a better community (especially TheDoc) and they are much faster to respond.

      Overall though, you can’t beat ElegantThemes for the cost to quality of theme ratio.

  15. 49


    April 20, 2011 9:25 am

    I feel like this is a great article, but you’ve missed a ton of other great theme providers. There is at least 20 more great companies that are not on this list.

  16. 50

    I total agree with Orman, Francis and Paul! should have been included- they have been around since 2008 and they have released 4 themes in the last 2 or so months!

    • 51

      Steven Gliebe

      April 20, 2011 10:17 am

      You guys are right. It would have been worthwhile to include Press75. Jason does a great job and he has packages that include new releases. Surely there are a few others that could be included as well. Perhaps I’ll be able to update/expand the article with more clubs and updated pricing at some point.

      • 52

        Jason Schuller

        April 20, 2011 11:10 am

        First off, I’m a huge fan of Smashing Magazine and am always appreciative when Press75 is included Smashing Magazine articles. I was a little thrown off not to see Press75 on this list, but that shouldn’t detract from the quality of the article itself. Great job and mad props to all of the theme companies that made this list.

        • 53

          Steven Gliebe

          April 21, 2011 5:42 am

          Thanks Jason. And I should note that this is not a top ten list. My goal was to select clubs that met a certain criteria then execute an objective analysis. Unfortunately I overlooked Press75.

        • 54

          Mikey Leung

          May 17, 2011 12:11 am

          Yes — Press75 is definitely missing from this list! I have liked the themes there quite a lot, but I keep getting such consistent value from WooThemes I’ve found it hard to switch or justify extra costs.

  17. 55

    Vanessa da Silva

    April 20, 2011 9:49 am

    Themify is good, but cost is higher… and i agree with Kinectronic, Elegantthemes have nice themes, but when you install them…

  18. 56

    From all of us at StudioPress, thanks for including us in this article, and for your kind words!
    One of the more frequently asked questions we receive is “are the fees annual or monthly?” I’m glad you’re helping spread the word that it is, indeed, a one-time fee for lifetime access.

    • 57

      Steven Gliebe

      April 20, 2011 10:52 am

      My pleasure. I love the whole idea of a “club” with a $0 recurring fee like StudioPress. A lot of people don’t realize that Organic Themes works like this too. WPZOOM used to do this but they recently switched over to recurring fees (for new members).

  19. 58

    Nice to have an in-depth, statistical input surrounding the boggling world of these theme clubs. I know some people will think the likes of ‘WooThemes’ and ‘Oh, ElegantThemes!’ when thinking of the big theme bosses in the industry, but I think that by doing this little guide you’ve also given a nice bit of exposure to those lesser known providers.

    Maybe people will check out the likes of Themify and UpThemes now too, just 2 of my personal favourites.

    I do agree that Press75 (and GraphPaperPress, btw!) are missing and are deserving of a fair comparison, but in the end it’s the discretion of the Steven- who has put together an invaluable little resource as it stands. Props, man!

    • 59

      Steven Gliebe

      April 20, 2011 10:57 am

      I’m glad you found it to be useful.

      It’ll be fun to see how the smaller clubs like Themify and UpThemes grow. Themes Kingdom is another (very new) club to watch. A few from this new wave of clubs may end up big like Woo and ET given enough time and persistence.

  20. 60

    I use ElegantThemes and they are very good and cheap. Free themes really don’t even compare to these premium themes, in most cases. Additionally, the free themes that are actually good are already being used everywhere.


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