Menu Search
Jump to the content X X
Smashing Conf Barcelona

You know, we use ad-blockers as well. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. our upcoming SmashingConf Barcelona, dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.

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.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

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?5 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 GPL6. 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 framework7 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 Themes8.

Also worth noting are StudioPress9 and Organic Themes10 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.com11 (Pricing Details12)


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 ThemeSorter14).
  • Their Playground15 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.com16 (Pricing Details17, see Terms18 for developer license fee)

Elegant Themes19

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.com20 (Pricing Details21)


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.com23 (Pricing Details24)


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 Framework26 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.com27 (Pricing Details28)


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.com30 (Pricing Details31)


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 Tumblr33 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 Details35)


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 demo37 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.me38 (Pricing Details39)


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 themes42 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 Themes43

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.com44 (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

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

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.

  21. 61

    The only thing not taken into real account is how well these themes are built. Templatic themes are terribly built. They will work, as long as you aren’t planning on changing anything. The second you start extending, you run into problems. Studiopress, on the other hand, is well thought out, and quickly extendable into anything you need. It gives you a great starting place to quickly develop exactly what your client needs, without the extended development.

  22. 62

    I’ve been using WooThemes as a monthly subscriber for, almost, two years. All the other clubs I’ve tried, their themes are clunky and the additional backend is the same.

    WooThemes upgraded a while back and now it’s amazingly simple to use, update, brand for your own company and more.

    PLUS they contributed to WordPress their own menuing system which is now standard in WordPress. Further commitment to the platform.

    The only downside is also a bonus….New Features. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out all the new cool stuff they’ve added to a theme. Wait? Is that a negative? NOT!

    Just my opinion.

    • 63

      Eric, I couldn’t agree more. I started with RocketTheme, and I soon grew frustrated and disappointed. Their Gantry Framework is bloated and difficult to learn. To make matters worse, their documentation is scant.

      Switching to WooThemes was like a breath of fresh air, great themes, easy to use, good documentation and support.

  23. 64

    Ivaylo Cherkezov

    April 20, 2011 12:54 pm

    There is mistake in the comparison table. RocketThemes has a framework and it’s called Gantry ( Gantry was developed first for Joomla and little later for WP too. It comes with every WP template.

    • 65

      Steven Gliebe

      April 20, 2011 1:31 pm

      “Framework…whether or not the club includes a theme framework that utilizes child themes.”

      I believe Gantry is a plugin rather than a parent theme. I wanted to show which clubs include a framework with child theme support.

      • 66

        There’s a significant difference between a framework and a parent theme. Just about any theme can be used as a parent theme, but that doesn’t make it a framework. Gantry (Rocket Themes) is a quality framework that must be embedded in a theme. Genesis (StudioPress) is a quality framework that stands alone as a parent theme. The terminology can get confusing, but remember there’s more than one way to do it.

        • 67

          Steven Gliebe

          April 21, 2011 12:38 pm

          True, more than one way to do it. And I probably pay too much attention to Mullenweg (his opinion is that a parent theme is the “proper” way to do frameworks). After seeing Gantry and knowing how WooThemes does things I’m inclined to disagree. Nonetheless, what I wanted to do is point out is the fact that Genesis, not being free, is included with the StudioPress package.

    • 68

      and it is a FREE framework. You can create your own themes off it and sell it; well you can with Joomla. Not sure if they released it in wordpress yet.

  24. 69

    As a newer WordPress user and having a need to develop client sites, I found this article extremely helpful. Thank you very much!

  25. 70

    I consider Press75 one of the best solutions when it comes to purchase a professional WP theme. My number 1 is still ElegantThemes.

    And always good to remember that also ThemeForest exists.
    Not a theme club but still a great place to get the theme.


  26. 71

    Selling the same design more than once is not web design.
    Setting a theme in wordpress is not development.
    So why this article, apart to advertise the author’s ugly website ?

    • 72

      I shall take your points one at a time.

      “Selling the same design more than once is not web design.” – Yes, it is. If I draw a line picture on a piece of paper with a pencil, it is design. If I photocopy it 400 times and sell it, that isn’t design. Then again, it isn’t meant to be. Design and sales are different things. If the template is sold 8000 times, it still had to be designed in the first place.

      “Setting a theme in wordpress is not development.” – You’re right, aside from the fact that most people don’t just do that. If they did, all websites would have the same placeholder logo and site name. I purchased a theme for my site, and spent roughly 40 hours developing plugins and making design changes where necessary. The fact is that I started with a shop-bought theme. Because of this, you’re saying that I’m not a developer? I don’t understand your logic.

      “So why this article, apart to advertise the author’s ugly website ?” – And this is where your knowledge of design falls down. The author’s website deals with a LOT of content, and does it in a way that isn’t overpowering. “Good design” does NOT just consist of using Web 2.0-style gradients and badges with “BETA” scrawled across them. “Good design” is in fact many things to many people – and you’d do well to learn that before claiming to be a designer yourself.

  27. 73

    templatic user

    April 20, 2011 1:46 pm

    Quality of themes is more important than quantity. As a templatic user I have wished they would pay attention to documenting known issues, spelling correctly (even the php has tons of typos due to lack of basic spell checking), and basic missing features. They document what is there but not what is misisng.

    • 74

      In their case the quality is not there. The coding is a complete mess, php errors, spelling mistakes everywhere, and support is just not like you would expect from a premium theme club.

      I saw a few bad reviews before buying one of their themes and I said to myself that it could not be that bad, well, it was a very bad decision. I should have stayed away as I lost money and valuable time trying to “fix” a so-called premium theme.

  28. 75

    Alex Glassman

    April 20, 2011 2:23 pm

    I use Elegant Themes and Studiopress and I find their forums/support very responsive, informative and useful.

  29. 76

    Steven Gliebe

    April 20, 2011 2:31 pm

    I appreciate the comments about code quality and support since I couldn’t speak on these myself (not being a customer).

    • 77

      How can you review a theme club and their products as not being a customer?!?!?!

      So basically here you admit that you didn’t do any real research to write this article?

  30. 78

    Great post

    You can add for the NeXT review Yootheme and their WP Themes.

  31. 79

    Catalin Cimpanu

    April 20, 2011 3:41 pm

    Press75 should have been included.
    User for quite some time. Very happy.

  32. 80

    I’m a huge fan of iThemes, particularly their Builder theme which currently has 26 child themes (the 27th child theme is due to be released this week). Their support is excellent!

    • 81

      Thanks for this Kathy – we have over 100 other themes too so it’s sad to not be listed because of a criteria that they didn’t ask us about …. and frankly, I think is weak considering all we offer.

      • 82

        Quite honestly, iThemes Builder is the only theme I use for developing web sites anymore. The coding is always neat and easy to work with. On the rare occasions that I’ve been unable to modify something, they’ve always provided a solution in a very timely manner. I think other premium theme developers could learn a lot from them.

  33. 83

    Abhimanyu Ghoshal

    April 20, 2011 7:22 pm

    Thanks for breaking this down. Many of these sites have wonderful themes that I’ve had my eye on for personal use and have thus stumbled upon this ‘club’ pricing and never understood it.

    And to weigh in on the side discussion going on here – yes, paid themes are totally worth it. With good free themes I think it’s fair for developers to even ask for donations. Robust themes that work well for you take a lot of hard work.

  34. 84

    Thank you very much for summing them all up. It’s really very hard to remember all the sites when they need. I’ll bookmark this page for the future references. I’ve been started using recently for the themes as they have started fetching themes from all of these themes site.

    • 85

      Steven Gliebe

      April 21, 2011 5:49 am

      You might like a post Ryan Imel wrote at WPCandy: How to find WordPress themes, quickly and easily (

      • 86

        Varun Dave

        May 1, 2011 7:58 am

        Thank you for this but i don’t want to miss Theme Forest themes :) they have the best themes and the best collection. I wonder why market place is not included in this post since a large proportion of themes are sold at themeforest :)
        No Offence but a WordPress Tag/category search is better than this visual search.

  35. 87

    Joshua 'Red' Russak

    April 20, 2011 8:36 pm

    I love articles like this and glad to see it expanded on my original article on theme pricing. Also, I noticed you linked to it in resources. THANKS FOR THE SHOUT OUT STEVEN :)

  36. 89

    Great post Steven, as comparison of themeclub was missing on the web. I could be a great topic for next study about “Comparison of leading theme marketplaces” e.g. Themeforest.

    • 90

      Steven Gliebe

      April 21, 2011 5:52 am

      That would be interesting. ThemeForest, WonderThemes, ThemeGarden, MOJO Themes… who am I missing?

  37. 91

    Great post! some of the themes are really nice :) and the stats are interesting.

  38. 92

    How timely! Thanks for helping sort out the plethora of options. It’s all rather overwhelming for someone new to WP themes.

    I wish there was a way to rate code elegance/robust-ness, printer, mobile & tablet friendliness

    • 93

      Steven Gliebe

      April 21, 2011 5:55 am

      Yeah, that’s tricky to measure without spending $97,428 and half your life. Check out ThemeGrade though. They do some fairly in-depth analysis of themes and sellers.

  39. 94

    Great write up, very cool to see these side by side comparisons. Thanks for including us with some great company. :)

  40. 95

    Wow, what a comprehensive detailed article.

    I am a member of WooThemes, Elegant Themes, StudioPress, Themify and Graph Press Studio to name but a few :) and I’m presently running database efficiency test on these WordPress Themes and many others.

    You might find the results of interest:

    I would really welcome your comments on my speed test results.



    P.S. What comment engine are you running?

  41. 96

    I joined Elegant Themes after being frustrated with searching through pages and pages of free themes. With ET I have a good pool of premium themes that I can use for the various requirements that I have!

  42. 97

    I had a Joomla site running a Rocket theme template. I wanted to port my site to WP and was delighted to find Rocket theme had replicated the same template so moved everything.

    On closer inspection it’s been a bit of a lazy port. The WP version of the theme has quite a lot of unneeded Joomla code in there, including a lot of Virtuemart related CSS which is useless. Can’t fault it for doing it’s job but wonder if things could be running a bit smoother if it had been done with a bit more care.

    Totally agree with the above sentiments- you get what you pay for. Premium themes are often far less problematic than freebies. I’ve also used Themeforest a few times which is a bit of a halfway house, still receive some support but costs $20/30 or less for a theme.

  43. 98

    Thank you so much for the work put into this article. I’ve been a very happy member of Elegant Themes for a couple of years now, but I appreciate seeing the choices side-by-side. As my development increases, I recognize that I will soon need to find an additional source of themes and will refer to your post.

  44. 99

    The best Themeforest Themes offer so much better quality and much better support.

    • 100

      That’s what I just got done saying earlier too in my comment Hollinger. Themeforest does have TERRIFIC themes and the best part is, there all “browser” friendly/compatible. I was shocked that they weren’t in the list here and yet some of the others in the list were sites I had NEVER heard of… But I guess you live and learn right? :-P


      Chairman & CEO

  45. 101

    It’s such an amazing feeling to see “Moldova” on Smashing Magazine. I’m from Moldova.

  46. 102

    Isabella Chen

    April 21, 2011 6:49 am

    Elegant Themes tops the list for the quality and uniqueness of their theme designs. I have come across small issues in their themes when building larger sites, but nothing that can not be solved within the WP admin. The support is also really great, with members chipping in to provide solutions to a wide variety of problems that cannot all be forseen. The best thing is the clean code and how easy the themes are to customize.

    Templatic was abit of a pain to deal with TBH. The support was really rudimentary and they came up with “it’s not part of the deal” excuse almost everytime I ran into a problem. In fact, while building an e-commerce site, only one administrator was capable of accessing the Templatic module in the wp-admin, and that was the account I created for the Templatic helpdesk, so they could resolve the non-accessible module. If my purchase needed to be validated, I wasn’t informed of it. That said, their e-commerce system works very well. Simple and well integrated.

  47. 103

    I have used both Woo Themes and Elegant Themes. Elegant Themes is cheaper, but the support in their forums has really gone downhill lately. Many posts go unanswered… it is very frustrating to not receive a reply to a question. Maybe they are understaffed, but I found it to be unacceptable support for customers. I recently abondoned Elegant Themes and am now just using Woo Themes for templates. Great support at Woo Themes! I am very happy with the responses I have received from Woo Themes support staff.

    • 104

      I agree. The Elegant Themes support is terrible – a very incompetent, young support team from Romania. Easy questions are answered, but fast help because of heavy bugs – no chance. Not to use for professional business.

      In comparison to Elegant Themes WooThemes is expensive, but great.

  48. 105

    Um – did I miss something here? Why isn’t iThemes included in this list? Their offerings easily stack up with any listed in this article.

    Perhaps an update is in order.

    • 106

      Steven Gliebe

      April 21, 2011 12:49 pm

      One of the criteria I figured was worthwhile is layered graphics files (PSDs or PNGs). All of the clubs in this study provide them (and Press75) but iThemes doesn’t. Maybe these files aren’t as important as I thought. Does anyone want to comment on this… do you as designer/developer type users expect these files with your purchases?

  49. 107

    Alexandru Vornicescu

    April 21, 2011 9:30 am

    I like the list, huge variety of themes, hope to see more great WordPress clubs in the near future! :)

    PS: why NattyWP is included in the list? are you sure that they are from USA?

    • 108

      Steven Gliebe

      April 21, 2011 12:52 pm

      NattyWP is on the list because they are one of the clubs that met the criteria.

      I *was* sure they are in the US, but it sounds like you’re saying they’re not? I can update that if you know otherwise.

    • 109

      I have been using NattyWP for over a year and their themes are very high quality and easy to configure. been a member in Woothemes, StudioPress and ElegantThemes.
      I’m VERY impressed by the NattyWP support – these guys have been awesome!
      P.S: They are im the US

  50. 110

    Pavel Ciorici

    April 21, 2011 9:35 am

    Thanks a lot for featuring our website! It’s such a honor to be included in this list along with other top providers!

    • 111

      Douglas Bonneville

      April 21, 2011 9:59 am

      @ Pavel: which site is yours?

      Great article, Steven!

      • 112

        Steven Gliebe

        April 21, 2011 12:54 pm

        Thanks guys. I’m really thrilled people are finding it helpful.

        Pavel’s baby is the newly redesigned WPZOOM!

  51. 113

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

  52. 114

    Steven Gliebe

    April 21, 2011 1:06 pm

    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!

  53. 115

    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.

  54. 116

    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.

  55. 117

    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 ;-)


    Chairman & CEO (Free SEO Tutorials, Guides, & Tips)

  56. 118

    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.

  57. 119

    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.

  58. 120

    Rockettheme uses their Gantry Framework for newer WP themes.

  59. 121

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

  60. 122

    Chris Wallace

    April 22, 2011 6:53 am

    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.

  61. 123

    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.

    • 124

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

  62. 125

    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…

  63. 126

    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….

  64. 127

    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

    • 128

      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.

  65. 129

    Hetal Sindhwad

    April 22, 2011 10:32 pm

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

  66. 130

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

  67. 131

    Cinema Nostalgia

    April 23, 2011 5:26 pm

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

  68. 132

    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!
    Jeremiah R.

  69. 133

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

    Thanks for excellent recourse!

  70. 134

    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.

  71. 135

    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).

  72. 136

    Good article but where’s Yootheme?

  73. 137

    Em, you missed Themeforest?!

  74. 139

    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.

  75. 140

    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.

  76. 141

    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.

  77. 142

    Sovit Ranjitkar

    April 28, 2011 3:10 am

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

  78. 143

    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.

  79. 144 has some simple and nice themes. i got good support from the dude at the helm.

  80. 145

    you guys should check out CSSIGNITER totally worth it.

  81. 146


    May 1, 2011 4:55 am

    You left Yootheme !

  82. 147

    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.

  83. 148

    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.

  84. 149
  85. 151

    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.

  86. 152

    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.

  87. 153

    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.

  88. 154

    Yuriy ( TheThe Fly )

    August 4, 2011 9:27 pm

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

  89. 155

    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!

    • 156

      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.

      • 157

        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…

  90. 158

    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!

  91. 159

    Well said!


↑ Back to top