Theme Trust Review: Clean Designs and Slow Support at Competitive Prices

Theme Trust

Theme Trust
Theme Trust homepage
The Theme Trust homepage appears to use the Hayden theme, one of the company’s latest release.

Headquarters: Johnson City, Tennessee

Employees: 4+

Designer and developer Henry Jones launched Theme Trust in August 2010.

There’s not a lot of information about Jones on the interwebs, but we do know that he also runs Web Design Ledger, a design blog. He also started and sold Design Reviver and Card Observer.

Cost

Themes are available to buy as part of a buy one, get one free deal. So essentially themes cost $24.50 each.

Theme Trust buy one get one free
The theme seller has an ongoing special deal.

When you buy a theme you will receive an email with a link to download the theme, sign up for support and access theme documentation.

The download link for your theme expires after five attempts.

For this review I bought two themes – Theme Trust’s latest theme Hayden and Gather, an eCommerce theme.

Features

Theme Trust offers 19 themes in five categories – business, eCommerce, magazine, portfolio and responsive. Only 11 of the themes are responsive.

The themes come with features like home page slideshows, page templates, video support and custom widgets, along with button shortcodes, browser compatibility and translation support. Each theme also comes with basic theme options, which allow you to upload a logo and favicon, apply custom CSS, change your theme’s colors and fonts and manage slideshows, posts and footers.

When you buy any Theme Trust theme you get lifetime support. Nice deal. It’s a rare thing in the theme seller world where lifetime doesn’t always mean lifetime, i.e. lifetime for WooThemes is now two years and lifetime for Graph Paper Press means 10 years.

Aesthetics

The themes are clean and minimalist and have evolved since the company’s inception from boxy stock-standard designs like Oracle to more modern layouts like Hayden, the theme seller’s most recent theme. Hayden features a flat design and a huge, full-screen header/slider.

It’s great to see a theme seller trying to employ trends like flat design. Theme Trust has an understated and sober aesthetic that underpins its design, and little color is used aside from logos and demo images.

It would be great to see Theme Trust release more themes and increase its collection of 19. When Jones launched the theme company he promised a new theme every month, but that hasn’t been the case. Hayden was released on July 2 and the company’s blog hasn’t been updated since. I can only assume this is because Jones is one man trying to manage everything himself with few employees.

Competitors like WooThemes have worked with third-party designers in an effort to bring in more talent put out more modern themes. It might be something worth exploring for Theme Trust.

These are the themes I tested:

Hayden: INFO | DEMO

Theme Trust Hayden

Gather: INFO | DEMO

Theme Trust Gather

Usability

I installed the Hayden and Gather themes and didn’t really run into any troubles. I did have issues installing demo content, but they weren’t due to any hiccups with the themes.

While the theme options are basic they are easy and straight forward to navigate and set up. There isn’t much more I can add here – setting up the themes was a painless process.

As for the Theme Trust site, it’s simple to find what you’re looking for and has an attractive, minimalist design.

Accessing support is a piece of cake – just click on Support in the top navigation and you’ll be taken to the Support Forums if you’re already logged in with your support username and password. If you’re not logged in, you can register for a new account. It’s easy enough to add a new topic in the forums and you get an email reply when someone has responded to your query.

Customer Service

There are two ways to get support: the Knowledge Base and the forums.

The Knowledge Base contains theme documentation and demo content, along with change logs and helpful tutorials on things like how to optimize site performance and how to translate a theme.

The forums are moderated Monday to Friday from 8am-4pm EST, and closed on US holidays.

Theme Trust appears to have abandoned its Facebook page, which hasn’t been updated since October 2012. The theme seller does update its Twitter account regularly and answers any support requests.

I contacted support via Twitter and didn’t get a reply. I also opened a support ticket and received a reply about 13 hours later from Jones who is one of a small group of support staff. While the support was friendly and direct, the support hours aren’t all that helpful for people who live outside the US, which is the majority of people who use WordPress. Having said that, obviously Theme Trust isn’t a huge business and hasn’t grown enough to employ staff around the clock.

Speed

I tested two themes using Google PageSpeed Insights – Hayden and Gather.

PageSpeed Insights measures the performance of a page for desktop and mobile devices and provides a rating from 0 to 100 points. A higher score is better, with a score of 85 or above indicating the page is performing well.

PageSpeed Insights measure how a page can improve its performance on:

  • Time to above-the-fold load: Elapsed time from the moment a user requests a new page and to the moment the above-the-fold content is rendered by the browser.
  • Time to full page load: Elapsed time from the moment a user requests a new page to the moment the page is fully rendered by the browser.

Hayden

Theme Trust Hayden PageSpeed Insights

Hayden is a responsive agency theme, which feature a responsive layout, testimonials, video support, slideshow short code, page templates, Google Maps integration and a filterable portfolio.

I didn’t find any issues with speed, though, ironically enough, the theme’s Google fonts could be optimized to make the site faster. The theme’s Javascript also caused a delay in rendering the page. However, the relatively low score of 75 out of 100 was more to do with caching and other server and script optimizations.

Gather

Theme Trust Gather PageSpeed Insights

Gather is a responsive and minimalist eCommerce theme that allows you to showcase your work and sell products as well as maintain a blog. It features Google fonts, video support and is designed specifically for use with WooCommerce.

This theme performed marginally better than Hayden, though it had the same Google fonts and Javascript issues. However, like Hayden, it worked well at minifying code and optimizing images. Issues that slowed down its rendering time were related to caching and other server and script optimizations.

It’s important to keep in mind that when you install and activate a theme, it’s then up to you to optimize your WordPress site to give your theme the best chance to perform well, i.e. set up caching, minimise scripts and think about getting CDN.

Disclaimer: In putting together this review, we bought our Theme Trust review themes just like any other customer – via the Add to Cart links on the respective theme pages. We didn’t let Theme Trust in on the fact we were reviewing their services to avoid any special treatment.

Have you used Theme Trust? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

The Good

  • Themes are relatively cheap and come with lifetime support.
  • Clean, minimalist and elegant themes that are easy to set up.

The Bad

  • It would be great to see a bigger collection of themes with more variety.
  • There's no account area where you can login in and manage your purchases.
  • The support is slow and the official hours cater to US residents. What about the rest of us in other countries?

Our Verdict

  • Cost:
  • Features:
  • Aesthetics:
  • Usability:
  • Customer Service:
  • Speed:
  • Overall: