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:

10 Responses

  • Flash Drive

    Thanks Raelene =) Glad to see ThemeTrust is keeping our trust. And sad thing indeed with WooCommerce. If I’m new to WordPress eCommerce, I wouldn’t wanna go near WooCommerce. To have our store up to the functions we need, we needed about 40 odd extensions. That along would cost somewhere in between USD 2000 – 3000 upfront and 50% maintenance costs, not inclusive of hosting.

    If we’re keeping a WooCommerce store for 10 years based on the new licensing prices, it’ll be about USD 3000 + 13500 = USD 16500 over 10 years.

    That’s assuming if they don’t raise the prices of the extensions, as the 50% renewal charges are based not on price of purchase, but current price. Thus if an extension goes from USD 299 for 20 sites to USD 499 for 10 sites, when we update, we only get that 10 sites and we need to pay USD 244.50! :o That’s a ripoff!

    And they can say whatever they want (increased support costs, etc), but ultimately, it’s too expensive for mom and pop shops like mine =)

      • Flash Drive

        Thanks Raelene. The worst thing is, most of us have already locked in thousands of USD in the system and spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on our stores.

        USD 299 for some of the extensions are understandable if they’re lifetime. But if they were only for a certain function (and they draw much from WordPress’ calls to speed up their programming process), then it becomes really expensive.

        Another example would be Ninjaforms.com. With Ninja Forms v2.0, they decided to go with WooCommerce’s model of selling extensions. Now, nothing wrong with extensions, except for Ninja Forms, in August this year, they decided to go with tiered prices for these extensions.

        Now, if I wanted Paypal Express on my free of charge Ninja Forms 2.0, I need to get the Extension. However, for unlimited sites, its USD 129! Gravity forms only costs USD 199 and a subsequent 50% for renewal fees.

        If we added up all the add ons for Ninjaforms v2.0, we can easily go up to USD 1000! And they’re planning to charge yearly renewals soon! :o I was planning to invest in Ninja Forms, but if I was to need any new extensions in the future, and already paid USD 1000 for unlimited sites and the new extensions costs me USD 400/year for renewals, isn’t that crazy for us all?

        And saying that, it’s not even close to Formidable Forms nor Gravity Forms. Was speechless when I saw the new prices. =(

  • New Recruit

    Hey Raelene, thanks for your review!

    As part of the support team (and I’ve been working there since early 2012) I must admit that we are working hard to improve the response time (I myself am working in 2 “timezones” USA’s and Australia’s, with a 12h delay). But it’s great to see that you enjoyed our themes and I agree with everything you said about design and performance.

    Thanks a lot for your feedback and I hope we can get another review soon so you can check how we’ve improved on this matter :)

    -roch

  • New Recruit

    Hi,
    ThemeTrust’s templates are truly beautiful and elegant. But as a consumer, I have to tell you the customer service is deplorable. Most other template get back to you within 24 hours with a solution.

    At Themetrust – I have been waiting support for over 7 days. My support contact, oddly enough is Rochester (above) who has complaints all over the boards. However, clearly the management doesn’t care because nothing has been done. He generally just responds with something really vague.

    Sadly – after reading the above, I can see he’s probably overworked but as a consumer – what you’re looking for is a solution because that is part of what has been promised (excellent customer service – not!)

    Unless I read somewhere that their customer service has improved, I would not purchase another template from them. And if you are a newbie – I would recommend a larger template company- like ThemeForest where there is excellent and timely customer service – or until they hire more support. Otherwise this would be an extremely frustrating introduction to WordPress.

    • New Recruit

      Hi Lynn!

      Please be more thoughtful before posting things mentioning someone. If you want to talk about the company, fine, do it, but don’t attack me especially when I can’t defend myself.

      As for my reply, sorry if I haven’t been clearer. But this belongs to the forums, not to a 3rd party blog which has nothing to do with it (BTW I explained to you how to do that a few times. I wasn’t working this week but I’ve logged in just to send you a screenshot).

      -roch

      • Kay
        New Recruit

        Rochester,

        This is not for you to say. I am someone has worked with you specifically through an organization and we had a similar experience to what Lynn describes. This is public forum where your service is being specifically reviewed. For you to say that this is not the appropriate forum to state such things is not for you to determine. If Lynn has felt that the service is as she describes than she is reviewing in an honest way. This is the internet works, the way customer service works and the way running a business works. If you’re looking for a better review, you should attempt to improve your services. Not harass your customer base for having issues with the service. If it’s the fault of your company and not you specifically, that’s unfortunate, however you are the face that your consumers are dealing with. And your response isn’t confidence inspiring when your only reply is to state that she should not have complained.

        Consider her comments, see if you can use them to improve future services instead of feeling personally attacked by them.

Comments are closed.