Recommended Professional Theme Providers

As the topic implies, I'm looking to populate my available free/premium themes with the professionally done themes of at least one or two 3rd party authors.

Without any actual experience with the few that I've found, I'm hoping to get a few testimonials from the community. I'm assuming many of you have been in the same position I'm in now. Getting ready to launch your multisite network, and gathering a diverse collection of themes.

http://www.themeskingdom.com/
Cost: $29/year ($14 w/discount code)

http://inkthemes.com
Cost: $147 first month, $15 each month afterwards

https://www.elegantthemes.com
Cost: $89/year (w/plugins) $39/year (w/o plugins)

http://www.wpexplorer.com
Cost: $45/per theme

Beyond just the cost, from these theme providers, or others you have used yourself or simply read about, how has the integration of the themes been for you? Any probably with the theme options interface? Did you notice any excessively branding? Did they come with a GNU/GPL license? Would you recommend them?

Does anyone have any general recommendations for this stage of development of my network? I realize much will depend on my needs, but I'm still open to other ways of populating my available themes.

So far, I'm thinking I could use themekingdom themes for my free themes, and perhaps elegantthemes for my premium selections. The theme options interface for the latter looked appealing, but again, beyond the screenshots I know nothing about either.

  • Solo-Man

    I usually just find the themes I use on those aggregation sites, but I did use one from Elegant Themes for a while, and found them to be very very helpful. Almost worth it to go back and get a membership just for the service they provide, which included help with things that had nothing to do with their stuff - which is rare.

    Not sure how much money you have to put toward this, but I'd just go out and find themes you think would work best and go with whoever sells them, rather than scattershot like this. Quality over quantity.

  • Fullworks

    I'd double check licences if you are providing via a WPMU site.

    Whilst some are licenced GNU for personal & commercial use, others (e.g. elegant) are licenced for personal use only.

    I'm not an expert on licencing law but I would guess that if you sold a subscription to a WPMU and part of that allowed a third party to use an elegant theme I would guess that wasn't personal to you (the elegant theme member) and was commercial use.

  • Sean

    Hello,

    I have used Elegant Themes quite a bit and find them to be very nice themes, but there is definitely a learning curve to be had with them. Many of the themes need little tweaking here and there to the code if you want your content to fit properly.

    My clients have been very happy with the look of their sites done with Elegant Themes. Very professional, appealing to the eyes, and engaging, keeping visitors coming back and looking at other pages.

    It may be worth the trouble, if you have the time and patience.

    Also, their help used to be more helpful. Now it takes a few days for anyone to get back to me. But, they can fix anything once they get back to you.

    Here are some suggestions that I have if you choose Elegant Themes:
    -Read the readme carefully and watch the videos to learn how to do it before you begin.
    -Populate the theme with sample data provided and then revise the data to fit your content.
    -After revising the content, if the text in buttons or spacing doesn’t exactly fit right, go to the Elegant Themes Forums for that specific theme and do a search for the problem. Read and follow the edits to the theme, and things should be ok. Consider making a child theme before editing the original (parent) theme.
    -Ask Elegant Themes Designers for help as a last resort. It may take them awhile to get back to you. And they may need admin privileges to fix what went wrong.
    Go to other online forums for help. I like WPMU!
    -When there are updates, it will delete any html coding changes you made to the theme. So keeping notes on what you did will be necessary. Or you can make use of child themes.

  • Imperative Ideas

    The only thing I use elegant themes for these days... ok well there are two things.

    1. A client has a broken ET site - I like having the latest versions handy
    2. They have some nice CSS tricks on their themes. I like to borrow little bits of them for custom work. For example, the breadcrumb trail here (http://bit.ly/UfbYRU).

    My first thought though was that a few of those folks you mentioned won't take kindly to you re-selling their work since they are already premium vendors. A lot of designers at CodeCanyon will provide an extended license for this sort of thing but you'll notice those generally add a couple of zeros to the cost of the theme.

    If you want to do rapid prototyping, your best bet is to start with a system like Hybrid Core then build on top of a responsive CSS framework.

    + http://foundation.zurb.com
    + http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/
    + http://www.gumbyframework.com/

    The core boilerplate alone will take you some real time to develop. If you need to get an options page built, the $25 Options Framework will get you up to speed quickly:

    http://wptheming.com/options-framework-theme/

    A membership at Theme-Hybrid would be a good idea too, since Justin Tadlock personally admins the forums. You will find it a much better place for your technical theme-building questions.

    http://themehybrid.com/club

    The other upside there is you can start off by crafting child themes off of the available parents in a fully supported way.

    Anyhow, what you're talking about is quite a bit of work. Best of luck to you!

  • bentemple

    If it's a pretty straight forward site you're looking to create and you want it to look professional and you also want the design to be flexible I'd always been a fan of Woo Theme's Canvas - you can get it for about $30 with forever free updates http://www.woothemes.com

    Or http://www.themeforest.com

    Personally I've had a bit of trouble with the Elegant themes ones as they are very design heavy and if you want to change anything, you're probably going to need to know a lot of code! Also updating their themes can be a bit challenging IMO!

    There's a number of more specific Buddypress / MUsite themes that are on offer within membership here too that might be worth checking out too.

    Hope that helps

    Ben

  • elpino

    Greetings all i have been using all of this providers, Elegant themes, woothemes, and themeforest, i think the bottom line on this is to get a theme that your client likes, and meet his needs, i even had a client once that needed like you had to pay for the extended license that cost 1,000 usd on themeforest for 1 theme to be able to be in a blog network, luckily in hi case he only needed that 1 theme, but in the case of this post, i don't think any of this services will be good for you, the extended licenses for themeforest of each themes are really expensive, mad price, haven't check woothemes or elegant what their extended license cost, but maybe they have cheaper license option.

  • aecnu

    Greetings Ben,

    You are spot on correct that having the right theme is critical and that the theme must indeed be able to easily incorporate other items and have hooks etc. therein so that things can be integrated.

    @elpino has the suggestion of what the client likes, but imagine how you will look to the client when they pick a framework theme that is almost impossible to add times too and when they want certain features that will not integrate within .... they will think you are incompetent - no longer a client - gone!

    Personally I have been using Theme Junkie themes and to date have never had a single issue integrating anything into them.

    Thanks again everyone!

    Cheers, Joe

  • Imperative Ideas

    @aecnu have you checked out the atomic hooks system that Justin Tadlock has put together within Hybrid-Core?

    As a theme developer, you should already be familiar with how action and filter hooks work within WordPress. If not, you should read the action hooks and filter hooks tutorials.

    Hybrid Core comes packaged with functions for adding a feature called “atomic hooks.” What this means is that you can create context-based (dynamic) hooks within your theme templates. Atomic hooks work on the core framework’s context functionality.

    You do not have to use this system. You don’t even have to create hooks at all within your templates. It’s your theme, so you can decide the best direction to take. Some people love atomic hooks. Others hate them. Either way, you have the system available to you.

    If you’re building a theme for public release, I encourage you to use either regular hooks or atomic hooks. You should be promoting the use of child themes. Hooks make it easier to “hook” content into a page without the end user directly editing your theme templates.

    Let’s suppose you want to create an action hook immediately after the opening <body> tag in your theme called example_open_body. Using the WordPress function for action hooks, you would add this line of code:

    <?php do_action( 'example_open_body' ); ?>

    That simply provides the action hook example_open_body to child themes and/or plugins. It’s a system that works well.

    If you wanted to make this a context-based hook using Hybrid Core’s atomic hook system, the above code would look like this:

    <?php do_atomic( 'open_body' ); ?>

    The do_atomic() function will automatically prefix the hook with example_ for you. It will also provide you with several hooks, depending on the page currently being viewed.

    There are good reasons why Hybrid Core is popular with serious theme developers :wink:

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