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naweedshams says
I recently wrote an article about making money designing themes on Six Revisions, and had a nice talk with Kriesi in the comments.

Basically he was saying that support is taking more and more of an author’s time, to the point where it’s 30% development and 70% support.

I was thinking about the problem, and wondering if a solution could be offering paid support. For example, buyers could pay a monthly fee and get access to a private support forum. But the downside is that once buyer start paying for support, they might feel entitled to it and start asking even more questions.

An easier way would be simply replacing item comments by individual item support forums. Currently, nobody is going to read through 10 pages of comments to see if their question has already been answered, so you end up having to repeat yourself a lot.

Outsourcing support could also be a solution. For example, someone could provide some support for an author’s theme for a monthly fee, or for a “per question” fee.

As themes (and Wordpress as well) get more and more features. What’s more, Wordpress-savvy users are probably already well aware of Themeforest, so we can assume that new buyers are more often than not going to be Wordpress beginners. So I think user’s support needs will only grow bigger, and I hope we can find a solution soon!

I think the best solution is to do an open support forum where the customers for tht particular theme gets involved and share code.

I always reply to other users support questions on the item page but that isn’t effective because you can’t quote or reply the message.

It all comes down to the community involvement.. it is the best and quickest solution when the author is busy.

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redfactory says

yeah support is very time consuming indeed. Especially if you have several client project running at the same time while also designing/bulding new themes. We’ve been thinking about getting a forum (of sorts) to get people to help themselves and a better way to search for known solutions. There’s ofcourse also the solution Daniel_R is presenting: getting someone else to do the support for you :) However, your themes must give you enough profit to support this person. Tough decisions ;)

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SachaG says

@freshface thanks! glad you enjoyed the article.

Another thing we could do to manage support is build it into the wordpress theme from the start. For example, test for a PHP setting and display your own error message instead of letting the user see the server’s error. Of course it’s a lot more work, but at least you only need to do it once.

Another example: one of the most common problem I get is that buyers install the theme in the “themes/xyz theme/” directory instead of “themes/xyz/”. The space in the path creates all kind of problems with the theme’s javascript. If I weren’t so lazy I would set up a quick PHP test to display an error message if there’s a space, and explains what to do.

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chrisfay says
An easier way would be simply replacing item comments by individual item support forums. Currently, nobody is going to read through 10 pages of comments to see if their question has already been answered, so you end up having to repeat yourself a lot.

Definitely would love to be able to search comments – I could try to aggregate the constant questions into the FAQ ’s, but would be so much nicer to have this. Or maybe an rss feed/api set for the discussion threads so devs can create their own custom search or something…

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rvision_ says
An easier way would be simply replacing item comments by individual item support forums. Currently, nobody is going to read through 10 pages of comments to see if their question has already been answered, so you end up having to repeat yourself a lot.
Definitely would love to be able to search comments – I could try to aggregate the constant questions into the FAQ ’s, but would be so much nicer to have this. Or maybe an rss feed/api set for the discussion threads so devs can create their own custom search or something…

+1

Searchable dedicated forum (with category/thread per theme) with ‘mark as an answer’ will be great.

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Kriesi says

I don’t think that paid support would be a solution for our problems. Would eventually lead to customers asking for full modifications for a few $, and complain if you response time is too long which sometimes simply happens.

I think the best solution for authors with many support requests it to open their own forums and maybe hire someone who helps out. I’ve seen forums were that wasn’t even neccessary because people helped each other and the seach functionality did the rest.

This is definitley a mistake I’ve made: The sooner you start your own support forum the more threads you will have with answers available.

For those who don’t get that much requests a simply search functionality for item threads and the possibility for people to reply to each other would be enough I guess.

A forum structure for each item would definitley be great, thats true, but lets face it: thats a huge modification to the current structure, and even if Envato Devs would start immediatly it would probably last months to get the job done. So for now creating your own support forum is probably the best solution. The one sucky thing about that is purchase verification but there were already several suggestions discussed with Mark and Jeffrey and maybe we will see a solution soon. Don’t know anything about the outcome of this discussion yet, hopefully either Mark or Jeff drop by and give us an update :)

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ThemeBlvd says

This is one simple idea that I’m just throwing out there because I get a lot of people that ask the exact same questions over and over.

Maybe some of us could write some instructions on how to search the items discussion boards effectively. Then, when someone asks some question that we’ve already answered with code examples and all, we could have a generic response like:

This question has previously been covered. Please search the discussion board for more instructions.

Click Here for Tips on Searching

And there are some tricks to searching the discussion board. For one, you can simply copy the address of the discussion board and search google for content within that. So if I wanted to search a discussion board for the word “cufon” in Google, I’d search for this:

cufon site:http://themeforest.net/item/complexity-premium-wordpress-theme-12-in-1/discussion/111713

While maybe confusing for some at first, it is effective because Theme Forest gets cached so regularly and thoroughly by Google.

Then once on a page, you can just use the Find tool in your browser to quickly navigate the page.

I’ve personally always used this method for searching discussion boards on Theme Forest. Just one idea. Any thoughts?

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MDNW says
I think the best solution for authors with many support requests it to open their own forums and maybe hire someone who helps out.

That’s what I’ve started doing myself – and it’s working out pretty well so far. ;)

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chrisfay says
This is one simple idea that I’m just throwing out there because I get a lot of people that ask the exact same questions over and over.

Maybe some of us could write some instructions on how to search the items discussion boards effectively. Then, when someone asks some question that we’ve already answered with code examples and all, we could have a generic response like:

This question has previously been covered. Please search the discussion board for more instructions.

Click Here for Tips on Searching

And there are some tricks to searching the discussion board. For one, you can simply copy the address of the discussion board and search google for content within that. So if I wanted to search a discussion board for the word “cufon” in Google, I’d search for this:

cufon site:http://themeforest.net/item/complexity-premium-wordpress-theme-12-in-1/discussion/111713

While maybe confusing for some at first, it is effective because Theme Forest gets cached so regularly and thoroughly by Google.

Then once on a page, you can just use the Find tool in your browser to quickly navigate the page.

I’ve personally always used this method for searching discussion boards on Theme Forest. Just one idea. Any thoughts?

It doesn’t surprise me this gets asked often considering:
1. It’s a problem
2. A quick search of the forums for ‘search comments’ returns little thread history

I’ve personally always used this method for searching discussion boards on Theme Forest. Just one idea. Any thoughts?

Sure a moderately usable solution, but a bit hackish and can easily be outdated – from the link you provided it seams it was cached 3 days ago. A more integrated solution would be great, although probably not going to happen any time soon. It would be nice to get an items’ full discussion data in some type of consumable form – pretty sure that’s not available now, maybe I’m wrong (if the full comment data is in the API a link would be great, although I think it’s only partial?), but would be pretty easy to build a custom search tool if provided.

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ThemeBlvd says
Sure a moderately usable solution, but very hackish and can easily be outdated – from the link you provided it seams it was cached 3 days ago.

I didn’t mean actually providing a link to the buyer to search. The link I meant would just be to some simple instructions – like a blog post or something that explains these basic searching tips. The method of searching is just a matter of understanding basics concepts of searching Google. And Google actually seems to cache Theme Forest pages several times a day.

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