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RG-Studio says

OK… from what I read here and from the few private messages that I received it seems like the biggest problem is to get your design approved.

I am just thinking…is there a way (apart from posting a screenshot of your design on the forums) to get a professional opinion from TF member of staff who can basically tell me if the designer is going the right direction?

Everybody is talking about top quality here but honestly, I have seen quite a few templates (some of them selling very well) that have both design and coding mistakes. Not mentioning that a few months ago I bought a WordPress theme that was quite new and there were so many bugs that I had to report to the author (simple things like font changing not working etc).

My idea for the future is to have proper designers, frontend and backend developers that will become proficient in the craft of Theme Forest. Of course I am going to start in smaller scales :)

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fillerspace says

I am just thinking…is there a way (apart from posting a screenshot of your design on the forums) to get a professional opinion from TF member of staff who can basically tell me if the designer is going the right direction?
There is no way to get reviewer feedback before submission. Doing this would create a much bigger workload for already busy reviewers. I have proposed on the forums (and been ridiculed for even suggesting) a paid service where you could submit designs at various stages and get detailed feedback. This concept is common for other creative works, like books, movie scripts, college application essays, and even resumes. If a theme has the potential to earn thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, wouldn’t $20 or $50 (1 or 2 sales) be a worthwhile investment? From what I’ve seen, most rejections fall into one of these categories:
  1. Typography issues – no clear hierarchy (h1-h6, p), odd line height/meter, bad font combo)
  2. Spacing issues – uneven margin, padding, vertical space, poor alignment
  3. Originality – just a copy or mashup of existing items, brings nothing new
  4. Total rubbish – doesn’t understand what a premium item is

Hard rejections probably fall toward the bottom of that list (if not the whole list), while soft rejections are likely toward the top of the list (i.e. fixable). The reviewers don’t have time to teach people about hierarchy in typography (ratios, vertical rhythm, etc.) or how to use a grid system or use captive or negative space. I think there is real value in a service that does this and where someone would take a deeper look and tell you to tone down the text-shadow in the blog header because it makes the text hard to read.


Everybody is talking about top quality here but honestly, I have seen quite a few templates (some of them selling very well) that have both design and coding mistakes.

Coding mistakes might slip through the cracks if they are minor and a less-than-stellar design might be compensated for by a ton of features. If you’re referring to anything on the top of the popular files list those sales are likely driven by features more than design. Page builders, sliders, bundled plugins, shortcodes, widgets, one click demo installs, and support sell themes on the popular files list more than clean design and typographical balance.

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RG-Studio says

fillerspace, thank you for sharing your experience!

I guess I will need to submit everything at the design stage as PSD template and get it reviewed by TF before I start the HTML coding. This way I will avoid design related rejections at later stage.

I like your idea about the paid review service… maybe one day they will introduce it. I am sure many people will find it helpful.

How risky is it to post design on the forums? I mean, someone can copy my design idea and submit a whole PSD pack based on it before me. What can I do in such situation?

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fillerspace says

The risk in submitting a PSD is that the only thing to judge is the design. Like I said earlier, with HTML or WordPress, you can get away with a less than stellar design if you have the features. So a 8/10 design with some amazing features like page builders, bundled plugins, tons of shortcodes, etc. could make a top selling WordPress theme. But if you submit that same 8/10 design to the PSD category, it just can’t compare to the 9/10 and 10/10 designs there.

If you do go this route, you should perfect your design and make sure it is 10/10 design before submitting. You could also be working on your framework for HTML and WordPress at the same time, but really focus on getting that design perfect.

About posting in the forums, there have been reports that people posted a design for review, and then another author submits an item with some elements suspiciously similar. I’m not sure what you could do in this case, other than file a DMCA claim and provide the link to the posting that is earlier than the submitted item.

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RG-Studio says

The risk in submitting a PSD is that the only thing to judge is the design. Like I said earlier, with HTML or WordPress, you can get away with a less than stellar design if you have the features. So a 8/10 design with some amazing features like page builders, bundled plugins, tons of shortcodes, etc. could make a top selling WordPress theme. But if you submit that same 8/10 design to the PSD category, it just can’t compare to the 9/10 and 10/10 designs there.

This is very valuable information. I think I may actually submit HTML because I expect my first template to be around 8/10 in terms of design. Hopefully it will be better but let’s not forget that although the designer is amazing, this will be his first Theme Forest template.


About posting in the forums, there have been reports that people posted a design for review, and then another author submits an item with some elements suspiciously similar. I’m not sure what you could do in this case, other than file a DMCA claim and provide the link to the posting that is earlier than the submitted item.

This makes me feel like I shouldn’t post anything on the forums before I actually submit it. If somebody decides to take the general idea of my design but change it just enough it could become very hard for me to convince Theme Forest that I have found the “hot water” first.

Something else that many people said to me is that marketing is very important. Does anyone know any good marketing agencies that can help me with the texts on the template – slider, headings etc? Obviously I am not going to leave everything as “Lorem ipsum…” but it would be good if I can get a professional advice.

And just one more thing – what evaluation methods would be most appropriate to use? I am thinking of focus groups.

Thank you!

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FinalDestiny says

It’s really funny how it’s the members that don’t have any item approved here are afraid of being copied. Nothing personally with the OP here, but 95% of the authors I’ve seen on the forums asking for advices, being afraid to post links to their work because “it’s good good and it will be copied” never got any item added on ThemeForest. Nobody will copy your item or design because simply there’s no reason to do that. There are unlimited number of websites on the internet, web galleries, etc that can be copied if somebody wants to find unique and high-quality work, higher than even ThemeForest. Just focus on getting something approved here instead of thinking we’re looking to steal your work.

I doubt there was any case in Envato’s history where someone’s work was stolen and published by another(from the forums).

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DryThemes says

^ Well said Cristi :)

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RG-Studio says

It’s really funny how it’s the members that don’t have any item approved here are afraid of being copied. Nothing personally with the OP here, but 95% of the authors I’ve seen on the forums asking for advices, being afraid to post links to their work because “it’s good good and it will be copied” never got any item added on ThemeForest. Nobody will copy your item or design because simply there’s no reason to do that.

I think you are generalising the things a little bit. Exactly because I am starting now I wouldn’t want to deal with somebody copying my design idea.

The fact that I don’t have anything approved here doesn’t mean that I can’t come up with something that is good enough to be copied ;)


I doubt there was any case in Envato’s history where someone’s work was stolen and published by another(from the forums).

fillerspace said that there have been such reports so I am not sure who is right in this occasion but either way – I prefer not to post anything before I submit it :)

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FinalDestiny says

That’s only what I’ve seen here over time, as I said :).

If you’d prefer to risk and spend time with both design and code and then wait to see if you’re approved, then it’s okay, but the risk-less method that’s recommended is to post the work here and get opinions from other authors. The risk of being copied is close to zero. But again, that’s up to you.

Not saying anything about you, but many members tend to overrate their themes, saying that they’ve worked for… i don’t know, 5-6 months on an item and it’s the reviewer’s fault for not approving it, even though it may look like a free one. For the first one or two designs, this is why I’d recommend to anyone to post on the forums, to get a little look and feel on how ThemeForest accepts stuff. :) As this market is nowhere near any similar market in terms of quality.

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fillerspace says

I doubt there was any case in Envato’s history where someone’s work was stolen and published by another(from the forums).

Recent example:

http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/taking-action-against-derivative-works/131734

I’ve been working on a theme for months and I posted it in the forums to get some feedback. The next day (today) an elite author posted a theme with major elements from my theme. I understand that some theme can look similar, but it obvious that they are derivatives. I was on the verge of submission and I feel because he’s an elite author he will get the benefit of the doubt. I feel absolutely helpless right now. :(

Of course I don’t know the specifics of this case, but I have seen a few of these posts over the years. They usually disappear quietly without much of a fight. It makes sense when you think about it. If I rip of elements from YouTube or Facebook, everyone will notice because they are so well known. Same thing about ripping off published items on the marketplaces. But some unpublished author posts a sample and it has a cool menu, that’s the perfect time to copy because it’s unknown and has a 95% chance of being rejected and never seeing the light of day as a published item. Obviously you wouldn’t take the whole design, just a menu here, gauge there, maybe a widget or two.

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