ThemeForest Category Page Update And Why It Sucks For New Items

A bit of backstory. I have been an author on Themeforest since 2011. Haven’t released anything since 2017 because sales went down a lot, for everyone. But now it seems it’s getting worse.

The Good Old Days

You do the creative. We’ll do the rest.

That used to be the “tagline” for the Envato marketplaces (ThemeForest being one of them) and it was pretty much correct. We would build a theme, submit it and start working on a new one.

Since 2008 when ThemeForest launched until very recently, the main focus was on the new items. It was a big incentive to be an author and release themes, since you get a lot of exposure immediately after releasing a theme.

That is no longer the case, the focus has shifted to the top sellers.

WordPress Category Page

Since the launch of Themeforest, this page (WordPress Category) was always a listing of items that are by default ordered from the newest. Which meant you release a theme and immediately get high exposure and as new themes are released and you go down the list that exposure goes down.

It used to be great back in 2012-2013 (if memory serves me right), sales were pretty great. Over the years as ThemeForest and WordPress gained more and more popularity the competition increased, a lot more items were being released so you went down the list faster, which means less exposure and in turn less sales.

And now that page is no longer a listing of themes ordered by latest. Here’s what it looks like.

We can separate that page into 6 sections:

Popular categories

Those link to the subcategory pages showing WordPress themes with the default order by the amount of sales (high to low).

Weekly Best Sellers

The top selling 8 themes. They’re all themes released between 2012 and 2014. Considering the exposure they get now with the design change, sales should increase and it’s very unlikely that they’ll get replaced on that list.

Hot Themes in Specific 2 Categories

I’m guessing the categories change from time to time. Clicking on those takes to the subcategory page with items ordered by the amount of sales.

New Items

The 8 latest items. Not much exposure considering new items are released often so an item is on that page for about 2 days. Previous version of this page had 30 themes shown with pagination to go through the rest.

Highest Rated and Trending

Clicking highest rated takes to a listing ordered by ratings. But it’s a bit weird algorithm, a theme with 3 x 5 stars is higher in the list than a theme with 76 x 5 stars and 1 x 4 star.

The trending takes to a list ordered by trending, but not entirely sure which algorithm is used to determine trending

Hot New Themes

8 themes that are selling well. They’re mostly from back in mid 2018.

WordPress Subcategory Pages

The WordPress category page used to look like the subcategory pages still do.

But something changed on the subcategory pages as well. The default order used to be by newest themes, now it’s ordered by sales. Which means by default this page gives ZERO exposure to new themes.

Final Words

From Envato’s perspective I understand why they would do that, I’m sure the conversions are much better when you put focus on themes that have sold over 100,000 copies.

I haven’t released anything since 2017 but planned to give it another try this year. I have changed my mind, I won’t. And I’m sure a lot of authors are considering whether to release new themes or to go a different path.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments

    • WPKlik
    • June 2, 2019
    Reply

    I guess the most of small authors have similar opinion about changes, and if you check out official thread about changes at https://forums.envato.com/t/category-page-update/238129/155 you will see that none of the authors are happy with it.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that top authors will gain that much from the changes, and when you check the weekly sales before and after experiment, it looks like they did not grow up that much, especially when you consider all the sales new items lost.

    One of the things that I expect will happen and that could be long term problem for ThemeForest is that new customers won’t find what they want at ThemeForest, and will go for other options (marketplaces, or individual players). Also, as you said, small authors will avoid publishing new stuff on the platform, and platform will lose modern items, and potentially customers as they will check other platforms as well.

    ThemeForest said this is not the final solution for the category page, and that category page in the close future will probably go in the same direction in which current WordPress home is now (in A/B testing). That will be better for new items I guess, but not as before.

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