Choice of theme on Themeforest, our experience with developers

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themeforest experience

Choosing the best theme on Themeforest for our needs was an experience that our webmaster decided to share because it was full of interesting opportunities.

What and where we looked for

Themeforest is a template market place (“themes” in the case of WordPress) where developers sell their creations and offer related support services. Is it the best place to buy a template? Difficult to answer, there is no shortage of alternatives. This is a market where inexperienced customers often let themselves be dazzled by appearances and choose mainly based on the quantity of functions offered, 90% of which will turn out to be just a heavy ballast. We based our theme research on Themeforest on having the following characteristics:

  • Excellent performance to ensure fast loading of all pages and therefore the best possible user experience free from unnerving waiting.
  • Maximum customization to enhance content and design inside a comfortable container avoiding the theme being a “cage”.
  • Solid and lasting support from developers for effective collaboration during initial development and throughout the growth path.
  • Sticky header (fixed page header) flexible in content, fluid in animations and configurable in all its parts.

Pre-sales discussions with developers

We have selected the most interesting, funny or embarrassing dialogues that our webmaster has entertained with the developers of each theme on Themeforest considered interesting for the altsetup (formerly Lazy Bit) project.

With Soledad it was love at first sight but there was a “problem” in the demo that interested us the most, so we solicited the developer’s attention with a publicly visible question.

Lazy Bit:
Hi, this is a pre-sale question.

On Soledad Magazine demo https://soledad.pencidesign.net/soledad-magazine/ the mousewheel scroll ‘step’ is longer than normal and longer than it is on the other Soledad’s demos (which are all normal). That’s so long that I think the user doesn’t feel in control.

Is there a way to change it?

>> basically the scrolling of the page was faster than normal, they call it “smooth scroll”

PenciDesign:
Hi,
Thank you for interested in our theme.

Thank you for interested in our theme.
Yes, it’s an option from the theme and you can disable it via Appearance > Customize > General > and un-check on “Enable Smooth Scroll” 😉

>> this answer came after 5 minutes, it was a Sunday

Lazy Bit:
Good, thank you for the fast reply 🙂

I would repay with an advice: it’s good to have such an option, but do yourself a favor and disable it on Magazine demo, which is the your main demo. Maybe you can enable it on a “secondary” demo putting a well visible note “Smooth Scroll enabled” or something like that.

The point is: when a potential buyer tests online demos to choice the theme to buy, he expects to have the same STANDARD experience visitors will have on his website. With smooth scroll it is NOT like that. Furthermore with smooth scroll is very hard to explore those small details which need a slow-paced scrolling. Most of times details are what make you sell the theme beating competitors.

That said, I will drag the browser’s side bar to properly explore that demo 🙂

>> here we have done our utmost in marketing advice risking to offend the interlocutor’s susceptibility, but…

PenciDesign:
Thank you so much for your suggestions. I agree it – that’s right and I’ve disabled it now. You can check it again now.

>> this reply came after 12 minutes. Just the time to evaluate and modify the demo

Another theme that has caught our attention is Jnews, which was also potentially suitable for our project. The developer offers the possibility to try a demo of the administration, it was an opportunity that we could not miss. The first thing we tried was the configuration of the sticky header, encountering some problems that we wanted to share with the developer with this publicly visible report.

Lazy Bit:
Header Builder’s demo seems to be broken: youtu.be/bDjDvaJUw18

>> we have created a video where it is clear that the options do not have the desired effect and there are serious graphical glitches

jegtheme:
Hi,
Thanks for your info, currently our team still checking this thing.

Lazy Bit:
OK, I wish you will update your investigation results here.

>> this way we receive a notification in case of a reply

jegtheme:
Hi,
Actually, it’s not a bug, but we disable certain features on the header builder demo due to security reasons that may affect the scroll behavior.

>> it is roughly said that if the demo worked well there would be a security problem (but for whom?). Typically it’s the other way around, so a leap of faith is needed to believe it

The sticky header feature, it’s working fine. You can check it out on our demo. For the “Follow when scroll up” option, you can check this demo https://jnews.io/cryptonews/ and for the “Show when scroll” option, you can check this demo https://jnews.io/bloomnews/

Let me know if you have further questions and hope you join us soon.

Lazy Bit:
Hi, thank you for the explanation. Suggestion: consider that a potential buyer expects a live demo to be 100% working exactly as the final product, so may be counter-productive for you having something like that. I came here to ask, others can just delete your theme from their evaluation-list in case they are focusing on header’s features.

>> down to earth reasoning to say that if a demo doesn’t work well it’s better not to have it

I still can’t understand what’s the difference between “Follow when scroll up” and “Show when scroll” since the headers behave the same (beside the animation) on the 2 demos you pointed me to. I mean both show only while scrolling up. Can you elaborate?

jegtheme:
Ciao,
Thanks for your suggestion, we really appreciate it.

The difference between those options is not so apparent. But if you scroll slowly you will notice that the “Follow when scroll up” option will drag up the sticky header as you scroll up. The “Show when scroll” option on the other hand, the sticky bar will be immediately scrolled up no matter how small you scroll up the page. Hope this answers the question.
Thank you

The SmartMag theme was another candidate option. Really not bad, but here the functionality of the sticky header should be investigated because we notice that in all their demos it is activated only when you scroll up the page. The comments section on Themeforest also serves to ask for clarification, so… we ask for clarification in a publicly visible way.

Lazy Bit:
Is there an option to make the header bar being ALWAYS sticking? All pre-builds I had a look ONLY stick it while scrolling up.

>> no answer for 4 days, at this point to get the ball rolling we show a spirit of initiative. In the following comment we show that we have done a research on the matter

Lazy Bit:
Found official documentation – https://theme-sphere.com/docs/smartmag/#header-setup – but doesn’t help. I also would like to know if I can include a logo in an always-sticky header (if any).

>> it was enough to insist, in fact after another 3 days here is finally an answer

ThemeSphere:
Sorry that’s not a feature in the current version. We removed the always sticky feature in v5 as it was considered an anti-pattern in terms of user experience (UX). If there’s demand for it, we will add it back in a future release. For your second query, if the row you make sticky has the logo, it will be shown.

>> here is the reason for not responding before the reminder: having to publicly admit and “explain” the lack of a standard function. To solicit a more elaborate explanation, in the next comment we enrich the discussion with some specific references to sticky header and user experience

Lazy Bit:
Thank you for your answer. Your concern about UX is to be appreciated. Some points to be considered:

1. Nielsen Norman Group article from last month suggests to use the “Partially Persistent Headers” only on mobile sites. Source: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/sticky-headers/ (point 4). So if you’re aiming to offer your users the best solution by default (which is great) you should consider doing so without affecting desktop & tablet versions as well.

>> for many web designer Nielsen Norman Group is a bible (also for us)

2. Your theme CheerUp, another top seller theme here on Themeforest, shows an always sticky header on some demos – example: https://cheerup.theme-sphere.com/magazine/ – without having in the description something like “be aware of anti-pattern in terms of user experience option available”.

3. Adding features on users’ demand is wise but you know… sometimes users don’t bother to demand, they just buy another theme and you will never know it’s been because of a missing easy-to-implement feature.

>> now we expect an explanation as to what the user experience problem they refer to. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another week

ThemeSphere:

Thanks for the feedback. For CheerUp, both options are available for backward compatibility as too many users were using the always-on option.

>> said that way, they seem to KNOW things they shouldn’t know. Hopefully that’s not true, it would be an invasion of their users’ privacy

We’ll consider adding it to SmartMag too in future for desktop/and other large screens only.

>> in the end the explanation does not come, but on the other hand there is hope for a better future

After these adventures in search of “our” theme on Themeforest it is time to check if our love for Soledad was mutual, clarifying immediately with the developers what the prospects for the initial phase were. No sooner said than done, we returned to them with the engagement ring and a publicly visible specific request.

Lazy Bit:
Hi dev,
I like the progressively darker overlay on the bottom of boxes inside the slider on https://soledad.pencidesign.net/soledad-magazine/?slider=style-6

Can it be applied to standard post blocks (latest, category etc.)? I mean like this (edited by me): https://ibb.co/hBB1gWq

>> that was one of the first prototypes of our post box, then evolved into the one that can be admired in the Home, in the category pages and in the search results page

IF YES:
– can be done natively or by customization?
– can be done without losing performance on Soledad Magazine template?
– you have a instant new customer!

IF NOT:
– Thank you for your attention, your theme still rocks and maybe I will buy it as well 🙂

PenciDesign:
Thank you for interested in our theme.
If you want to do that – yes, we can help you do that with some lines custom CSS. After purchase the theme and config your site, just need drop us a line on our support forum and our support team will help you with this. And yes, it doesn’t affect to the site performance.

>> as usual the answer arrives after a few minutes. There is a commitment made publicly and without stating any limits on availability

Lazy Bit:
OK, purchased.

>> promises must be kept

PenciDesign:
Great 🙂 thank you. If you have any trouble – let drop us a ticket on the support forum and our support team will help you 🙂

Why Soledad is the theme on Themeforest we chose, and why we changed it later

Soledad on paper had all the features we needed. If the performance of our site was immediately excellent, it is also thanks to this theme. The degree of customization is immense, there is not a corner of the layout that cannot be configured with pixel-precision. The support during the first months was professional, fast and generous in a sometimes embarrassing way, so much so that we made a donation to express gratitude during the early stages of development.

Then things in their helpdesk changed. They left tickets open for weeks, and after repeated reminders they proposed vague attempts rather than concrete solutions. Often replied agents who did not even bother to read the tickets from the beginning. They left us no choice but to start looking around.

We explored alternatives and identified two candidates for succession: GeneratePress and Kadence. If you are curious to know how it went you can see it in the current altsetup setup.

Feel free to contact us to report any errors, make suggestions or just to say hello. We are also available for consultations.

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