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For the past few years I have given a lot of business to the Envato community, namely the themes I purchase from Themeforest, which is basically massive marketplace with a large WordPress repository of paid themes. For the first few years I had few issues with it…mostly because of naivety and the the ‘sparkle in your eye’ effect from demo sites. For the record, I still use a handful of plugins from Envato’s code canyon. Most of my themes and plugins have been purchased directly from them, but what I’ve come to understand as I’ve grown in my understanding of WordPress I’ve learned that this is not the best use of my money or my time.
Here’s a few reasons why I no longer use Themeforest.
1) The first is that bloated admin capabilities mean bloated sites. Bloated and fast are obviously antithetical. When I was just getting started I sang the praises of themes like Bridge because of the extensive customization they offer. But in reality this has added 1000’s of lines of code to the theme files. All of this bloating that makes editing a bit simpler could easily be fixed with a couple dozen lines of CSS.
2) Most of the themes really aren’t that customizable. They may come stock with a lot of options but if you want to add other things you are basically in a box and can’t do so without hacking the theme’s already crappy coding.
3) Speaking of crappy coding…most of the complaints I see from other developers around Themeforest is that they are NOT coded according to WordPress standards. This makes for a very inefficient experience. The unfortunate thing is, most of us don’t realize this. We just like the way Bridge and X look on the Demo sites! The coding of Bridge, in particular the latest updates, have caused me to spend time on every site I’ve used it on optimizing for speed.
My Alternatives to Themeforest
Beaver Builder is what I have begun using almost exclusively. It’s customizable, coded brilliantly, and the support is top notch and quick. I use it both for the theme AND the page builder. I’ve found that my clients (mostly pastors and church leaders) enjoy using the Beaver Builder page builder much much more than the Visual Composer I used that was typically integrated with Themeforest themes. On top of functionality they have a super supportive Facebook community that has helped me accomplish many different custom objectives.
Genesis is a super customizable framework. It has a dedicated community that provides awesome support. As the name suggests, it is a framework, and should be used with a child theme. My default is the Dynamik child theme. My fastest sites have been created with Genesis, some loading in under 1.5 seconds. Even when I use Genesis I typically still use the Beaver Builder page builder. Most of Genesis uses shortcodes, so using the page builder greatly expands the functionality of the average user.
Let me be upfront, the demos of your favorite themes will probably look better than what you see on Themeforest. But a professional designer can make anything look good…especially Beaver Builder. It took me a while to buy BB because the demos looked dumb, but I’ve created some AWESOME sites with BB and Genesis both since then. Beaver Builder and Genesis are fast, easier to use, and all around better for your church and volunteers. You’ll thank me later.
Hey guys! I am a church leadership and creative guy living in the Atlanta area with my awesome wife and two kiddos. I've worked on staff with a number of churches as well as traveled full time as a conference speaker. Now, I work full time at The Reach Company helping ministries and businesses tell their story and make an impact online.