Premium WordPress themes are bigger business than ever, but with the ever-growing presence of ThemeForest and Envato, it’s not hard to overlook some of the talented independent theme shops and WordPress designers/developers out there. In this article, we take a look at some of the best.
First, a bit about where we’re coming from. Over the course of the past several months, we’ve been regularly rounding up and presenting what are, in our opinion, the best premium WordPress themes across a variety of niches. Every thing from the Best Religious WordPress Themes for Churches, to the best WordPress Nightclub Themes.
Astute readers, and shoppers looking around for the very best premium WordPress themes, will no doubt have noticed how often themes from ThemeForest appear in these lists. The cynical among them might even decide that it’s a shill. That we are affiliates for ThemeForest and only pushing them to make a buck. That our objectivity is compromised.
The truth is less nefarious and greed-based, at least on our part. We do need to make money in order make Siteturner worth our while. But the ThemeForest affiliate program is, rather unfortunately for our wallets, designed to lower affiliate commissions. We’d earn far more promoting competing websites.
But the problem with that is that the best WordPress themes, particular those designed for a specific purpose or market segment, are often found on ThemeForest. Envato’s status and reach attract the cream of the crop designers and developers in the WordPress community. We’ve shortened ‘best of’ lists and eliminated companies that would pay us good money simply because we didn’t think they measured up.
Not everyone wants to play by the rules Envato, and that brings us to this list. There are still designers working outside of Evanto’s marketplaces, and some very, very good ones at that. If you’re a WordPress user and enthusiast, you’ll no doubt be familiar with some of them. But a few shops that we turned up while researching this article are new even to us. Some are buried far down in Google’s search results, suffocated by irrelevant results and by theme studios only half as capable.
There are some benefits in choosing to do business with an independent theme shop over a marketplace theme. Many of them offer subscriptions or membership options, giving you access to every theme they have available for a monthly or yearly fee. This is a particularly good option for web developers using WordPress and WordPress themes to build sites for their clients.
As a result of limited resources, good sense, or a bit both, the independent WordPress developers also tend to build leaner, highly focused products. This goes against the more-is-more philosophy embraced by so many ThemeForest teams, and independent shops are more likely to produce simple themes that do one thing very well, instead of getting caught in the trap of trying to please everyone. You might not get half a dozen premium CodeCanyon premium plugins bundled free, but chances are you didn’t need them anyway. A stripped down, content-focused website that eliminates bloat and gimmicks will serve you and your site visitors better in the long run. Clean, minimal themes are easier to maintain and customize, and often provide a faster, better user experience overall.
Certain types of buyers might also feel better about supporting the little guy. It’s the difference between a mom & pop store and Walmart. Sometimes you might end up paying more, but it’s to the benefit of the community overall.
Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on enough. Let’s take a look at those awesome WordPress theme developers you might not know about.