ThemeForest review 2023: Poor reputation but good services if you know what to look for

Poor reputation but good services if you know what to look for
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Is ThemeForest worth it?

Themeforest, under the Envato Market umbrella, is my go-to for website templates and themes. At just a glance, the sheer variety can be overwhelming, but there are many top-notch themes. Before buying a theme, always dive deep into reviews and developer responsiveness. You get much better deals at Envato Elements.


  • Vast selection (52,000+ templates/themes).
  • Affordable with frequent sales.
  • Popular assets (e.g., Elementor templates).
  • Long-standing platform.
  • High-quality themes available.


  • Poor online reputation.
  • Bloated multipurpose themes.
  • Plugin bundling issues.
  • Strict refund policy.
  • Some themes are not optimized post-customization.

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Templates & themes52,000

Don’t let the “Envato Market” logo scare you off—this is still a Themeforest review. But before we continue, you should know that Themeforest is now part of the Envato Market platform, specializing in one-time purchases of web themes and templates. It’s very similar to Envato Elements; in fact, you can find many themes and templates on both. The only difference is that Envato Elements is a subscription and is thus better for a longer commitment.

Themeforest offers a vast selection of over 52,000 website templates and themes, which include CMS and WordPress themes, blogging templates, and courses. Popular categories include Elementor templates (with over 3,700 options), Shopify, Jamstack, and eCommerce templates. These assets are highly sought after by web designers and developers alike, making Themeforest a popular platform.

ThemeForest is an appealing platform for those looking for affordable themes and frequent sales. Although the pricing scheme is not fixed, the most popular themes are priced between $20 and $80, with occasional discounts of up to 30%. While the platform offers simple templates for as low as $2, it is advisable to avoid the outliers which can cost as much as $12,000 for responsive website templates.

What’s good… and what isn’t

When it comes to Themeforest’s online reputation, it can feel like watching a drama unfold. Trustpilot reviews can be dramatic and emotional, but it’s important to remember that most people tend to share negative experiences more often than positive ones. On the other hand, some services seem to have nothing but perfect 5-star ratings, which can make you wonder if something shady is going on behind the scenes. In fact, I have personally been offered payment to write a glowing review on Trustpilot for a certain unnamed service. So, it’s important to take online reviews with a grain of salt and not always believe everything you read.

Through my extensive interactions with Themeforest, I have come to the realization that it is crucial to approach it with a discerning eye. It is similar to entering a vast marketplace where, among the cacophony and the vibrant stalls, some items stand out for their quality, while others fade into mediocrity.

Themeforest Avada theme comments
One of the most popular website builders on Themeforest, Avada, has almost 26K reviews and 38K comments, many of which are from the developer. Screenshot by Matic Broz / Photutorial

One prevailing sentiment is that multipurpose themes often fall short of their promises. The allure of these themes is that they seemingly cater to every need, but in trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, they often end up being masters of none. They can become bloated and lack specialization. For this reason, I advocate for specificity: if you’re working on a project that has a particular niche, it’s beneficial to opt for a theme tailored to that niche. This ensures a more seamless experience and minimizes unnecessary features that can slow down your site.

However, not all is grim in the world of Themeforest. There are indeed gems, themes that are thoughtfully constructed and well-supported. The key is to conduct thorough research. Look for themes that have a substantial number of sales, consistent updates, and authors that actively respond to comments. Moreover, verify the theme’s compatibility with your desired page builder, be it Gutenberg, Visual Bakery, or Elementor. Another pro tip? Avoid newer themes. Stick to the tried and tested ones that have weathered the digital storm for at least 5 or more years. Once you’re familiar with a theme, it becomes your ally, allowing you to predict its strengths and limitations.

Themeforest sort by best rated or best sellers
Sort by “Best sellers” or “Best rated” to find the best and the most reliable themes and templates on Themeforest. Screenshot by Matic Broz / Photutorial

But, as with all digital tools, there are pitfalls. Themes from Themeforest sometimes come bundled with plugins on special licenses. This can present challenges when it comes to support. Furthermore, while some themes boast of being optimized, this might not hold once you begin customizing and adding content. The golden rule? Always keep a watchful eye and prioritize your project’s unique needs. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user, approach Themeforest with caution, armed with knowledge and an understanding of your requirements.

Why there are no refunds

When it comes to Themeforest and the wider Envato Market, their refund policy is quite strict, and there’s a legitimate reason behind this. Unlike tangible goods that can be returned to the shelf, digital products like themes and templates are different. Once downloaded, there’s nothing stopping a user from retaining a copy, even if a refund were processed. This presents a conundrum for digital marketplaces – how do you ensure the fair treatment of both buyers and sellers?

For Themeforest, the rationale is to protect the intellectual property of the creators and developers. When a user purchases a theme or template, they’re essentially acquiring a license to use that product. If refunds were easily accessible, it would open the floodgates for potential misuse. A customer could download a theme, request a refund, and continue using the theme without having paid for it. In the long run, this practice would be detrimental to developers who invest time and effort into creating these products.

Summary of Themeforest refund policy
Themeforest clearly specifies what’s included in the refund policy and what is not. Unfortunately, “I don’t like” is not one of the valid reasons. Screenshot by Matic Broz / Photutorial

That said, Themeforest doesn’t have a blanket “no refund” policy. Refunds can be processed under specific conditions, such as if the item is “not as described” or “doesn’t work the way it should.” But these conditions are stringent, and the burden of proof often lies with the buyer. For instance, if a theme isn’t working correctly, the buyer may need to provide evidence of the malfunction, which can sometimes be a lengthy process.

Another underlying reason for the restrictive refund policy is maintaining the platform’s credibility. By ensuring that each sale is final (with exceptions), Themeforest can assure its sellers that the platform is a reliable place to offer their digital goods without the fear of rampant refund requests. On the flip side, it pushes the onus onto the buyers to do their due diligence before purchasing.

Should you buy?

Hundreds of thousands of customers have purchased themes and templates from Themeforest and achieved exactly what they sought. The catalog’s vastness, the range of customization possibilities, and the responsive designs are among its strong suits. But like many online platforms, Themeforest is not without its fair share of criticisms. Some users have been caught off-guard by less-than-helpful developers or faced challenges in obtaining refunds.

However, it’s worth noting that many negative experiences can be prevented with due diligence. Before making a purchase, ensure the product in question is backed by a strong track record. Items that have a high sales volume, robust reviews, and active developer interaction in the comments section are generally safer bets. These attributes typically indicate that the developer is invested in the product and its user community. Conversely, as a rule of thumb, it’s advisable to steer clear of themes or templates with scarce reviews and negligible developer feedback. Such products could be potential pitfalls, either due to being new or due to possible neglect.

Why Envato Elements is a better value

For those looking for a broader spectrum of digital assets beyond just themes and templates, Envato Elements emerges as a formidable contender. Envato Elements operates on a subscription-based model, allowing members to access and download a vast array of digital resources, from stock footage and music to graphics and, of course, themes. The strength here is in its all-encompassing nature – one fee unlocks a wealth of resources.

Given its structure, Envato Elements becomes an attractive option for digital professionals or businesses that frequently require diverse assets. Instead of purchasing each asset separately, a single subscription can save both money and time. Moreover, the quality assurance extends to Envato Elements, ensuring that its assets are also vetted and of high caliber.

More alternatives

While Themeforest and Envato Elements are juggernauts in the digital assets space, several other platforms are worth considering:

  1. TemplateMonster: A longstanding competitor to Themeforest, TemplateMonster offers a similar range of website templates and themes. They pride themselves on their 24/7 customer support, making it a go-to for those who anticipate needing assistance.
  2. Creative Market: This platform provides not just website templates, but also fonts, graphics, and other digital assets. It’s an online marketplace for creatives, by creatives. The handpicked nature of its products ensures quality but also means there might be fewer options compared to Themeforest.
  3. Wix and Squarespace: While not direct alternatives in the theme marketplace sense, platforms like Wix and Squarespace provide users with an all-in-one solution. Instead of buying a theme and hosting separately, these platforms bundle everything, making them suitable for those less tech-savvy or looking for a streamlined solution.
  4. Elegant Themes: Known primarily for their Divi theme, Elegant Themes provides a suite of themes and plugins that integrate seamlessly. For those who value cohesion in design and functionality, this might be a preferable choice.