As a WordPress theme developer, you’ve done most of the groundwork. You have a design and documentation files ready, CSS codes done right and features added to your niche theme.
Your eyes are set on premium marketplaces like ThemeForest, MOJO and Creative Market, and you eagerly anticipate hearing the cash registers ring with every new sale.
The unexpected happens and your theme gets rejected from one marketplace and then another. If you’re left wondering where you went wrong, this guide will show you how to avoid common mistakes and get an elite seller badge at your favorite marketplace.
Our experience with MOJO themes:
You probably know that MOJO themes are the second largest commercial avenue for developers with over 1100 high quality WordPress themes on the site.
Our IMP magazine theme – IssueMag Pro passed their tough screening process and is now available for sale at MOJO themes.
This guide is based on our experience comes with practical tips to help you sell themes at MOJO and other marketplaces.
1) Acing the screening process
Theme marketplaces have strict compliance standards. This point is a given but to reiterate; make sure your theme uses latest in web standards and your code follows basic WordPress coding standards.
- Test your theme with THEME CHECK PLUGIN, before you go commercial. WordPress Theme Team relies on this plugin to test new themes.
- Debug your theme by enabling WP_DEBUG constant found in wp-config file. For more information on debugging, refer to https://codex.wordpress.org/Debugging_in_WordPress
- Check your theme’s response to large data input by importing xml test data from WordPress. Download test data from https://wpcom-themes.svn.automattic.com/demo/theme-unit-test-data.xml. For more information on using this function, read https://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Unit_Test
- Be careful with default WordPress functions. Avoid using deprecated functions in your theme. Check it with theme check plugin to ensure that deprecated functions are not present in your theme.
- Update your theme to the latest version of WordPress before you put it in the market.
2) Embrace Responsive Design
With mobile devices accounting for 51% of online searches in 2014 and the numbers increasing every day, a theme that isn’t responsive will die a slow death.
Ensure that your theme is adaptable to different screen sizes: from smartphones to tablets. Use text fonts that are readable on all devices and make sure navigation links are visible and easily accessible.
Use a responsive theme framework like Bootstrap, Foundation, Google Material Design etc.
3) Get compatible with browsers
The famous four aren’t the only browsers available for web surfing. With a multitude of browsers serving different users, you can’t have a theme that’s limited to viewing on one or two browsers.
Create a theme that is compatible with all popular or commonly used search engines. You can check for browser compatibility on your machine. Go a step further and check compatibility using online software like Browsershots and BrowserStack.
4) Make theme design your best friend
The above technical points will help your theme to pass the Automated Theme Scanning done by the marketplaces. But apart from that, you need to take care about various designing aspects.
- Create a visually appealing niche theme with unique or exclusive features not offered by other themes in the market.
- Offer users something more than a simple post page. While minimal themes have their own audience, publishers and end users prefer themes that provide them with options to add audio, video or image sliders within the post.
- Provide essential and useful widgets within your theme so that users don’t have to add them separately at a later stage. Ad placement and social sharing widgets help your theme stand out among similar themes.
- Come up with a theme that designers can customize for their clients or technically skilled publishers can modify for their own websites.
5) Documentation is equally important
The job is not over by just creating the theme. A proper documentation on how to use the theme, edit it or customize it should be provided along with the theme as the buyer need not be a web designer or developer himself so they probably aren’t going to understand the core aspects of setting up or modifying the theme. All the market places display the documentation along with other theme details so that the buyer knows exactly what he is about to buy!
Use this checklist along with best design and coding practices and have a crack at selling your theme on premium marketplaces.
Have you sold a theme through MOJO or other marketplaces? Tell us about your experiences.