The vast majority of WordPress Theme Stores offer customers the option of downloading themes individually or downloading all of their themes via a membership. If you own a few WordPress websites, change your website design frequently or design websites for clients, the membership option usually offers the best value.
As you would expect, theme memberships usually cost a lot more than buying themes individually, therefore you normally get good value from a theme membership when you download and use two or three designs from the theme store. If you only like one of the the designs that a store offers, you’d probably be better off just buying the theme you like i.e. there’s no point paying more for something you aren’t going to use.
It’s worth noting that a few stores price their memberships only a little more than the cost of buying a single license. For example, a membership for Theme Junkie costs $49 for 6 months, which is only $10 more than a single license. A few others, such as Elegant Themes, don’t even let you purchase a design on its own, so you need to buy a membership if you see a design you like.
So what’s the best theme membership available for WordPress users?
There really is no right or wrong answer to the above question as it depends on the style of design you like and the functionality you need from a theme. Theme stores that let you download all of their designs through a membership plan include Chimera Themes, SoloStream, StudioPress, Templatic, ThemeFuse and WPZoom.
Without doubt the two most popular theme stores within the WordPress community are Elegant Themes and WooThemes. They have the most active members, are updated regularly and both offer members a huge selection of high quality of themes. So for many WordPress users, the question they need answered is: WooThemes or Elegant Themes?
In this article I will illustrate the pros and cons of each option so that those who are deciding between these two popular theme stores can make an informed decision about which one is best for them. I will be looking at the themes they have on offer, integrated option areas, functionality, price and much more.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….
Elegant Themes is one of the oldest WordPress theme stores around, having been launch near the start of October 2008. They launched with 15 WordPress themes including popular designs such as eGallery, WhosWho and EarthlyTouch.
One of the biggest selling points about Elegant Themes was how much value it offered. A membership for Elegant Themes in 2008 cost only $19.95 per year. This was lower than what many designers were charging for one WordPress theme.
WooThemes launched at the beginning of July 2008, just a few months before Elegant Themes. The theme store was launched by WordPress designers Adii Pienaar, Magnus Jepson, Mark Forrester and Elliot Jay Stocks.
WooThemes was, and still is, much more expensive than Elegant Themes. At launch, a single license cost $70, a developer license cost $150 and a 3 month membership with their ‘WooThemes Club’ cost $150.
Both Elegant Themes and WooThemes have grown over the last few years. Currently Elegant Themes has just under 130,000 customers and WooThemes has just under 240,000 customers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that these two theme stores are no longer small operations; they are multi million dollar companies that have as huge number of customers to keep happy.
Let’s now look at what these stores offer customers in 2012 :)
Release Schedule – New Themes & Updates
Neither Elegant Themes nor WooThemes advertise how often they release new themes or update existing ones though WooThemes does promise that at least one new theme will be released per month. It must be difficult to always stick to a certain number of releases per month, particularly if WordPress changes a lot of core functions and themes need updated. A certain percentage of members will always complain if x amount of themes are promised every month and then not delivered (and who can blame them if they purchased a membership on the understanding that would be delivered).
A quick look at the Elegant Themes Blog and Woo Themes blog shows that both stores seem to consistently release at least one new WordPress theme a month. Both stores also update all of their themes regularly so that they work with the latest version of WordPress so when you take this into consideration, the addition of one good quality design every month is pretty good.
Number, Variety & Quality of Themes
In terms of the number of themes each store offers, you won’t be disappointed with either store. WooThemes currently has 90 themes in their collection whilst Elegant Themes has 77. 15 of the designs WooThemes offer are free to download so the number of themes on offer to paying members is practically identical.
Both stores offer a wide range of WordPress themes. Elegant Themes categorise their 77 designs in the following way:
- 10 App Themes
- 28 Blog Themes
- 24 Business Themes
- 2 eCommerce Themes
- 21 Magazine Themes
- 13 Multimedia Themes
- 21 Personal Themes
- 10 Portfolio Themes
- 10 Responsive Themes
- 3 Tumblog Themes
WooThemes categorise their 90 designs in the following way:
- 4 App Themes
- 27 Business Themes
- 18 Magazine Themes
- 10 Multimedia Themes
- 15 Portfolio Themes
- 20 Responsive Themes
- 5 Tumblog Themes
- 22 WooCommerce Themes (eCommerce)
Note, both Elegant Themes and WooThemes assign themes to more than one category.
There isn’t much to distinguish these stores as far as choice goes, as both cater for the needs of most WordPress users. With regards to function specific themes, Elegant Themes offers 6 themes:
- Handheld – A WordPress plugin solution that lets you display a great looking mobile design to mobile users.
- Convertible – An incredibly functional landing page manager that lets marketers create sales pages, information pages and more.
- ElegantEstate – A stylish estate agent theme that has Google Maps support and localisation options.
- eList – A directory theme that comes with eCommerce support and the ability to charge visitors for listings.
- InReview – A great looking review theme that comes with an in-built rating system and affiliate integration.
- AskIt – Allows you to transform your website into a question and answer service.
WooThemes has 4 application themes:
- SupportPress – Lets you turn WordPress into a fully functional support website.
- Listings – A directory theme that has a huge amount of features. Comes packaged with an advanced content builder.
- Bookclub – A child theme of Listings that lets you showcase a directory of books.
- Estate – An estate agent theme that now has support for IDX functionality.
Where WooThemes slightly edges over Elegant Themes is the extended functionality and sheer volume of eCommerce designs they offer. Since they weren’t able to purchase Jigoshop, WooThemes decided to instead develop their own product from it. When WooCommerce was initially launched last September it was essentially Jigoshop but with a different coat of paint. Slowly but surely, they started to add new features and change it to distinguish it from the original product.
In my opinion, the reason WooCommerce has become such a good option is because of it’s theme and extension support. At the moment there are 22 WooCommerce themes available and a whopping 124 commercial extensions. The cost of these extensions range from $20 to $75 each though there is a bundle available for $250 with the most popular extensions which has approximately $395 worth of products. Although these extensions aren’t covered by a WooThemes club membership, I’m sure online shop owners will be pleased to know that that this added functionality is available to them if necessary.
With 77 themes at Elegant Themes and 90 at WooThemes, it’s not practical to list all of their designs in this article, therefore I have decided to choose 3 of my favourite designs from each store. Believe me, with the number of designs these stores offer, it was very difficult to just choose 3!
HandHeld is actually a WordPress plugin rather than a theme. It’s not meant as a replacement for your current WordPress design but rather as an alternative design that is only shown to visitors who are viewing your site on mobile devices.
Designed using HTML5, the design looks great on android, ios, blackberry devices and windows phones. Articles are displayed using a blog layout and there is support for a gallery too.
A great looking multimedia gallery theme that displays a different number of columns depending on the width of your browser window. It supports images, audio, video and regular blog posts and beautiful CSS3 animations throughout the design.
A stylish blog design that comes with 5 colour schemes. Like Notebook, the number of columns that are shown on TheStyle changes when the width of your browser window is increased or decreased. This fluid design makes it a great option for blogs or magazine style websites.
Crisp may have been released two years ago however it still looks great. The tumblog design comes with 11 colour schemes and supports WooThemes Express App for iPhone (though www.express-app.com seems to be down). Images, video, audio, quotes, notes and links are all supported, making it a great theme for a personal blog.
Merchant is one of my favorite WooCommerce designs from the last year. It has a clean responsive design that lets you add WooCommerce modules to the custom home page. The design is a child theme of the non-commerce design Merchant
A magazine style blog design that was created specifically for blogs with multiple authors. Featured posts are shown on the home page and the visitors and view posts by author rather than category. It also supports custom post types and typography and comes with 7 different colour schemes.
Theme Option Panels
Elegant Themes and WooThemes both use a framework for all of their themes. The options panel for Elegant Themes designs is called ePanel whilst WooThemes use their popular WooFramework. These frameworks make setting your theme up very straight forward
ePanel (Elegant Themes)
Just like Elegant Themes designs themselves, their ePanel options panel is very stylish looking. The options area is split into 8 different sections. General Settings, Navigation, Layout Settings, Ad Management, Colorization, SEO and Integration. The Support Docs section simply links to the documentation page on the main website for the theme you are using.
The general settings area lets you upload your logo and favicon and define the color scheme and typography that is used throughout your site. Most designs let you customize your home page and featured post area here too.
Navigation lets you select which pages and categories are shown in your navigation. Thankfully, you can override these settings by using the menu feature that WordPress has built in. Featured thumbnails and comments can be switched on and off for single posts and pages via the layout section.
The number of widgetized advertisement areas available to you will depend on the theme you are using. For each ad area you can define the banner URL and destination URL in their corresponding fields. Alternatively, you can enter code for your banner (e.g. adsense code).
The colors of links and fonts can easily be changed via the Colorization section. A child stylesheet can be set in this section too.
ePanel includes options for configuring common SEO settings for your home page, single post and index page. In order to keep the themes light as possible, they are not pre-configured to work out of the box with SEO plugins such as WordPress SEO by Yoast. This isn’t a bad thing though those who do want to use an external plugin for SEO will need to remember to integrate any necessary code manually.
In the integration section you can insert code into the header, underneath the main body tag, to the top of posts and underneath posts.
Overall I was pleased with ePanel. It’s kept things to a minimum by only offering essential options that everyone will find useful. Many option panels can overwhelm users with too many options. This can make the theme bloated and requires a lot of complicated code in the main theme. By keeping things lite they have ensured that their designs are not slowed down by unnecessary code.
Although Elegant Themes use ePanel on all of their themes, it lacks a lot of important features that a true framework has. One of them being the ability to update the framework independently from the theme that uses it. This is something that WooFramework does have.
WooThemes had clients in mind when they designed WooFramework as all references to WooThemes can be replaced with your own custom branding. This is great news for designers who use WooThemes designs for their clients websites. It also includes a language file for easy language translations, a sidebar manager and custom shortcodes.
The number of sections in the options area will depend on the design you are using. WooThemes have made the effort to customise the options area for all of their designs beyond what most other theme stores do. Nearly all of the functionality of a theme is controlled via the framework. For example, in their Unsigned theme there are sections for the home page slider, events, discography, photo galleries, videos, band members, press, SoundCloud and Songkick. Most of these configuration options are unique to this theme.
Like ePanel, switching between different sections within WooFramework is quick and painless. In the general settings area you can upload your logo, enter your Google Analytics code, define your Feedburner subscription information and add custom CSS. Other common settings such as where comments are displayed and whether post author boxes are shown can also be set here.
The background colour or image can be configured in the styling options area. The default link colour used on the site is also set here though the colour, font face and size of other text areas are defined in the typography section. Depending on the theme you are using, WooFramework will let you choose the general layout of your content e.g. no sidebar, sidebar on left hand side, two sidebars etc. Posts from certain categories can also be excluded from the home page.
Most footers in WooThemes designs are widget ready. Custom text can be set at the left and right hand side of your footer too e.g. copyright text and links. In single posts, you can enable a subscription area and link to your RSS feed and MailChimp powered newsletter list. 7 additional social media profiles can be listed such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+.
The advertising feature works in the exact same way as ePanel. You can either upload a banner and define the URL or enter the code for your advertisement separately e.g. Google Adsense code.
Like ePanel, WooFramework has basic SEO functionality built in. You can set page titles, what areas of your site are indexed (archives, categories, tags etc), description and keyword meta details. The great thing about this section is that the features can be disabled with one click and a plugin solution used instead. All WooThemes designs are designed to work natively with popular SEO plugin solutions such as All-in-One SEO Pack, Headspace 2 and WordPress SEO By Yoast. Whilst I understand the decision of Elegant Themes to keep things as simple as possible, I think that WooThemes approach to the situation is more practical as the vast majority of WordPress users use one of these plugins for SEO. Those who don’t still have the option of using the built in SEO functionality.
The sidebar manager is a wonderful addition to the WooFramework. It allows you to add a new widget ready sidebar to any page, any page template, any category, any tag, any post format, any template type, any post type or post type archive.
Your new sidebar can be named and you can define the existing sidebar zone it should be placed. Those of you who want to customise the information that is displayed in different areas of your site will love the versatility the sidebar manager offers.
If you are only planning on using WordPress themes on your own websites, there isn’t a huge amount of difference between what ePanel and WooFramework offers you. Many of the options built into their themes are very similar, albeit both offer some functionality that the other doesn’t.
WooFramework is without doubt the best option for those who are designing websites for clients. In addition to the one click updates I briefly mentioned before, it also lets you configure the framework itself and backup all of your framework settings.
One cool feature is the option to define a ‘Super User’. Once it’s set, the options area will only be shown to that user. This is useful if you want to give a client admin privileges but you don’t want them to mess around with any settings. Branding can also be easily configured in this area and the WordPress toolbar can be disabled too. Due to these additional options, your client will probably never even know you used a design from WooThemes.
All WooFramework settings can be exported and then imported later. Theme options, SEO settings, sidebar manager and framework settings can be exported separately if you wish. Alternatively, everything can be exported together.
Every WooThemes user should find this useful as regular WordPress users and designers who create websites for clients tend to use the same settings on frameworks across all websites they develop. This backup facility makes configuring new websites much quicker.
For the purpose of this article I downloaded and tested Flexible from Elegant Themes and Unsigned from WooThemes. This allowed me to test the option panels thoroughly but it also let me check the backend code used in each theme.
The code in both designs was clean and well commented. Flexible (Elegant Themes) arguably had the cleanest code though this is in part due to the simplicity of the theme and the additional functionality that Unsigned has in comparison.
Over the last few years I have frequently modified WordPress themes I use with custom functions and styling. Having looked at key files such as index.php, page.php, single.php and style.css in both themes; I have no doubt that WordPress users would be able to modify designs from Elegant Themes and WooThemes with ease. The files are both easy to read and easy to modify.
Both stores have very user friendly member areas. Elegant Themes has four main areas: Themes, Account, Support and Docs. All 77 designs are shown on the themes section. The theme package and PSD file for each theme can be downloaded and there are links to the demo, read me file and change log too.
The account area gives you basic information about your account and tells you when the next payment is due. Regular members can upgrade to a developer license in this section. Support information can also be accessed in the member area (more on that in the next section).
The Woo Themes member area is perhaps less simplistic than the one Elegant Themes uses but it is still very easy to navigate. The dashboard shows details such as the number of forum posts you have, your licenses, your latest activity and any affiliate revenue you have generated (if applicable). Similar information is presented on the profile page your personal info and credit card details can be edited here.
The downloads page lists all WooThemes designs. Files are ordered by the date the theme was released by default but by clicking on the column header you can change how everything is sorted. Like Elegant Themes, members can down download theme files and PSD files for themes. The change log, version number and last updated date are also listed.
Both Elegant Themes and Woo Themes have great looking member areas that integrate well with their support areas. Let’s look at the support that these stores offer to customers.
Whether you buy something online or offline, it’s important to know that you will receive good customer service and support when you need it. This is even more true for those who purchase WordPress Themes as there is always the risk of something going wrong, particularly if you use a lot of plugins. Good support is commonly the difference between a good company and a bad one.
Thankfully, Elegant Themes and WooThemes both have very good reputations for providing good customer service and helping their members as much as they can.
For support Elegant Themes provide an active support forum which is actively monitored by a tech support team. There are general support rooms and specific rooms for each of their designs.
Elegant Themes also has an extensive documentation area that has answers to dozens of frequently asked questions on how to use their themes.
Woo Themes also provides support directly via their Support Forum. There are specific forum rooms for every design and several for WooCommerce related issues too.
In addition to their dedicated support forum, WooThemes also has a Frequently Asked Questions page for common questions and answers,
WooCodex reference area relating to WooFramework functions, Tutorials, specific Theme Documentation for every design and and a Videos section which has around 40 video tutorials.
A membership for Elegant Themes and WooThemes will grant you access to all of their themes, updates and priority support. Both stores adhere to the General Public License so you can use their designs on as many websites as you want.
Elegant Themes doesn’t allow you to buy themes individually though WooThemes gives you the option of purchasing 3 themes under the standard license for $70 and 4 themes under the developer license for $150. The developer license is exactly the same as the standard license except it includes the theme’s layered Photoshop files. WooThemes more advanced app themes retail for between $100 and $200 alone and are not covered by the standard and developer packages mentioned above. Club members are however given access to these more expensive app themes in addition to their regular designs.
Both Elegant Themes and Woo Themes have two membership packages available: A regular membership and a developer membership. Again, the only difference between these options is the developer membership gives you the layered Photoshop file for each design.
An Elegant Themes Membership costs:
- Personal – $39 Per Year
- Developer – $89 Per Year
A WooThemes Club Membership costs:
- Standard – $125 Start Up Fee & $20 Per Month ($240 Per Year)
- Developer – $200 Start Up Fee & $25 Per Month ($300 Per Year)
I assume that WooThemes introduced a start up fee due to them selling memberships on a monthly basis. This fee discourages someone from signing for a theme membership and cancelling after they have downloaded all of their designs (which would be very likely if the membership only cost $20 per month).
As you can see, Elegant Themes is without doubt the most affordable theme membership solution between the two stores, charging around the same price for all 77 designs as most designers charge for one.
Cancellations & Refund Policy
I’m sure that you aren’t looking to purchase a theme membership with Elegant Themes or WooThemes with the intention of cancelling it and getting a refund however there is always a chance you might do just that. Perhaps you no longer need the service or perhaps you are just unhappy with what they offer; however your situation changes after you click the buy button, it’s prudent to know what your options are should you change your mind.
Elegant Themes charges members once a year. If you cancel your subscription at any time within that year, you will continue to have a full membership until your subscription expires. After your subscription has ended, you will still have access to all themes however you will not get updates or support via the forums.
“If you cancel your subscription, then your account will remain active for the remainder of your one year term. After that, you will loose access to the members area and all new themes, theme updates and tech support. You may continue using the themes that you have already downloaded forever.”
WooThemes handle membership cancellations a little differently. The WooThemes club membership pricing page confirms that once you cancel your subscription, you will not be able to download any themes (updated files or older files).
“If you cancel your subscription, you will not be able to download the themes anymore and not receive any theme updates. If you want to re-subscribe to our club after you cancel, you can simply login to your account and click the green arrow under the actions. Your club subscription will be reinstated immediately. This only applies if you purchase a Club Subscription and not a Theme Package which includes lifetime updates and no recurring billings.”
The above statement would suggest that Elegant Themes customers who cancel their membership will be in a better position that WooThemes customers who do so, as former Elegant Themes members can still download all themes. I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily true. After members pay the start up fee for a WooThemes membership, they are charged monthly. The great thing about this pricing model is that Woo Themes allow you to stop your membership at any time and restart it later. This gives you the option of cancelling your subscription when you do not need to download any updates or new themes. You can then start the membership back up as and when needed. On their Frequently Asked Questions page WooThemes confirm that:
“No, with our club subscription there is no contract. You are totally free to start and stop your subscription as you please.
There are no penalties for starting and stopping, i.e. – you won’t pay the startup fee again, nor do you pay for the months you were inactive after starting your subscription back up.
We believe this is a very friendly model for you to enjoy our club subscriptions and think you’ll love it.”
Whilst former WooThemes members cannot download themes, they still get access to the support forum and other helpful areas such as the tutorial section, videos, WooCodex and theme documentation. It could be argued that retaining access to support is more useful than retaining access to theme downloads however it really depends on your situation.
“Yes, when you cancel your subscription you will continue to have access to the support forum & other support resources. We’re just that nice.
You will not however, have access to new theme releases, theme updates, or special downloads. Good news is that if you decide to join again, simply click on the green arrow under the actions in your dashboard. That will reactivate your subscription immediately.”
The key thing to remember when cancelling is that you will not get updates to the theme(s) you are using. In the short term, this isn’t a problem. In the long term this could pose certain problems for you if you are using the design on live websites. WordPress is progressing quickly. Every year they are adding new functions, removing older functions and changing how everything works. If a theme isn’t kept up to date with the latest changes in WordPress, there will come a point where your theme will not work with the latest edition of WordPress.
It is worth noting however that themes that were designed two to three years ago, regardless of whether their designer has updated them to stay up to date with the latest version of WordPress, generally look dated compared to new designs. Things move quickly in the online world and there comes a point where you will need to switch to a new design rather than stick to the one you have been using for the last few years.
Elegant Themes has a very straight forward no fuss money back guarantee. All customers can get a refund within 30 days of their purchase by simply emailing Elegant Themes about the issue.
Their refund membership page states that:
“We offer no-questions-asked refunds to all customers within 30 days of your purchase. If you are not satisfied with our product, then simply send as an email and we will refund your purchase right away. Our goal has always been to create a happy, thriving community. If you are not thrilled with the product or are not enjoying the experience, then we have no interest in forcing you to stay an unhappy member.”
Unfortunately, WooThemes do not offer any refunds to customers in any circumstances. In section 11 of the WooThemes Terms & Conditions they state that:
“Since WooThemes is offering non-tangible irrevocable, digital goods we do not issue refunds after the subscription or individual theme purchase is made, which you are responsible for understanding upon registering at our site.”
From a business point of view, I can understand WooThemes decision not to offer refunds, as there are unfortunately a lot of people out there who take advantage of companies who sell digital products. However, from a customer point of view, I have nothing but admiration for Elegant Themes for adopting such a fair refund policy. They understand that customers needs can sometimes change unsuspectingly and that the majority of customers aren’t looking to take advantage of money back guarantees unless they really need to.
Elegant Themes & WooThemes – Which One Is For You?
You may have reached this point in the article and decided which theme store is the best solution for you. If not, answering the following questions honestly may help you make a decision as to which store to buy from, which license to get and whether you even need a theme membership:
- What type of websites will you be building?
- Do you prefer the style of designs from Elegant Themes or WooThemes?
- How important is price in your final decision?
- Do you really need a theme membership or would it make sense to buy one or two themes individually?
- Do I need the layered Photoshop files?
In the Membership Price section I didn’t speak about value, I merely stated what a membership in each store will cost you. Clearly, value will be a big factor for a lot of people when choosing between these two stores.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that those who don’t need layered Photoshop files are regular WordPress users who only use WordPress themes on their own websites and perhaps every now and then design a blog or website for a friend. Let’s also assume that those who do need to purchase a developer membership in order to attain the layered Photoshop files are designing specifically for clients. That is, they are employed or self-employed through their design work and customise each design to their clients needs.
Taking this into consideration, a normal user would have to pay $39 for the first year of their membership with Elegant Themes compared to $365 for the first year with WooThemes ($125 start up fee and then $20 per month). The following year the price of an Elegant Themes membership would remain at $39 per year whereas the cost of a WooThemes membership would drop down to $240 per year.
A developer would be placed in a similar situation. Elegant Themes would cost them $89 for their first year of membership compared to $500 with WooThemes ($200 start up fee and then $25 per month). This high cost for WooThemes would drop down to a more affordable $300 per year in the second year.
It’s worth noting that the above calculations are based on the assumption that the member will stay subscribed all year round. As I mentioned previously in this article, WooThemes lets you cancel your membership at any time and start it up again at your convenience. This is perhaps unlikely to be something that many developer membership holders will do if they are using WooThemes designs to create websites for clients every week however it does seem like it’s something worth considering if you are a normal user who doesn’t need layered Photoshop files.
Someone who signed up for a standard membership package at WooThemes would technically only pay $145 if they cancelled after the first month. This would save them more than $200 over the course of a year however they would only get access to theme downloads and updates for that first month compared to the year’s worth of access they would get with Elegant Themes. Cancelling a membership at WooThemes after the first month would also be more than 4 times the cost of an equivalent membership at Elegant Themes though I’m sure $145 seems much easier to swallow to a lot of people than $365 (which is what a standard membership costs over the first 12 months if you don’t cancel).
When Price Is Priority
If price is a big concern for you, Elegant Themes is the best option. There is no question of that. Their yearly membership (personal) costs around the same price as a premium theme at a theme marketplace such as ThemeForest or Mojo Themes. They’re essentially giving you 77 premium WordPress themes for the price of 1. This works out to be around 50 cents per theme. It’s nothing short of the best WordPress bargain you’ll find online.
WooThemes is certainly a better option for shop owners and those who need to design eCommerce websites for clients. Elegant Themes only offers two eCommerce designs whilst WooThemes has a strong focus on eCommerce with their free eCommerce plugin WooCommerce. With 22 eCommerce themes included in a WooThemes club membership and the ability to extend your online store even further via one of the 124 paid extensions available, WooThemes is easily the best choice for those that are going to design online shops.
The only difference between the normal and developer memberships on both theme stores is the inclusion of layered Photoshop files with themes. These files allow designers to customise themes beyond basic CSS styling modifications and completely alter the look of a theme to the point where it’s unrecognisable from its original form. Due to this, it tends to be designers who choose developer licenses over the standard option.
I’m sure that price is still a concern for many designers however after the initial start up fee has been paid for a WooThemes membership, the monthly cost to maintain it is relatively cheap. Designers normally charge hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars for every website design they create for clients. When you take this into consideration, a monthly charge of $25 to get the latest themes and updates from WooThemes doesn’t seem that expensive.
I suspect that there are many designers who purchase a developer membership for both Elegant Themes and WooThemes. The WooThemes developer membership costs $500 the first year and $300 every year after. At Elegant Themes the developer membership costs $89 per year, which works out at only $7.42 per month. This is a small expense for a designer, particularly as this would give them access to another 77 premium WordPress themes.
From a user point of view there is very little between Elegant Themes ePanel and the WooFramework that WooThemes uses. They offer users much of the same functionality and both user friendly. If you are designing websites for clients, the benefits of using WooFramework should not be ignored.
WooFramework allows you to:
- Update the framework independently of the design itself.
- Remove all WooThemes branding and replace it with your own. All you need to do is complete a few fields.
- Define a ‘Super User’ so that the options panel isn’t shown to clients (who could change key settings).
- Backup and import framework settings from one site to another easily.
Elegant Themes unfortunately does not include this functionality in ePanel. Perhaps this will change in the future. Until it does, WooThemes remains miles ahead as far as designing websites for clients.
This article was primarily written for WordPress users who are swaying between purchasing a theme membership at Elegant Themes and Woo Themes. I hope that the breakdown above will you decide which store is best for you though please bear in mind that everyone has different needs and in order to make an informed decision you really need to understand your own needs.
The summary below shows the key factors that you should consider for each theme store.
Elegant Themes Quick Summary:
- + Membership price starts from only $39 per year.
- + 77 WordPress themes included in the membership and usually 1 more added every month.
- + Generous 30 day “No Questions Asked” money back guarantee policy.
- + Existing themes can still be downloaded if membership is not renewed.
- - Support is not provided if you don’t renew your membership.
- - ePanel is a great options area however settings cannot be backed up.
Woo Themes Quick Summary:
- + 90 WordPress themes included in the membership and at least 1 added every month.
- + Great eCommerce support through their WooCommerce plugin.
- + WooFramework is fantastic for those that design websites for clients. Settings can be backed up, branding can be removed easily and a ‘Super User’ can be defined so that clients don’t see the options area.
- + No refunds are permitted however the monthly membership can be stopped at any time and started at a later date.
- + Support is still provided to those that have stopped their membership.
- - Themes cannot be download if you don’t renew your membership.
- - High set up fees of $125 with a standard membership and $200 with a developer membership.
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