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WordPress Theme Demand Still Strong

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The market for WordPress themes is on fire.

In May, reported some rough numbers related to gross earnings for the Top 20 WordPress themes sold via Themeforest. While not a completely scientific analysis, the numbers do raise eyebrows:

  • The Top 20 themes on Themeforest were grossing over $80,000 per week , with most themes selling at $35 each.
  • That’s just the Top 20, which are estimated to represent a small percentage of overall weekly sales on Themeforest.
  • Themesforge estimated that the combined Top 20 Authors on Themeforest in April 2012 sold over $700,000 in WordPress themes. That’s over $32,000 per author per month.

wordpress growthA quick look at Themeforest shows that the reporting above is on point. The top-selling theme, U Design, sold 253 units last week. At $50, that’s $12,650 in gross earnings in one week. And that’s only one of the themes created by the Bond-esque “internq7” – this author has a total of six themes available at varying price points. Going by the total units sold for each theme, each multiplied by its purchase price, then added together, internq7 has grossed over $1 million in total sales.

So how do you get in on this lucrative process, or if you’re already in it, how do you step up your game to pull in numbers like internq7? Another recent post on Themesforge touched on that too: the future of theme development. Here are some highlights to consider as you move forward in developing your own:

  • HTML5 – Themesforge notes that HTML5 is single-handedly killing Flash with new protocols like websockets and a new load of html tags that make html more meaningful.
  • Responsive Design – This is the catchphrase of the moment in web design. It is an approach favors design and development that responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. You can read a great explanation of this process here.
  • Mobile – This market is just in its infancy. WordPress for iOS exists, but there is still a market for apps that render content native to the device versus just being a “nice mobile site.” The Themesforge piece notes for web apps built on top of WordPress, user interface design decisions will need to be thought out in much more detail than Responsive Design typically allows.
  • CSS3 – CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is a language used for describing the look and formatting of a website. CSS enables developers to separate content from presentation (layout, colors, etc.) to improve content accessibility. CSS3 allows allows for fun and interesting things with CSS, but there will be a learning curve in terms of how different browsers support different features and how to use CSS compilers to make it easier to rapidly build interfaces.
  • Javascript – Themesforge cites several development in Javascript that make it a major player: “jQuery continues to innovate rapidly with so many cool new plugins that it’s hard to keep up with it; throw in things like Backbone, Spine and Meteor and you have some of the smartest developers on the web focusing their minds on building the next generation of web apps in a language many of us despised for years.”
  • Framework Overload – Frameworks can be useful in that they can help speed up development cycles, but Themesforge seems to think there’s an overabundance and redundancy to these in the market in general so don’t spend your time building one; you’re better off focusing on building the theme.
  • Theme Options – There’s a plethora of these available, and you can view the best and worst here. Don’t go crazy in your design, however, or you can make your theme way too complicated to use.

With so many theme options, designs and directions theme development can go, it’s clear there is a very lucrative market out there that’s still growing. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Themeforge’s opinions on the future of theme development? What’s been your experience so far? Leave your comments in the box below.

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