Remember, it’s a rant, so, take it with a grain of salt, but here it is via zapt0:
Sometimes I purchase premium themes for client projects. It cuts down on development time and generally premium themes have great support.
I usually purchase from ThemeForest but a couple of weeks ago the Portfolio theme from The Theme Foundry caught my eye:
Theme looked great, client accepted layout, work began.
After purchasing the theme, I watched the introduction video and realized I made a huge mistake. The theme is just hack after hack.
The theme is “responsive”, but not fluid. All element sizes a hardcoded, so bumping it from 1000 to 1150 pixels took ages, something that would have been done with one row of CSS had it been well-made.
Although being a Portfolio theme, it doesn’t register any post types but rather it lets you set custom fields on existing posts.
It also does not utilize post formats at all, so if you want a 2 column layout like they advertise on their theme demo (Link: http://demo.thethemefoundry.com/portfolio-theme/2011/12/14/skulls-in-spring/ )
…you have to type the content of the right column in the post excerpt and type HTML by hand to get the button.
There’s no way to get an overview of portfolio items, as they are merged in with the rest of your news posts. The theme uses a hack to override the WordPress default start page.
I’ve come across multiple well-known plugins that simply don’t work with this theme. Theme Foundry refuse to fix it as they “don’t support plugins”.
Has anyone had similar experience with their themes?
All and all I think I would never purchase a theme from The Theme Foundry again. Thanks for listening.
What’s neat is that within a day Theme Foundry actually responded, via Drew:
Drew here from The Theme Foundry. Sorry to hear you weren’t happy with the theme experience. Send us an email and we’ll issue a full refund for the theme if it isn’t meeting your needs. To address a few things you mentioned:
- The hardcoded element sizes: We’re aware of this issue and are planning to fix it in a future update. We realize it isn’t ideal and we’re sorry for any inconvenience it caused.
- Post formats: We made this choice to avoid ambiguity with the post formats and provide the flexibility of a regular post (content, images, video).
- HTML by hand: We realize this isn’t super friendly, but there is a HTML Help link below the excerpt to give you quick copy and paste access to the built in styles. This isn’t perfect, but it hopefully makes things a little bit easier.
- No overview of the Portfolio items: This is a valid concern. We do have a quick select box for adding and removing portfolio posts from a portfolio page, but no quick and easy way to see portfolio posts from list post view in the dashboard.
- The theme uses a hack to override the WordPress default start page: We’re using a page template with a custom query for portfolio posts. Care to elaborate on this?
- Plugin support: If we’ve made a mistake and are “doing it wrong” when it comes to WordPress standards and our themes we want to know about it. We aspire to be good WordPress citizens and are eager to fix any cases like this. I’m not sure what “well-known” plugins you’re referring to? Could you provide some specific examples and detail?
I am truly sorry you had a bad experience with our theme and I appreciate you bringing up these issues. We take our craft seriously, and you can rest assured we’ll discuss these concerns and do our best to make improvements where we can.
I repost this because what I want to do is applaud Theme Foundry for actually engaging directly and within a decent amount of time. No doubt there were more than a few tweets about it and so they should have been notified directly about the issue but they didn’t have to respond.
But they did. What I want to analyze is how they did and present a model for customer engagement:
1. A Timely Response
Theme Foundry didn’t spend too much time in quiet deliberation nor did they take more than a few days to respond – they acted quickly answering the rant even if they didn’t feel like it was warranted.
2. A Positive Start
One of the best things that Theme Foundry did here is found in the first sentence – they showed that the answer was from a real person (Drew) and that they apologized and offered to provide a refund regardless of any resolution.
This means that whatever else would happen they would gladly refund the money even if an amicable resolution were to come to pass. The personalization was nice instead of just a corporate account (or talking head customer support) and they apologized – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen some companies not apologize because and apology creates an opportunity for dialogue.
3. Addresses Points Directly and Concisely
In bullet-point fashion Drew then begins to assess each point that the ranter presented in a concise manner and fashion. The first thing is how orderly the address is which is helpful to assess the situation and for others to follow. The second is that it was concise; in other words, it wasn’t verbose or overly done.
Some people have the habit of providing too much information or try to be too comprehensive with their defense which can show that this isn’t a dialogue but rather very much a defensive monologue.
4. Admit Challenges Openly
I say this because Drew admitted that the ranter was “right” in a few areas of his rant, acknowledging that some parts of the product and theme weren’t as “friendly” as they could possibly be. This isn’t a failure but rather the organization admitting that there is definite room for improvement.
And let’s be honest, your product isn’t perfect and there are tons of areas that could be improved. Denying this truth is the last thing a customer wants to see.
5. Closing with Openness
Finally, Theme Foundry closes his response on a very positive note sharing that they are not only sorry that the experience wasn’t perfect but also letting the ranter know (and everyone else reading the thread) that they are open to this feedback and welcome it as part of their desire to create a compelling product.
Well done guys, well done. I think we can all learn (or at least be reminded) of how to engage with disappointed or angry customers with The Theme Foundry’s example here.