It’s been a fantastic week and we have lots to cover for those of you who may have missed anything this week (or those who want a refresher). IE 6 Compliance now optional, top secret CodeCanyon info, and more. We also have a massive interview including 5 authors with 2 questions each.
So let’s get started with this week’s multi-author interview.
5 Author/Buyer Interview
This week I’ve asked 5 successful ThemeForest authors with different perspectives on buying and selling to answer two questions each. Hopefully their responses can give us all some extra insight for us to reach a higher level of success.
Q #1: With nearly 5,000 sales, you clearly know how to create high selling items. What would you say is your “secret”?
A: “I’m not sure if there’s any one “secret” behind a successful portfolio. All of the standard rules of design apply to stock templates; the only real key to developing high selling templates is to always stay a step or two ahead of what’s currently the “status quo”. It might be a new plugin that makes life easier for buyers, it might be a new jQuery trick that catches attention quickly, it might be a design that appeals to a new trend within the industry.
The bar for quality, code resiliency, and documentation has already been set really high over the past few months – so seizing on the little incremental improvements that you can include in your files is what really sets one file apart from the pack. If I were to put it into a word formula, it’d be: “Research what’s currently selling + Add your own innovation/flavor = Sales!””
Q #2: Having purchased 60 items, with more likely to come, you have a great buyer’s perspective. How do you use these items and what do you look for when you’re looking for something new to buy? Can you try to give us some insight on the mind of a buyer?
A: “I once read a great quote that said, “I used to smirk at stock art… then I got a job”. I’ve been a full time freelancer with my own studio for almost 8 years now. Even with ThemeForest, I still do a ton of freelance work and it consists of as much as 70% of my total work during any month. Finding ways to cut corners in the design process often saves me valuable time and allows me to excel in the areas that I’m really strong in and to spend less time mocking up designs from scratch. Starting with stock templates can cut between 10 and 20 hours from my design process, and often streamlines the amount of time it takes to get client approval, finish a project, and move on to the next one.
What I look for in a stock template is pretty simple. First, it needs to fit the basic style/layout of my project. Second, it needs to be coded as cleanly and elegantly as possible. Third, I need to know that it’s been built in such a way as to be easy to customize. I can always spice up the design… in fact, in most cases I’m going to completely reskin the template, so design details matter less than a solid starting layout and great coding. Designs that come with a variety of skins right out of the box usually clue be into how difficult they are to reskin. A quick peek at their source code (as well as a Firebug inspection) is what clues me in to whether they are coded well enough for me to use.”
Q #3: As a design agency, you have a unique perspective on ThemeForest. How has ThemeForest impacted your business?
A: “ThemeForest has given us the opportunity to work with clients who need a web site but don’t have the liquidity available to commission a custom design and theme build.
In the past we would have to turn these potential clients away who would then go to their “mate-in-the-pub” or “cousins-best-friend” who studied IT and can build them a web site for $250. Of course, we all know how that one ends..!
With ThemeForest we can offer budget web site solutions which not only look fantastic but also function flawlessly as we know they have been cross-browser tested and coded semantically thanks to ThemeForest’s scrupulous template review team.”
Q #4: Your portfolio shows that along with creating great looking templates, you know how to create fantastic PHP scripts that sell really well. What are a few tips you can share with authors just starting out in this category or authors who might be interested?
A: “The most important thing seems to be to create something simple and unique.
Our strategy was to build a simple yet high quality product originally which would hopefully be sold many times for a low cost. We achieved this with our Simple Contact Form. Combined with a couple of templates it helped lift us in to the Popular Author section of the site where we remain today.
This helped us establish a strong foundation and a reputation in the community which really boosted the sales of our next set of products which again, we strove to make simple, unique and most importantly of the highest quality.”
Q #5: Along with being one of ThemeForest’s rising star authors, you’ve bought 30 items and counting. What do you use these items for and what aspects give you the urge to make the purchase?
A: “First and foremost thanks for this opportunity Jarel, I still remember my very first time in ThemeForest with the $10 per author giveaway by Collis. With this money I bought my first theme ever, it was a gorgeous PSD by Arun Kurian just to learn how to code a site from scratch and start my local business. Then I realized that the marketplace had a tremendous amount of high quality HTML templates and immediately ThemeForest became my main resource for my clients.
Later this year I learned enough to release my first file. And now I purchase HTML templates for quick clients’ sites or WordPress Themes to learn and improve my skills – I just love it!”
Q #6: When creating a new theme or template, do you try to keep the buyer’s perspective in mind? If so, what aspects are you targeting?
A: “Definitely yes! It’s hard to keep in mind every single buyer and that’s why my themes / templates come with a bunch of skins and / or layouts. Everyone wants to be unique – that’s why I try to learn from them. I still have a lot to improve in this aspect in my humble opinion.
My main target is the Corporate Sites. In fact I’m obsessed with corporates sites you can use this layout for almost everything, but right now I’ll try to change a little bit my target. I have 3 themes on the way – one ‘unisex’ portfolio, one simple and bold blog and one corporate application site with a bunch of pages ready to set-up. It’s a big audience, you can expect everything from the buyers, they are unpredictable and that’s what I love of this market.”
Q #7: You’ve come a long ways since you first joined ThemeForest and are now one of ThemeForest rising star authors. What has changed along the way and what advise would you give to new authors?
A: “Well, a lot of things changed. I submitted a few themes in January 09 for fun but really decided to do it full time August 1st 2009. I have to say that I put myself a lot of pressure to perform at that point because I really wanted to succeed. For a guy like me, who is really new to web stuff and design, it was quite a challenge to make good income and I have to say that I am surprised that everything happened so quickly. When I look at other guys that have tons of experience, I feel small but that doesn’t stop me at all because I think I bring something else .. something fresh. So like I said, I had a lot of pressure but today I’m a lot more relaxed because I make a ton of money, I’m joking. It’s just that now I am more confident with my capacities and I’ve met some really talented people to work with and that is a great feeling.
My advice is really simple.
Work hard – I deleted my Facebook account, I almost never look at my Twitter and I don’t play games anymore. I can’t afford to be on the computer and not working because if I do, my GF will leave me.
Do what you are good at – That is usually the stuff you love to do
Be smart – Sometimes I see guys who try to do everything alone and end up being average in everything they do. There are exceptions, some guys can do everything well but it’s a minority.”
Q #8: With each new item your work is more impressive than the last. This suggest you learn quickly and spend time teaching yourself. What have you focused on learning since becoming an author?
A: “Thanks for saying that, it’s really nice.
The main difference is that at the beginning, I was trying to reinvent the wheel. I didn’t look at the other design because I didn’t want to copy, I wanted to be different. I realize that it was good and it was bad at the same time because what I was doing wouldn’t sell because buyers want what they see on the web you know. So I began to really look at other designs and study them, asking myself why I love a design in particular. Now every time I see something I like, I take a screenshot and I save it in a folder.. I have tons of menus, logos, color schemes, etc., etc. and I look at them daily. I’m not scared to be inspired anymore because I know at the end, it won’t look like anything else because at some point in the design, I get really inspired and excited and this is where the fun begins. This is why I try new colors, new layouts, etc., etc. Now like I said, I will focus my energy only on design because I am working with 3 awesome developers so be ready for 2010, DDStudios is going to be HUGE !”
Q #9: You’ve created some great new templates for the new Email Templates category. Is there anything you’ve learned or any advise you can give to authors interested in creating templates for this category?
A: “I’m quite lucky because I originally learned HTML back in the day when, dare I say it, tables were acceptable. It’s hard for those who learned using CSS for layout to wrap their heads around tables and why we use them for email templates. It’s basically that tables are tables, they don’t float, they don’t have divs and margins etc they are what you make them, and, email clients prefer to display things in tables. As for advise, learn the basics first, create a completely empty wireframe HTML email – put in some content and test until things are fully working, then work on the design of things. Also don’t use background images and take some time to read-up on HTML Email standards with regard to what information is mandatory when mass emailing. My only other advise is to test, test and test again.”
Q #10: Although you haven’t bought a large number of items, you have bought more than many authors. How does your buyer’s perspective impact your work?
A: “It’s really interesting to see how other authors compile their documentation, help files and how they package everything together. By becoming a buyer I have been able to improve my documentation, improve on ideas I have seen from other authors, and introduce a few things that I believe my buyers really appreciate, such as my Photoshop Quick Edit files which provide a super easy way to replace the majority of items used in the design without having to re-splice everything again. Also an author that will answer questions under their product, reply to emails and update their files when there is an issue proves to their buyers that they listen, care and are pro-active in insuring their product is a quality one.”
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions authors! This information is very helpful in getting a better perspective on ThemeForest to better succeed.
Notable Additions to the Forest
This week we’ve got six great new items to check out, starting with Email Templates. Don’t forget though that there are boatloads of amazing new items each week just as worthy of your attention, so be sure to check those out as well.
[Email Templates] MultiMail – Multi Purpose Highly Customizable
“Multi Mail is multi purpose highly customizable email template.This product comes with 3 Layouts.”
[Email Templates] Holiday Mail
“Send your subscribers some Christmas cheer with Holiday Mail. Easy and fun to customize.”
[PSD] Folio web 2.0 style
“This is a layered .PSD template with Web 2.0 look&feel for agencies, architects and motion media designers.”
“Silicon App template has been specially crafted with a software application theme in mind, be it a mobile* or a standard desktop product*.
With its professional look and feel your application will stand apart from the crowd, whether it is destined for Windows / Mac Operating Systems or for mobile platforms like IPhone / Android.”
[WordPress] Picco Wordpress Portfolio and Blog
Theme Options Page, jQuery Graphic Slider, Blog/Portfolio/Services pages, Featured Posts on Home Page, Twitter Implementation Widget Enabled and more features.
[PHP Scripts] Ajax Store Locator
“A fully featured Ajax Store Locator that uses Google Maps to find the nearest Store given an address or postcode. Has a password protected admin panel that is used to list all Stores in the database and the ability to add/edit/delete Stores.”
More Great ThemeForest Items
These are some seriously great templates, themes and scripts but don’t forget that there’s lots more! View them here!
This week’s fantastic blog posts.
- Marketplace API Round-up
- Free File of the Month: December, 2009
- IE 6 Compliance Now Optional for Authors
- New Featured Author of the Week: Imaginem
Chatter In The Forest
Here’s some notable forum threads you might’ve missed.
- We’re Hiring a Java Reviewer
- Buy Now, Better Deposit Expiry and Fees for Bank Transfer Payments
- Got that urge to buy something… right now?
- Super Important: Do You Have A Safe Password?
- IE 6 Compliance Now Optional for Authors
- Top Secret Info Regarding CodeCanyon
- How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell
- Envato, Launch Gear Garden?
There’s a tremendous amount of information on the web and it’s not always easy to find the cream of the crop. Here are some great tutorials and articles from around the web that are definitely worth checking out.
CSS sprites can dramatically increase a website’s performance, and with jQuery, we can implement awesome transition effects easily. Let’s get started.
As designers, we all know that a minimalist design can achieve beautiful results.
Still, many designers have trouble creating one; either they have a hard time making a page with so few elements look good or the final result just doesn’t look “complete.”
There are many articles on the Web about minimalism and this article aims to help you achieve a minimalist design that is beautiful but not bare.
To top it off, we’ll present a small showcase of minimalist designs, so that you can analyze why some designs work and others don’t.
Learning CSS and how to use it effectively can be a reasonably easy thing to do for a beginning web developer. In the hands of a seasoned professional, CSS can be stretched and pushed it to its limits where it can seem complicated and yet perfect at the same time.
Being able to adapt to new ideas and different techniques, as well as seeking new solutions to old problems is part and parcel of being a web designer. And with the speed at which CSS development is constantly moving, keeping up with new developments can be challenging.
In this article, we’ll bring you up to date with the latest in CSS development through a collection of fresh CSS tutorials, techniques, and resources. We hope this extensive list will teach you something new, or else remind you of some methods you haven’t used for a while.
Have you ever looked at a web site and immediately been impressed with it’s design? Then you take a closer look and discover what really makes it amazing. It’s the subtle details. Some designers are great at including this in their designs. These types of designers are border line perfectionists and aren’t afraid to make full use of the zoom tool and 1px brush size in Photoshop. In this article, we will look at several ways subtle details are being used in web designs to take them from great…to amazing.