Beware of WordPress Theme Authors Who Abandon Their WorkJanuary 16th, 2019

Blog - Abandoned ThemesOne of my pet peeves is a theme author who abandons their work. A couple years ago I built an e-commerce site for a client and emailed the theme vendor a couple questions about one of their themes. The author told me that that theme was going to be discontinued and we should use their newest theme that they promised to support.

Fast forward a couple years and I went to upgrade my server to PHP 7.2. I did this first in my staging environment and the website broke. The theme could not handle the new version of PHP, which is much faster and more secure.

I went to the Themeforest website and told the author that the theme breaks with PHP 7.2. I didn’t hear back and a few days later noticed they took the theme down. I emailed them and they said it was too expensive to keep the theme up.

So I am writing this post to warn you to be careful of theme authors that don’t support their theme and abandon projects.

Here are some of the warning signs:

  • Theme hasn’t been updated for several months, even years. When looking at a theme make sure that it has been updated recently. If not, go elsewhere. Good theme authors keep themes up to date with each new version of WordPress, WooCommerce, etc.
  • Bad Reviews: Check out reviews of the company creating your theme, as all theme authors are NOT equal.
  • Theme doesn’t work with latest version of WordPress, PHP and if it’s a shopping cart, WooCommerce or whichever cart you use. ALWAYS Check that the theme works with latest versions.

Sometimes in an effort to be original, we try new themes. The problem is unless it’s a good company; the theme may come and go very quickly. So I tend to like themes that are popular, but have tons of configuration settings. Most of the new page builders allow you a lot of latitude in what you want to do, so there’s no reason your site has to look like a duplicate of someone else’s using the same theme.

Suggestion for Theme Sellers: Minimum standards are needed. When a theme author takes down a theme they should be required to announce a theme is being discontinued and they should have to support the theme for a minimum amount of time. I would say 3-6 months.

Bottom Line: Do your research; check out the theme you will use carefully as well as the theme author. A few minutes of research up front will save you agony down the road when a theme is abandoned.

Upselling – When NOT ToNovember 30th, 2018

I recently had a problem with a technology provider I do business with on a regular basis. I won’t mention their name, as I have been very impressed with their support over the last year and a half and I am not looking to harm their business or even leave them. I am just using a recent incident to make a point.

I ran into a problem where they had outages happening all the time. I went through all the normal channels, online chat, phone call, and emails.

At one point one of their managers sent me a nice note that they were looking into the problem, but then made the mistake of telling me that it might be time to upgrade my account at a cost that would be three times my current rate each month. The problem is, I had just upgraded my account within the last six months and was told this would handle my needs for myself and up to 50 accounts. (I only had 34 active accounts when the outage happened).

So this is when I came to think about this subject. I was having a terrible time with this company and rather than fix it, they tried to upsell me. Now don’t get me wrong, upselling as part of doing business. Companies want you to spend more money. I understand that, but as a small business myself, you need to watch your bills closely. Now, there are times your clients and customers need to upgrade in order to fulfill their needs properly. But, the time to try to get them to switch is not when you’re in the middle of an outage you can’t explain and when the customer is only using about 60% of resources in their account.

You learn a lot of lessons when you’re in the middle of a crisis, and how to handle things. Whenever I have downtime for any of my clients, I always put myself in their shoes and I never try and upsell them during an outage. Now there have been times where a client needs to upgrade their server as an example. Usually this is when they are getting a ton of traffic and need to be moved to their own dedicated accounts. But I always wait until things are back to normal and then recommend some options.

Bottom line: while up selling is a part of business, always wait for an opportune time. This is not when your clients or customers are unhappy with your service in the middle of an outage. Always think before you send that email, how would I feel when I received this note? Most people would be pissed to say the least as their sites are down and they are losing business. This is a good way to lose clients/customers.