The Results Of Our WordPress Themes Survey

Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by 85 Comments

The Results Of Our WordPress Themes Survey
Blog / General News / The Results Of Our WordPress Themes Survey

Last week we asked our readers to participate in a survey to help us better understand exactly what theme-buyers are looking for in our Premium WordPress Theme. Thanks to the ~1,500 people that completed the questionnaire! We took all of the data and created an infographic to display the results. Some of our findings were quite interesting. Do any of the results surprise you?

WordPress Infographic 2013

Analyzing The Results

1. What Compels Purchases – “Good Design” and “Flexibility” are clearly what people find most important in a theme. Only 2.8% of people regarded “Security” as the most important factor in a theme, and only 3.6% of people chose “Support” as the most important part of a theme. I found these results surprising, as Security & Support are things that we hold as a top priority.

2. Who Uses Premium Themes – The survey revealed that 57% of our customers are not end-users, but are actually developers that are using our themes to build websites for their clients. This is a larger percentage than I had anticipated, and it shows us that the majority of websites running a Premium Theme and WordPress are actually being created by freelance developers and design firms. Perhaps WordPress is still too difficult for the majority of people to use. This also makes me wonder what else we can do to assist developers in using our themes for their clients.

3. Customizability & Options – The survey shows a resounding desire for flexibility and options in themes. After purchasing a theme, 85% of people will customize it before using it. 80% of users are frustrated with the lack of features in themes, as opposed to being frustrated with the complexity of themes with too many options, and 71% of users prefer themes with extensive flexibility via Shortcodes, Theme Options and Page Builders.


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  1. As part of the 43% who are end users, let me say that your large number of developers is good for us too, since it means that we can easily get great support and advice from the “community” as a whole, and not have to always flood you.

  2. “The survey revealed that 57% of our customers are not end-users, but are actually developers that are using our themes to build websites for their clients.”

    That’s pretty interesting. I would have expected a smaller number.

    Things are changing in web development. Do you expect that this will influence the pricing in the future?

    – ChrisB

  3. For me “customizability” = “suport”, and I think for many others too.

  4. After doing this survey and reading comments, I am curious as to how you company will change things or not…?

  5. Impressive feedback. Well done ET.


  6. Hi. My main gripe with your wordpress themes is that they all look to magazine/blog like. In other words they all look a bit too hipster, feminine, and elegant.

    None of them look like something I would want to put a business or top site on. Also the fonts you tend to use sometimes are too hard to read. This is why I haven’t bothered getting a membership yet.

    It would be nice if you guys would develop more business-style sites that aren’t so flashy & girly? Just a suggestion…

  7. Its a very interesting survey. Thanks for sharing the result with us.

  8. Wow!
    Thank you for this information.

  9. I like ET’s Elegant so much!

  10. I am not suprised with results of the survey. As an web developer myself, I can allways use an extra options.

  11. Very interesting survey, congratulations.

  12. Gracias excelente post que buen material

  13. Maybe I come in those 37%.

  14. Q4: Retina…

    I am really disappointed that so few people felt this was unimportant. I think maybe part of the problem involves use of the word “retina” without clear inclusion of similar non-Apple screens. Many people associate retina with Apple and don’t think about the fact that their Android also has a high def screen.

    When retina and similar high def screens are not addressed within the code, graphics look AWFUL on those screens. I doubt all those people who want business themes will be happy with their logos looking blurry or otherwise distorted on a tablet or phone. So many people access websites via mobile that addressing the ‘retina screen problem’ is as important as creating responsive themes. Really, they should go hand-in-hand.

    I’m also disappointed that so many people – especially those 57% who are developers – are more interested in bells & whistles (customization) than creating sites that are stable in the long run (clean code, security, support).

    I hope ET won’t take the survey too seriously because I require long-term stability as well as code that renders images correctly on the most popular mobile devices.

    Keep up the good work – very pleased with your themes overall.

    • Agreed! Sincerely, most people do not catch what is meant by retina-display. Most WP theme are retina-ready nowadays. When I viewed one page WordPress theme, o boy! I was sold. I love Kallyas theme created by Hogash, though not one page but has powerful sliders (3D accordion), multiple home page, effective jQuery and RETINA-READY!

      I’m not advertising for hogash please just citing a modern WordPress theme that actually looks elegant to me!

  15. Wow! Thank you! Amazing information’s!

  16. Excellent themes shared! Thanks alot.

  17. I too would have expected Support to be much higher.

  18. Very interesting results indeed. I can’t say I’m too surprised, considering customers here buy all the themes for one low prices – a developer’s dream come true. If this survey were given on a site that sold themes solely on an individual basis (like ThemeForest), I bet we’d see different results (perhaps even completely opposite results).

    I wouldn’t say you are doing anything wrong or that you need to change anything. It seems you are reaching and converting people whom your business model naturally attracts. Well done.

  19. I think speed and optimization are as equally important as the other questions? Most premium themes are pretty slow.

  20. Well, results will help to understand the market better.

  21. I Liked all themes! here is my congrats! Happy!!

  22. Whilst the survey methods may not have been perfect as some have indicated, you have to like Nick for wanting a grip on what his users think and use.
    The answers to question 11 was for me was the most informative on usage. Hope we see more themes for business.

  23. El objetivo de esta aplicación es ahorrar energía: te avisará cuando el celular esté totalmente cargado y cuántas llamadas puedes hacer con la carga que tienes para se aproveche mejor la batería

  24. Really disappointed to see people holding Clean Code and Security/Support so low on the list. Also I’d much rather have clean code than a crapload of bloat that slows everything down and makes the theme a hog in the name of easy customizability. This is the problem with themeforest themes nowadays, they all add on so many useless features that the theme itself ends up suffering. Keep it simple!

  25. It’s amazing to me that security and support are so low on the list. I am impressed with the layouts and images of the themes. How often are they updated?

  26. Wow! Thank you! Amazing information’s!

  27. Thanks very much for this i buy it

  28. I love the appearance of your themes, especially when first looking at them. However most of your work relies very heavily on huge, beautiful photos. That type of layout just isn’t right for a lot of businesses. The clients typically don’t hire photographers to get those great shots; and stock photography has a “fake” feel.

    As well, those huge photos often push the rest of the content down “below the fold.” I’d like to see more themes that are classy and informative, but not excessively artistic and flashy.

  29. OK, too my embarrassment, I know nothing about child themes.

    I run about 30 WP sites, and every now and then I see a note about “make changes using a child theme”.

    • MikeGee, They are very easy to use. I use the One-Click Child Theme plugin that ET recommends.

      It creates the child theme for you. including a style.css file for the child theme where you can put your css changes.
      this new style theme inports the main themes style.css at the top of the file, so any changes you make are loaded after it.

      the theme options/admin panel etc still uses the main themes details

      so now when you update a theme to a newer version all the files (including the main style.css) get updated.. But you dont loose your customised css code (as its in the child theme folder)

      basicly you:
      1- install the plugin
      2 -go to appearance > themes and under you active theme you see a create child theme link (click it and enter a couple of details, then the plugin will create the files need for the child theme and activate it)
      3 – your good to go.. and make changes to the new css file.

      Note: if you are going to use/reference new images in the css, upload them to the child theme folder not the main theme folder. this allows you to relative link them and stops the risk of them being wiped during an update.

      hope that help you out 🙂

      • Hey Joseph,

        Thanks heaps!

        You are right, very easy with the plugin.

        Again appreciate the help and direction ….

  30. What surprised me was the gorgeous and effective graphs of your results. What graphing tool did you use?

  31. What was the reason that my post was not accepted?

    • You just need to wait for it to be approved/published. First time comments are manually approved to avoid spam.

  32. Sometimes it’s the way the question is posed. If BOTH design and security are equally important to me. But, I can only choose one. I might pick design and assume that security will be there already.

  33. Thanks for the results.
    Don’t let the data skew your core beliefs. Security and Support are definitely an important part of theme selection. I think we have come to expect what you have already give us, and that is Great Security and Great Support. It is because of those two items that I try to guide my clients to your themes over other themes.

    It’s easier to list something that you don’t have, then it is to be Grateful for what we already have.
    So THANK YOU for your efforts and dedication with Security and Support.

  34. I come in those 57% 😀

  35. Huge turn around goes to show that this survey has got success to achieve what you want.

    Hope we will have better themes according to members requirements.

  36. “The survey revealed that 57% of our customers are not end-users […] This also makes me wonder what else we can do to assist developers in using our themes for their clients.”

    Make sure that you follow standard WP theme structure. You really should leave the dreaded and non-standard home page structure. Leave home page as a real page. Make your home page a template instead that you control via the dashboard. WP already has a function to select any page as the home page. Why re-invent the wheel? You cannot hide behind that false reason of your customers don’t know how to select their home page any more. They are mostly developers!

    Add multiple menus on EVERY theme. Be inventive and allow us to place sub menus in the header and in the footer. WP is no longer used as a simple blog site. You need more flexibility and templates can give you that, but you must think outside the box of sidebar. Why not divide pages vertically instead of horizontally? Why not have multiple level deep headers and footers? Millions of website have that. Why not use the functionality you have on that page builder plugin for headers and footers?

    Blogging is not the n1. reason people select WP for their site any more. WP ‘is’ used as a CMS. Ignore what WP founders tell you. They are wrong.

    My ta-pence 🙂

    • I could not agree more. We have more than 20 sites that use ET designs, but none of them is used for blogging purposes. Sliders are nice, but only if they are small and do not distract visitors from main content.

      It is a shame, that et themes does not have a simle design with 3 colomns. Nexus has it on front page, but it is way too complicated. Without nice pictures the theme is useless and consumes too much resources.

      Thumbs up for ecommerce sites and magazine sites with less pictures and more funcionality.

  37. Could you make some themes for hair and beauty salon? Thanks.

  38. Security and support are very important, it’s the reason Elegant Themes is the first thing I look at when I’m about to build a new site. There are times when I might be after something different for the look of a site, but I’m reluctant to buy elsewhere because I’ve bought themes that were visually appealing, but really unstable with very little support. I know at least if I build a new site with ET and run into problems, I can find the answers I need right away after surfing the forums for a few minutes. (I just wish it wouldn’t log me out so quickly)

    When I took the survey if I didn’t choose support as top priority it’s because ET already has me covered. Something that may have been a factor when people were taking it.

  39. Dear Nick,

    first of all I want to thank you and your team for your mostly well designed an perfect supported work. Nice graphics in the survey.

    To Q1: Please hold on your priority to Security an Support – I really love your opinion.

    Cheers, Andreas

  40. Done superb job Guys. Very good survey, i am part of that 77% .

  41. Important survey….I’m a part of it and about 90% average..

  42. Security and support are right to be at the top of your list, no matter what. Those results are misleading, because no matter what anyone says, you’d lose the majority of your clients if those things were not assumed. This applies to any business really.
    As for why more developers than expected and not end users? That’s pretty simple really. I’ve done graphic design for almost 20 years. What I have seen over time, is that the majority cannot even understand how to make a proper .png image of their existing logo or size it correctly for a specific purpose. “Pixels? What’s that?” A manual WP install? Setting up a MySQL database?
    To us tech minded people it might be easy. But to most, it’s scary territory. It’s not quite the same as pushing buttons in ‘apps’ on your smartphone, even if you do feel like a stereotypical geek in a bad commercial while doing it. You actually have to understand a bit under the hood now. And thus comes the next step. Realizing that and making the call…”How much to make the site I need?” Even if it’s a simple one….it’s a service provided. ET provides a very important role in all of this! Thanks for that!

    • I very much agree with this one!

  43. Amazing information’s and discoveries. Didn’t know that business niche is most wanted for themes.

  44. I love your themes and this is excellent information – I am sure it will be useful to you (and your competitors)… One I didn’t notice in there: The ability to auto-update some themes – often have to do it the “old way” (i.e download the zip / unzip / FTP upload / re-install). And one that bugs me personally is your total dis-regard for naming layers and folders in Photoshop Master files. Ahhhhhhhh!

    But 99% Good (nothing is perfect afterall).

    • ditto!

    • I agree with UK Web Designer on the auto updates…it would make life soooo much easier.

      • totally agree!

        • I’ve been requesting auto update a lot , but apparently ET does not want to use it because other people are not using child themes. I would suggest ET to make it a plugin so that it’s an option and then easier to implement. I would even go as far as skipping a theme release just for this option/plugin to be added.

  45. Two things:

    Please do this survey at least twice a year to track the changing dimensions of interest and preference.

    Also, question 9 was dedicated to the use of image sliders / carousels on the home page. I encourage everyone to visit this site before using them further – good food for thought:

    Thanks for listening! These are really interesting results!

    • I never used sliders until responsive themes became a must. Adding branding graphics (like the old header banners) does not work so well anymore, so my branding has gone into the sliders. I would like to know where the stats in that link came from, and how many people were surveyed. I personally do read sliders.

      • Visit this (um…) slider. Yes, it’s a big tongue-in-cheek that they did it this way, but they site a few sources including the Nielsen/Norman group and Jared Spool. (Both NN and Spool are among the godfathers and gurus of the usability discipline.)

        In short, most stats show the following:
        * The vast majority of site visitors that click a graphic click the first image.
        * Many users skip past them or find them distracting.
        * They usually slow the pageload, which works against SEO.

        I’m not 100% opposed to them, but I think there’s a better way.

        • (Whoops: “Cite”, not ‘site’.

  46. Español cuando?

  47. Interesting result for Q1.

    I believe that every developer should know the difference between support and updates when pricing their themes/plugins. I know lots of people just use the support system for few times when they started using a theme, however when they get used to it (or other themes from the same developer), they won’t use the support system to ask for help.

    I believe the results from this survey will help you to determine what’s best for your clients.

  48. I am about 98% avarage… 😀 according to this survey 🙂

  49. I completely agree with Tim. I was surprised by the number of themes being used for business! I was thinking lots of people use WordPress for blogs! Looks like times are changing.

  50. I kind of agree with you about “Support” although “Design” and “Flexibility” are the two main things that initially draw me to a theme. Without the support given in the ET forums I would definitely have a harder time customizing themes and my site design process would be much longer and more frustrating.

    I was surprised by Q:5. I expected the numbers to be closer than they are. I really like some of the shortcodes but I also like how WordPress handles some things so I’m kind of “middle of the road” on that one.

    Thanks for what you do and keep on doing it well!

  51. Need more business themes! for small and mid business: restraunts, hotels e.t.c

    • +1

      • +1

    • Im with you on that one..

      Most of the latest themes look great, but are incompatable with whats needed for SMB’s.

      I keep have to use the older ones such as Chameleon, Flexable and DeepFocus just because they have the correct basic structure in place. and then do some major customizing.

      Maybe if the later themes had a theme purpose switch added to them for the frontpage layout/styling. eg website type “magazine” or ‘business”..

      just my thoughts..

  52. I have several sites, but they’re all my own. Part of a comment I left was in support of a framework and child theme format. That’s because I occasionally like to change the appearance of my site, but I loathe having to go change all of the underlying tweaks that I’ve made if I change a theme.

    Perhaps this isn’t important to designers who work on different sites, but it’s a very valuable thing to those of us who maintain the same site and just want a change of appearance now and then.

    Like you, I hold security and support in high regard. If someone cracks into your site, the design won’t last for long.

  53. You could enforce the use of child themes by enclosing one in each of your theme packs… would be great!

    • YES! I’m with Ergolomn.
      Including a child theme in your packs would be great.

      • Oh, please, do it!!

  54. Regarding security and support. Even though they aren’t factors that people look for when purchasing a theme, I think you’re correct in making them a top priority at ET. In my opinion, they are things that people don’t realize are important. For instance, if someone has trouble they really hope there is great support, but it might not be in their mind when they’re looking at all the great features. People probably assume they won’t need it. But when they do need it, they want it to be there. I think the same goes with security. Unless they’ve had a security problem, they probably don’t think of it as being so important. But if their site get’s hacked because of lousy code, well they’re going to be pretty upset that security wasn’t a higher priority. Those are my thoughts anyways. Keep up the great work (including support and security 🙂 )

    • You’re 100% correct.

    • A agree – people do not realize how important support is until they need it. I have purchased 1 theme from a company that had horrible support – I will never purchase another theme from them.

    • As far as Security & Support goes, I do believe that the survey does not accurately represent our opinion.

      We could not choose multiple answers and we had to choose the most important one to us. For that particular question, I chose Design but I can guarantee you that Support is very, very high on my list! And you are doing a fantastic job! I stopped using another theme because their Support sucked. Support and Security is very important and I hope you will keep the high standard that you already set for yourself.

      • Agreed. You asked us to pick the most important of five very critical things. It’s like asking What scares you the most? A) Cancer B) Terrorism… and then saying “I’m surprised no one is scared of dying of cancer.” If the question allowed for multiple responses or ranking the options 1-5, perhaps you would have gotten a clearer result.

      • I concur wholeheartedly – not being able to provide multiple answers skews the result., my highest priority is customisation but without the support I wouldn’t be able to customize it to the degree I’d like. I suspect a majority would have placed support very high on the list after customisation. Your support is not only needed and appreciated, its vital.

  55. Maybe the low percentage in security was due to the efforts you have made to keep your themes secure.

  56. I too am part of that 57%, and the ability to customize, along with developer and designer-friendly shortcuts like shortcodes are currently the most attractive and important things I look for in themes.

  57. I suspect that “security” is something that clients take for granted (something that’s called a hygiene factor in some areas of management theory). If it’s not there you flat-out lose your customers, but if it is there we don’t think about it at all, to the extent that it doesn’t register as a priority. Same with support. I would ‘t take this as a sign that you should back-burner either.

    • Well said, Sophie. Although security and support are important to us all, they’re similar to the airbags and air conditioner when buying a car. Most of us assume that they will be part of the package. They are no longer differentiators unless they aren’t there or don’t work properly.

    • I also agree with Sophie.

      I find the team at Elegant Themes faultlessly and seamlessly handle security and customer support with professionalism, expert knowledge and passion.

    • Agree. Please keep focussing on the security. The reason we choose for ET is the beauty of the themes.

      Maybe another conclusion is that because of the 57%, you could focus on some lovely e-commerce themes?

  58. I’m part of that 57%. Keep up the great work guys!


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