Providing WordPress Theme Support

Providing support for WordPress themes, it’s like happy hour at a bar, some take advantage and shout the loudest, whilst some take it as a small perk and smile in the corner

Let me preface this by saying, I love giving theme support, any buyers reading this, don’t think this is a rant, I simply just wanted to make a blog post about the realities of making WordPress themes and providing support for them.

What you’ll quickly realise when you start making WordPress themes is that, you’re not selling to developers (a lot of the time), recent developments in WordPress have made it so user friendly that even the Office Junior can now be in charge of building an enterprise level website. The issue is, that these green users unfortunately know almost zero about web development, so when it comes to even the smallest CSS change, you can expect a ticket/email/post, depending on your theme support option of choice.

If you’re like me, then your customisations policy is already set out, and you’ll have somewhere to forward users that need customisations. I personally forward all my customisation requests to Elto, though there are plenty of similar services available.

If you’re new to this game, set a boundary level for customisations, I’d say 50% of my support tickets relate to customisation of some form, you need to find your boundary as to where you cut this off and say enough is enough, hire a developer.

Tips for WordPress Theme Authors:

  • Find a support ticket service, Ticksy or Zendesk are both great, others also exist, don’t use emails for support, you’ll get overwhelmed quickly.
  • Build your WordPress themes as best as you can, and always stick to WordPress standards.
  • Stick to WordPress standards, I cannot emphasise this enough, I’ve made renegade themes before, and it’s never been good.
  • Treat your customers with respect! I’ve seen too many authors with chips on their shoulders, you rely on your customers, make them happy they bought from you.
  • But: don’t bend over backwards and take too much, every service has it’s limits, especially one you’re giving for free.
  • Write great documentation! Get screenshots in there, and write as much as you can, you can always reference it later if a buyer doesn’t read it also!
  • Make screencasts if you can, use captions if you hate your voice, even simple screencasts go a long way.

Tips for WordPress Theme Buyers:

  • Admit to yourself you may have done something wrong, most WordPress theme marketplaces have Quality Checking in place, if your WordPress theme isn’t installing, it’s not because the author can’t make a WordPress theme properly, it’s likely you’ve done something wrong.
  • When asking for support, validate your purchase.
  • + Provide a site URL, and a page URL for your issue
  • + Be verbose in your issue description, “doesn’t work” is an infuriating thing to read
  • + Be professional, this means you can be firm if there’s a bug, but it also means you’ll come across in a rational manner
  • Above all, say hi and thanks to your theme developer! I answer around 50 tickets / comments daily, if you’re nice to me, I’m much more likely to be nice to you! I may even extend that customisations line I mentioned earlier! 🙂

I’m planning on doing a series of blog posts about life as a WordPress theme developer, if there’s anything you’d like me to cover let me know with a comment, I’ll try make the posts much easier to follow than this one too 🙂

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