Envato https://envato.com Design & creative inspiration Tue, 16 Jan 2018 05:40:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://assets.wordpress.envato-static.com/uploads/2016/08/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Envato https://envato.com 32 32 Why Designers Make Good Founders (And Co-Founders) https://envato.com/blog/designers-make-good-founders-co-founders/ Wed, 05 Jul 2017 10:16:17 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=55062 By some accounts, design has won itself a ‘seat at the table’. This came as news to me. Like everyone else I’ve seen and been excited by the growing appreciation for design. From thermostats to wearables, websites to mobile experiences, people expect a higher standard than they once did. But designers at the helm, or […]

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By some accounts, design has won itself a ‘seat at the table’. This came as news to me. Like everyone else I’ve seen and been excited by the growing appreciation for design. From thermostats to wearables, websites to mobile experiences, people expect a higher standard than they once did. But designers at the helm, or table, of startups and businesses? I must confess to not having met many.

I know of some great designer founded companies – AirBnB, Behance, Basecamp, Nest, Instagram amongst others. But most founders that I come across online or off are from a tech or business background. The lack of design founders is a shame. There are some very good reasons why designers make valuable additions to a startup team.

Problem Solvers and Creators

All designers have two primary concerns: solving problems, and creating things. No matter the flavour of design, be it product, industrial, UX, branding or anything in between, this is the essence of design work.

Underpinning all forms of design are methods and approaches collectively referred to as design thinking. This way of thinking includes problem analysis, exploration, discovery, and drawing on established design patterns and references. There are rarely explicit rights and wrongs in design.

Because of the subjective nature of design, one of the most important traits for a designer to have is empathy. Great designers feel for their users, viewers, and consumers. Through this empathy, they develop a visceral connection to the work they are doing. Mat Hunter from the UK’s Design Council writes:

“Another, sometimes less obvious, attribute of design is that it is human-centred. Designers are sometimes caricatured as self-obsessed, but the truth is that really great designers care hugely about the real people who will use the product, service, building or experience they are developing.” – Mat Hunter

Blending empathy, intuition, and critical thinking is what makes designers good problem solvers, good creators, and in some cases, good founders.

Why Designers Fit Startups

Startups are about solving problems. A startup hoping to create value must first find a problem, then create and craft a solution to it. As problem solvers by trade, designers are well-suited to this challenge.

As they grow, startups are faced with a wide range of design problems. These go way beyond defining and designing the product itself. At the size that Envato has gotten I find myself constantly engaged in organizational design. It sounds odd, but I believe culture needs to be designed, communications channels need to be designed, structures need to be laid out. And it’s a set of fascinating design problems.

Design thinking can be a valuable asset in all these contexts. It is a deliberate approach that combines problem solving, creativity, empathy and experience, and brings it to bear on some difficult problems.

Some years ago we hired a wonderfully talented product and experience designer named Justin French to the team. Within months his constant questioning of why and refusal to discuss solutions until problems had been properly framed had rubbed off all over our small team. It drove the entire team to better understandings and ultimately better work. A good designer will have this effect. They’ll lead by example, and introduce new ways of thinking that don’t need to be the sole province of ‘the’ designer.

By having a designer-founder, startups have a chance to imprint this design-led culture and mindset across their organization. This can create a life-long differentiator and value-add for a new business. It’s never too late to introduce this mindset, and Google is an inspiring example of the change that good designers can lead. Baking it in from the start is even more powerful.

Do All Designers Make Good Founders?

Not all designers will make good founders, no more than all management consultants, or all software developers. The traits of a good founder are subjects of much interest, particularly from incubators and investors whose job it is to find the right horse to back.

Y Combinator’s Paul Graham articulates my favourite description of the most important trait of a successful founder. His view is that you must be ‘relentlessly resourceful’, demonstrating a self-aware determination to persevere and ultimately conquer the challenges of a startup. Marry this relentless resourcefulness with a broad design mindset and you have a powerful potential founder for an internet startup.

For some designers however, the challenges of a startup pose only a distraction from their true calling. In her 2012 Wired op-ed, cofounder and CEO of FounderDating Jessica Alter suggests that:

“If someone just loves to design for design’s sake, or is focusing on only that when designing a product, then maybe he or she shouldn’t start a company. … But if what they really love is the process around designing — around solving problems they are passionate about — then they are well-suited for entrepreneurship.” – Jessica Alter

Designer Khoi Vinh writes from his own startup experience:

“Because startups always have extremely limited time and resources, prioritizing the UI comes at an enormous cost to the company. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do, but when it’s not, when it gets top priority because it’s the challenge that the designer founder might be most comfortable with, or simply the one that he or she prefers the most, that can be disastrous. Because when you’re designing, you’re not necessarily acquiring customers, or marketing your product, or forging partnerships — or any of the many other complex, taxing and ongoing efforts that startups require, but which are only tangentially related to design.” – Khoi Vinh

For many great designers, design itself is a calling, an obsession, and a great love. A more generalist designer can comfortably fit into any good founding team. Where you have a designer’s designer, the founding team must be highly complementary to their specialized skills.

In a study of designer-founded businesses, DesignerFund found that most designer founders had linked up with a technical founder. The most powerful combination of all was a founding team that included a technical founder, a designer founder and a business-oriented founder.

Will We See More Designer-Founders in the Future?

Startup culture has become decidedly more mainstream in the last decade. From major Hollywood outings about Facebook and Apple, to a larger startup community in general, we are seeing an impressive cohort of empowered entrepreneurs coming up. I see tech and engineering culture continuing to celebrate startups far more than design culture does. Because of that, I think we’ll continue to see a minority of founders coming from a design background, but that should change.

As a designer-founder myself, I encourage designers to consider founding a startup as an alternative to the more traditional freelancing and agency routes so many of us take. I have had the good fortune to use my small design experience in cofounding and building up Envato. Throughout the company’s life the design mindset has served me well, and the company’s growth has given me the most interesting design challenges I’ve ever gotten to work through.

 

Article by Collis Ta’eed. Illustration by Maus Ventura.
This article was originally published on Inside Envato in 2014.

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3D, Simpler WordPress, Machine Learning, & Better Freelancing: Design & Tech Predictions for 2017 https://envato.com/blog/3d-simpler-wordpress-machine-learning-better-freelancing-design-tech-predictions-2017/ https://envato.com/blog/3d-simpler-wordpress-machine-learning-better-freelancing-design-tech-predictions-2017/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2016 06:09:13 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=51289 The annual predictions from Envato's CEO, Collis.

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Image: Envato co-founders Cyan (left) and Collis (right).
Image: Envato co-founders Cyan (left) and Collis (right).

When I worked as a web designer, I was fascinated by how design trends changed each year. Since hanging up my design boots and focusing on being CEO of Envato, my focus has shifted from visual trends, to industry and technology ones. As I did in 2014 and 2015, here’s my take on where the world is moving!

3D entering the designer’s toolkit

Project Felix from Adobe

3D is inexorably headed our way, and it’s coming in many forms.

First, we’re about to see a pretty decent set of 3D/2D compositing tools come out of Adobe in the form of Project Felix (alpha). Do designers want 3D? For graphic design work, I think the answer is very much yes. We recently partnered with the 3D giant Turbosquid to offer rotatable layered 3D renders in our Envato Elements subscription and have seen thousands of downloads in the following days.

For browser-based web design, we’ve got WebGL for serious applications, and CSS 3D Transformations for neat tricks. These aren’t new, but their usage is still pretty novel. Here’s a nice write-up with some eye opening inspiration from last year.

And finally, there is of course VR/AR interfaces on their way. With WebVR (visit Mozilla’s portal), A-Frame, and the freshly pre-released ReactVR, the tooling for creating UI for this new medium is evolving steadily. But don’t be fooled, just because these tools make use of familiar technologies, doesn’t mean working in this new space will be a simple cross-over. FastCo has a great write-up on just how far the mental jump is.

It’s never been a better time to start scrubbing up your 3D skills. Whether it’s just for making sweet looking graphics, experimenting with browser-based interfaces, or going in the deep end to invent the future of interaction.

Lots of tools, more market consolidation

Lingo, from the people behind the Noun Project

We’re in a golden era of tools for designers with new products coming out every month. Just hang out on ProductHunt for a while!

Innovative tools are popping up in every part of the workflow. From brand/asset management (Lingo and Bynder), to prototyping and collaboration (Marvel, Zeplin, InVision, Flinto, Justinmind), to website creation (Webydo, Blocs, Webflow), to tools for the amateur or marketer (Canva, Stencil, PicMonkey), and of course, to professional creation tools (Sketch, Affinity). And those are just the larger, more successful ones.

Where there is proliferation, inevitably comes market consolidation. The bigger tools are showing that they will acquire (Marvel buys POP, InVision buys SilverFlows) or imitate their rivals, in the race to win the space. The next couple of years should see more of the same.

What’s driving all this innovation? Much of it boils down to a paradigm shift created by the internet. The ability to collaborate and share online, the SaaS model for software in the cloud and browser, and the associated rise in importance of user experience and prototyping that mobile and web have necessitated.

Since those trends haven’t run their course yet, we should expect more innovative apps to follow in 2017. I continue to watch with interest to see how Adobe respond to these trends. So far we’ve seen one major push in the form of Adobe Experience Design, and it’s getting some solid reviews when paired up against Sketch. Surprisingly though, we haven’t seen a lot of acquisitions from the big U.S. firm. This isn’t because Adobe isn’t acquisitive (recent years saw them buy stock photo site Fotolia to create Adobe Stock and social network Behance to name a couple), so perhaps they are simply biding their time to pick a winner. Still no matter what Adobe does, it’s clear there’s plenty of appetite to go outside of the Creative Cloud for tooling.

Simpler WordPress

WordPress’ REST API based Calypso interface

Still the incumbent web platform, WordPress is increasingly under fire from the website builders — Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. With multimillion dollar ad budgets putting them into the Super Bowl, this trio are hell bent on taking on the mantle of most-popular-website-tool from WordPress, and they’re making inroads amongst the DIY / small business market.

WordPress for its part is responding. Matt Mullenweg has called a war council on marketing, and increasingly podcasts and media feature spots not for Squarespace et al, but for WordPress.

Mind you, it’s not advertising that’s driving the growth in these newer web builders, but simplicity and ease of use. So a more important effort from WordPress is the continued push on their REST API. Why is the API so critical? It enables WordPress’ rich ecosystem of developers and designers to repurpose the core of WordPress however they think most appropriate. Automattic themselves put out an interface called Calypso, in part, to demonstrate the power of the API.

To seal it’s spot, WordPress needs to find a way to fuse simpler interfaces like Calypso on to the complexity of its platform of plugins and themes. To make the complex simple is no mean feat. Especially when that complexity is the foundation of such a big ecosystem.

Still, there are a lot of bright minds bent on making sure WordPress has the cake, and eats it too.

More machine learning making its way in

Adobe’s Sensei is a framework of intelligent services

A couple of years ago I predicted we’d see more “AI” type tools appearing in the world of design. One of the first, a website builder called TheGrid, has been something of a disappointment after a much-hyped and marketed launch. But that doesn’t mean the design world isn’t seeing steps forward.

TheGrid’s fanfare paved the way for competitors like Wix to introduce their own take on the concept of AI-powered web design. Meanwhile in the logo space Tailor Brands has now raised millions, and seen newer entrants like Logojoy hit the market to compete with it.

Of course this isn’t the full-blown human-like ‘AI’ you might see in a movie like Ex Machina, rather it’s mostly ‘Machine Learning’. This is the process of using computers to optimize and ‘learn’ from user behaviour and data.

To a professional designer, all of these products are a bit clunky and produce some pretty naff results. But it’s not a good idea to bet against technology. These things will get stronger over time (that’s pretty much how they’re designed to work).

What does that mean for designers? It’s not that different from any other technological advancement in our field. We simply move upstream to broader, deeper solutions that solve design problems more holistically, while simultaneously making use of these same tools to help us do just that.

In fact, Adobe is working hard on their AI/Machine Learning framework, Sensei — some secret sauce they plan to feed into all their applications. Where might you see Sensei at work? Think Photoshop’s Face-aware liquify tool, and in-app “search by image”. It’s early days for Sensei, but Adobe is no slouch on the technical advancements, and we can expect its offerings in the Creative Cloud (as well as Marketing and Document Clouds) to get more powerful as Sensei learns from the huge troves of information Adobe feeds it.

Better services for freelancers

Clearbanc — targeted financial services

How people work has been changing for years, but the push towards the “sharing economy” has broadened the market for contract/freelance workers by leaps and bounds. While there is plenty about this trend that isn’t good news (think worker rights, stability and protections), there is some upside. Namely, the market for providing services for freelancers is improving with the increased demand.

In the U.S., the Freelancer’s Union has long been an advocate and service provider for the freelancer community. The union offers access to information, networks, advocacy and a range of insurance services. This isn’t always an easy business to be in however. Just ask Zen99, who formed to help freelancers in the US deal with their taxes (and the 1099 forms they file) as well as insurance. Despite making it into the prestigious Y Combinator, Zen99 closed down in late 2015 (here’s their fascinating post-mortem).

The traditional domain of businesses catering to the freelance market was in invoicing and accounting (Xero, Freshbooks, LessAccounting and their ilk). But more recently we’re seeing other types of services. Take Clearbanc for instance, special purpose financial services catering exclusively to freelancers.

Services around the freelance space are blooming on many fronts. Check out Bonsai to help manage teams of freelancers, or Konsus, a service to streamline the process of finding a freelancer. And 2017 should see even more services and tools for the freelancing ecosystem. It’s a good time to be going solo!


Check out UXDesign.cc’s The State of UX Design in 2017

Other interesting reads

This time of year puts everyone into a state of contemplation — and there’s always some good reads around because of it. Here are a few to get you started:

Add a comment if you’ve seen other thought provoking articles!

This article was also published on Medium

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Inspiring Logo Designs from Freelancers Around the World https://envato.com/blog/inspiring-icon-lettermark-logo-designs/ https://envato.com/blog/inspiring-icon-lettermark-logo-designs/#respond Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:16:42 +0000 http://envato.com/?p=37394 Highlighting designs from top sellers on Envato Studio.

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Amongst the more than 20,000 freelance services completed on Envato Studio, the most popular category of services has been logo designs.

Priced between $50 and $500, there’s a huge variety of services available through hundreds of freelancers from around the world, catering to whatever style, budget and job you might have. We’ve collected a selection of some of the most inspirational to get you started exploring the category!

Adaptive Logo Design – $60

professional-express-logo-design

Freelance designer Suki has created more than 2,000 logo designs through Envato Studio, with a perfect recommendation rate of 100%.

Unique, Creative and Professional Logo Designs – $70

treelogo

Looking for an abstract, soulless logo design? Don’t go here! Scredeck is focused on creating logos with personality. And, each order comes with 4 initial concepts of logos and 3 revisions on the selected logo.

Professional Logo Design – $100

professional-logo-design

Another top seller with a 100% recommendation rate, Zlaws has over 10 years of experience in logo design. This short video demonstrates a walk-through of his design process, from sketch to vector logo.

Professional Express Logo Design – $60

Another top seller with a 100% recommendation rate, Zlaws has over 10 years of experience in logo design. This short video demonstrates a walk-through of his design process, from sketch to vector logo.

Unique and Professional Logo Designs – $75

unique-and-professional-logo-designs

Szabolcs’s designs are whimsical, bright, and colorful, with fresh patterns that utilize of-the-moment design aesthetics without being too trendy.

Simple and Creative Logo Design – $150

simple-and-creative-logo-design

“My “designer career” started when I was 4 and I drew tons of cows and horses,” writes Szekeres, the designer behind GenesisDesign. His design style is simple and clean, with lots of straight lines and symmetry.

Hand Crafted Professional and Unique Logo Design – $150

hand-crafted-professional-and-unique-logo-design

Arpad is a friendly graphic designer from Romania who understands that the strongest pillar of your brand is your logo. He’s worked with a diverse array of clients, from web design agencies to law firms, and offers unlimited revisions and a style guide as extras on his logo design.

Professional & Unique Logo Design – $50

hummingbird

At just $50, Shopoff’s designs are one of the lowest price points on our list – but that doesn’t mean lower quality. His logos are bright, eye-catching, and feature colorful backgrounds.

Explore Studio’s Logo Design Category

 

Featured logo designs in header image by Scredeck.

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Designing a Website Ten Years Ago https://envato.com/blog/designing-website-ten-years-ago-collis/ https://envato.com/blog/designing-website-ten-years-ago-collis/#comments Sun, 21 Aug 2016 22:40:31 +0000 http://envato.com/?p=49151 Last month ten million people visited Envato Market, and a couple of hundred people worked on it. The toolchain looks like many other modern product floors — from Git to Invision and React to Sketch. But that’s not how that first iteration was done. Ten years ago, I sat down to design the first Envato Marketplace: a […]

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Last month ten million people visited Envato Market, and a couple of hundred people worked on it. The toolchain looks like many other modern product floors — from Git to Invision and React to Sketch. But that’s not how that first iteration was done.

Ten years ago, I sat down to design the first Envato Marketplace: a site called FlashDen. I opened Photoshop and started a new canvas — a smidge smaller than the common screen size of the time – 1024×768. In client work I often had to go to the lowest common denominator of 800×600, but this was a site for a technical audience.

In planning how the site looked, it was really just about PC vs Mac, and Firefox vs IE. And the balance was firmly PC (almost 85% of our early traffic was Windows XP) and Firefox (two out of three users). The Nokia in my pocket certainly wasn’t a concern, Safari was a blip on the radar, and Chrome wasn’t a thing.

An early version of the FlashDen website.
An early version of the FlashDen website.

Visual style? It was all about the gradients. I was into the subtle ones, with just a touch of light in the background. Shadows helped too. A little later I wrote a popular tutorial about adding shadows and gradients to make visuals pop.

I even had the (foolish) audacity to call the post “Elements of Great Web Design”. Font choice was a darn sight narrower back then – I was super into Tahoma at the time, because even at 8pt with no aliasing it was readable and neat looking.

Page designs took the form of dozens of individual PSD files. There was a lot of USB wrangling to get them to someone, but in our case I was the front-end dev as well. So I coded those up for our Ruby dev, Ryan. He used to complain about my use of Dreamweaver’s code editor because the tabbing messed with Subversion’s ability to tell what had changed.

Mixed in with this, of course, was some Flash work. Back then, the gold standard of Flash site design was the appropriately named 2Advanced, and the awesomeness of their sites was matched only by the wait on their preloaders. But even though FlashDen was a site for trading Flash, we didn’t use it much.

Instead, the site was primarily HTML-based, and it was only the second website I ever built without a <table> based layout. (I only did that because Ryan got me a copy of Jeffrey Zeldman’s “Designing with Web Standards” and insisted I read it.)

I practiced once on my own portfolio site, and then built the front-end of FlashDen.

Like every other worker who was used to their tools, I was suspicious of how far I would get without tables, cells, rows and headers. It was swapping one type of wrangling for another in a world where browsers were still arguing over implementation.

Gradients and graphics dominated the 2010 Envato home page
Gradients and graphics dominated the 2010 Envato.com home page.

When we launched FlashDen, our first month’s traffic was bolstered by the web galleries of the day, many of them created to promote web standards. CSSRemix, WebCreme, NetDiver, CSSMania, NewsToday — they all sent visitors.

Flash sites like Kirupa and Fcukstar sent us traffic too. Plus we got lots of traffic from a guy named Scott Wills who had a site that was home to a video that had gone viral on YouTube (some weird video sharing site that had started popping up).

However, much of our traffic was from search. And while we were past the bad old days of SEO where you loaded up keywords and weird out of place text, we still lived in the days where you could buy keyword links through mainstream services like Text-Link-Ads. It wasn’t for a couple more years before Google started cracking down on that practice.

Social wasn’t really a thing like it is today. There were discovery services like StumbleUpon, bookmarking like del.icio.us, and everyone was into customized homepages like NetVibes. But by and large traffic from social media was an afterthought. Besides I was pretty convinced that MySpace would crush that weird blue college site.

A Decade Later

Envato.com-Today
The Envato website today, in 2016.

Millions of users and ten years later, and everything is the same — but different. There’s still browsers and operating systems to worry about, just a more diverse set.

File transfer, collaboration tools, and the core creative and dev tools have all come leaps and bounds forward, as has the hardware we run it all on. A few technologies have died, and many have grown up.

The layers where people work have gotten deeper, and people have gotten more specialised. And reflected in that is the quality of the work being created in each space. Whether it is server side or browser, design, dev or onsite marketing, UX or architecture, the whole set of professions has advanced.

Back in 2006, I thought that some of the practices of a decade earlier seemed amusing and quaint. I have no doubt that today’s designers and developers look back at ’06 the same way.

And as sure as you sit here reading this in 2026, you are going to have a giggle about today.

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Envato’s 2016 roadmap https://envato.com/blog/2016-roadmap/ Tue, 19 Jul 2016 04:09:13 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=54713 A couple of months ago I got a letter in the mail from one of our authors. It came in the middle of a tough week at work and I kept it on my desk all week to re-read. The letter’s author had written: “I’m not a crying man, but I’ve shed a handful of […]

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A couple of months ago I got a letter in the mail from one of our authors. It came in the middle of a tough week at work and I kept it on my desk all week to re-read. The letter’s author had written:

“I’m not a crying man, but I’ve shed a handful of tears over the last four years watching my computer screen tell me I’m making a living doing what I love. It’s so powerful what Envato has given to so many authors, it’s beyond words.”

There’s plenty to improve at Envato, but I’m very proud that we have a hand in the success of our talented community. Whenever I run company inductions for new staff I always tell them, “We’re a proper capitalist business here, BUT we’re setting out to run that business in a values driven way.” And the most significant part of our values is; that we want to succeed by helping our community members to succeed doing what they love.

Helping that community earn is the reason we started this company, and it’s something I’m passionate about. When I published last year’s Envato 2015 Roadmap, we’d passed $250M in all-time community earnings. And recently we passed $400M. That’s pretty awesome, but we think it could be bigger. Which would mean more community members earning a livelihood doing what they love.

To do that, we need to continue growing our customer base. There are plenty of other things we’re working on for our community, but number one is bringing in more people to buy their content and services.

If we can bring in more customers, help our authors deliver them the content they want, make it accessible for the ones who are less-tech savvy, and do it sustainably as a company, then that means more community members will earn on our platforms.

Those four things make up our roadmap. And at the start of this year we reorganized the company around those four things, so that every team works towards one of those four areas. Here they are in more detail…

First, the Customers Team and Mission

The largest part of Envato is now our Customers team. Their mission is to bring in and keep customers in our ecosystem. There are already 2 million active customers who purchase from us each year, and our team is working to grow that number, and keep those people coming back.

The kinds of things you can expect to see from the Customers team are more payment options (particularly international ones), a whole new affiliates system, more organic traffic, a bigger commitment to paid acquisition, more customized and targeted email engagement, refreshed home/search/category pages, more gateways from Tuts+ over to Market and more!

Beyond that, this year we’ll be launching our new Envato Elements product. Pitched at our higher volume professional customers, Elements is an unlimited subscription for creative wares. We’re extremely excited about its launch later this year and think you will be too!

The Customers team is made up of marketing, the product, design and development teams responsible for our shopfronts, and our help teams. And it’s all led by Ben Chan who joined us a few years ago tasked with growth and strategy. You’ll see and hear more from Ben around here as he and his team report back to the community on their customer work.

Second, the Content Team and Mission

If the Customers team’s job is to bring the people, the Content team’s job is to help our Authors deliver the right content for those customers.

Surprisingly for a company whose business centres on content and the amazing Authors who create it, this is the first time we’ve had a deeply focused multi-disciplinary team on content. We’ve pulled together our content strategy team, content quality and operations team, Author product, design and engineering teams.

We think in the future Envato is going to look and feel quite different for Authors. We want to move to a world where we are giving Authors more tools and services to help them deliver their content. From refund and support policies, to pricing, to updates – we’d like Authors to more properly be in the driver’s seat.

A big focus for the Content team is adapting this kind of thinking to our review queue. We think there’s space for a smarter system that recognizes Authors who need more or less help, where our quality teams are spending more time on-boarding, coaching, empowering Authors to success. Coupled with this vision, we’re working on more library management of older content, and lots more hiring and product work for our existing review queues!

Third, the Small Business Team and Mission

The largest portion of our customer base is professional users. But in recent years we’ve seen a rising group of users that are struggling to get great results using the same tools and technologies that professionals use. We group these users under the umbrella of small business, and last year we spent a lot of time thinking about how to make our content most accessible to them. At the end of the year we decided to focus on two things: websites and services.

The Small Business Team are charged with creating platforms for our author base to create awesome websites using simple and accessible tools.

For small businesses who want the power and flexibility of WordPress, we’re working on our beta Envato Hosted program to deliver one-click setup of WordPress themes straight from ThemeForest. For customers that means a fast start on a powerful system, and for Authors, it’ll mean recurring revenue and a wider customer base.

For small businesses who want a really accessible tool but love the power of our community’s design mojo, we’re working on Envato Sites. We’ve got an incredibly easy turnkey system that means authors can deliver the latest, greatest design trends straight into the hands of literally any customer.

Couple these website solutions with Envato Studio’s deep service library, and businesses will be able to get everything from logo design to video production to help them market and grow their business.

While there are a lot of professional customers out in the world, their numbers are dwarfed by the 125 million small businesses. We believe that by facilitating our community to sell and service those small businesses, a whole new category of community earnings will be unlocked. And in the process, businesses who couldn’t afford or access a professional will find new ways to market and grow their own businesses.

And Fourth, our Business Platform Team

Our fourth group is often invisible to the outside community. They’re the people who make our company run. The platform they run for Envato spans from our analytics and business intelligence team to our infrastructure teams, from HR to finance, all the way to our award-winning legal team. This group makes it possible for the others to make the magic you see on our sites every day. You’ll know they’re winning when the three things above (customers, content and small business) hit it out of the park!

How will we know we’re succeeding?

It’s been almost ten years since Cyan, Jun and I started up Envato. Like every new business, we started out just hoping to have a business, and we chose to make one that helps designers and developers like us make money on the internet.

Today Envato is a super company, with a wonderful team, a big community, and a huge global customer base. Our hopes and aspirations for the company have gotten much bigger, but they’re still essentially the same. We want Envato to help designers, developers and every type of creative do what they love. And we’re still tracking our progress as community earnings. We’ll know things are panning out as that number climbs. Sometime this year we should see it tick past a half a billion dollars. And if that’s not a great story for a little bootstrapped business, then I don’t know what is.


If you’ve got questions about our roadmap – ask away! As always we’ll answer as much as we can. With the complexity of the business, we don’t commit to specific launches or timelines, but are happy to share general direction and goals!

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Top Ten Signs You’re a Designer https://envato.com/blog/top-ten-signs-youre-designer/ Tue, 29 Dec 2015 15:00:07 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=55715 10. Someone, somewhere, has asked you to make their logo bigger. 9. You have at least one book about chairs. 8. You know what the K stands for in CMYK. 7. You wear black. When asked why, you reply “It’s called design school.” 6. You have a favourite letter (and let’s face it, it’s probably […]

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10.

Someone, somewhere, has asked you to make their logo bigger.

9.

You have at least one book about chairs.

8.

You know what the K stands for in CMYK.

7.

You wear black. When asked why, you reply “It’s called design school.”

6.

You have a favourite letter (and let’s face it, it’s probably the ampersand).

5.

When handed printed goods, you immediately run your fingers over them to check the paper stock.

4.

You’ve sent at least one person to NoSpec.

3.

You noticed the whitespace arrow in the FedEx logo, and it made you like them more.

2.

You have a favourite shade of black.

1.

You silently judge other people’s kerning … OK maybe it’s not that silent.


Got your own? Add them in the comments.

For more designer-tainment, spend some time perusing these awesome gifts for graphic designers, or some graphic design humor or Brand New’s Best & Worst Rebrands of 2014, or our 2015 Trends & Predictions for Web Design.

ADC Annual Awards 2011 Poster(Image from the ADC Annual Awards 2011, see the full campaign)

Photo by Jeff Sheldon of the awesome Ugmonk (via unsplash)
This article was originally published on Inside Envato.

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We’re Expanding to America. Important Tax and Withdrawal Changes for All Authors and Affiliates https://envato.com/blog/expanding-america-important-tax-withdrawal-changes-authors-affiliates/ Sun, 18 Oct 2015 13:22:18 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=55670 Over the last nine years, Envato has grown from a site run from a garage in Australia to a global creative ecosystem with millions of authors and buyers from all over the world. One of our focuses in our annual roadmap this year has been to develop a platform to support and prepare for the […]

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Over the last nine years, Envato has grown from a site run from a garage in Australia to a global creative ecosystem with millions of authors and buyers from all over the world.

One of our focuses in our annual roadmap this year has been to develop a platform to support and prepare for the next stage of Envato’s global growth. To do this, we’ve recently made the big decision to expand overseas.

It almost goes without saying that the US is a key market for any digital business and our industry. We think there’s great opportunities to expand Envato there, and so we’ve chosen the US as the first international market to set up in.

Along with more growth opportunities, being in the US will help us service US buyers with more targeted payment methods leading to better conversion rates and happier buyers. This requires some important changes to how US buyers, and all authors, affiliates and Envato Studio providers interact with Envato. We’re announcing this almost three months ahead of the US launch date to give you time to plan and prepare.

Envato US

As of January 1st 2016, all Envato Market US users will pay and be paid by our US company. This should make very little practical difference to most of your on-site experience of Envato Market, except when you get to paying. Payment methods are the main change you’ll see. We’re aiming to introduce more options for US buyers. Currently we turn away qualified buyers because of our limited options.

All users (US and non-US) will continue to interact with Envato Pty Ltd (in Australia), but our US company will help Envato Market take payments from and make payments to US users.

Having a company in the US means that Envato will need to do a few new things, in order to comply with US regulations. Some of these requirements will also mean some changes for our Authors and Buyers. Please read this announcement and the associated Help articles in detail.

All US Authors, Affiliates and Service Providers Must Complete a W-9 Form

If you are a US Author, Affiliate or Service Provider, then you will be required to complete a standard IRS form called the Form W-9 so that we can issue you a Form 1099-MISC income summary each year. Check our Help Center article for the exact definition of who classifies as a ‘US Person’.

Starting with the US financial year 2016, we will issue Form 1099-MISC forms to report your total gross sales (excluding our buyer fees), affiliate income and Envato Studio gross sales. You’ll get a form at the end of 2016 which you can use to file your income tax return.

If you withdraw to PayPal, we will ask PayPal to exclude your sales from PayPal’s 1099-K reporting.

If you don’t complete a Form W-9, we’ll hold back 28% of your total worldwide sales as Backup Withholding Tax and remit it to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This tax is applied on the total sales (i.e. prior to our author fees being deducted) as per the IRS requirements. It underscores how important it is to provide us with a completed Form W-9.

How to Complete a Form W-9

  • Go to your account settings page to complete your Form W-9 Read this Help Center article for more information on completing the form, including FAQs
  • If you have already provided a Form W-9 form to Envato, there is no need to resubmit unless your information has changed. Please ensure that you keep your tax information up to date.

All Non-US Authors, Affiliates and Service Providers Must Complete a W-8 Form

From January 1st, 2016, when you sell to a US buyer, we’ll apply US Royalty Withholding Tax (US RWHT) on those sales only.

US RWHT rates range from 0% up to 30%, and depend on your country of residence and whether there is a tax treaty between your country and the US. We will apply US RWHT only on those sales made to US buyers.

In most countries, the US tax paid will count as a tax credit in your home country when you complete your tax return. Please speak to your tax advisor to understand how this works in your country.

When will Envato not apply US RWHT?

  • US RWHT won’t be applied on items sold with a Tools license (such as items in GraphicRiver’s Add-ons category). Income made from selling this kind of license is classified in a different way and doesn’t give rise to this tax.
  • US RWHT won’t be applied on service income including Item Support extension purchases and freelance/service work you provide via Envato Studio. The portion of item support which is embedded in the Item Price will have US RWHT applied.
  • US RWHT won’t be applied to affiliate referral payments or commissions.

What’s the Withholding Tax Rate Between the US and My Country?

A list of the applicable treaty royalty withholding tax rates can be found here. The applicable rates applied are based on the Royalties > Copyright classification.

How Do I Get a Tax Credit to Show I’ve Paid Tax Already?

You will be provided a summary of the taxes withheld and you can use this to claim a tax credit subject to the laws of your country. Talk to your tax advisor to discuss how this can be done in your country.

Here’s an example of the summary document you’ll receive. We will provide a copy of the Form 1042-S to each author and the IRS in March of the following US tax year. The first one will be in March 2017.

What Happens if I Don’t Complete a W-8 Form?

In absence of a valid Form W-8, the IRS requires us to assume you are a US Person who has not completed a form, meaning all your sales will be subject to Backup Withholding tax of 28% (see the section on US Persons above).

Can I Just Not Sell to US Buyers?

Unfortunately not at this time. All buyers are able to browse and purchase all items for sale on Envato Market.

How to Complete a W-8 Form

  • Go to your account settings page to complete your Form W-8
  • Read this Help Center article for more information on completing the form, including FAQs

What Information is Sent to My Tax Authority?

Outside of the US, Envato generally doesn’t send information to local authorities. In some circumstances, we may be required by authorities to provide information. You will need to provide your tax authority with the summary document (see above) to claim a tax credit.

Note that the IRS has formal information exchanges governed by their various double tax treaties, and may report your US sales for other purposes.

Can There be More than One Owner of an Envato Account?

Envato Market enters into a legal agreement with the person who creates an account and agrees to the terms and conditions. This person can register as a representative of a business/company that complies with all our usual terms (be registered in a country, put forward its tax details, receive funds to its payment accounts, and so on).

Due to complexity, however, outside of the US the business cannot be a partnership. In those cases the W-8 must be completed by an individual or business/company. For US partnerships only, the W-9 form may be completed by a partnership entity.

We have explored what it would take to extend Envato Market to allow multiple owners for an account such as partnerships, however it’s a very complex area of regulation given the global reach of our author base. So at this time there are no plans to change the service to accommodate that scenario.

When is this Program Starting?

Sales after January 1st, 2016 are subject to these guidelines. This coincides with operations commencing for Envato USA.

What Information Will I Get on My Statement?

Your statement will be updated to show when taxes are applied, and the amounts withheld.

New Withdrawal / Payment Rules Starting January 1st 2016

As of January 1st 2016 we are streamlining our withdrawal system. Withdrawals will only be processed to the nominated account holder payment details and the country must match the one on the completed W-8 or W-9 form.

We will be restricting the number of withdrawal destinations an author can make to just one per month (or for express withdrawals, one per week). So one PayPal account, or one bank account, etc.

We know this means some authors will need to adjust their cashflow planning and have put this announcement out as far ahead as we could to give you time to do so.

We understand that from time to time an author might change their account details, and therefore you can update your details in any subsequent month. However you will no longer be able to split withdrawals in a single month.

Multiple author accounts can use the same payment and tax details, so long as they are validly completed and consistent with account ownership. This would be relevant for authors who, for example, manage an exclusive account and a separate non-exclusive account.

These rules will be applied for the January withdrawal (paid out on January 15th).

Swift Fees Decreasing

Along with these changes, we’re dropping our Envato Swift Fees for bank transfers from US$35 per transaction to US$25 per transaction. This will apply for all transfers following January 1st, 2016.

Countries Where You Can’t Use Envato

Payment providers including PayPal and many Australian and American banks, cannot make payments to, or receive payments from certain countries in the world.

(Updated on December 4, 2015 to remove South Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and North Korea from the list of countries we cannot make payments to or receive payments from)

In addition, US sanctions prohibit trade with countries subject to full scope sanctions, such as Iran and North Sudan.

In December 2015, we will be updating our terms and conditions to clarify that Envato Market and Envato Studio will not be accessible from certain restricted countries. From that time onwards, users in those countries will be presented a page redirecting them to a Help Center article. This list of countries may change from time to time, and can be found in the Help Center.

If you are in a restricted country, or intend to move there after January 1st 2016, you should contact us immediately. Your account needs to be closed in, or before, December 2015, and any earnings withdrawn and items downloaded.

We aim to make Envato as universally accessible as possible, and will monitor sanctions lists for changes that allow us to offer our services more broadly. If you are an affected user and would like to discuss options please contact us.

While our userbase in these countries may currently be very small, it’s not a step we’ve taken lightly, and was a significant discussion point on whether to expand into the US. Ultimately we decided in favour of steps to expand the business and community overall.

What About Countries Where Payment is Temporarily Blocked?

Payment operators, including banks, periodically cease operations in certain countries. A good example is Greece that has had temporary blocks in place recently. In these cases, where there are no broad full scope sanctions, we will hold funds and wait until payment operators recommence operations.

Discussion

This is a substantial announcement with a lot of impacts for authors, affiliates and service providers on Envato. Some of the impacts are pretty big, and news about taxes is generally never something anyone wants to hear!

I wanted to stress that this set of changes is not one that we’ve taken lightly, and we’ve put a lot of effort into considering and weighing up the trade-offs for our users.

On balance, I believe that this is the right move for Envato and our community overall. Ultimately growing in the key market of the US will lead to a larger revenue pool for authors on Envato Market.

However I understand that there will be some authors, affiliates and users who may find that this means that selling with Envato no longer makes sense. As always, it’s important for every user to weigh up their situation and consider what’s best for them.

As with some of the other big changes in the past, I’m personally reaching out to as many authors as I can to answer questions, and discuss their personal situation where it’s helpful. Together with Matt from our Elite team, I’ve spoken with a handful of authors prior to the announcement. If you think it would be helpful, please ping Matt or me (collis at envato) and we’ll line something up as soon as we can.

General Discussion

Please read all the relevant Help Center articles and FAQs completely to find answers to your questions.
This article was originally published on Inside Envato.

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Widespread WordPress Plugins and Themes Security Vulnerability https://envato.com/blog/wordpress-item-security-vulnerability/ https://envato.com/blog/wordpress-item-security-vulnerability/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:38:04 +0000 http://envato.com/?p=41140 This is a general community announcement to bring your attention to an XSS vulnerability affecting multiple WordPress plugins and themes. The vulnerability is caused by a common code pattern used in WordPress plugins and themes available from ThemeForest and CodeCanyon, the wordpress.org website and other sources. This issue is not limited to themes and plugins […]

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This is a general community announcement to bring your attention to an XSS vulnerability affecting multiple WordPress plugins and themes. The vulnerability is caused by a common code pattern used in WordPress plugins and themes available from ThemeForest and CodeCanyon, the wordpress.org website and other sources.

This issue is not limited to themes and plugins purchased from ThemeForest or CodeCanyon. Anyone using a WordPress website, regardless of where the theme or plugin was sourced, needs to be aware of this and take immediate action to ensure it is secure.

What should I do?

As there is no simple way of knowing exactly which plugins or themes are affected, and the issue is widespread, our best advice is to periodically check for updates to any WordPress themes or plugins you are using and apply those available as soon as possible.

Envato is actively working with all ThemeForest and CodeCanyon authors, explaining the issue and asking them to check that their items are secure and to update them if necessary.

We expect ThemeForest and CodeCanyon items to be continuously updated over the coming weeks, with the majority updated in the next few days. Updates may be downloaded from the Downloads page as they become available. If you would like to be automatically notified about new updates, please activate “Item update notifications” in your email settings.

For updates to items obtained from other sources, please check the Plugins and Themes pages in the WordPress Admin area or contact the source of the product.

We strongly recommend continuing to check for updates, especially over the next few weeks, but also on an ongoing basis. It is important to always keep your WordPress installation and associated plugins and themes up to date. If you still have concerns, we suggest engaging an experienced WordPress developer to check whether your site is affected.

More details are available via the following links:


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Envato’s 2015 Roadmap and Big Picture Vision https://envato.com/blog/envatos-2015-roadmap-big-picture-vision/ Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:44:31 +0000 https://envato.com/?p=55703 Here at Envato we measure our impact in community earnings. We started tracking this back in 2012 when our community clocked in at $50M. We set ourselves a goal – to help our authors, freelancers and instructors to make their way to a staggering $1B of combined earnings. We’re now more than a quarter of […]

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Here at Envato we measure our impact in community earnings. We started tracking this back in 2012 when our community clocked in at $50M. We set ourselves a goal – to help our authors, freelancers and instructors to make their way to a staggering $1B of combined earnings. We’re now more than a quarter of the way there, our community having recently passed the $250M mark. But there’s still a long way to go.

In order to close the gap between where we are now and where we want to be, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our vision for Envato. What do we want to be? This is the internal vision statement we are working to:

Our vision is to be the complete community-driven creative ecosystem where, with any skill level, you can make beautiful, engaging creative content. Operated by an inspiring, values-based, global company.

At first blush it sounds a little like Envato today. But it’s not. Today, Envato isn’t always for ‘any skill level’. Pick up an After Effects file on VideoHive and unless you have the software installed and the know-how to use it, the template might not do you much good. Don’t know what FTP is? Well it’s going to be pretty tricky getting a Magento theme going from ThemeForest. Sometimes even choosing between freelancers on Envato Studio can seem daunting.

We’re excited about a future where anyone can make use of our products.
There’s a whole world of people out there who would get enormous value from our community. There are millions of small businesses around the globe who don’t even try to make a video, get online, or develop a brand for themselves. We’d like to connect these audiences to our authors and freelancers. We think it’ll be a win-win, and we see Envato as uniquely placed to help make that happen.

The first step in any journey is to declare a destination. So there you have it. We’re aiming to make our community’s offerings much more accessible. We’re aiming to do it in partnership with our community – be they authors, freelancers, buyers, or businesses. And we want to be a company that people respect and look up to.

Part of doing this in partnership with our community is to be transparent about where we’re going. That’s why last year we published our first annual company roadmap, and today we’re doing it again for 2015.

What’s on the Roadmap for 2015

Every year, internally, we orient ourselves around eight focus areas, all working towards our big picture vision. Some of our roadmap for this year is building up what Envato is today, and some of it is working towards building up what Envato will be in the future. Here’s what we’re doing.

(For each focus area we’ve listed some of the public-facing work we’ve released. We’ll keep this page updated throughout the year.)

(1) Helping Buyers Get Started

There are now 1.75M active buyers across Envato. To reach this enormous size we’ve mostly relied on people organically finding us and figuring out how to use our sites. But we don’t always make it easy.

This year we’re working on the on-ramps, and on-boarding to help new users find us, get started and stay with our sites. This means things like interviewing new buyers to understand their pain points, updating homepages and landing pages to be clearer and easier to use, introducing content that explains our offerings for less tech-savvy users, establishing partnerships with other companies to offer better value, exploring new payment methods to broaden our appeal, more streamlining of our brands so they’re easier to remember, brand building to show what Envato is all about, improvements to our affiliate program to make it easier to work with, and much more.

Things We’ve Done So Far

(2) Your Envato Identity

With so many people using Envato products, and with a growing portfolio of Envato offerings, your Envato identity is of growing utility.

Your Envato identity starts with your sign-up. At the moment, we make you go through a fourteen-step process to create an Envato account. That seems like a lot of steps! We’re looking to streamline that down.

Once you get going with one Envato product you’ll probably want to use another one. We currently share some limited information between products, but we also make you tell us things again and jump through hoops. Sigh. We’re going to fix that.

As we make your Envato identity more and more important, we’ll be continuing to build on the security features and processes we rolled out last year.

Your Envato identity is also how we recognize you in the community. Currently the most active part of Envato’s community online is our Market forums. But it’s been a long time since we significantly improved the forums, and though we have lots of Studio related threads there, it’s really mainly for Market use. We’re looking to upgrade our discussion offering and make it a broader and better community hub.

Things We’ve Done So Far

(3) Industry Leading Content

The success of our community is built on the amazing content and work they produce. We know we have industry leading content across Envato, but we also know there’s more we could do to surface it, to show it off, and in some places to deepen the library.

Different parts of Envato have different areas that we need to work on. Our footage library has amazing content, but just not enough of it. Our graphics library is beautiful, but it’s hard to see in our too-small image previews! We have a ton of freelance services on Envato Studio, but we don’t cover the full gamut yet. We improved our search and discovery systems on Envato Market dramatically last year, but they’re not mobile friendly yet.

We’re looking at initiatives surrounding the way our content is uploaded to Envato, found through search, previewed and published for sale, and we’re reviewing the categories we have available to make sure we’ve got the full spectrum covered.

Things We’ve Done So Far

(4) The One-Stop Shop

Since 2006 we’ve been building the most comprehensive offering in the digital creative space. From plugins to video, presentation templates to forum themes, courses to freelance services — Envato has it all. But we don’t always help buyers connect the dots and see this breadth of offering.

In 2015 we’re working to tie our offerings together to show buyers how our ecosystem can make their projects better and their work easier. We want buyers to see how items go hand-in-hand with services and support, how video and music go together, and much more. We’ll be working on integrations, rollout of our item support solutions, and on-the-fly bundling and discounts.

Things We’ve Done So Far

(5) Growth Experiments

Experimenting with change and growth is in our DNA at Envato. Whether it’s the Tuts+ translation project that’s rapidly gaining steam, or the Envato Studio express talent pools that are serving up over a thousand 24hr WordPress theme installations every month, we’re always looking at how we can evolve our products and offerings.

This focus area, more than any other, is thinking about how we build towards our vision of ‘any skill level’. Look out for us experimenting with tools and platforms to make that happen.

(6) A Global Company

As a fast growing company on a global stage, we’ve been spending a lot of time and effort on financial tools and tax rollouts. It’s not the most glamorous work, but it’s part and parcel of operating worldwide marketplaces.

This year we’ve already completed a large sequence of financial tool improvements on Envato Market, including the main rollout of EU VAT, and we’ve got still more improvements to financial tools that we’re working on. These include more work on the Statements page, earnings summaries, and improvements to EU VAT features and tax reporting in the US.

It’s not all financial and tax though! We’re also improving how we run global meetups, how our team can work from anywhere, and how Envato can have a greater presence in more countries.

Things We’ve Done So Far

(7) One Company & (8) Punching Above Our Weight

Our last two focus areas are mostly internal in nature. But for transparency, here they are:

The first is our ‘act as one company’ focus. We’re working to ensure that we’re coherent, collaborative and transparent on the inside, so that even though there’s hundreds of people working at Envato, we still feel like one company. Inside and out, we want Envato to feel like one big ecosystem. While we improve things on the inside of the company, you’ll see the results in greater transparency from us, and more coherence between our different products. As an example, last year this roadmap only covered Envato Market work. This year it’s for the whole of our company.

And the second is a focus on thinking big, delivering more, and not letting our scope be limited by our size. We’re still a relatively small company, but we have big ambitions. If we’re going to get there, we need to be good at scaling ourselves, improving our tools and service levels, and working on what’s most important.

Things We’ve Done So Far


So these are the very broad strokes of what we’re planning for the year. As we did last year, we’ll keep looping back to this post in our announcements so you can track our progress through the year. It’s going to be a big one!

This article was originally published on Inside Envato.

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Envato Market – the Platform https://envato.com/blog/envato-market-platform/ Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:54:10 +0000 http://marketblog.envato.com/?p=37981 In recent months, there has been an ongoing discussion with the community around how Envato Market works. Some of last year’s rollouts around financial tools made it clear there was some confusion around our business model and how buyers, authors and Envato interact. Background Since our launch in 2006, our Market terms have been clear […]

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market

In recent months, there has been an ongoing discussion with the community around how Envato Market works. Some of last year’s rollouts around financial tools made it clear there was some confusion around our business model and how buyers, authors and Envato interact.

Background

Since our launch in 2006, our Market terms have been clear that the sites act as a platform for authors to sell directly to buyers. Similarly licenses issued are from the author of the work to the buyer. Other aspects of Envato Market, such as communication tools between authors and buyers for support and feedback, also work as you’d expect for a platform.

However we didn’t do a good job of some of the language and commercial documentation we’ve used across Envato Market in the past. In particular, we used the word ‘commission’ incorrectly when talking about rates and on payment notes. This unfortunately led to a large amount of confusion.

When the discussion started last year, many authors asked whether we would change our model to a reseller model, and I promised that we would look into what that would involve and loop back to the community. We’ve had a lot of discussion and debate internally, taken into account the interests of authors and buyers worldwide, and done a lot of in-depth research.

From this, we’ve concluded that we’re going to stick to the platform model that Envato Market has historically operated on. And instead we are focusing on addressing the specific author concerns raised, rather than the way the site works.

How Platforms and Marketplaces Work

A platform like Envato Market acts to connect a buyer and a seller. There is however a large range and variation in what a platform can look like and how they work.

On the one hand are platforms for dealing with physical goods. Examples are Etsy and eBay. Money often flows directly from the buyer to the seller (for example through a PayPal transfer), and the buyer and the seller directly interact. The platform provider typically charges very low fees, and is quite hands off.

On the other hand are platforms for dealing with digital goods. Examples are Google Play, Apple’s App Store, and Envato Market. Here money flows via the platform with fees deducted. Digital content is often reviewed for quality. In app stores there is very little interaction between the buyer and the seller, whereas on Envato Market buyers and sellers often engage (for example around support). In app stores the platform provider is hands off on pricing, while on Envato Market we set prices. In these digital platforms, the fees charged are usually higher than platforms dealing with physical products, as there are more services provided by the platform.

In the world of stock photography, a different model is used. Sites like Shutterstock act as a reseller for a contributor’s work. The level of interaction between contributor and buyer is more minimal in this model, often none at all. Resellers exercise more control and responsibility in the transaction, and this is usually reflected in the fact that contributors typically take home a low portion of the sale, often in the 20-40% range.

Why Envato Market will stay a Platform

While we understand many of the concerns authors have raised (more on that below), changing from our platform model doesn’t match what Envato Market is trying to be and to achieve.

Over the years we have been increasing the amount of interaction between buyers and authors. In particular our biggest marketplaces – ThemeForest and CodeCanyon – have an enormous amount of interaction around item support. Last year we announced that we are making this kind of interaction a first class part of the marketplace, and giving authors the tools to further monetize these kinds of interactions.

Our vision for Envato Market is to empower and celebrate authors as a community of entrepreneurs, not to shrink their role in the transaction.

We think that facilitating connections between creators and customers creates a better outcome for everyone. Authors learn about buyer needs, and this inevitably gives rise to additional opportunities to earn money.

That’s why over the years we’ve been steadily introducing features like Google Analytics integration, marketing advice for authors, our comments and updates features, having author contact forms and freelance availability badges, giving buyers ways to follow authors to hear about new items and track them on social media, celebrating authors in Envato Stories, API integration tools for connecting author support centres, and so on.

Our aim is to grow the interactions between buyers and authors for marketing, sales, support, and community. So moving away from a direct platform model doesn’t make sense for Envato Market at this time.

How Will We Deal with Author Concerns

Authors raised some specific concerns around tax and financial issues, which we are aiming to systematically address. When the discussion started last year, the biggest issue raised centred around how EU VAT would be dealt with.

As we’ve previously announced, from the 1st of January 2015 we are managing VAT compliance, collection and remittance. This is rolling out to the site in the coming weeks, and additionally we are liaising with the relevant EU Member State tax authorities to resolve any historical issues.

We’ve postponed the commencement of information reporting in the US and are looking at solutions to the double reporting problems that face the 1099 regime – in particular we’ve been discussing with PayPal an approach to ensure payments made via their service are only reported once.

And we’re rolling out a series of improved statements and commercial documents systems here on Envato Market to ensure authors have all the information and documentation they need to prepare their financials. These go live on February 1st and then will have extra updates with the VAT rollout a few weeks after.

We have more initiatives in train for other sales taxes, streamlining of our withdrawals system and help center material around many of these issues. And we will continue to work on concerns raised by the community.

Splitting off Envato Bundles

Finally, in reviewing the reseller model, we’ve identified that the Envato Bundles we’ve been running, along with our plans for them do not fit comfortably with our platform approach on Envato Market. Nor has our system been built to deal with the invoicing, payouts and so on very well.

So we have ceased running bundles here on Market while we set up a separate business unit and site at bundles.envato.com. You’ll see that spin up in the next couple of months. We’re planning both a better author experience when you contribute items to a bundle, but also some new enhancements to let us do things like include Mac apps and bonuses in bundles and other neat things!

Discussion

Undoubtedly there’s going to be lots of discussion to be had around these topics. We’re opening a specific forum thread which the Community Team and I will be monitoring all of next week.

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