Inside Envato

Introducing Envato Sites

Envato’s vision is to be a complete, community-driven creative ecosystem for people of any skill level. We’re excited about a future where many more people can make use of our products in their work, and the new opportunities this will create for our community.

As part of our 2015 roadmap, we’re experimenting with different ways to fulfill the ‘any skill level’ part of our vision. I’m thrilled to announce that one of those experiments launches into a private beta today.

Envato Sites aims to help small businesses build and launch a professionally designed website in minutes. You’ll get a complete, modern website and simple tools to update your content. It’s lightning fast, responsive, secure and there’s no lock-in to our platform. All this is backed by beautiful templates, content and advice from Envato’s world-class author community.

Each theme comes with a selection of ready-to-launch demo sites, each designed for a very specific business purpose to help you get going quickly. Themes also include a built-in set of content blocks to help you compose sophisticated web pages without design or development experience.

The beta is completely free in exchange for your feedback. When the beta period is complete, we’ll start charging a modest subscription fee, sharing the proceeds with the template author. If you need a website for your business and would like early access, add yourself to the beta list.

Envato Sites for Authors and Freelancers

Including the community in our work is an important part of Envato’s values and at the core of everything we do. This perspective forces us to approach problems differently, and we think this will ultimately lead to a much better product that is uniquely Envato.

We’ve been working with a small, fantastic group of authors in a pilot program. They’ve been providing us with a lot of feedback, guiding our priorities and working on the first handful of themes. These themes are now ready to be tested. Invites will go out to the first group of beta customers today.

Early feedback from authors has been really positive. Authors are particularly excited by the idea of a community-powered website platform to help them reach an entirely new set of buyers, the emphasis we’re placing on high-quality design for a specific purpose, and the mechanisms we’re building into the platform to encourage a sustainable theme ecosystem.

If you’d like to design for Envato Sites, we’ve set-up a mailing list for authors interested in designing themes, and another for freelancers interested in using the platform for client work. Adding yourself to these lists helps us find the right people to talk to and invite.

Envato Sites, ThemeForest and WordPress

Our experimentation with Envato Sites does not change our commitment to WordPress and other web platforms. ThemeForest is the #1 marketplace for themes, with a full roadmap to expand and better support these communities through new features and other growth experiments.

There’s still strong demand for the power and flexibility of running your own CMS, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Co-ordinating web hosting configurations, databases, domain name servers, content management systems, themes, plugins and software updates can be pretty daunting and time consuming.

Today, ThemeForest can sell you a great theme, but some customers aren’t looking for a theme – they’re looking for a complete website. These customers have very different expectations, and we haven’t been able to serve them well in the past. If we want to reach these kinds of customers and connect them to our author community, we need to experiment with different approaches.

Envato Sites and Open Source

Envato has a long history supporting open source software, and this project is no exception. The team is stacked with developers and designers who have lead popular open source projects, and we’re committed to releasing and maintaining significant pieces of the platform in this way.

Envato Sites can only be successful if there’s true collaboration between Envato and our author community to produce high quality themes. Designing great themes requires a great suite of authoring tools. We fundamentally believe these tools will be more powerful if the author community is involved in their development.

The pilot authors are already working closely with us through several Github repositories, which will be made public as we transition out of the beta. Other parts of the platform could also see a win-win benefit from being open-sourced, so we’ll explore as many of those as practical over time.

How To Get Early Access

In the meantime, you probably have questions! Head over to the community forums and we’ll answer them as best we can at this early stage.

About the Author Justin French

Justin is a product manager at Envato.