Business

Item Support Timeout: Gathering More Data

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This week we announced plans that we believe will improve item support across ThemeForest and CodeCanyon. In preparing the plans, we’d interviewed authors and buyers, sought out (anonymized) buyer support data, and researched trends in the broader industry. Now that the announcement is out, the overall response on the forums has been pretty heated with a lot of concerns from authors. We’ve been reading and listening. I’d like to call timeout, while we gather some more data.

The forum response to our announcement has raised lots of questions we expected, but also some we didn’t – in particular some of the negative responses from so many authors who we know already offer and provide free support. While we had some good preliminary data and research, now that the announcement is out, and we’ve heard these concerns, we’re going to engage in wider surveying, split testing of UX ideas and more interviewing.

Our announcement had a deliberately long lead time, so we have plenty of time up our sleeve to work on the ins and outs.

With some of the community understandably anxious about plans that could affect their livelihood, I’m optimistic that more data will guide us to the best possible model.

We’re going to kick off both author and buyer surveys. We’ll publish results from the surveys to close the loop for participants. Neither survey will be asking for feedback on the announced plan or for ‘solutions’. Rather, we’re going to gather information about current practices, needs and outcomes from both authors and buyers. The aim being to gather information that clearly shows the path to a solution.

We’ll also be looking out for authors who are willing to share (anonymized) data from their support systems around volume, turnaround time, and other key metrics. We’ve had some already, but more will help.

Why Are We Pushing Item Support?

Our aim here is to improve the item support experience for both authors and buyers. While we intend to create a commercially sensible setup, revenue has not been high on the agenda at all. In fact, our primary concern has been buyer and author satisfaction.

So many of the conversations I’ve had with authors from ThemeForest or CodeCanyon in the last couple of years have touched on the unsustainability of item support and the unrealistic expectations some buyers have. Similarly, many conversations with our buyers also touch on the confusion and the frustrations they’ve experienced first hand. There’s an enormous gap in expectations and a lot of room for improvement, so we put it on our roadmap to start exploring solutions.

The forum response suggests that not all authors agree with our initial findings, so we’re going to dig deeper on the data.

What’s Going to Change?

I don’t want to create false expectations here. I always tell new team members that we have a duty to do a good job for the entire marketplace. While I don’t want individual authors feeling powerless and voiceless, it’s also important that we build something that is long term good for all authors and all buyers. That might mean tradeoffs to get the balance right.

We’ll see what more research and data indicates and come back to the community with either a better case for why our initial plan is in everyone’s interest, or alterations to it.

What’s Next?

It will take us a little while to craft solid survey questions and to deliver them to authors and buyers in a way where we can build objective information. So look out for these, but don’t expect them immediately.

We’re going to continue working on features like author-driven refunds and vacation settings because they are good for the Market no matter what the overall approach.

Late next week the community team is looking to put me on camera to answer questions in person.

Finally, I’ve closed the original forum thread – at 700+ replies it was getting pretty hard to follow – and opened a fresh thread to follow this announcement.

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