Marketplaces Roadmap 2014

The Envato Marketplaces Team
The Envato Marketplaces Team

Earlier this year I stepped back into the driver’s seat of Marketplaces. It’s been over two years since I was directly running the biggest part of Envato, and after my first three months back on the job, I am loving it! Today I wanted to loop back to give an update to the community on what we’re working on, and where we are going.

The Best, Finest, #1, Leading, Most Amazingest.

If you’re going to do something, I believe it’s worth doing it well. And since 2006 when FlashDen first went online, one of our goals at the Marketplaces has been to build the best creative marketplace online.

Early on we made a key decision that the best marketplace would be the one that had it all. From photos and music to themes and plugins. We believe that people who make creative projects need all kinds of things. So the best marketplace would be one where they could get everything they needed. This would also help us enable the greatest number of authors to sell their work.

For years now we’ve been pursuing this strategy, broadening out the categories, adding new content types and making sure that we have the biggest, broadest selection of creative stuff anywhere.

In broadening so much, we also created a lot of challenges for ourselves. Each of these markets has very specific needs, whether it’s licensing for music or item support for themes. To cater to such a full market, we’ve had to take a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s gotten us a long way, and to some extent will always be a part of our strategy. But being too generic doesn’t sound like the best creative marketplace either.

So this year we’re beginning a greater shift towards specializing aspects of our Marketplaces to specific needs. This is part of a larger effort to pull up the overall user experience to match our leading market position!

8 Stakes in the Ground

With over a hundred people working on the Marketplaces you can imagine we’re doing a ton of different stuff at any one time. But we’ve planted a few flags in the ground to stake out some of the things we’re doing in 2014. These are all things to get us further towards our goal of being our best!

These are broad themes of work that you’ll see us hiring for, working on, researching, and pushing along. Naturally the agenda may change, but when it does, you can expect to hear back from me here on Notes and on our forums.

Here are the eight key things we’re working on in 2014:

Sustainable Item Support

For ThemeForest and CodeCanyon in particular how buyers get post-sale support has been a big issue. Buyers have an inconsistent experience, authors have been rolling their own tools and themselves feeling unsupported, and there’s lots of confusion over who is supposed to do what. There’s plenty of problems to solve in this area, and we’re building a dedicated team to work on them.


Stronger at Media Markets

Because our historical roots are in project files and templates, we’ve not always given media types like photos, music and footage, the attention they deserve. The problems start with our upload tools and treatment of meta data, and then flow into issues around licensing and previewing. We’ve got a team working on this too.


Seamless Purchasing

Buying stuff is kind of the heart of what we do. But it’s not as easy as it should be! From the signup flow to the purchase flow, to things like shopping carts, we’re working on making it easier to buy. It’s good for buyers, it’s good for authors. And yes there’s a team on this too.


Finding What You Want

One side effect of the quickly growing library is that it’s getting harder to find stuff. Whether its the relevancy of search results you get, or needing to click a lot to see a video play, or simply needing to search and re-search to narrow down, there are lots of interesting problems to be addressed. You probably guessed it – but yes, there’s a team on this.


Financial Tools

When we built the Marketplaces we were imagining sites that sold millions of dollars worth. Turns out we’ve built a set of sites that are into the hundreds of millions. Our finance system is due for some upgrades, some of these are user facing like improvements to the statements and information for authors to do their taxes, and some are internal around how we model transactions. You’ll get sick of this, but yes there’s a team dedicated to this too.


Smooth Operations

There’s a lot that goes into running our Marketplaces, supporting our community and helping the authors shine. With some twenty million monthly visits, doing all that review, support, and ops work has gotten increasingly rocky. We have an amazing team of people, but haven’t given them the systems they need to really shine while so much of our time and energy was dedicated to coping with growing. Last year we brought in a very talented operations director (‘Smooth Steve’) to turn that around. Pretty soon you’ll see things like a new support system, improvements to our quality approach, and more. There’s not just one team on this, but a bunch of them!


A New Brand

For a long time Marketplaces has been a group of brands. In fact to make life easier I usually refer to it as ‘Marketplaces’. We’re overdue to start consolidating, and while it won’t happen this year, we’re aiming to make some steps forward in selecting a brand name and starting to roll it out to places like Notes and the header.


Taking a Holistic Approach

As a team we’re trying to tackle bigger and bigger things with a larger and larger group of people. When you’re small, information and collaboration flow easily. Now that we’re getting big, we’re putting lots of effort into being more holistic and collaborative in our approach. This is the most internally-focussed thing on this list, but we believe it’ll lead to better results for our community when we take this kind of approach.


The Big Things Card Wall

So those are our big headline themes of work. Even though some of them will continue on in to 2015, we expect to make big leaps forward in these areas this year. It’s not exhaustive by any means, and you can expect lots of small projects mixed in there like new lovely-to-read legal terms, more incremental visual improvements, as well as projects coming out of our hack-weeks and other teams.

Looking even further out there’s a mountain of stuff to do. I have a wall behind my desk where I put cards denoting ‘big’ things which has everything from massive visual refresh to internationalization to a re-architecture of our codebase to a recommendation engine.

Over the course of this year as we deliver on the eight big blocks mentioned above, I’ll be back to talk more about what’s ahead. You can also expect to see our product and delivery teams referencing this post in launch comms to illustrate how what we are doing ties back to these broad themes of work.

Well that’s it for me, if you have questions or thoughts I’m going to be answering stuff over the next week here and on the forums – so ask away!