Marketplaces Roadmap 2014

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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!


  1. Great to see so many improvements and can’t wait to see them all rolled out

    All the sites are amazing and am often on them looking for the next thing to help my projects.

  2. It’s pleasing to see that you guys are still making all these improvements after all the success that you are having! Guess that’s part of you being where you are! Congratulations!

    Funny but true “leader” comic indeed Collis! 🙂

  3. Thanks for an update. Are there any plans for recurring yearly maintenance fees for all purchased items? Let’s say 5-10% of item price. It would keep the old items going, and authors happy.

  4. Oh!! Excellent! Congratulations Collis!

  5. I’ve enjoyed working with you guys for a few years. Started at ThemeForest.net.

    But now I’ve been locked out of my account from your password reset problem. It’s been a week. I keep sending reset emails, keep leaving comments and tech support tickets. How hard can it be to JUST SEND ME A PASSWORD RESET email???

    Anyone want to write me back at least?

  6. Great news! Can’t wait for the new features especially the improved item support for CodeCanyon. That would be awesome! 😀

  7. Loving the roadmap and I believe they are core areas which I believe need improvement as well 🙂

    Keep it up! Look forward to seeing these updates rolled out live.

  8. Hey Collis,
    The updates look exciting!

    Currently support isn’t “required” from authors, and most authors on Themeforest do provide support on their own dedicated forums. I really, really hope that isn’t going to change.

    We love supporting our items, we really care for our customers – so we do quite a bit of support, but only in our support forum, and are improving it as much as we can over time ( better search, knowledge base and we have tons of ideas that just need time to develop ).

    An integrated solution would benefit a lot of authors who have to use provide support via Comments or Ticksy – it could be a really nice feature for newcomers and authors who just don’t have that many items and/or sales.

    However – for us – our support is something we want to do our way and be responsible for our customers on our own. We have a narrow target audience and we want to cater everything for them, and I hope that the support is going to remain optional and untampered with.

    Also – I think that Item support and pricing should go hand in hand. Many successful plugins (outside Envato) have their “1 Year support” policy and many times – higher pricing as well. In my opinion that it is a core part of good support ( good people who can take their time to care for their customers ).

    A direction I would like to see – a more open API. I think it could actually really help authors. I’m sometimes tickled pink when I imagine a social-network like “Login with Envato” button on our support forums instead of “Enter your name, password, email, purchase code, etc.”

    Overall – I just hope authors get a lot of input before any decision on support is made.


  9. I do agree, there is need for improvement in the support section of themeforest and codecanyon. If there is anything like GIT or version control system can be implemented that will be super awesome for everyone.

  10. you guys are doing tremendous things… keep on rocking… hope whole lot of ideas we people get..

  11. It’s good to see you’re focussing on both the buyers and the sellers. Like you point out, some aspects could be clearer for the buyers (like support) so that it comes down less to interpretation. You guys have been growing really fast the last couple of years and I’m proud to be part of that 🙂 Keep up the good work!


  12. The biggest problem with item support is not the interface but the fact that customer expectations are very high pushed by competition between authors, this is not bad but the fact that this can’t be charged separately is causing a very low return per sale pushing authors living in countries with higher cost of living away from themeforest or forcing them to treat themeforest as a hobby not a serious full time job alternative.

    In the long term this will probably lead the marketplace to be filled with low quality items by authors from asia willing to provide everything customers ask for the low price of a theme and only a very narrow group of good authors that hit the jackpot with a very well selling theme (hiring support from asia) will be around.

    Is time for a revolution, themeforest strong point is the stock theme price but it should also let authors ask for extra money on support if they need it, so they will be able to pay the bills otherwise they will have no other option but to leave making it impossible to work for such a low hourly rate that is probably fine in some countries in asia.

  13. I’m really excited about the vision and direction of how the things ar going and i’m sure everything will go from better to greater!

    I’m really proud of being part of this amazing journey along the Marketplaces!

    1. Thanks Marius, I’m very proud to be running a Marketplace with such talented people on it. My hat is off to you 🙂 Also happy Hogash day in advance 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing this Collis,

    I am feeling satisfied to know the directions your teams are working in and I am also happy to know that you have lots of people to help you get things done in better and quicker way.

    1. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words ram!

      On the subject of visionary leaders – someone sent me this amusing comic today 8 Types of Leader 🙂