Do you care about one-click premium theme updates?

(Leland Fiegel) #1

I sell premium WordPress themes. They’re based on a starter theme and generally bug-free upon release, but I do update them occasionally with new modest features and small bug fixes.

Through my website, I sell subscriptions that enables access to download the latest version of the theme and one-click auto-updates once it’s installed on the site.

While I haven’t sold very many, I find it interesting that not a single person has bothered to activate their license(s), which would enable one-click updates.

I’m thinking this is because:

  • They’re generally happy with the theme as-is
  • They’re afraid if they enable one-click updates, they’d more easily accidentally overwrite their changes (if they altered core theme code, they’d be right)
  • Since it’s not a “theme framework” or a plugin, it’s just perceived to not really be a big deal to update ASAP

I’m not considering ditching the system I have now, because in the event a support request reveals a bug, I’d want to be able to say “okay, update released…feel free to do a one-click update and it’ll fix the issue” and not “okay, update released…feel free to download a zip file and then manually overwrite all your theme files somehow” which would be a markedly worse experience.

This would also be a huge pain if a customer using it on multiple sites had to quickly update a bug. Instead of just going into something like ManageWP and updating it network-wide with one-click, they’d have to manually upload zip files to each site.

However, many buyers on Creative Market and ThemeForest and other marketplaces without a consistent update experience knowingly buy themes anyway, and don’t seem to mind just as long as the theme fits their project well.

I guess my question is, do you care if a premium theme doesn’t have one-click updates? Does it affect your buying decision in a significant way?

(Basilis Kanonidis) #2

Nice food for through.
What I have done is to make that an extra plugin for my users, together with some other stuff ( a support - like portal ).
That way, they have options and I have a lighter framework. Size matters! :slight_smile:

(Sebastien) #3

I would prefer a one-click update for any theme free or premium. Really the user should apply any changes made in a child theme so they don’t loose any changes.

(Leland Fiegel) #4

Agreed. Just speculating on why they might not be enabling auto-updates. :slight_smile:

(Leland Fiegel) #5

Sounds interesting. Is this open source by any chance?

(Anh Tran) #6

Enabling auto updates is a good choice. I love that. It helps giving the patches to users faster than the normal way, thus, reduce the support effort. I did that for some of my themes on ThemeForest.

But I think, users don’t care about that too much, especially users on ThemeForest. Most of them are agencies, and they feel good when using a theme to build websites for clients. I guess they rarely update. And it’s fine when they want to update manually.

(Ben) #7

I’ve noticed the same. I have a few users who have setup auto updates but not many are installing them. I have no idea why :confused:

(Zackary Allnutt) #8

I’ve noticed the same thing. These are the reasons I have seen for this:

  • The site was setup by an agency and the client doesn’t understand the need to keep updated, in fact they may not understand there are updates
  • Some people using theme are the get rich quick types who couldn’t give a damn about site security
  • If there is a bug, so long as it’s not effecting them, they don’t feel the need to update
  • If the update system is not the same system that the WordPress directory uses, i.e they wont look elsewhere for updates
  • Many people edit the files directly so they cannot update
  • Themes are not seen as something that would have security issues ( wrong! )
  • If it aint broke, why fix it
  • Users tend to just setup and leave it. Any new features doesn’t matter to them.
  • They don’t know what an updates is, how to update or why they need to

(Yash Chandra) #9

I think this depends on who the buyer and maintainer of the theme/site is. When I buy a theme for my clients, I don’t turn on one click update because I want to manage when to take the update and how to take it depending on the usage of the theme. Also, the nature of our business is that we don’t allow any wordpress updates by default because we control those through wp-cli in the back and for premium themes, we do it manually.

Also from a business perspective, it may not make sense to take every update right away. For example, if you added a nice new feature, it may not be applicable to my use case and I don’t necessarily need that update right away. So I hold on. If it is a security patch, I will take it right away.

If your buyer is a non-tech user though, one click updates may be a good idea for them. For devs and agencies, it can depend.


I think all the main reasons are already in this thread but in general, users don’t care about that too much like someone before said.

(Nate Wright) #11

@leland what instructions do you give them for activating the license?

For instance, I instruct them to enter the license key during the initial setup guide. But I could do more to encourage it, like adding an admin notice, redirecting upon activating the theme, using a delayed admin notice, or sending a follow-up email with additional setup instructions to encourage them to activate.

Some users won’t want to activate it anyway, but I think most users just aren’t aware of what it is or why it’s there. In the .com world I presume it’s all done automatically. And ThemeForest doesn’t really do it as far as I’m aware. So the majority of people won’t have encountered one-click updates via license keys for commercial themes, even though they’ve been around in indie shops for a while.

I wouldn’t presume that customers don’t care that much. In my experience there are lots of things theme customers just don’t know about, but they’re delighted to hear if you tell them.

(Leland Fiegel) #12

Feel incredibly silly for not considering this, but I barely give them any instructions.

Just a mention of “one-click updates” on the sales page, access to license key(s) after purchase, and a “Theme License” page listed under Appearance in the admin.

No on-boarding process, admin notices, or anything like that. License keys aren’t even referenced in the theme setup guides at the time I’m writing this post (which will soon be changing).

Now I’m thinking customers not activating is not because of a lack of caring, but more likely because of a lack of awareness as a result of me not communicating effectively.

(Ben) #13

On activating theme I redirect to a ‘getting started’ page that includes links to the docs, recommended plugins, and a box to add your license code for auto updates. Not sure it’s made any difference unfortunately.

(Zackary Allnutt) #14

To second what binarymoon said. Doing to during unboarding is a good way of doing it. I had a welcome screen that helps them get up and running, one screen was to hook up the licensing.

(Zackary Allnutt) #15

Of cause implementing that is time consuming, so it may not be worth it.

(David) #16

Actually I create a tools that might be useful to provide theme updates (and plugins)

f(x) Updater
The docs is very limited. But I use it mainly to provide fixes/mod to my clients.
(so, I built it for custom themes and plugins for a single client case, not for public)

e.g a client ask (that already use my custom theme/plugin) usually contacted me to fix a bug, plugin compat, or change layout/modification, regular maintenance, etc.
So instead of sending the updated theme/plugin via email and ask them to update it. Or update it via FTP,

I simply send the invoice and said “Please check your dashboard and update”.

(How cool is that? right?)

If you are interested and have time to try it, let me know what you think about it, and how to improve it. thx.

(Too bad this type of plugin is not allowed at wp org)

Auto updating themes and plugins outside of