Commercial themes – a scary tale

I have a current client who’s working on two businesses – one is sort of a hobby site for now, the other is a full-fledged ecommerce site.

For the hobby site, money was definitely a factor in getting up and running quickly. My client purchased a commercial theme from a prominent and well-regarded theme developer – in fact, I’ve always really liked the attractive range of themes offered by this company.

My client found a theme she absolutely loved. We got it installed pretty easily. The way that images are added to the portfolio was a little tricky to understand at first, but we got the hang of it quickly.

Then we realize that there’s an issue. The theme automatically resizes photos in various dimensions on different sections of the site – small thumbnails on the home page which have full-size modal windows; a large rectangular featured posts slider on the home page, and a larger image on single-post pages that’s rectangular.


This is a problem. The way the theme is set up, it will not allow you to use portrait images. Well – you can use them, but they’re going to cropped to landscape proportions even on the single-post page – the theme does not have any provision for portrait images.

This seemed dumb (and many other people in the forums agreed). This is a portfolio theme after all, and from my experience lots of people have portrait images in their portfolios…

I posted a note in the forum asking about this and was given an answer about creating an algorithm to detect image orientation. I have no idea how to do that and asked for clarification and have NEVER heard back. That was last Saturday, nearly 7 days ago now.

So… I found a four-page, years-long thread about adding some custom coding to detect whether an image has portrait or landscape orientation. It was confusing, it had almost no input from tech support whatsoever – it was a matter of frustrated users taking matters into their own hands.

My client’s understandably unhappy about (1) the lack of support from this theme company, which she’s paying for, and (2) the fact that she’s going to have to pay for customizing a portfolio theme that’s built only for landscape images.


Now while all of this was going on, before the lack of support became evident, I bought a subscription too and set up a hobby site of my own. It was going pretty well, until I found that thumbnail images on the home page can’t be sized independently of thumbnail images on a single-post page. So if I want a nice large 300×300 px image in my post, I’m forced to have a 300×300 px ‘thumbnail’ on my home page.

Not good. I posted on the support form about my own theme issues. I was told “you need to edit entry.php file and do the same there.”

Unfortunately, this theme doesn’t have a file called entry.php.

Plus, I found that tech support told another paying user the same erroneous advice about entry.php. Geez.

So, long story shortened, I still have no answers. And the likelihood that I will ever do business with this company again is, well, you know. I have purchased prebuilt themes from time to time for clients, and while they always have some kind of little issues I’ve never had problems getting help like this. Not a good way to treat your paying clients, guys.

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