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Vanilla vs. other forums > no premium themes

I think Vanilla forum is the best (for its simplicity and clean user interface)

It is amazing how the other forum scripts (phpbb, mybb, vbulletin, xenforo)
have tons of independent web pages offering very nice premium themes...

If you search in Google "Vanilla themes" I only found a couple of webs with no more than 4 premium themes!

I am very sad of this...I can´t find a great looking premium theme (most of free ones are very ugly!)

Why Vanilla is lacking good premium themes?

Thanks for your advice!



  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2013

    if you search the forum for premium themes - you will find people selling themes.

    Why Vanilla is lacking good premium themes?

    its all in the eye of the beholder, and no one else seems to have the sharp eye that you have for producing a theme that you are looking for. Probably you could hire someone to produce exactly what you want, if you can't find something to your liking.

    list the premium theme sites you found and maybe someone can add to them, if it is not on your list.

    It's also possible no one can make money on a premium theme based on number of people buying them. It takes a customer base willing to purchase to get someone who builds themes for a living to even venture in. And the vanilla self-hosters don't seem to have the desire to purchase or contribute money to getting the ball rolling.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • R_JR_J Ex-Fanboy Munich Admin

    The community around Vanilla is fairly small in comparison to other forum communities. Additionally, the developers of Vanilla themselves do not have a strong interest in supplying many themes for Vanilla because they earn their money by hosting Vanilla and supporting paying customers.
    So if there will be no themeing guru who starts releasing one great theme after another, Vanilla will always be way back behind other forum scripts in that concern.

    My understanding of Vanilla is more and more that the OS version is only a good solution if you either are complete satisfied with what you get out of the box or if you are willing to code the last customizations by yourself.
    But what is not obvious for people dropping by, though, is that even if customization needs coding php/js/css/html it is enough to be willing because if you show your will to do the necessary work by yourself, the community will happily show you how to realize what you are trying to achieve and it is often surprisingly easy to achieve great results with just a few lines of code in Vanilla.

    If you are willing to pay rather than willing to work, the hosted solution is the preferred solution. I don't know about the possibilities to customize the hosted version of Vanilla but I'm sure it is possible and I'm sure the core team supports their customers.

  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator

    AFAIK, and have premium Vanilla themes.

    That said, Vanilla is so easy to theme, any experienced web designer could port existing themes over quickly.

    Search first

    Check out the Documentation! We are always looking for new content and pull requests.

    Click on insightful, awesome, and funny reactions to thank community volunteers for their valuable posts.

  • @hgtonight said:
    That said, Vanilla is so easy to theme, any experienced web designer could port existing themes over quickly.

    If any theme developer can make a Wiki guide on how to port existing themes over to Vanilla, that would be appreciated.

    Problem is the support afterwards : I read your guide, but it's not good enough, it's not working, etc. Etc.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    You can't port themes, not that I know of. You can however clone the theme and replace the class names and Id with the vanilla ones. If you use a good text editor, you can find and replace in mass and be done fast.

    That is the best I can think of. The biggest problem being the changes in Layout . One could change the master layout to match the old looks or change the css only to come close to the same design.

    Vanilla is easy to theme, anything is, if you know your way around css and if you use a web inspector. Easy, is relative.

    I can´t find a great looking premium theme (most of free ones are very ugly!)

    Premium = $

    That Does not guarantee you will like it or that it is even any good or will not have issues. I would like to know what people consider Not Ugly. Or why is it ugly to them?

    If you can't find something you like, then the best thing is to make it yourself. That is what I did and what everyone here does. The biggest fun for me is editing a theme to make it how I want.

    All the themes here serve as a guide to make your own.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2013


    The best thing I think about making a theme yourself.

    You can call it ugly or beautiful yourself - and then blame or praise the author (which would be yourself).

    And if you say you don't have the skills - learn them.

    And if you say you don't have the time - get some time

    if your time that is too valuable to reallocate to learning to create and develop a theme well ...whose fault would that be.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP

    And if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you are with....

    And if you can't find any themes you love, learn to style your theme ...

  • just 6 skins just 2 skins

    I hope to see more premium skins for Vanilla soon!

    Thank u all

  • just 6 skins just 2 skins

    I hope to see more premium skins for Vanilla soon!

    Thank u all

  • April 2014 and there are not more premium themes...

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited April 2014

    @jocla said: April 2014 and there are not more premium themes...

    yet there are more free themes since December 2013 in the add-on section.

    the only thing that you can be sure about a premium skin is you have to pay for it. That is what premium connotes, you pay an amount for theme prior to full use of it.

    It doesn't automatically signify quality. Not saying there aren't quality premium themes, and not saying there aren't quality themes available from add-ons.

    the reverse is also true, you could download a theme from add-ons and send donation to author and then it would be premium after the fact.

    Perhaps the market isn't there. people willing to pay for a theme that is.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP
    edited April 2014

    All my themes are premium, they are just free...

    Kaspers themes , premium + , free of charge

    Tama's themes, premium +, yep, gratis, paid premium themes

  • We intend to submit some premium themes to Theme Forest in the coming weeks. We're currently working on two themes for ThemeForest Vanilla Forums category. Feel free to follow us on Theme Forest,

    We felt the same way when returning to Vanilla Forums after a long time away. There are a few great themes in the Addon section of the site. Kasper has released quite a few nice templates, though a little disappointed that they're still very much in beta (at least the ones I like most).

    Do you have any suggestions for some themes you'd like to see for Vanilla Forums? I am happy to see what we can do. Always looking for ideas and if it's simplistic enough, I'd be more than happy to contribute a few more freebies myself to the Addons area.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @peregrine said:
    Perhaps the market isn't there. people willing to pay for a theme that is.

    That's the key of everything. It's a topic that comes out from time to time, and, from what I see, the status is the same: people who have enough budget go for the hosted solution, which is a good bargain and includes tons of features. Most of the Vanills OS users are on shoestring budget and can't afford to, or do not want to spend for premium features. The few who are willing to pay for premium themes are not enough to justify the effort in developing and maintaining them. Market is just too small.

  • edited April 2014

    There's worth in any market if done correctly.

    The idea is not simply to make money though, but to give opportunity.

    No offense to most the themes out there now that are premium could be better.

    Theme Forest has a good quality and standard for themes they accept.

    Personally not a a fan of those themes already on Theme Forest, but they are very nice in comparison to a lot of the free ones I see now. With a little know-how you can easily customize these themes on Theme Forest and use it as a starting point. Though same could be said about the free Addon themes :)

    The other advantage to Premium Themes, most often support is better (and there!).

    We certainly intend to submit a few more freebies to Vanilla Forums in the coming weeks, as well hoping to submit a few more to the premium category over at Theme Forest.

    @R_J, thanks for the suggestions. I will check these out and see what maybe we can get for inspiration from them.

  • businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @OurWebMedia said:
    There's worth in any market if done correctly.

    From a viability perspective, that depends on the running costs, which may be quite high. You can do as "correctly" as you like, but when something costs you several thousands just to develop (support costs add to this), and you may expect less than hundred sales, then it's not really worth it from a business perspective. Also, if you use any of the Envato platforms, which have ridiculous, nonsensical fees (to the point that I wonder why anyone should go even near them), then you will be working at a loss.

    Of course, if the purpose is to do it anyway for fun and, eventually, get a few quid out of it, then it's a different story. It becomes a hobby, not a business, and it's "smoother sailing" (even though the math is the same).

  • Hello,

    Several thousand to develop a theme? Have you ever developed a theme?

    As a client paying someone to build you a theme, yes, you can spend a lot.

    As a developer building a theme, it's time your giving and not really an expense.

    There's absolutely next to no cost building your own themes and submitting them.

    Of course it's for fun and pleasure. It's a hobby, but it's also my living.

    We sell premium themes on Theme Forest already, and we work and collaborate with quite a few authors. Never have we incurred an "expense" aside from perhaps something that required an outside hand resolving a bug, or doing something we didn't have time for or patience for - though in our 4 years on Theme Forest, we've not in the slightest way incurred an expense of that much, nor any author I know.

    We've sold over 15,000 copies of our template:

    Expense incurred? Nothing. We also own a hosting company, so our hosting is free. Though I suppose we pay for domain costs but that's not very expensive in comparison to the profit that can be made.

    There is tons of success that comes from premium themes if you have what it takes.

    For us, we're doing something we love. It pays our bills, and at the same time meet some great people (like our clients, buyers, people like you here) and help contribute to the community (as we're trying to now with our freebies).

    Even if it's less than 100 sales, who really cares? The point is, as a designer and someone who does this as a profession, Theme Forest gets your name out there for others to see and builds opportunity for other work. As an designer / developer, this alone is extremely beneficial to your business.

    Just throwing in my two cents.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited April 2014

    congrats. I suspect Wordpress Users are a bigger Market than vanilla. :) more users of Wordpress then users of vanilla.

    I think you are arguing semantics over cost of theme. if an author takes X hours to build a theme at a billable rate of Y. then it equates to X * Y = cost to build theme.

    Businessdad presumably can use his hours to do other billable things in a closed system, thus his estimate.

    I suspect most themes will take 10-40 or more hours to build.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • There's definitely a difference in markets and I won't argue that.

    Perhaps I overlooked that point.

    The fact though is that there is interest in premium themes, I can see this from scouring Google search results. You'll find that there is a lot of interest in premium themes and personally, I have no intentions of expecting "more" than what is realistic as I know the market for Vanilla Forums is much smaller than others, like WordPress.

    However, I think if there were more of a selection for premium Vanilla themes that perhaps the market would increase. A lot of people look for simplicity. The average user doesn't know how to build a website. They want to "plug and go". The convenience of available resources is what will drive a community to it's success.

    Take Joomla for example. Joomla was always "there" but never really made it's peak until themes and extensions were beginning to get produced for it. The more that became available for Joomla, the quicker Joomla was able to grow. Even though it's always had a strong framework and flexible use, it's always fallen behind until there were more resources made available.

    Simply put, people like convenience.

    If you can cater to the need, the market will grow. It's like that with anything.

    Vanilla Forums is awesome - I love it. It's very lightweight in comparison to other forums out there and while the framework is a little difficult to get started in, I think with time (as always seen) it will continue to grow.

    The release of the next version looks really promising as I explore it more :)

    Again, just my two cents.

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