Checklist for Publishing a WordPress Theme on ThemeForest

ThemeForest is among the most reputed online marketplaces for WordPress themes, HTML templates, plugins and a lot of other resources. Naturally, they are very particular about the quality of the WordPress themes that are requested to be published on ThemeForest. This is the reason why buyers from around the world trust ThemeForest when it comes to buying WP themes.

This credibility is hard-earned and that is why they have set their bar quite high in terms of Theme design and code quality. In a nutshell, publishing a theme on this website is a challenging job. This approach may seem to be less profitable but has many advantages in the long run. Not only the theme developers are motivated to build quality themes, the buyers also purchase the themes with confidence. The positive image of ThemeForest works in the favor of everyone.

If you are new to the world of WordPress theme development, you may have difficulty getting through the stringent criteria of ThemeForest for theme publishing. In this article, we have compiled a set of checklist that will help you understand the parameters that need to be fulfilled while developing your theme so that you can have your WP theme published without any hassle.

Check the Code Quality

The code needs to be optimized, clean and following the best practices in order to avoid theme rejection. Poorly coded themes are bound to be rejected as they do not meet the guidelines of ThemeForest. In case you are perplexed about the coding standards, you need to follow CSS standards, JS standards, HTML standards, WordPress theme development standards, and PHP coding standards. Have a look at the details of the coding standards to follow:

  • Check for any scrap images in the asset folder
  • Check for any scarp CSS or JS files in the theme.
  • Remove all unused plugins.
  • Manage the header only through Theme Options and not widgets.
  • You must use JS validation for comment system.
  • Typography and formating of the Unit Test should be kept left aligned.
  • Metabox for Revolution Slider should be shown in all the pages to add Revolution Slider banners.
  • All the CPTs should appear below comment section in the Admin Panel.
  • Proper and relevant dashicon should be used in all post types.
  • All hidden files in the theme should be found and deleted.
  • Must write all data under data validation(“__” , “_e” and “echo $)
  • Each class, functions and variable should have a prefix.
  • All $GLOBALS variables should be within a function or class.
  • Every pixel of the theme should match the PSD.
  • The theme needs to load the file properly using __FILE__, dirname, __DIR__, include and require, etc.

Keep all functionalities separate

The functionalities that come along with the theme are needed to be kept separate from the theme. A theme that is tightly coupled with plugins is a bad theme. Hence, you must offer all the plugins separately which can be installed by the theme users after theme installation.

WordPress Features That Need To Present

The theme must be widget ready at all the advertised location. Every theme that wishes to get published on ThemeForest has to provide child theme support as well. You must refrain from using Timthumb in your theme. All the default widgets of the theme must be displayed in all widgetized section with proper styling. Also, the themes must not use global setting to add options to define the number of posts to be displayed on category or archive pages.

Get Your MarkUp Validated

Getting the theme validated is an important aspect of WP theme development. Even if you write standardized HTML code, your theme may not pass the validation test of W3C. The theme has to be validated in detail using tools like Using this tool subjects your theme to a huge chunk of test data and evaluates the integrity of the theme.

Lay Emphasis On A Unique Design

Following coding guidelines and writing quality code is important but equally important is a beautiful theme design. ThemeForest has become a huge marketplace for WP themes and there are hundreds of themes in various categories. Hence, to stand out, your theme must be unique. If your theme resembles others, it creates a ground for rejection.

Get A Website For Theme Demo

A demo website that shows your theme in action is not only necessary to engage your users but also impress ThemeForest. They visit your demo theme website to check the quality of the theme, code validity, and theme™s uniqueness. The demo website better be nicely designed because if it is able to impress the people at ThemeForest, you cross one hurdle.

PHP Guidelines

Any kind of PHP notices and warnings must be eliminated from the theme and WP_DEBUG must always be set to true while developing the theme. The option to access and modify the database directly should not be provided. A defined function should be used instead to get the data that is needed. $wpdb object and the methods of wpdb() class should be preferred to writing your own class. PHP short tags should be avoided as well.

Use Theme Check Plugin

Theme Check is a plugin that helps the developer check the theme for any kind of errors including fatal errors, variable name errors, and data validation errors. All the WARNINGS, RECOMMENDED, INFO and REQUIRED notices should also be removed from the theme using the Theme Check Plugin.
Testing your theme using Theme Check Plugin makes sure that your theme is in compliance with the Theme Review Guidelines. If the theme is intended to work on a wide variety of websites, it must adhere to the latest standards of WordPress theme and Theme Check Plugin is the simplest tool to achieve it. The errors shown by the plugin can be rectified by the developers. An error-free theme is more likely to be published on ThemeForest.

Perform Unit Test

Theme Unit test is one of the steps of testing your theme. This test validates the basic structure of the theme. You need to download the test data in XML form and import in into your theme. The purpose of this test is to ensure that all the HTML tags that are added to the posts are in accordance with the universal layout of the theme so that the design does not break. From the correct display of the posts to the flawless rendering of the static front page, 404 page, search result page, blog post index page, menus, widgets, etc. can be checked by performing unit test. Also, the sticky posts being the core feature, must be styled appropriately. Any potential overflow issues in the design must be located and rectified. Testing the theme with Unit Test strengthens the chance of your theme to get published on ThemeForest.

Theme Documentation Is Very Important

If you feel the documentation is just a formality, you are grossly mistaken. ThemeForest goes through the theme™s documentation and if it is not up to mark, the theme may suffer a soft rejection (explained later). Themes with no documentation or a very poor one get rejected and those with a mediocre one will appear as Poorly Documented. In order to change it to well documented, get a better document for your website.

License For All External Theme Asset Is A Must

Each and every external asset that you provide with the theme must be licensed, or it may land you into the legal trouble. These assets may include WordPress plugins, CSS Frameworks, JS plugins and other such resources that you take from other sources. The asset if bought from third-party sources should come with a commercial license. If it has been purchased from ThemeForest, it should have an extended license.

Final Remark

When your WordPress theme meets all these parameters, the chances of your theme being rejected becomes almost negligible. However, guys at ThemeForest are experts at evaluating the theme and may hand you over a soft or hard rejection. A hard rejection implies that your theme is nowhere close to getting published on ThemeForest. A soft rejection, on the other hand, is a way to tell that your theme requires certain modifications and can be submitted again. You can also go through the ThemeForest theme approval process and benefit from it. If you have any suggestions regarding the topic, do let us know.

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