Envato’s David Scott talks to some of the people behind the arrival of a new breed of WordPress designs.
Building a website for a yoga studio might not be the first use case that comes to mind when you’re discussing WordPress web design, but for the teams at Envato and Elementor, they wouldn’t have it any other way, following the launch of their new theme category, called Template Kits.
The companies joined forces in May to usher in a new approach to building websites in WordPress, with the aim of making the platform more accessible and helping people get the site of their dreams up and running quicker than ever before, in an increasingly crowded website builder industry.
“Launching Template Kits is our latest response to the growing demand for page builders and customers looking for design inspiration that is simple and easy to apply to their website,” says Cameron Gough, General Manager of Envato’s Content team.
“We know that the WordPress world continues to evolve and respond exceptionally well to the changing needs of the wider web design industry, and you only have to look at Gutenberg as one example of how the platform is evolving to meet the increasing demand for easier tools that provide a leg up on website design.”
“Couple this with the strength of page builders such as Elementor and others, plus a vibrant and active community of developers, hosting providers, and more, we think there’s never been a better time to provide a new and easier way to bring WordPress websites to life.”
The yoga studio example above helped confirm to the team at Envato that the idea was a success. “Out of the gate one of the first items to trend was a Template Kit designed for yoga instructors,” notes Author Engagement Lead James Giroux, “and we expect to see lots of activity with items that are focused on more general business uses, so it really wasn’t a surprise to see such interest in this kit from day one…especially as we go through a global pandemic lockdown!”
“But the early reach of the Yoga Template Kit speaks to the ways that this new item type can reach deeply into user needs and more quickly meet the needs of really niche categories.”
The Envato team has been working on Template Kits since 2018 when six free kits were included as part of the first release of the Envato Elements WordPress plugin on WordPress.org. By the end of that same year, the plugin had over 10,000 active installs.
“We continued to add free Template Kits to the plugin throughout 2019, with 100 kits included by the time we had 100,000 active installs,” notes Aaron Rutley, the Product Manager of Envato’s
Extensions team that developed the plugin. The regular cadence of positive and constructive feedback from WordPress users every month helped push the team along, he says.
“By late last year, with the growth of our plugin and the feedback we had received from users, not to mention the rapid growth of Elementor as one of the leading page builders, it was clear that a growing number of WordPress website creators were looking for options above and beyond a traditional theme.” And so, a new content type was born, with teams on opposite sides of the world – Envato’s Melbourne office and Elementor’s Israel HQ – working together for months to refine and reshape a new generation of visual themes for the platform.
Eran Alon, VP Product Marketing at Elementor said, “The adoption of Template Kits is great news for web builders, marketers and business owners looking to build beautiful websites. Kits are customizable, easy to use and offer a broad website design solution for WordPress websites. We are thrilled to see partners like Envato adopt this approach and we look forward to seeing stunning websites that will be created by our community as a result”.
“We know that Kits are super complimentary to Elementor, and early feedback we’ve had has been positive, and we’re looking forward to connecting further with our community soon to get an even better understanding of how users are getting creative with the Kits.”
The newly launched and Elementor-supported Template Kits will sit alongside Envato’s existing library of more than 47,000 WordPress themes and website templates, solidifying Envato’s place as one of the leading WordPress creative communities in the world, and building on Elementor’s rapid rise as one of the world’s leading page builders for WordPress.
Unpacking The Kit
So what do you get when you download a Template Kit? It’s not just about providing a fast, easy, and flexible solution for WordPress users to create sites in Elementor’s open-source platform. Each kit contains all the templates and visual elements required to get a fully functioning website up and running, with a suite of multi-page designs and content blocks allowing for endless customization in Elementor to help designers get their dream site live quicker than ever before.
Template Kits are a code-free and fully flexible design layer of a website, which means you can bring professional layouts and limitless customization without design or coding knowledge. An Elementor compatible WordPress theme is required to support Template Kits, however, all customization is done with drag and drop functionality, making it easy to create your dream website.
Whether you’re building a site for a restaurant, an app release, an agency, or even just a personal side hustle, Template Kits help lower the threshold for non-website developers to create sites and provide everyone with the freedom to build exactly what they want. Not only can you quickly build a website from scratch using Template Kits, but they also give you the ability to add new designs and layouts to your existing website, allowing for tailored outcomes to specific industries and visual styles.
“We’re very pleased with how Template Kits are being received in this launch month,” says Giroux. “Customers are happy and we’ve seen great adoption of these items, especially on Envato Elements, where their popularity already exceeds many plugins and rivals the existing WordPress themes we have in the library.”
“And on the creator side of things, we’re seeing our author community excited about being in on something new from the beginning. Publishing activity to the Template Kit category has been consistent since launch and I suspect it will continue to grow over time.”
The Future Of WordPress
While Elementor is rightfully the most popular page builder right now, Cameron Gough says that he expects Template Kits to branch out and grow with other solutions as market demands evolve. “We fully intend to support other page builders including Gutenberg as its popularity grows. We think Gutenberg’s future is incredibly exciting and will lead to many opportunities, especially as things like block patterns and block-based themes start to take shape.”
“We know many WordPress professionals that want a pre-packaged, fully functional website template may continue to favor our existing collection of WordPress themes,” continues Gough. “But we increasingly see customers wanting to develop websites from a page builder foundation rather than a full WordPress theme. For these customers, Template Kits will provide a leg up on design, and it’s important we continue to support these changing needs,” says Gough.
“We believe that many businesses are wanting to move online and we are well placed to help them do that,” he concludes.
For Giroux, who’s day job sees him speaking with WordPress developers and digital creatives around the world each and every day, he sees portfolio projects as potentially the next big Template Kit trend to take off, “because of the opportunity to splash big beautiful images across the page; Porta and Tozee stand out as good examples of this.”