Recently I decided that I couldn’t write my own themes for use in Internet Marketing. It simply wasn’t a productive use of my time. So, I began my search for quality, usable themes. Being broke, and trying to follow the Bum Marketing methodology as much as possible I started out by looking at free WordPress themes.
Most of these themes were OK; some were even good. However, the lack of technical support, and features, and the scare stories I had not only heard, but experienced, with themes breaking and not being updated, put me off free themes.
How could I not resist? The themes from the website demo’s looked pretty good, and since I’m a coder, I can handle the odd tweak here and there. So, I purchased the package, and I thought I’d tell you all about the different themes available (Not all of them! Just a choice few) and how good (or bad) they are.
70+ Themes… Really!
So, let’s get into the Themes. I’m not going to review all 70 odd themes; that would just be silly. Instead, I’ve chosen my top three themes picks, which I think will be really useful to Internet Marketers and in fact seem more focused towards our little community of marketers.
The rest of the themes are all perfectly viable for use, but depending on your project, you may need to tweak them a little bit. Why don’t you check out their themes? They all include demos.
The great thing with this product is the inbuilt rating system. As the author of the post, you can select a number of features and rate them. These ratings, and an overall averaged rating, are placed on the the post. Also, the overall average rating is displayed on the post excerpt as well, so your visitors get a nice visual idea on how good the product is.
The features can be anything you want them to be. For example, a site promoting HD TVs, the features might include:
- Screen Size
- Contrast Ratio
- Color Depth
- Any other product features
You can also add a price which will feature below the featured image in each post, and a Call to Action button which appears at the bottom of the post. One feature I did miss from this theme was the ability to add multiple Call to Action buttons, but if you’re just sending a visitor to one affiliate company like Amazon it’s not an issue.
The theme comes with some quite useful widgets as well, an Adsense widget, About Me widget (for a cheesy photo and blurb), and the really good Top Rated Products widget. This last widget displays a quick overview of the top rated products based on either your rating or the users comments rating, which is a great way to get user’s to see quality products that might be further down the post list.
This Elegant Theme is all about promoting a product (Did you guess that from the name?). The theme features all the usual goodies you would expect, except here the featured slider has been pushed over to the right and there’s a tabbed area for content on the left.
Added bonus: The theme is laid out in such a way that it forces the visitor to focus on the product.
The widgets supplied with MyProduct are pretty standard, with the exception of the Tabbed widget and the Testimonial widget.
The tabbed provides a funky way to display a list of Recent, Popular (by comment count) and Random posts – a great space saver.
The testimonial widget provides a way to get customer testimonials across via a Quote box. The wonderful thing about this is that when the page is refreshed, the testimonial changes! This means that you’re saving valuable space on your site, but can show various testimonials.
First things first: This theme is the first one they have created that uses a drag and drop feature to create your landing page. As such 99% of the options are in the Landing Page Builder, rather than the Epanel.
I clicked the Sample Layout, and was given a ton of blue buttons. So after deleting them all (I like a blank slate), I found it was really easy to simply drop and drag the features I want onto the site.
Each “module”, such as Logo, Header, Video, Slider, Testimonial, Pricing Table (the list goes on), has an easily accessible options panel for each individual module. Each module also has an inbuilt TinyMCE (the WordPress text editor) should the module require text.
The shortcode features of all Elegant Themes are also built into these editors, which makes adding buttons and other functions easy. If you are not sure about shortcodes, in brief these are codes that look similar to this – [button-blue] – and are either manually typed in, or you can select from options on the editor menu (which is how the Elegant Themes shortcodes work). These tiny tags, actually tell the theme to do something cool. As in the above example, it will tell the theme to insert a blue button at the chosen point. Easy to use, and really powerful.
The modules that contain each function, such as Header, Video etc can be rearranged easily simply by dragging and dropping. Not only that, but the Landing Page Builder provides a column system which makes creating half, third and quarter width columns a snap. I did find putting modules into the columns a little fiddly at first though, but maybe that’s just me.
The one down side I came across for this theme is that it doesn’t have custom menus built in, which is a shame, as custom menus are a really powerful, easy to use feature of modern WordPress themes. It does have a Widget module (5 in fact) so you can still use different widgets, including the custom menu widget, but you will have to mess with the CSS a bit to get it looking pretty.
And I understand to a degree why there is no custom menu support, as this theme isn’t mean to be used for a standard website, but solely for Sales pages and Funnels, but having this feature would have made a great theme brilliant.
I am impressed with what Elegant Themes have delivered with this theme, I have recently reviewed other Sales page themes and this feature of drag and drop makes creating this style of site an absolute dream.
I want to talk about the Elegant Themes Epanel system. Epanel is on all their themes and is where you change your options. Sometimes the Epanel is slightly different to accommodate specialized features of a theme, but I’ll just go over the main sections.
Here you can add a custom logo and favicon very easily, and change the color scheme to one of the predefined styles. You can also tweak the number of posts that are displayed in the pages (Category, Archive, etc.).
From the homepage tab you can quickly include or exclude categories displayed on your homepage and tweak or turn off the quote displayed.
Most of the themes have an inbuilt slider which can display posts or pages. One slight annoyance is that it will only display posts from one category rather than from a selection.
If you’re just going to use the inbuilt theme navigation it’s here where you can select which pages and categories are used.
I would still use a custom menu, personally, as it gives slightly more flexibility, what with being able to use custom links and tags as well.
Here you can select what meta data you want displayed (i.e. Author name, category etc.) and whether thumbnail images are shown.
I was a little disappointed with the ad management on most of the themes from Elegant Themes. They only provide you with the ability to put a 468×60 advert at the bottom of posts. Of course you can still put ads in the sidebar etc. via a supplied widget, but still, I would have liked a little more options with it (say you want a smaller fatter advert or it to be at the top etc.).
Here you can tweak color settings for fonts (overlooked by so many themes!) and include a child theme stylesheet. The themes even supply a color picker so you don’t have to hunt on the web for the right hex code, which is really handy!
If you don’t have a plugin for SEO, the themes provide in built capabilities to tweak the SEO of posts and pages.
Here you can add in Google Analytic codes and the like without actually having to look at the code. Great for those little scripts and everything Google.
The themes come with some handy shortcodes available for posts and pages. These include different coloured boxes for Information, Warning, Downloads etc. There are button shortcodes with various colours and even with icons. As well as these there is an option to add a tabbed information area and an author bio with image at the click of a button.
I was slightly disappointed on two counts though. One there’s no preview images, a minor thing really but there you go. The other was that the images and colors are pre-set so you can’t change them without getting your hands dirty with some code/file system.
OK, so even Premium WordPress themes can have issues, so having a good customer support is necessary and this is what separates the boys from the men, the free themes from the premium.
When I first used Elegant Themes I had an issue straight away. I was using the InReview theme and the stars for the product rating were missing. After a visit to the support forums, I discovered it was due to a WordPress update and they provided a bit of CSS which sorted it out. A while down the road and they updated all the themes with updates that fixed little bugs like that.
Little things like that shouldn’t bother you, they happen, what should bother you is how they are handled. So far the customer service at Elegant Themes has been top notch.
All in All
Would I recommend Elegant Themes? Yes I would, especially if you require a large number of varied themes for different purposes. If you just need one, then it might be overkill, but even so at the price ($69+ tax) buying the years membership for one theme is worth it, and you get another seventy or so themes thrown in so any other projects that might crop up.