Last month we wrote a review of the TypeMagz theme from the ColorLabs Project team, an up and coming premium theme website which offers a variety of premium theme designs at below market value prices. This week I received word that their new premium theme design, which was built specifically for those looking for a standard blog design, is now available for purchase.
The premium themes market has had an overwhelming focus on CMS Themes since its inception back in late 2007, but I’ve always felt that there should also be a variety of blog designs available for all of the WordPress users which actually *gasp* want a nice blog design to use with their blogging software. After all, despite being an extremely flexible piece of software, the core function of WordPress is blogging, right?
That leads me to believe that there is a large market of buyers looking for a nice blog design which includes a flexible feature set and is also available at a lower price point than the more advanced CMS themes currently available. The new WellBlog theme by ColorLabs Project is one of those blogging templates which does a pretty good job of achieving the goals I have for a solid premium blog theme.
To start, here is an example of the design and control panel which is included with the WellBlog theme.
WellBlog Theme Homepage
WellBlog Theme Internal Pages
WellBlog Theme Control Panel
If you’d like to test it out, you can check out the live demo of the black version of the WellBlog theme here.
The WellBlog theme also includes a number of features in addition to the 3 built-in skins to choose from. Probably my favorite unique feature is the scrolling “Most Commented” section at the top of the sidebar. Here are a few of the other more notable features:
- Supports WordPress Threaded Comments
- Built-in Gravatar Support
- After-Sales Support and Upgrade
- Cross-Browser Compatible
- Advertisement Banner Management
- Theme Administration Control Panel
If you are interested in learning more about the WellBlog theme, or are interested in purchasing a license for your WordPress blog, it is currently available for $50.00 (single-website license), or $200.00 (developer’s license for unlimited websites). WPHacks.com readers can use coupon code 94F4D as well to get an additional 30% off your purchase!
If WellBlog isn’t for you, you can also view all of the themes available from ColorLabs Project here.
For those that follow some of the more prominent members of the WordPress community, you have probably noticed that those at the top have become a very close group. I’ve always felt that this is a wonderful thing, but it has the side effect of making it difficult for a newcomer to break into those ranks and earn the respect of their peers.
One of those up and coming designers who is trying to get noticed is Roy Guan. A few months ago Roy entered into the crowded premium themes community with the launching of his website, Theme Junkie. In order to grab a foothold within this very busy space, Roy has managed to find a niche within a niche, offering all of his premium designs for under $30.00. In only about six months time Theme Junkie has already made available a large selection of premium themes as well as two free themes.
Below I wanted to take a moment and feature a few of my favorite designs already available from Theme Junkie:
Over the years it has been interesting to watch the WordPress themes market both grow and evolve. If you had asked me back in 2007 where I thought WordPress theme were going, I would have guessed that we were headed towards a strong focus on designs. Instead over the last year especially designs have moved more towards efficiency and simplicity with a focus placed on custom widgets and customizable control panels. These simple designs seem to allow bloggers to get all the features they want and then customize the simple designs to meet their individual needs.
One design that recently caught my eye is the new TypeMagz theme by ColorLabs Project. This website has been around for years now thanks to the extremely popular Arthemia theme, but rather than going with a magazine format, this new design instead places a focus on gathering and presenting news on the homepage. Here is a sample of how one configuration of the homepage may look:
TypeMagz Homepage Design
For internal pages the website converts to a blog format which includes many of the standard blogging features you’ve come to expect from WordPress:
TypeMagz Blog Design
Although this theme isn’t for every type of website/blog, if you run a website which manages a ton of content, the TypeMagz theme may be just what you are looking for. Like any good news-styled template, this theme really excels by taking a bunch of information and displaying it in one easy and convenient page where you can point readers to.
As you’d expect in today’s market all these features aren’t free, but the template is definitely affordable when compared to the competition. The TypeMagz theme is available for $50.00 for a single-use license, or a developer’s license is also available for $200.00. If TypeMagz isn’t for you, you can view all of the themes available from ColorLabs Project here, including their other new design, the Wellblog theme.
Over the past year the premium themes market has continued to grow and expand, causing designers to search for ways to separate themselves from the competition. Because many buyers choose to customize the design to meet their personal needs, it only makes sense for the focus of designers to instead turn to building custom settings pages that allow for a ton of flexibility.
These settings pages have become very complex in many cases and can offer a variety of features, including selecting where you want your sidebars placed, how many sidebars, which color/design style sheet should be used, or it can also offer simple things like places to enter your custom RSS feed, twitter feed, and Google Analytics code. As I’ve watched these control panels evolve over this past year, it has been truly amazing just how much can be changed without changing a single line of code!
Nick Roach, the founder of the popular Elegant Themes theme club, has been offering complex settings panels on his themes for as long as I can remember, but earlier this week I was given a peak at the new revamped settings panel named ePanel. This new settings panel is extremely complex and will eventually be added to all of the themes included with an Elegant Themes club membership. As of today’s date, ePanel is already integrated into the following themes and available for download: eBusiness, eNews, ePhoto, PureType, Bold, and CherryTruffle. Nick promises that the remaining themes will receive the same treatment over the coming month(s) and all themes will include this new ePanel.
So, what exactly is ePanel? Here is a screen shot of the updated design:
As you can see from the screen shot above, there are a few bonus tabs under the General Settings tab alone, and there are a total of 8 tabs down the left sidebar. The General Settings has the following 3 tabs: General, Homepage, and Featured Slider.
After loading up the theme to see how the settings panel works, I have to say I am very impressed! It looks like the General tab (under General Settings) allows you to select the style sheet color you want to use, enable/disable blog formatting on the homepage, Feedburner integration including all your Feedburner settings, and selecting the date format (dates are displayed differently depending on what part of the world you live in). In the Homepage tab you’ll get access to category display, as well as the ability to exclude certain categories of your choice. Of course the Featured Slider tab allows you to control how the featured slider works.
That is just the beginning though, as on the left there is also a series of tabs which include a large number of other settings. You’ll find Navigation options, Layout Settings, Ad Management settings, Colorization, and you’ll even be able to control certain SEO settings on the SEO tab (mostly meta information similar to how All-in-One SEO Pack works).
The best part is that all this new functionality is available for all Elegant Themes club members! Currently a membership to Elegant Themes is only $19.99 for an entire year, and stays at that price in order to renew your yearly membership. You can learn more about the Elegant Themes club here.
Over a year ago, I was among those that speculated on custom widgets and their role in the future of WordPress themes. One thing that wasn’t speculated on, however, was the rise of WordPress theme frameworks. Now, just over a year later, many of the leaders in the premium themes market are building their own internal frameworks which are used as the backbone to design their premium WordPress themes. For example, Woo Themes now has their own Woo Framework. Brian Gardner of StudioPress also recently informed me that he is also developing a framework for his StudioPress themes.
Premium theme designers are not the only ones using frameworks these days, however, and a few can actually be used by anyone in the development of their own personal themes! As with traditional WordPress themes, WordPress theme frameworks have free options, as well as paid alternatives. In the post below, I’ve collected the five major theme frameworks, and I intend to update this post as I learn of more WordPress theme frameworks.
Note: If these theme frameworks look a little plain, that is intentional. Frameworks are designed for someone to use as a building point, so they lack a lot of images and design elements. Once downloaded (or purchased), you can then build upon the framework to make your design. Many of these frameworks also include child themes, which allow you to quickly convert your framework into a ready to use design.
Thematic WordPress Theme (FREE)
Thematic is a free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework featuring 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for popular plugins, and a whole community behind it. It’s perfect for beginner bloggers and WordPress development professionals.
Thematic Framework | Live Demo
WP Framework (FREE)
WP Framework is a blank WordPress theme framework by Ptah Dunbar, which aims to cut down on your theme development time. It gives you a solid theme foundation to build your project on top of so you can focus on project-specific features right from the git-go.
WP Unlimited Framework (Single-Use $59.00 | Developer’s Pack $150.00)
The WP Unlimited theme has a fairly simple design but a very complex control panel, allowing the user to set up their blog without touching any code. Once the functionality is in place, then you can easily customize the design to meet your personal needs. Here is a screen shot of the control panel:
Thesis Theme Framework (Single-Use $87.00 | Developer’s Pack $164.00)
The Thesis theme framework is the most popular theme framework which has a cost associated with it and has built a loyal cult following. Among those followers are some very high profile WordPress sites built upon the Thesis framework, then customized for their personal needs. You can look through a list of these clients on their homepage.
Among the reasons people love Thesis is their attention to SEO techniques and the complex control panel:
One Theme Framework + One Panel (Single-Use $60.00 | Multiple-Use $110.00+)
By default, One Theme offers a variety of styles/looks to choose from and a complex control panel to get your site setup without having to hard code anything. The One Theme also features several child themes to give the user more customization options.
In addition to the design, you get their comprehensive control panel which they call One Panel:
One Panel Control Panel
Know of a WordPress theme framework we are missing? Please leave a comment or let us know about it!