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.
As much of the WordPress themes market continues to move towards the premium (paid) model, it can sometimes be a chore for the consumer trying to find the best value for your dollar. There are certainly a few overpriced themes out there, but with a little effort you can also find a few premium themes you can find which are often undervalued.
When it comes to value, I usually recommend people start by looking at the various theme clubs available. Of the theme clubs out there, there is no doubt the best overall value is with the Elegant Themes club. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, lets take a look at their latest release, the new eBusiness theme:
eBusiness WordPress Theme
You can view the live demo of the eBusiness theme here.
The eBusiness theme also includes a very impressive control panel, of which the author lists the following features:
Design Layout – The layout tab houses some of the major overlying options that effect the structure and appearance of your website.
- Color Schemes – eBusiness comes with three skins, and each skin comes in three colors. You can switch between these 9 different variations at any time from the drop-down menu.
- Website Structure – The essence of eBusiness is to act as a CMS, creating a page-based layout. I have, however, included the option to bypass the page-based homepage in favor of a normal blog layout. You can switch between Page Structure and Blog Structure at any time.
- Footer Options – You will notice that each page has a widgetized footer on the bottom.
Homepage Options – The homepage tab allows you to manage your homepage. If you are using blog style then most of these options do not apply, but if you are using the Page-based system then you will have to use this area to set up your homepage.
- Slider Control – You will notice that the demo features 3 sliding elements on the top of the homepage. These are managed via the Homepage tab. Here you can customize the content text, the title of the tab, the text used in the button, the thumbnail image (which is automatically re-sized) and an optional read more link, which can be pointed anywhere. You can also choose how many sliding elements to display (up to 3).
- Pages Control - The content on the homepage is made up of WordPress pages. You will create a page in wp-admin and then define the page to be used in the Homepage options tab. Simply input the page id of the pages you want to use and they will appear. You can also choose how many pages you want to use (up to4).
- Blog Scroller – Even if you are using the page-based system you can still have a blog area on your site. For this reason I have included a blogroll on the homepage with a link to your most recent posts. This can be turned off if you don’t plan to have a blog section. You can choose how many recent posts to display. You can also customize the RSS link if you want to point it towards your feedburner account.
Blog Setup – If you are using the Blog Structure, or if you plan to include a blog within your Page-based website, you can customize your blog here.
- Post Format - You can choose between “Blog Style” mode or “Default” mode. The Blog Style mode displays your posts in full on index pages, while Default mode automatically truncates the post to create a short preview with a “read more” link.
- Categories Bar – The categories bar, with links to your various blog categories, only appears on blog pages. However, if you are using the blog as simply a recent news section, and don’t plan to have several categories, you can turn off this categories bar.
- Further Post Preview Control – In addition to editing the length of the post previews you can also adjust the size of the thumbnail, as well as enable/disable the “read more” link and post info bar. All thumbnails are automatically re-sized, cropped, and cached, via TimThumb which means you can change the size of your thumbnails instantly at the click of a button.
Navigation Options – The navigation options allow you to customize the navigation bar. You can use this to exclude pages from the navigation, adjust the order of the links, add a link to your Blog section (if you are using one) and so on. Both the categories and pages navigation bars can be edited here.
Advertising Management – As with the rest of my themes I have included a banner management system. You can add 125×125 and 468×60 banners and choose how many 125×125 banners you want to display (up to 8). You can also choose where you want banners to be display. You can add them to your pages sidebar, blog sidebar or both. You also have the option to disable them completely.
How To Get a License for the eBusiness Theme
If you’d like to give the eBusiness theme a try, it isn’t free, but it almost is. Currently this theme, along with ALL of the themes released by Elegant Themes (close to 20 available currently), is available for only $19.99! Nick, the web designer behind Elegant Themes, has also upheld a pretty impressive release schedule, offering up a new theme just about every month (which should give you close to 12 new themes each calendar year), many of which can be viewed in their theme gallery.