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.
For a couple years now, the premium themes market has been growing steadily and the competition has been elevated. Designers are pushing each other to be more innovative trying to earn your dollar, which is great for potential buyers like us, but can sometimes be difficult to for a new theme designer to jump in and hold their own.
One guy that has successfully done this, in my opinion, is Pavel Ciorici of WP Zoom. Earlier this year he released his first premium WordPress theme, the Yamidoo theme. The title of the theme is interesting enough that it grabs your attention, then when when you look at the theme, it is hard not be impressed!
Now, Pavel has released his second premium theme, the Zenko theme, which I wanted to mention here. With this new magazine theme, the homepage design is a traditional magazine theme layout, but is designed in a way to feature the most important content in areas where readers will see it. Here is a default sample of how the homepage features your top content:
Zenko Magazine Theme Homepage
The homepage is also very image intensive, which is an important part of a magazine-style homepage to draw the readers attention. For the internal pages, the Zenko theme switches to a more traditional blog page layout with the sidebar on the right side:
Zenko Magazine Theme Post Page
A full live demo of the Zenko theme can be viewed here.
The Zenko theme also includes a number of great features. Some of my favorite parts are the featured content and popular posts on the top of the homepage, the built-in navigation designed to function like the WP-PageNavi plugin, and of course the footer area, which was designed to provide a place for you to put your less important content (footer is a great place to put categories, archives, etc. so they are available for readers that want to find it, but is also out of the way for people not looking for it).
Other features included with the Zenko theme:
- Built in support for Google Analytics and Feedburner
- Integrated Banner Management System
- Custom templates for categories, archives
- Auto-resizing and cropping for images
- Threaded Comments for WordPress 2.7+
- Built-in widgets
- Support for WordPress 2.7.1
- Cross-Browser Compatible – tested on IE (6,7), Opera, Firefox, Safari, Chrome.
- Flickr widget
- Theme Documentation
- Integrated Theme Options
- Tabbed Widgets
- Widgetized Sidebars
- Built-in Gravatar Support for Authors & Comments
- Drop-Down Menus
- Integrated social bookmarking in posts
- Photoshop Files (.psd) included
I also had the privilege of digging through the backend of this theme and was glad to see the code structure is very SEO friendly and well setup for someone who prefers to manually hack their code. Another thing that I really liked was the fact that this theme doesn’t require any WordPress plugins or custom fields to function properly. I always try to find at least one thing missing, and the one feature that I couldn’t find was the option of a traditional blog template for the homepage, which has become a pretty common addition with most premium themes.
Pavel also has a very competitive pricing structure, which allows just about any WordPress user to be able to acquire one of his themes. Currently, the Zenko theme can be purchased for $69.00 (single-use license), $119.00 (for 5 site license), or $149.00 (developer’s license).
Have questions? Want to learn more about this theme? Check out the official Zenko theme page by WP Zoom.
Over the past week we’ve had a good response from the affiliate marketing topics we’ve covered, so I wanted to draw your attention to what I’m now using to build my affiliate marketing landing pages with WordPress.
In the past I’ve gotten to work with Unique Blog Designs and have always enjoyed their work, so I have to admit I was excited when I saw that they have released some new affiliate landing pages for WordPress. This new theme package, known as the Affiliate Theme, is an affiliate marketers dream!
With the purchase of this premium WordPress theme you get 6 different landing pages, 30 different header graphics built into the affiliate landing pages, and lifetime theme support.
Here are the features listed by the creators of the Affiliate Theme:
- Choose From 6 Layouts to Improve Conversion – If you are an experienced affiliate marketer, you are probably familiar with manually updating multiple layouts in order to split test your affiliate landing pages. With WordPress, it is easy for you to input all of your affiliate offers and tracking URL’s and then easily change the layout for the purpose of split testing. We have built six (6) effective multi-post layouts. Say goodbye to the days of wasting time re-creating variations of the same landing page, review site, or blog. Save time (and money). This theme would also work brilliantly with the LP Jumper plugin.
- Optimized for your PPC and SEO Campaigns – Once you have set up Affiliate Theme, driving targeted traffic is, of course, the next step. That is why we coded Affiliate Theme to improve the SEO (search engine optimization) over the standard WordPress theme. You write the headlines and page copy, Affiliate Theme takes care of the rest! Proper use of header, alt, title and META tags can go a long way in improving your search engine ranking and quality score. Also, save time by integrating tracking scripts from the Theme Options panel.
- Built-in Color Picker (Perfect for every niche) – Our advanced “Photoshop-like” color picker makes it easy for you to change Affiliate Theme to any color scheme you want! Red for dating? Blue for web hosting? You will be amazed at how effortlessly you can rebrand your Affiliate Theme. You can change the color of everything from post headlines to button rollovers and site background.
- Lifetime Access to Resource Center and Support – Need help using Affiliate Theme? Excellent! Watch over a dozen video tutorials, browse and search through our extensive knowledge base, and even post your questions to the Affiliate Theme support forum. Watch tutorials and read articles on everything from how to use Affiliate Theme to creating specific types of affiliate websites.
- Need to test more? Change everything you need – Want to try a larger call-to-action button? How about changing the size of the product image? Button color? Font-size? Keywords in the title? Don’t worry about going back to Photoshop or hacking code to change any of that – Affiliate Theme allows you to change all of this and more! We wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to build dynamic sites that require no skill to modify.
- Hate coding? No problem. Love it? Great – Coding newbies, rejoice! You will be able to take full advantage of the powerful Affiliate Theme Options Panel, allowing you to change the layout, logo, colors, fonts, background, header graphic, even rollover button color – all without touching a single line of code. If you are a code-head, you will Dig the clean XHTML + CSS + PHP, fully commented source code. We even have put together an advanced customization guide for people who want to get extra friendly with Affiliate Theme.
Pretty much everything is done for you, allowing you to avoid touching code and giving you the ability to create an affiliate landing page using WordPress in under 5 minutes! Here is the control panel so you can see what I’m talking about:
And here are a few of the templates which are included with the Affiliate Theme:
Affiliate Theme (Dating Version)
Affiliate Theme (Ringtone Version)
Affiliate Theme (Make Money Version)
Affiliate Theme (Acai Berry Version)
You can view the live demos of each of these landing page themes here.
My favorite part when I learned of this new affiliate theme was the price. You have the following three purchase options: Single-Use ($97.00), Multiple-Use ($147.00), or the Developer’s Pack ($197.00).
If you’d like to learn more about the Affiliate theme, or are interested in purchasing a copy for your affiliate landing pages, you can get additional information here.
Although WP Hacks was originally setup with WordPress Hacks in mind, based upon our readers needs we’ve invested a lot of time over the past year and a half into researching WordPress themes and providing you with a large selection of WordPress theme galleries.
Back when this website was launched the premium themes market didn’t exist yet, so we had originally placed our focus on the different types of free WordPress themes. The result was a bunch of galleries broken down into types.
Since that time, a second market has emerged known as premium WordPress themes (premium was the term originally used to describe a more advanced or higher quality WordPress theme). Over time we adapted and now offer a variety of both types of theme galleries.
I always felt there is a market for both types of themes in the WordPress community, but some shoppers don’t know which of the two they should be looking at. Add in the fact that too many designers over the past year have released low quality themes under the ”premium” business model, and a lot of people have been left unhappy with their purchases and an overall loss of trust in the premium themes market as a whole.
So, if you were shopping for a new WordPress theme for your website or blog, what should you be looking for? Based upon the individuals needs of the shopper, there are a variety of factors that should be considered, but it mostly boils down to three essential factors:
- Price - Is the theme free? If there is a cost associated with the theme, am I getting the right value for the price? In the price category, free WordPress themes are always going to have an advantage, but there are a few downsides to going this route. Free themes usually require you to leave the link in the footer, while many premium themes do not. Many free themes are also unsupported, so if you aren’t comfortable hacking your own theme, it may be worth the price to purchase a supported theme. There is also minimal risk of sponsored links or malicious code showing up in a purchased theme.
- Quality – Another obvious point of comparison between free WordPress themes and premium WordPress themes is the quality of the themes. There are a number of high quality free WordPress themes and (as mentioned above) there are some low quality premium themes. When looking for your theme, the designer or design companies reputation is everything. Does the theme I want offer control panel options, cross browser compatibility, or widget support? Are there multiple layouts and color choices to choose from?
- Support – Although support isn’t going to be relevant for some people looking who have the ability to customize their own theme, for most shoppers this should be the most important factor. Some free themes offer support from the designer, but most do not. If you decide to purchase a theme, you are usually paying as much for the support as you are for the acutal theme! Does this designer have trustworthy testimonials? Do you know any existing customers who are happy with the support they are receiving?
What do you value most when shopping for the right free or premium WordPress theme for your website or blog? I know most of the WordPress theme designers read this site and will see your feedback, so let us know in the comments!
Over the past year, the premium WordPress themes market has really grown and all sorts of different themes have been released. Probably the most popular market right now seems to be the magazine WordPress themes, making for a highly competitive niche.
One of the more recent entries into the market is Natty WP, who until now seems to have been pretty focused on building custom blogging themes. Their newest theme, however, intends to compete in that magazine WordPress theme market and so far it looks pretty good!
Here is the list of features the author includes with the Tribune theme:
- Theme Admin Panel - Admin panel allows you to fully customize the theme, including adding banners, AdSense, change the logo and favicon, set the color of links and customize the category.
- 7 Advanced Color Schemes – Here you can find a huge variety of different color schemes for any taste. Just choose the one which suites you better!
- Infinite variations and looks – A special feature for those who want more! Using the template with a fully transparent body you can easily create an infinite number of different variations and looks by changing the background image.
- AJAX Modules – Specially designed modules make template rather elegant and functional.
- Easy Logo switching – Want to change the logo? You can easily do this through the admin panel selecting the right image. The theme includes Psd file with the logo, where you can change the title and add your logo image.
- Advanced news module – Block of additional news allows the user to select the necessary number of news to be displayed. Choosing 1, 3 or 5 stories for each block, we save these settings for it. Signing in next time the user sees as many news as they have chosen before.
- Color picker – Thanks to the built-in Color Picker, you can easily change the color of the links in your theme! Be creative, customize your site and make it unique.
- XHTML Valid – Tribune meets all standards and has been fully tested for errors, as it is very important for us to create a clear and semantic code.
- Cross-Browser Compatible – Fully compliant with W3C standards, Tribune theme together with WordPress offers perfect performance with the most popular browsers such as Firefox, IE, Safari.
- Easy AdSense setup - To display AdSense blocks you just need to enable the menu to display banners or AdSense.
- Optimized for WordPress 2.6 + version
- W3C XHTML 1.0 Transitional. W3C CSS Valid
- Fully compatible IE7, IE6, Safari 2+, Firefox 2+, Opera 9+
- CSS Based Design
- 24/7 support
Probably my feature is the AJAX the theme uses for the module. Rather than the traditional dom tabs, you can “slide” between the tabs content. It also uses AJAX to “drop down” individual categories (selected by each user), which is something I don’t remember seeing on any other themes.
As for the appearance, the Tribune theme has some additional unique qualities for a magazine WordPress theme which help it to stand out from the competition. It actually comes with a completely transparent background which allows you to easily insert a background image of your choice, making your theme instantly unique.
Here is a breakdown of the Tribune theme’s homepage (with the transparent layout):
And here is a screen shot of the post page:
You can check out the live demo of the theme here to actually view how these impressive new features work.
Another great thing about the Tribune theme is the price! Currently the Tribune theme is available with two licenses. The Single-Use License is only $45.00, or you can get the Developer’s Pack for $150.00.
Some of our long time readers may remember last April I wrote about a somewhat revolutionary new WordPress theme, which in my opinion was well ahead of its time, known as the Shifter theme. Though this theme looked a little plain at first, it was completely built around using the WordPress widget feature, allowing for incredible versatility.
Since that time no one else has really attacked the widget angle the way Shifter did…..at least until now. After over 2 months of production and quite a few beta testers (myself included), I am excited to share with our readers that iThemes has released what is probably their best theme yet, the Flexx Theme.
This theme comes with over 1,000 possible layout combinations! Other Flexx features include:
- Rotating Header Images – Easily upload your new header images and set the Flash-like transition effects
- Contact Form Page Template – The custom image uploader feature allows you to personalize your site with your own logo
- Plug and Play Graphic Changes – Easily change the look of your site by uploading new background images (setting every different combo with it) and setting the color through a Photoshop-like color picker.
- Menu Builder – Pick and choose what Pages you want in the menu navigation, including subpages.
- Search Engine Optimization – As with all our themes, we’ve built it to get you the best exposure in the search engines, and include a SEO panel to tweak some basic settings.
- Multiple Color Styles – This first series comes in two pre-built color styles (Bold and Canvas), but it has a rockin’ feature that lets you easily upload new background images (setting every different combo with it) and setting the color through a Photoshop-like color picker.
- Drop down navigation menu
To get an idea of one of the 1,000+ possibilities available, you can check out the Flexx demo. Here are a couple screen shots:
Flexx Post Page
The best part about the new Flexx theme is the price! It falls under the iThemes standard pricing model of $79.95 for a single-use license and $249.95 for the developer’s license. iThemes 2008 theme club members of course get this theme for free.
What do you think of this incredible theme? Anyone else think that widget-based themes might be the future or the premium WordPress themes market?