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.