Elegant Themes Announces New Custom ePanel

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:

ePanel

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.

epanel-settingsAfter 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.

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  • What Makes a WordPress Theme Premium?

    Recently our friend Andrew of WP-Fun.co.uk wrote an interesting post titled A New Name for Premium Themes:  Themes.   In his post, Andrew attempts to define what a premium WordPress theme is, then compares that definition with the most downloaded themes at the Free WordPress Theme Directory.   In my opinion, blog posts like this are great because they really spark some thought on the part of the reader.   After reading his post, I felt that the point Andrew is making is that if you look at the designs, feature sets, and quality of the most downloaded free themes from WordPress.org, they are all comparable to at least a few of the premium WordPress themes being sold on the market today. 

    For those of us that have been using WordPress for at least 2-3 years, the evolution of the WordPress theme is simply amazing.  Back in 2007 themes weren’t necessarily even standards compliant, and the idea of widgets was still new and many themes didn’t support them.   Now the idea of a control panel being included with your theme, having your theme be widget ready, and having several color options included with the theme have almost become standard, (even with the free WordPress themes available).  

    I’m sure there will always be some free themes available, but you have to wonder if at some point premium themes will become the standard.  I suppose if this is the case, then my next question is, if premium themes simply become themes, then what is next?   The top designers begin to release elite themes?  If premium is a fancy word for better, it seems that designers will just come up with a new fancy word for best like “elite” and use that as the word for next level of themes.  It may never end! 

    There are also things like Theme Frameworks to consider as WordPress themes continue to evolve.   Give us your thoughts in the comments!

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  • 150+ Free & Premium WordPress Themes Gallery

    Updated: January 23, 2015

    As WordPress continues to grow in popularity, more and more designers are realizing the potential of building WordPress themes. In addition to the financial benefits, designers can also use WordPress themes to create additional inbound links, improve their reputation as a designer, and of course help generate freelance work.

    Because of the huge size of the WordPress theme market, it has become increasingly difficult to find a good way to browse through the available WordPress themes. Unfortunately I don’t have a solution, but I have spent several hours trying to sort through the available themes and create a gallery to display many of the top designs in both the free and premium WordPress theme markets.  Currently this page has over 150 WordPress themes, plus a few known theme clubs thrown in at the bottom for people that prefer that route.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    Blog WordPress Themes

    Vintage Theme

    vintage-theme

    Source

    Blues Theme

    blues-theme

    Source

    Shades of Blue Theme

    shades-of-blue-theme

    Download | Demo

    PassionDuo Theme (3 Colors)

    Green: Demo | Download, Red: Demo | Download, Blue: Demo | Download

    Evolution Theme

    Source | Download

    GlossyBlue Theme

    GlossyBlue Theme

    Source

    Color Paper Theme

    Source | Demo

    StudioPress Theme

    StudioPress Theme

    Source | Demo

    Mag on Wood Theme

    Source | Download

    Simply Ornate Theme

    Source | Demo

    Agregado Theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Daily Press Theme

    Source | Download

    Curious Theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Rewire Theme

    rewire-theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Daily32 Theme

    Daily32 Theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Digital Statement Theme

    Source | Download

    Maggo Theme

    Maggo Theme

    Download

    Firebug Theme

    Source | Download

    Xplosive Theme

    Xplosive Theme

    Source | Download

    Blog oh Blog Theme

    Blog oh Blog Theme

    Source | Download

    Blue Block Theme

    Source | Download

    Dark Zen Theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Blue Dream Theme

    Blue Dream Theme

    Source/Demo | Download

    Simple Red Theme

    Simple Red Theme

    Source | Download (Requires free registration) | Demo

    True Blue Theme

    True Blue Theme

    Source | Download (Requires free registration) | Demo

    Rhea Theme

    Rhea Theme

    Source | Download

    Aspire Theme

    Source | Demo

    Velocity Theme

    Velocity Theme

    Source | Download

    Techicon Theme

    Techicon Theme

    Source | Download

    Lightsource Theme

    lightsource

    Comes with $20.00 subscription to Elegant Themes Club!

    Source/Demo | Download

    Prose Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Canvas Blogging Theme

    Multiple-Use ($70.00), Developer’s Pack ($150.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Glow Blog Theme

    glow-theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Flexx Blog Theme

    flexx-theme

    • Over 1,000 Possible Layout Combinations!
    • Completely widget based
    • Multiple Styles to choose from

    Multiple-Use ($79.95), Developer’s Pack ($150.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    PersonalPress Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Social Life Blog Theme

    Multiple-Use ($75.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Thesis Theme Framework

    thesis-theme

    Single-Use ($87.00), Developer’s Pack ($164.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Genesis Theme Framework (by StudioPress)

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), Developer’s Pack ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    Magazine/News CMS WordPress Themes

    Options Theme

    Options Theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Structure Theme

    Structure Theme

    Source | Download

    Visionary Theme

    Visionary Theme

    Source

    Mimbo Theme

    mimbo3

    Source | Download

    Morning After Theme

    Morning After Theme

    Source | Download

    Arthemia Free Theme (Premium Version Also Available)

    Download | Demo | Premium Version of Arthemia

    Newsweek Theme

    Source | Download

    Studio WordPress Theme (Available in Blue, Green, & Red)

    Source

    Transparency Theme

    transparency-theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Slick Press Theme

    slick-press-theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Cellar Heat Theme

    Source | Demo

    MonarTech Theme

    monartech-theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Lifestyle Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Smooth Theme

    wp-smooth-theme1

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Zenko Magazine Theme

    zenko-magazine-theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Magazine WordPress Theme

    magazine-theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Blissful Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Manifesto Magazine Theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP-Chatter Magazine Theme

    wp-chatter-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Sublime Theme

    wp-sublime-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Elle Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Boutique Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Legacy Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Vintage Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP-Prosper Magazine Theme


    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Modern Blogger Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Minimal Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Mocha Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Tribune News Theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Polished Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Amped Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Gadget Theme

    gadget-theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Streamline Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Evertis Magazine Theme

    Single-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Serenity Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    NewsTube Theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    News WordPress Theme

    news-theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Cube Light Theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Launch Theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    eNews Theme

    enews-theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Ellie Theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    My App WordPress Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Lumin Magazine Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Genius Theme

    wp-genius-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Bigfoot Theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Going Green Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Bold Magazine Theme

    bold-theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Arthemia Premium Theme

    arthemia-premium

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), Developer’s Pack ($159.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    The Source Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Memoir Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Crystal Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Newswire Theme

    newswire-theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Nova Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    My Cuisine Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Fabric Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Yamidoo Magazine Theme

    yamidoo-magazine-theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Glider Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Media Magazine Theme

    wp-media-mag-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    In Review Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Outreach Church Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Magnificent Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Chameleon Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Foundation Church Theme

    Included with iThemes Builder Theme ($127.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Pretty Young Thing Kids Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Jazz Theme

    wp-jazz-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    “On The Go” Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Aggregate Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($69.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Clear Theme

    wp-clear-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP-Glide Magazine Theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

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  • Portfolio WordPress Themes Gallery

    Updated: January 23, 2015!

    A couple of weeks ago I received a “request for a future post” from Emma (didn’t provide a website with her request for me to credit) asking for a new WordPress theme gallery.   This time, her request was for a portfolio WordPress theme gallery.

    Although I can’t always fulfill every request I get, this gallery is one that I think will benefit a large number of people, so I’ve decided to throw one together!   The top half will be free portfolio themes and the second half will be premium portfolio themes which are available to purchase.  I’ve also included a feature list whenever one was available.

    Over time, I intend to update this post as both types of portfolio themes become available.   If you know of one that you think should be included on this list, please let us know!

    Free Portfolio WordPress Themes

    Modularity Theme

    modularity-theme

    Source | Download

    Premium Portfolio Themes

    Viz | Biz Portfolio Theme

    viz-biz-theme

    Single-Use License ($79.95), Multiple-Use License ($150.00)

    Source/Demo | Download

    Cassiopeia Theme

    cassiopeia-theme

    Single-Use ($80.00), Developer’s Pack ($150.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    eGallery Theme

    egallery-theme

    Comes with $20.00 subscription to Elegant Themes Club!

    Source/Demo | Download

    eVid Theme

    evid-elegant-themes

    Comes with $20.00 subscription to Elegant Themes Club!

    Source/Demo | Download

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  • The Ethics Involved With Selling Premium WordPress Themes

    A little over a month ago, Brian Gardner of Revolution Themes made a bold and brave move when he decided to convert his business model to something closer in line with the spirit of open source.   With this change came a lot of questions, with the primary question being what would happen to people who purchased these themes?  Were they screwed?

    After his initial announcement, Brian quickly addressed the concerns of his “clients” by explaining that all existing themes would never be made available for free and would be retired.  The new open source business model will instead contain only 100% new themes.   Brian held true to his word and the 8 themes available at the launch of Revolution Two were all completely new.  The old site was taken down and the old themes are now gone for good.

    In a different, yet similar situation, Woo Themes recently celebrated their first birthday (birthday includes 8 months under the name of Premium News Theme).   In what turned out to be a controversial move, they actually released a copy of their original premium theme for free to the public.   Unfortunately, this is the exact same theme that a large number of people paid $79.95 or $99.95 for (the original price for the first 8 months).   Is this fair to those people?  Should others who bought themes from Woo Themes also be concerned that a theme they had paid for may also later be released for free?

    According to the Blog Herald, here is the official response from Adii of Woo Themes:

    We don’t believe that releasing a year old theme for free infringes on our users’ rights, as they have not only bought a theme from us, but also all the goodies that goes along with that purchase (in terms of support, tutorials, theme-specific customization help etc.). We have also been in touch with all of our users and worked out an acceptable situation internally.

    Now, I have no idea what the workout was (I’d guess buyers got to pick another theme of their choice for free?).  For the sake of this discussion, it doesn’t really matter, as this post is not about Woo Themes or Revolution Two.   It was just inspired by the situations described above.  What I want to know from our readers is what rights should someone have if they purchase a premium WordPress theme?  

    The niche as a whole appears to have taken a significant hit with the launch of Revolution Two, and other theme designers have been stepping up and releasing premium-quality themes for free as well.   I think for the premium WordPress themes market to survive over the long haul, theme authors need to come together and some standards need to be put into place and followed.   If not, there is a good chance that buyers will lose trust in some designers and the niche will suffer as a whole or disappear completely as a result.   That, or it will continue its shift to more of a theme club setup.

    What do you think?  If you pay money for a WordPress theme, what priviledges are you entitled to as a buyer?   Should there be a guarantee that it won’t eventually be free?  Should you get lifetime code updates?    Share your take in the comments below!

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  • Tip: Use Caution When Shopping for a WordPress Theme

    Whether you are in the market for a new custom WordPress theme, premium WordPress theme, or a free WordPress theme, their is one often forgotten factor that you should be considering when shopping for a new WordPress theme.  That factor is the reputation of the theme author.

    Why is author reputation so important?   In addition to things like quality, theme support, etc., you’ve also got to worry about potential problems such as unknown links (these are usually hidden and could get your blog banned from search engines if discovered) and things like malicious code being run via your WordPress theme.

    Recently Viper007Bond wrote about a theme that was discovered with hidden links (not the same thing as sponsored links):

    What I found inside the theme’s footer.php file though was tons of malicious code. The entire contents of the file was heavily encoded (it was encoded with gzinflate(), str_rot13(), and base64_decode() around 150 times) and a ton of eval()’s. Since I was curious what it was doing, I wrote some PHP to decode it without using the nasty (and unsafe) eval()’s and I finally ended up with the HTML for the footer file (I assume to stop people from removing the code) and some more crazy eval() PHP code to display links to websites.

    Luckily the code was just there to insert links (although using such a theme is a good way to get banned from Google), the PHP could just as easily have stolen passwords and other things. Remember, themes are exactly like plugins — they can execute code. You wouldn’t download a random program off and Internet and run it on your PC, so why would you do it with a plugin or theme?

    So please, only download themes and plugins from reputable sites such as WordPress.org. If in doubt, don’t use it.

    The author cites QualityWordPress.com as the source of this theme, so I would recommend avoiding this site if you are looking for a new theme.

    Conclusion

    There is a good chance that no matter which theme you end up going with (free, premium, or custom) you are going to be fine, but author reputation is just one more thing that should factor into your decision.   Find a theme made by an author you can trust.  I’ve seen many situations over the past couple years where people unknowingly get banned from Google or run into other problems because they made a bad choice when picking their theme.

    Do you factor an authors reputation (word of mouth) and theme support into your decision before downloading/buying a WordPress theme?   I know I do and I also try to keep that in mind whenever I support a theme by adding it to our WordPress theme galleries.

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  • Is This the Future of Premium WordPress Themes?

    Over the past year now, the premium WordPress themes market has really grown from nothing to what we see today, with a record number of authors are either offering premium themes, or selling premium versions of their existing popular free themes.   It truly is amazing to me that this wonderful software that we all love so much is able to help so many people to make money to feed their families while at the same time showing off their design skills.

    This weekend I noticed something new and got me thinking a bit about where the premium WordPress themes market is headed.   As many people have said in the past, there are concerns that the premium themes we see today are becoming so common that people are missing out on that unique feel that many people buy these themes for.   I would of course argue that these themes were designed to be templates to be customized from rather than as an end-user product.   You could also argue that there are so many authors and designs now that buying a theme could still give you that unique look that people crave.

    With that said, there appears to be a new solution.   We’ve seen theme clubs be talked about and eventually surface in a few places, but now it appears that Brian of Revolution has set another trend by offering his first of many exclusive themes:

    What is an Exclusive Theme and How Does it Work?

    In the screenshot above, Brian has released an incredible new theme, which is variation of his popular Revolution theme.   It is available only for a limited time and only a limited number to be sold (I believe in this case only 10 will be sold).    If you’d like a copy, you can get it for $499.95.

    As far as my thoughts on Exclusive themes, I personally am unsure whether this business model will work.   It appears that 10 themes will be sold in total, so it isn’t truly a unique theme to your site, and the price range is getting close to the price that a company like a Unique Blog Designs or Blog Design Studio would charge for a 100% custom theme for your website. If you are going to spend that kind of money on a custom theme, wouldn’t it be better to spend a little extra to get a truly custom theme that you won’t find on 10 other sites?

    With that said, I still haven’t made up my mind yet on this and would love to get your thoughts.  What do you think of this new business model?

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  • Developing Premium WordPress Themes

    Comments Off

    When the premium WordPress themes market began to form towards the end of 2007, the entire idea was to provide a customized theme for an affordable price. The targeted audience was to fill the needs of serious bloggers and small businesses.

    You may have also noticed that most premium WordPress themes offer a developers license (or multi-use license). This is because these themes were designed with developers in mind. Developers get the basic skeleton of a developed theme making it easy for them to hack the code and stylesheet to give their clients a custom look.

    Yesterday I found a nice post over at WPZoom designed to showcase some premium WordPress themes that have been hacked to provide a custom look for the website. In fact, most you won’t recognize when lined up with the original premium theme template!

    I think this post did a great job of not just showing some great designs, but also supporting the whole concept of the original intention of the premium themes market.

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  • What Do You Think of Premium WordPress Themes?

    WordPress Hacks was one of only 3-4 “WordPress” niche blogs that existed prior to the creation of the Premium WordPress themes market. As I sit back and reflect on the early days of the premium WordPress themes market, when Solostream’s themes were first being converted to premium, and Revolution (now StudioPress) was being launched, each existing WordPress blog was faced with a choice. Do we promote these themes? After all, WordPress was founded on open source, and each of us (WordPress founders, plugin/theme authors, and WordPress bloggers) were contributing our time and energy to improving the WordPress community without any compensation. Should these people be paid for what we do for free?

    Some blogs ending up promoting them, while other blogs did not. I personally ended up making the decision that I would promote premium themes on this blog because I felt that they would help improve WordPress, and to this day I really think that they really have. Many of these authors are making so much money that they are able to make (and support) their themes as a full time job, which I think is pretty sweet. It also comes with a lot of responsibility, and the money allows these authors to truly focus, innovate, and make their themes more advanced, which advances WordPress as a whole. The bar gets set and all new themes are measured against them. It forces continued functionality and innovation. I truly believe that if the ability to monetize these themes didn’t exist for most of these authors, the quality of themes out there would be much lower because it wouldn’t be worth their time to try to raise the bar. Would we even have CMS themes for WordPress yet?

    We also need to remember that this isn’t really any different than doing custom WordPress themes for people (such as Unique Blog Designs).  Premium WordPress themes have made it so people can afford a custom quality theme (in most cases) from an affordable price for a blogger or small business.  People with high income blogs can still afford to get there theme custom made.

    One point I would also like to make is that I do think that people with WordPress blogs have an obligation to only promote products they do use or would use if the need for it presented itself. I’ve always made sure to be selective and only promote themes or plugins that I felt were truly of premium quality. I also try to only promote ones that are well supported by their authors. I can think of at least 20 that I’ve chosen not to promote here because of a number of reasons (invalid code, I felt wasn’t premium quality, etc.).

    Anyway, regardless of my opinion of them, over the last 8 months premium WordPress themes have really found a home in the WordPress community, and I’ve even noticed that blogs have been created strictly for the purpose of promoting these themes. From the people I’ve talked to, the opinions of this market are mixed.

    One person firmly against the premium themes market as a whole is Justin Tadlock, who recently wrote a post titled Screw the WordPress Themes Market. Justin is someone that I’ve been following for quite awhile now and have a huge respect for his opinions on all things WordPress. He releases a lot of great free WordPress themes, free WordPress plugins, and also blogs regularly about WordPress. Here is an excerpt from his post:

    WordPress was built from a community of people willing to share freely. Yes, even themes. What? Yes, themes were free at one point. Good Great themes were free at one point.

    I’m not going to beat around the bush here — stop releasing pay-for-use themes.

    Sure, there’s a market there, but I don’t want to see every single mediocre theme have a price tag attached to it. Just because it’s a magazine-type theme doesn’t mean it’s a premium theme, or that it’s worth some form of funds anyway.

    If you’re going to release a theme and call it premium, then you need to — in the words of a high school cheerleader — “bring it.”

    I don’t have a problem with people releasing themes for money. It’s something I’ve considered on several occasions. What I do have a problem with is users getting screwed out of $100, $50, or even $30 because they bought a theme that’s mediocre at best, a theme that has invalid code, or don’t get the support they need for using the theme.

    Reading Justin’s post actually reminded me of what I was saying when I wrote the post Premium WordPress Theme Responsibilities a couple months ago. To many people are releasing average themes and charging for them.

    It seems everyone has an opinion about premium themes, and I’d love to hear yours. What is your opinion of premium WordPress themes?

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  • Premium WordPress Themes: Where Are The Print Stylesheets?

    Although the premium WordPress theme market has only been around for a little over 6 months now, there have already been several trends that have shown up. Each time a new premium theme author steps forward, they innovate and push the other authors to keep up and continue to improve their existing themes. This is why many of the top authors are regularly updating their existing themes to keep up with the competition.

    In the end, the consumers are the ones that win, because they are getting better themes and a larger variety of themes to choose from when they go to make a purchase. So, what is the next trend we can expect with premium WordPress themes?

    One thing I would like to see, though it is actually very basic, is that each theme including a print stylesheet. This of course is a separate stylesheet that is used when someone goes to print a website page. For example, one of the sites I run publishes a lot of recipes (1-2 per day). I needed a good print stylesheet so our readers can print our pages and have them display the recipe correctly on the page.

    I’ll admit I’ve seen a couple premium themes that offer this, but a majority still do not. I personally believe the more you can do to make your theme appeal to more people, the more success a premium theme author will find. I believe a paying customer should expect things like multiple stylesheets available, multiple page and post layouts, an options panel. The more flexible it is, the better.

    Hopefully we’ll start to see more and more of the print stylesheet showing up in the coming months. In the meantime, what trends would you like to see with the next generation premium WordPress themes?

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