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 the premium themes market continues to grow and expand, it is interesting to see theme designers move to fill niches that were not previously filled.
The latest example of this is the eGamer theme by my friend Nick Roach over at Elegant Themes. Whether you play video games or MMORPG’s (such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest 2, etc.), the eGamer theme was created with gamers in mind, and the feature set matches what video game bloggers would most likely be looking for.
Features included with the eGamer theme include:
- Custom Author Review System.
- Video Embedding (from video sites such as YouTube).
- Thumbnail Resizing.
- Ability to Display Recent Reviews, Banner Ads, Popular Posts, and Recent Videos section.
- Choice of Magazine or Blog-style Layout.
- Option for post-page thumbnails
You can read more about the features included with eGamer here.
Here is how the eGamer WordPress theme looks by default:
Here is what the eGamer post page looks like:
In order to get a true appreciation of eGamer’s appearance and feature set, you’ll want to view the full demo here. I love how the sidebar is on the left and the comment section is really well done.
For a theme of this quality, there has to be a price, right? Well sort of. In order to download the eGamer WordPress theme, you simply need to be a member of the Elegant Themes club, which only costs $19.99 for a years membership!
With that $19.99 you also get access to every other theme released by Elegant Themes during that year. After a year passes, you have the option of renewing your membership to continue to receive future themes. I’ve been following Nick for quite awhile now and he seems to maintain a pretty nice release schedule, making this investment a no-brainer!
The concept of a theme club has been around for at least a year now, but over the past six months theme clubs seem to of really found a home and a following from WordPress users. The setup of the theme club, however, seem to differ at each place you go.
One of my favorite theme club business models that I’ve seen so far is the one setup over at Elegant WordPress Themes. Nick Roach has created a great club with a number of nice themes.
Each theme is guaranteed to have the following features:
- Widget Ready
- Valid XHTML and CSS Code
- Compatible with current WordPress version
- Cross Browser Compatibility
Elegant WordPress Themes is a great option for someone with a small budget or a large number of blogs. You can get premium quality themes for all your blogs, but have them all look different, for one low price.
To get an idea of what types of themes they offer, you’ll first want to check out the Elegant WordPress Themes Gallery page. This page is growing regularly, as the author has committed to adding 1-2 new themes EVERY week!
Here are a couple screen shots of my favorite EWT themes:
Studio Blue Theme
The best part about Elegant WordPress Themes is the price! For only $19.95, you get access to every theme Nick has released for an entire year. Click here to join the Elegant WordPress Themes club.