Mark’s elegantthemes WordPress Website Review.
Returning visitors will be aware that this website has recently been upgraded with an “off the shelf professional WordPress eleganttheme”.
I chose this elegant theme because it has many of the attractive features that are the staple of a modern blog. These features would have taken me some time to code into my previous free website WordPress iCandy theme. Free WordPress themes may look to be a good option however it’s almost impossible to find the high value features in a free websites and end up costing more than paying a little up front for a fully featured theme. The old saying that get what you pay for is true when getting something for nothing ends up causing problems.
The objective of this WordPress Theme Review :
The objective this blog is to provide an insight into the ingredients and the “how to” that goes into making the best website theme that works for both the owner, users and web browsers.
Having just completed this website upgrade now is an opportune time to write a review and document what works, what issues have been found and also share some useful WordPess plugins that help to make this site work.
Website choices :
It’s a well known fact that high end custom websites can cost many thousands of dollars to create.
There are only two choices, hand over a pile of cash to web designer professionals, or find a way to do the work yourself.
Either way, it’s going to cost money because of the time and effort that’s need to create and add valuable content into a high quality website.
Other “so called” free site/hosting alternatives come with hidden costs and compromises that end up costing more from a business prospective and fail to provide customer appeal.
As with most things a fair amount of upfront research is required to find the best solution. Whatever you choose there is always some compromise involved.
WordPress currently seems to be the most popular website framework originally designed for blogging sites, it’s evolved as the framework of choice for small business site development and content management.
How to Decide on the Look, Feel and Features :
The simplest way to do this is to find a website that you like and that meets your own website objectives.
For me this is Copyblogger.com which not only provides valuable information on how to create copy text and blogging content it also has what I think is one of the best blogging website themes in the business.
They use a StudioPress theme; a banner to the website is included in this blogs right hand column.
My theme looks fairly similar to this blog wordpress theme with the exception of a lager header slider, this site being a professional business and blog content theme hybrid mixture.
My criteria were as follows :
- Finding a high quality professional classic look and feel
- Finding something that includes the latest blogging site features
- Having a clean light main area background with readable fonts that work in multiple browsers
- Good width that includes main area content space and a spacious right hand column
- Space for embedded high value pictures, graphics and media content
- Having a robust design that’s easy to maintain and works well with commonly used code and WordPress plugins
- Simple but powerful back office tools and features
The review :
Access to elegant themes is provided through an affordable membership that includes 64 themes, training webinars, feature script examples and a user forum. Some theme examples can be accessed through this websites product page.
The themes are downloaded in a zip file which includes a Photoshop image file folder. The file has to be unzipped and theme folder zipped for importing into WordPress.
Themes are installed without content. However, the same sample content found in the preview sites can be imported making it simple to replace the existing content examples with new content.
Some theme photoshop images can be modified in gimp. However others like the “product” theme slider graphics require access to professional Adobe resources for creating new product images.
This installed theme includes an options tabbed user epanel menu for features and colour selections.
The seemingly simple menu layout can be a little confusing as the options at first sight don’t always seem to work as expected.
This is partly due to combinations of confusing enable, disable options, for example where page, blog and categories are selected and displayed.
The slider pictures are added as page featured images in the right hand page editor column. Slider pages are selected in the home epanel home page options.
Blog thumbs are added using a custom field’s thumbs posts/pages editor feature. I like the thumb pictures, but may eventually make them smaller because they take up valuable real-estate that could be used for Tweet and facebook “Like” buttons. Trying to add these items at the top of the blog page doesn’t currently work aesthetically.
There is a powerful selection of custom embedded features included in the page and post editor. The down side to this is that some standard html scripts codes can’t be used. The custom editor macro features are in the form of html shortcodes.
These include Twitter, facebook, Digg, Buzz and custom buttons included in shortcodes along with coloured content boxes which you will see in this site, column layouts, slide shows, custom icon lists, corporate pricing tabs and a content password protection login option.
I however use WordPress Twitter and Facebook plug ins on this website.
More elegant Themes Info:
The elegant themes also include internal SEO title tag and meta content management and excerpt text content boxes.
Because of the addition features provided with elegant themes some commonly used WordPress Plugins are not required.
The exception to this is the Display Widgets plugin which enables widgets to be enabled, or disabled on a page content basis. An issue I found with this was the front page enabling for the home page does not work and widgets can only be added if they are also added to featured blog post pages.
For this theme I also added WordPess Importer, OptinPop Advanced, Google Analytics for WordPress and SI CAPTACH Anti-Spam plugins. Additional information on WordPress plug ins and other valuable resource links can be found within this sites resources web page.
A minor adjustment was made to the main content css file area right hand padding width reducing it from 46px to 34px to provide for a more balanced look and create alignment of standard size video with text box content.
elegant Theme Website Summary :
These elegant themes provide an attractive, user friendly WordPress website user experience.
After an initial learning curve elegant shortcode features make it fairly easy to recreate high quality webpages.
There are flexibility issues with using shortcode macros which can’t be user modified. However overall it would be difficult to fault the features provided with these themes for the cost.
As previously mentioned Adobe photoshop image editing capabilities are required for some of the themes. Only limited editing is available with gimp 2.
For developing websites in a private environment I use an xampp apache server development framework which allows for a fully functional website to be viewed in a private local environment.
At least a week should be set aside for migrating the average WordPress theme blog into a new elegant theme.
Free websites may be appealing to the first time website owner however the cost of a theme and a good hosting provider is insignificant in relation to the investment that goes into creating a successful website.
The elegant shortcode syntax documentation is fragmented and insufficient.
Most theme/template fonts are too small for practical use, css coding tends to add to problems managing fonts due to flexibility issues. I have fixed the sizing of the fonts for the content in this website.
The html text editing environment is generally poor for WordPress themes and templates. It’s advisable save edits on a regular basis.
Visit my product website themes page for links to view elegant WordPress theme examples.
Update: Web Page Review
I have received a number of comments about the fact that this blog site was not SEO optimized. I have now corrected this and the screen shot below shows the highest category ranking I can find within a few days of making the updates.
It should be noted that the ranking is local which means that ranks are calculated differently for different internet regions.
The idea is that high rankings add to the authority of the site high rankings for keyword categories with search placed Google adds generally translates into high quality website traffic. Higher site authority then makes it easier to gain ranking for higher category more valuable areas.
For information on a small number of SEO changes that can dramatically improve website search engine rank register to gain access to my resources page. You will find the page on the header bar, just add a user and password to gain access to this valuable information.
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