When you are designing for hundreds of different devices that your site could be displayed on, you can accept the responsive design “one size fits all” approach that leads to unnecessary compromise, or you can use “one design fits most and I’ll fix the rest” approach of adaptive strategies.
Adaptive design, which has largely gone out of favor as responsive design has dominated the web, adapts to the type of device displaying the page.
The days of mobile WordPress themes – an extreme example of adaptive design – have, for the most part, passed us by, and I couldn’t be happier. Responsive’s one design fits all approach to creating mobile-friendly content is not always perfect. There are several places where incorporating adaptive design principles can create a better user experience, and make a dramatic difference in page load times.
The fourth and final contender in our WordPress Theme Builder Shootout is DMS from PageLines.
A true front-end theme building experience backed-up with good documentation, a substantial community and a free trial version.
Creating “100% pro, mobile-ready sites without coding” is definitely possible but you’ll need to pick your project carefully and have a kitbag of trusty plugins handy.
There’s no doubting that PageLines DMS is a good product that gets close to doing what it says on the tin.
As you have probably heard by now, the new default theme for WordPress is a magazine theme.
While making the new default theme a magazine-style design was an interesting and welcome move, of course it still might not suite your tastes exactly, even if you happen to be looking for a magazine-style theme.
But worry not, we’ve got 60 great free alternatives for you. You’re bound find at least one that will do for you what the new TwentyFourteen theme might not.
(Let us know in the comments which ones you like best.)
Contender number three in our WordPress Theme Builder Shootout is Headway.
The developers claim “drag and drop” but there’s little “drop” to speak of. The “drag” though provides a “drawing” experience that combined with a slick interface is very much worth speaking of.
But is the incredible flexibility of this product let down by a lack of out-of-the-box functionality?
From the comments on the introductory post to this series, I knew that Headway had strong support and I can see why.
The second contender in our WordPress Theme Builder Shootout and the first to use front-end editing.
Combine this with using a base theme and I was expecting that this would be a quick and easy path to a fully customized design.
But had I picked the wrong tool for the job?
It’s important to keep in mind that the ratings are heavily influenced by the experience of building the test site and NexusThemes was not up to the task.
The first contender in our WordPress Theme Builder Shootout and it seems appropriate to start with an Ultimatum.
This builder, delivered as a theme and a couple of plugins is simple to use, easy to understand and will let you get a rough site up and running in no time at all.
But is rough good enough?
A Word On “Back-End” Editing
Many of the theme builders, including some of our contenders, tout “front-end” development as a benefit.
Until recently, when adding a theme to your WordPress site, the choice was either buy a theme and live with any shortcomings or enter the expensive, painful and time-consuming worlds of theme modification and bespoke development.Theme builders, relatively new kids on the WordPress block, aim to provide an alternative. They come with bold and enticing claims of being able to completely customize a site with no coding.In this series, I’m going to review the main contenders and find out whether they back up their claims. So, take your seat for the WordPress Theme Builder Shootout.create 100% pro, mobile-ready sites without codingtotally in control of any aspect of your site with no coding skills requiredBuild any layout you can think of, customize any page, add colors, fonts, and moreThese are the bold and enticing claims made by the developers of various WordPress theme builder solutions. Bold because even if you’ve only tinkered with WordPress then you’ll have some understanding of just how big an undertaking “sites with no coding” is. Enticing because, if true, theme builders can offer a realistic alternative option to either buying a theme (and living with it or modifying it) or developing a bespoke theme.What Are Theme Builders?Theme builders provide the interface and the functionality to either build a complete WordPress theme from scratch, or to completely customize a base theme.Their approaches differ, sometimes dramatically.Some provide their functionality only in the admin interface; others are front-end. Even the same technique, such as drag and drop, can differ enormously between solutions. Designing layout using grids of rows and columns that are arranged via “drag and drop” is popular although one solution actually allows you to “draw” your layout.Regardless of the approach, the aim is the same: complete customization of every aspect of a theme without having to resort to editing code.Page Builders Are Not Theme BuildersI’ve been really strict with the criteria for constitutes a theme builder: it must provide the functionality to build layouts and themes for all WordPress templates (archives, posts, custom post types) – not just individual instances of posts and pages.Page builders are focussed on pages and posts and generally individual instances. Whilst it’s absolutely possible to build a great looking site with page builders, it does generally require that every page in your site is literally that: a page. Page builders also generally work on an existing theme.So, by all means let me know if you think I’ve missed an obvious product to review (I can add obvious misses to the list of reviews) but make sure the product is a true theme builder and not just a page builder.Note: I’ll be following up this series by looking at page builders in the New Year.The ContendersI looked at a number of solutions before whittling down the list to the following four:Ultimatum (http://ultimatumtheme.com/)NexusThemes (http://nexusthemes.com/)PageLines (http://www.pagelines.com)Headway (http://headwaythemes.com/)Undoubtedly, there will be comments go along the lines of “I can’t believe you didn’t include [insert product name here]”. If you think I’ve missed a product, and it is a true theme builder, then let me know in the comments and look into adding it to the list.The TaskTo make the comparison as simple as possible, I’m going to try and build the exact same site using each product.I’ve selected a site I was recently involved with. It’s a magazine site with a general layout featuring header and footer adverts, a right-hand sidebar and a footer:Home page has a content slider and arranges posts by custom post type in a grid layout.Archives use a grid layout and have a tag cloud for a custom taxonomyPosts are the generic templatePages are the generic templateThe profile custom post-type has its own sidebar with a tag clouds for the two custom taxonomiesI’m going to limit myself to four hours. It’s highly unlikley I’ll be able to finish the task in that time but what I will have is a good idea of how the product works, how long building a theme is likely to take and what additional skills might be needed to finish the project.Rating the ProductsTo keep the reviews consistent, I’m going to rate each product on the following five criteria:Learning curve / ease of use – how easy is it to get started? Do the concepts and approach make logical sense? How intuitive is the solution? Is the help / documentation helpful?Features – one of the key areas of a Theme Builder is the components list. How extensive is the components list?Flexibility – can you build any layout? How easy is to apply the one layout to multiple templates? Can you reuse template parts? Does the solution work with other themes? Are the themes responsive? Does the resultant theme work across all browsers?Out-of-the-box rating – how close can I get to the final site using just the solutionValue for money – how does the solution compare to an off-the-shelf theme? How much time does it save in the development process?It’s important to note that I’m not looking at these products as a developer, so I’m not interested in rating the quality of the generated HTML and associated code. Most WordPress site owners are going to be more than happy so long as the theme works, with no obvious bugs or incredibly long load times.Be Sure To Have Your SayTheme builders are the relatively new kids on the WordPress blocks but they are growing in number. That’s not really surprising when you consider the enormous benefits they potentially bring to a WordPress project.Each product will have its own post, to allow for individual discussion. I’ll wrap-up the reviews and pick my favourite in a concluding post after the reviews.Please join in, especially if you have used any of the solutions. The more voices, the more comprehensive the coverage and the more useful the articles will be to those readers who have yet to use a theme builder.Tomorrow, we’ll start with Ultimatum.Do you use a true theme builder that’s not the contender’s list that’s worthy of a review? Let us know in the comments.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, WordPress default themes are important.They get automatically installed on every upgraded and new WordPress site, gaining massive exposure.
For 2014, WordPress have broken away from previous defaults to produce a theme for a specific use, namely magazines. And not just any magazine theme but a “beautiful magazine theme”.
And it certainly is beautiful. But if you want to use the theme you’re also going to have to contend with its flaws.
If you’re a creative type, there’s no better way to show off your work than with a video theme.
Once a page is loaded and a video has started to play, there’s an incentive there for visitors to stick around and explore your site further because they’ve already invested some of their time watching your clip.
Videos draw in your visitors, allowing you to easily showcase your work with minimal effort on your visitors’ behalf. If you’re a business owner, videos allow you to quickly and effectively get your message in front of users to your site.