Press75 Review: Love ‘Em, Hate ‘Em, or Do Both at the Same Time!

Press75 – A Bit of History

Started in 2008 by Jason Schuller out of Seattle, Press75 is especially known for its video and photo themes. According to an interview this past February, he says the first theme he ever sold was a video theme (“Video Flick”). He priced it at $5, went out for a walk with his wife, came back a little while later and found he had sold over 50 copies.

team

With that success, he created three more video themes and launched Press75.

In that interview mentioned above, however, he admits that he may be growing tired of WordPress, which is an uncharacteristically honest admission from someone who makes his living selling WordPress related products.

He says:

Every time I login to a WordPress admin or go to create a new theme, I just sigh a little because I feel like it’s something I need to do now rather than something I want to do. Earlier last year, I even tried creating a few really “simple themes” just to see if that would curb my appetite for something fresh, but in the end I honestly felt like I was just putting a tarp over all the junk in the back yard.

He then goes on to say his new passion is a project called Leeflets, which bills itself as a “free, minimal content management system.”

That interview took place in February of this year. Whether his heart has returned to WordPress since then or not is only something he can answer.

Also listed on the About page is Luke McDonald, a designer and developer from Eastern Iowa.

Cost

You have two options from Press75 – a one-year package or a lifetime package. With both packages you get access to all their themes.

1 Year – $75

All themes. With the one-year package, you get access to updates, documentation, tutorials, and support for a year.

Lifetime – $275

All themes. You get everything you get in the one-year package (updates, support, etc.), but it’s good for a lifetime – no yearly fees.

Features

As Press75 is somewhat famous for their video themes, we’ll start with that.

While video themes started as simply thumbnails linked to pages with videos, they have certainly moved past that. For example, in the Series theme, you can set up a video “series” under different channels.

For example, you can see in the screenshot below I’m on the 2nd video in the 3-video series on the Action Channel.

channels-2

Clicking on the Action Channel button takes me to a page with all the different “channels” with all the different videos in each channel. In the screenshot, you can see a few of these channels – Action Channel, Art Channel, and the Automotive Channel.

channels-all-2

You will also find things such as built-in video galleries in some themes.

video-gallery

Apart from video themes, there are themes classified as audio themes, business themes, one commerce theme, magazine themes, photo themes, and portfolio themes. Many themes do double-duty in these categories.

At this point, there are only 9 responsive themes.

Other Features

While there is no framework that applies across the board to all Press75 themes, and there are no ways to generally drag and drop design elements, different themes will have other features specific to their purpose. As these purposes are sometimes wildly different (for example, a video theme vs. a coming soon theme), the features are also wildly different.

A number of themes take advantage of third-party plugins. This can be both a blessing and a curse (as you’ll see in the Usability section below).

For example, on a simple coming soon/launch type website, there are what seem like a ton of different options available (including MailChimp integration) for such a simple end product.

launch

Overall, Press75 has some nice features for things like videos. And certainly they offer more in this area than a regular theme. That said, there don’t seem to be many advanced features you might want in a “regular” theme.

And so in the end, we’ll say it balances out. You may be fine with that imbalance. Or you may not be. It’s really going to depend on what you need.

Aesthetics

all-themes-340px

To be honest, there are some things I like about the appearance of Press75’s themes, and there are some things I don’t particularly like.

Overall, the themes generally tend to have a dark or heavy look to them. Not all of them, but a fair share.

And that’s not just because of the dominant colors. There are smaller elements that add to this feeling.

For example, looking at the screenshot below from the Massive Press theme, you can see that each thumbnail on the front page has a little number in the corner indicating the number of comments. That’s a nice little touch, but when it’s repeated on each thumbnail, and it’s in a bright red, the repetition turns what would otherwise be a relatively clean-looking page into something much heavier.

comment-numbers

Not Afraid to Be Bold

One thing you can say for Press75 is that they aren’t afraid to be bold with some of their designs. You might say that their designs have a look that you’ll either love or hate. For me, it was a little different. They had designs that I seemed to both love AND hate.

Their Blocco theme is a good example. This bad boy is what it is, and it makes no apologies. Take a look at the homepage.

blocco-theme

While the tabs out to the side (that get named with Page titles) don’t appeal to me, I admit I do like what happens when you click through to a single page. Your featured image gets a grid-style design overlaid onto it, and your post title gets put in the bottom right-hand corner.

grid-image

I like that. But then there are still the uneven tabs out to the side. It definitely gives it a rougher, unfinished edge. Some may like that. Personally, I don’t know if I’d be able to get past it.

Some Things Simply Miss

Some things, however, just seem to miss completely. At least they do to me. Here’s an example from one little section on the Series video theme.

video-bottom

If we focus in on the bottom of this video, there are a number of things going on here that don’t really appeal to me. First, the video is made to appear as if it’s sitting in some type of groove. I not really sure if you could ever pull that off smoothly, but here especially, it doesn’t really seem to work. To my eye anyway, it seems a little like the graphics from an out-of-date video game.

Then there’s the green grooved ledge. Under the ledge, the controls are dark and barely visible, which I could live with. But on the right hand side, the number 5, which indicates the number of comments, appears as if it has been unintentionally cut off. I’m guessing that it’s completely intentional. But to me, at first glance, it doesn’t quite look that way.

A Look at a Few Themes

Here are a few themes to give you an idea of Press75’s themes.

Clear News: Info | Demo

clear-news

Series Theme: Info | Demo

series-theme

Hoon: Info | Demo

hoon

Massive Press: Info | Demo

massive-press

Usability

More than once (with different themes, that is) I ran into problems that left me completely unable to put the content I wanted on the site. Reading through the provided instructions, it would say something like “Click ‘Add Episode Part,’” but in my installation, there was no “Add Episode Part.”

At least some of the themes require the installation of third party plugins. And so I began thinking that maybe this had something to do with the problems I was running into. Though I installed and activated the plugins, I was still running into problems.

I also came across another problem — a smaller one, but one I saw repeated across a few themes. When wrapping an image, the text didn’t wrap. I wrote in and asked if something was amiss in the theme. Sure enough, I got a response that said there was a bit missing in the CSS and that it would be fixed on the next release. The next release came out, and it was fixed, but then I saw the same issue in another theme.

wrapped-text

All in all, that’s not a big deal. If you miss it in one, and somehow you’re maybe using a template to start a different theme, then it’s not hard to miss it in another. But it took me back to the larger problems I was experiencing. Was there actually something on my end that was causing the problems, or were the problems from the source?

As there is no support forum, I wasn’t really sure how common the problems were, especially the larger ones I was experiencing. Searching around a little on the web, I found that I wasn’t alone in experiencing some of my problems.

After all that, an answer finally came through from support about my larger problems. Indeed, a key third-party plugin had recently been changed, and that was the issue.

Again, this type of thing can happen. And so I’d like to be able to just chalk it up to “things happen.” But what if I had already had a site up and running? Would it have just stopped working?

Customer Service

Support seems to be available only through email. The questions I sent in were answered fairly promptly.

One, asked at about 4:30 p.m. (U.S. time) was answered 45 minutes later.

Another asked late at night (U.S. East Coast time) was answered the next morning.

Another asked about 3:30 p.m. was answered later that night.

And so the response times were certainly reasonable. Without a forum, however, you are stuck waiting around for an answer to your problem. If there were a forum, others may already have the answer for you.

As in the case I outlined above, for example, if I had a site already up and running, and a third party plugin got updated and took everything down, I might be able to find that out much quicker with a forum.

Speed

To test the speed of a few themes, I ran a few of the demo themes on the Press75 website through the Google PageSpeed Insights. Google says that a score above 85 is very good. Many themes never seem to reach that mark.

From the themes I’ve tested in the past, I’d say that the Press75 themes I tested were maybe slightly above average.

Here’s the result for the video-focused Series theme.

speed-series

And here’s the result for the Blocco theme.

speed-blocco

The Good

  • Inexpensive – all themes for $75.
  • Some interesting functionality, especially with video.
  • The bold designs will appeal to a certain market.

The Bad

  • Only 9 responsive themes.
  • Designs tend to be on the dark side and heavy. Some appear outdated.
  • Designs are so bold that it may be hard to live with certain parts of them.

  • Cost:
  • Features:
  • Aesthetics:
  • Usability:
  • Customer Service:
  • Speed:
  • Overall:

4 Responses

  • New Recruit

    I have been using Press 75’s Massive News theme on our news site for more than four years now and have had experience with Press75 as far as their themes and support goes.

    I was drawn to Massive News because it provided an attractive and professional presentation for our audience and took it out of the realm of being obviously “just another WordPress blog.”

    It has worked well (with tweaks), but has also been getting increasingly dated as the WordPress community offers more complex and meaningful plug-ins that just won’t work with this theme unless it is overhauled and updated.

    Updates and bug fixes are probably Press75’s weakest spot. That may be one reason their former support forums were canned. As customers interacted with each other, I recalled a growing collective sense of dissatisfaction over the length of time it took for bug fixes and waiting for long-promised updates, especially as themes grew older.

    I recall it often took months to push updates, and the time between those grew longer and longer as the author moved on to his next best thing. After about a year, we usually fixed bugs ourselves in-house because they were simply not being addressed.

    This is something to consider when thinking about buying annual or “lifetime” licenses with an understanding you will receive upgrades in perpetuity. It just doesn’t work that way in real life. Once a theme is relegated to the back catalog, it will receive less and less attention.

    If you are comfortable switching themes frequently and appreciate the next best thing, then you probably will do better with a lifetime license if you like what Press75 produces. That will give you perpetual access to the newest releases — which is where all the action will be.

    However, the quotes from the interview regarding his feelings about WordPress did raise my eyebrows. So did his admitted difficulty getting himself motivated to produce new themes. That sounds like classic burnout to me, and in my experience that is never good news.

    • Author

      Phillip,

      Thanks for the feedback. Those comments would have me wondering too. As I said, however, that was some months ago. People can get a second wind. Or, he may sell the company if he’s getting burned out. Who wouldn’t want to buy a (I assume) profitable company?

      Anyway, thanks again for letting us know your experience.

  • New Recruit

    Honestly, I’ll never buy another Press75 theme ever again.

    I bought the Acquisto theme back in 2011, when it was released, to use in conjunction with the Cart66 plugin (another company I will never buy from again). I built a huge store with 500+ products and took it live.

    In 2012, a year later, all support for the Acquisto theme stopped and no more updates were released. The theme started having some major issues, so I tried to find the support forum for the Acquisto theme. Press75 had deleted the forum specific for the theme and left it’s previous buyers out in the cold. I couldn’t even accept orders!

    I thought this was unacceptable so I commented in the general forums about my issues. The response I received was that they no longer were providing support for the theme, so I was fresh out of luck. This is a year after the theme was released! Their suggestion? That I buy one of their new themes that worked with a different eCommerce plugin. I mean, they really wanted to me start from scratch all over again!

    I’m in the process now of moving everything over to a new site running on WooCommerce. At least they have a good track record.

  • Flash Drive

    Hey Tyler! We faced the same issue with our website, http(://)www(.)techgarage(.)my. We launched it with Acquisto and Cart66. Support from Cart66 was horrendous. Only after purchasing did I find out that there was no support for shipping in Malaysia or any Asian countries. And no way to add in shipping details. We ended up giving free shipping.

    Even worse was Acquisto. After spending quite a fair bit in modifications, it just stopped working. And then Cart66 told us we had to pay to get new downloads, even though they promised us lifetime updates for version 1.

    We’ve also since moved to Woocommerce, and bought quite a fair bit of extensions on lifetime licenses. :)

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