Theme Show #12: “The Compliment Sandwich”

8 Comments

Theme Show #12

In our second Theme Show episode of the new year, “The Compliment Sandwich”, we stick to our new format and dish over four new themes and pick one to rule them all. Well, for another seven days that is.

As a reminder, each episode of The Theme Show we tear apart four different themes — one for each of us to spend time with and properly review — and at the end of the show decide which one deserves the highest regard. Some weeks that might mean the best of the worst, and others it might be a really, really tough decision.

This week we review and discuss the Bloggit theme by WPExplorer, BlueBird by Just Good Themes, Identify by ThemeBros, and Soundstage by Mint Themes. Of course only one theme could be the supreme winner this time around — and you’ll just have to listen in to find out which one did it.

Episode #12 Show Notes

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 02:00 Bloggit theme review by Ray
  • 15:20 BlueBird theme review by Justin
  • 23:20 Break: Splinters, hot dogs and screenshots
  • 26:53 Identify theme review by Ryan
  • 41:44 Soundstage theme review by Nick
  • 55:45 Final debate and a winner is chosen!

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8 thoughts on “Theme Show #12: “The Compliment Sandwich”

  1. Won’t be saying anything about the design aspect of Identify since i’m the developer.

    - The theme options aren’t our own creation. It’s Option Tree.

    - I was considering a widgetized homepage as well. The thing that made me go with the textareas in theme options is customer feedback. This is not my first theme on TF (got about 5000 sales in total) and from the customer feedback i got to the conclusion that widgets for homepage are more confusing then textareas in theme options. Identify has 67 users at the moment and it appears to be a good decision, the feedback was very positive.

    - I agree with the thoughts on a plugin for the custom post types. It will be made, together with the shortcodes.

    - The contact form is a shortcode that you put in one of those homepage textareas, so it can be a Contact Form 7 shortcode in there. Not limited to our own. We just didn’t want to require plugins to have the theme function, that’s why there’s a built-in contact form. And we didn’t mention the contact form in the theme description on TF :)

    Thanks for reviewing our theme.

    P.S. Who the heck is Jimmy Jones? :)

  2. Hi Ray!

    Thanks for the review. I appreciate you taking the time to really let everyone know the good and bad things about the theme, but wanted to point out a few things which did piss you off initially ;)

    * Documentation folder is required on ThemeForest (unfortunately). I am glad you found it clean and useful.

    * I suggest 3 plugins only not 8 ha. Options Framework, Shortcodes, Deals.

    Why?

    - Options Framework: It’s best to use a plugin for your options panel so it can be updated much more easily. Even better to use one found on the WP.org repository by a solid author.

    - Shortcodes: Lots of people use built-in shortcodes. This is bad for several reasons. If you don’t want to use any shortcodes its bloat, so you can de-activate the plugin. Also I can keep the plugin updated for future bugs without the user having to re-install the theme.

    It’s also a free shortcodes plugin I created, so I like it as a plugin not built-in so everyone can benefit from the updates: http://www.wpexplorer.com/symple-shortcodes/

    - The Deals plugin: It’s a custom post type. Custom post types shouldn’t be built-into the theme. Ask Pippin ;) Also, if you don’t want the deals section you can just disable it, yay!

    - The deals coupon is for bloggers that use affiliates ;)

    Again, thanks for the review.

  3. Thanks for the podcast guys, I feel that there are a few mix signals though from you guys. The first theme reviewed there was a lot of QQ ing over having to install the options plugin etc. I agree that your theme should just work without plugins and have those plugins be optional or recommended upgrades. I believe the theme developers doing this type of thing to take into account the criticism (here and other blogs) that themes are doing too much in their options areas and making it hard for users to change themes without breaking their websites.

    • I believe its crucial to use plugins for certain things. Take shortcodes for example…Imagine a theme has a bunch of shortcodes built-in that you spend hours using to setup all sorts of layouts or maybe there is a button shortcode you use often times in your posts. If at some point you decide to switch themes, those shortcodes will no longer be available so you’ll have a bunch of shortcodes on your site that just look like plain text.

      Post types should be a plugin for the same reason. If you purchase for example a portfolio theme and you setup all your portfolios inside a built-in post type and then later you want to switch to another theme you’ll lose all your posts in the dashboard.

      Sure you can go back to the original theme and cut out the code for both mentioned above, but in most cases people won’t know how to do so.

      There are many other reasons…

      Having everything built-in is much easier for the developer but not ideal for the user, which is why I find it strange when users complain about the plugins that have been developed for their convenience.

      • Perhaps it is different with a commodity theme product but I’d hate to use some random plugin for functionality of a theme. What happens when the plugin stops being supported?

        If you don’t like the design of the theme at some point, but you still want to use the data and structure of the theme you are using — wouldn’t building a child theme make sense?

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