Review: Feel the effects of Launch Effect theme (plus video)

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Are you ready for the Launch Effect?

Anyone in the field marketing will know half the battle with launching a new website is creating a buzz about it. “Coming soon” pages are well and good, but what about a truly viral WordPress theme?

In steps Launch Effect, a WordPress theme by the guys over at Barrell a NYC based creative digital agency. In Launch Effect they have created a WordPress theme specifically for that purpose. It’s their answer to the question: “how do I attract my potential audience and get them to spread the word, all before launching a site?”

Launch Effect review gallery

In addition to the screenshots above, and especially if you are after an in depth look at Launch Effect, you can check out my video review of the theme below. Otherwise, feel free to skip down and catch my thoughts in good old fashioned text.

Video: A first taste of Launch Effect

Firstly, as you will no doubt have seen from the video I used a WAMP install of WordPress so certain elements of the theme will not work, such as sharing on social media sites. See this earlier post for a guide to install WAMP & WordPress.

Installing Launch Effect is the same as any other WordPress theme install, simply download from the Launch Effect site and the tough work is done.

New admin sidebar item

Upon installation of Launch Effect you will notice a new addition to your WP admin sidebar entitled “Launch Effect”.

This is quite simple and gives some options such as Designer, Stats & Export CSV.

Using the Designer tab

Delving a little deeper into this admin sidebar and clicking on “Designer” brings up a nice user interface with a number of expandable boxes for you to edit the look and feel of the site.

Launch Effect Options Interface

As you will see from the image above we have a number of configurable options that allow us to change elements displayed on the front end.

Lets start off with the Head section, This expandable option gives us a number of user input fields to change elements within it like page title, meta description and keywords, favicon and so on. This section also gives us the option of uploading a social media thumbnail to display on Facebook, as well as options for TypeKit and MonoType support to change fonts.

The Page section gives us options such as background color and the ability to set a background image of your choosing.

Container gives us the ability to set the scene for the main section of the site where your message will be displayed for all and sundry to see.

Now the Container options

Here, in addition to controlling the box size, position, and color, we can enable an effect like a dropshadow or a glow.

Add a video?

Launch Effect also gives us the ability to embed a video into the page, which it specifies should be a YouTube or Vimeo video.

Then there’s another background image button, which will override your background color you selected earlier in the container section if used.

Container social media

As well as all of the above points the bottom half of the container section gives us URL input boxes at the base of the container for various social links, with options to disable them.

Choose your title

The Title section is well laid out with plenty of options. Launch Effect also gives you access to Google WebFonts, and you can simply select the font of choice and watch a preview come up of your selected font. There are also predefined font options if you’re not a fan of Google WebFonts. Similar options are available in the Sub-Heading section.

The next couple of options sections allow for control of the text that will show up within the theme. The section after that, though, called Signup Settings, is what really caught my attention.

Social Media Options

This section is what really makes this theme stand out, with the real kicker being the unique URL generation for tracking purposes.

What I created with Launch Effect

Final Product

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. My example doesn’t look amazing — no offense Ryan — but then again if I spent move than twenty minutes on it I’m sure I could create something really quite special. With a nice background image and tinkering with the text you could create a real unique presence for your business or promotion.

It was after I tweaked the content and the colors that I got quite excited with this theme. This is when I turned my attention to just how visitors will interact with the site, and what they will see when they arrive.

After email submitted

Once an interested party submits their email address, the message we’ve defined in the options greets them.

Here they can share the link socially, or if they want to link it on a blog article they can copy and paste their own unique URL specific to them. A returning user also has the ability to check their own effect on your launch by entering the same email address they originally signed up with.

Welcome Back

Our user now has insight into how many referrers and how many clicks they have on their own unique URL. This is incredibly handy for end users, especially if you are running a competition based on traffic driven to the site.

stats

Launch Effect comes packaged with its own stats tab, which gives information such as amount of visits a user refers, conversions, and conversation rates.

Have a high referring user? Why not email them directly and gain insight into why they are successful. Build a relationship and give them more incentive’s after all they may have a large social following who takes what they say as verbatim.

The emails here can also be exported in CSV format and imported into the mail program of your choice.

The Launch Effect Theme Roadmap

I had a quick look through the Launch Effect site, and noticed that in addition to a support forum they also have a development roadmap that includes:

  • Mail Chimp integration for automatically adding sign-ups to a list as well as powering post-signup notification emails.
  • Mobile version.
  • Ability to export and import theme options.
  • Add color-calculation to “Go” button text color to work against lighter button backgrounds.
  • Previewing Google Webfonts within dropdown.
  • Test and reselect integrated Google Webfonts faces that work best with both Mac and Windows font-rendering.
  • Expand to include a blog.
  • Add slideshow embed field to theme options panel.
  • Provide error messaging.
  • Switch to color picker used by Twenty Eleven theme or similar.
  • Provide theme as a plugin that can work as part of an existing site.

Two things that would improve this Launch

I noticed that the options box triggers were sometimes temperemental, and would quickly close then open again on click. The save button also could have been located at both the top fo the option box and at the bottom, but really these are relatively pedantic in the grand scheme of things.

Also, do you know what would make this a killer viral launch theme? The ability to use this theme as a front facing client site, while a secondary WordPress theme is viewable by the administrators until site launch. Then, when you’re ready, you can simply swap over the theme.

This may not be entirely possible and I may well be in la la land with this idea, but I think it would make it a standout theme for sure.  However the development roadmap does state that in the future they will provide theme as a plugin that can work as part of an existing site, so hopefully it might become a reality.

Final Thoughts

What we have here is a solid viral WordPress theme that has a massive potential to attract and promote your business, service or product.

As a company looking to promote you could do a hell of a lot worse than Launch Effect. It’s a refreshingly different WordPress theme and one that does it’s job amicably. Its ability to promote using unique URL generation, login, and tracking really do make this a standout launch theme.

WPCandy rated this 4 mints

6 thoughts on “Review: Feel the effects of Launch Effect theme (plus video)

  1. Looks interesting, thanks Ben. Re:

    The ability to use this theme as a front facing client site, while a secondary WordPress theme is viewable by the administrators until site launch. Then, when you’re ready, you can simply swap over the theme.

    You could just use the Theme Test Drive plugin for that couldn’t you? It has an issue with sidebars between themes but I’m not sure that can be avoided.

    • Cheers Joel,

      Good shout on that one, had a look at Theme Test Drive on WordPress.org it would seem it is not without it’s problems, however like most things they can usually be rectified by ‘googling’! Thanks for stopping by and the heads up also.

  2. Good review! I came across this theme a while back. And while it looked great, and timely, for use on a friend’s site. It ultimately was not suitable exactly because one cannot develop the theme behind it. I have been using the Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ultimate-coming-soon-page/) and it is great since it is a plugin. So when you are logged in, you can see your theme and work on it. But all logged-out users will see the coming soon page. You can also use it for maintenance. I have only used the free version, but there is a “pro” version. I don’t think it has the unique link generation, which is the main attraction for Launch Effect. But it does the job well.

    Another idea would be to be able to use these unique urls for landing pages for different campaigns, and for competitions in general. Not just on coming soon pages. Knowing who is out there referring you and sharing your links is useful for promotion.

    • Hi Nicholas,

      Thanks for your kind comment, with ref to the Ultimate Coming Soon plugin I too have used it for a free UK job board I recently finished. Found it to be a decent plugin although it did not whip up as much interest as I would have liked, but hey that’s down to me I guess!

      Like your idea for the unique urls, for different campaigns & comps. As a plugin on it’s own unique URL generation from your WP install plus stats would be INCREDIBLY useful. Pointing out how loyal your readers are incentives for sharing etc. Would also give you real metrics into where traffic is coming from and who shared it etc.

  3. This is a sweet theme, with very powerful features, especially the unique referrer URL tracking. Kudos to the team at Barrel for releasing this as a free theme.

    One question I had was whether importing a CSV file of the captured e-mail addresses into a provider like MailChimp or Aweber would be double opt-in? I know some e-mail marketing firms are quite strict about not importing e-mail addresses. They usually require the webmaster to use the e-mail companies’ own opt-in forms for users to sign up with, and for those users to click on a confirmation link sent to their inboxes.

    To be on the safe side of the CAN-SPAM Act, I might wait until Launch Effect has full integration with Aweber or MailChimp’s opt-in forms.

    There’s a similar free launch theme available from Woo Themes, called “Placeholder.” From a quick comparison, Launch Effect has more features and is more customizable. One nice thing about Placeholder is that it has a countdown clock.

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