Proximity News WordPress Theme Review

26 Comments

Overview

Proximity is a professional-looking WordPress news theme by the well-known theme developer Nathan Rice. It’s a three columns theme on the homepage and a two columns one on most inner pages. The design gives it an organized look, with the home page displaying contents on various font sizes reflecting order of importance and with the single Post area sporting nicely sized font making it pleasant to read.

The Home Page

Proximity features a clever home page design with various elements on it easily customizable via the theme’s options page. You can choose one category to be used as the featured story, and a few others to be displayed on the left column. My favorite part of Proximity’s home page design is that you are allowed to pick what categories you want to display there. It’s a big plus that the theme allows you to do this instead of just dumping out all the available categories—leaving out some categories could be a good idea both to control your home page content and to keep the visual balance between the columns on the home page. If that’s still not enough, you can also control how many post per category to be displayed to.

Another smart part of the home page is that it avoids displaying duplicate posts at the same time. Think about this: one time or another, you will make a post that belongs to more than one category. Normally, if you feature all that categories on the home page, you’re going to see that post displayed repeatedly. But that’s not the case with Proximity. This theme is smart enough to avoid duplicate contents, you’re only going to see that post exactly once.

Here’s an example from the demo theme. That “Scandals Plague Capitol Hill” post falls under three different categories: Featured, Politics and US News. Now go to the home page. See how many times it shows up on the content area—once. Notice how it doesn’t show up under Featured (because there’s a newer post under that category) and Politics (a slightly older post is displayed instead). Subtle but definitely clever.

The home page sidebar features a Featured Video section (content customizable via theme options), a dual tabbed area displaying Most Popular and Most Commented posts, a 250 x 250 Adsense block, and finally a sidebar widget.

Other Pages

The single post page looks like this. Notice that small panel floating to the right area of the post? I love that. I bet you’ve seen those on major news websites, and it’s definitely a welcome addition here too. By the end of the post you’ll see a Related Entries and a Recent Entries list. The former needs a plugin to work, but the theme reminds you nicely instead of just stopped working if it doesn’t see the plugin installed. Yeah, Proximity is full of small details like these.

Now if we move to the Category Archives (here’s a demo) page, you’ll see that it’s been carefully designed to avoid the bland default WordPress archives look. It feels more professional while keeping a consistent visual look with the home page.

The Author page is even better. The dedicated area displaying the author’s bio and Gravatar-supported picture is a nice touch, and if you take a look carefully the two different columns displaying the author’s articles are done to avoid duplicate contents as well.

The Search result page displays stuff like with a similar format to Google’s search result: Title, URL and excerpt. A nice touch, as this is quite likely the search result format most familiar to your readers.

Theme options

Proximity has plenty of options for you to tweak it easily without requiring you to edit any of its files directly. They are:

  1. Feedburner URL: Tell Proximity to use your Feedburner URL instead as your feed.
  2. Page navigation exclusion: The navigation drop down menu gets too cluttered if you have too much Pages. This allows you to pick some instead of listing all Pages there.
  3. Featured category: Choose one as your featured Category on the home page.
  4. Home page category display selector: The one I mentioned before, it allows you to pick which categories to display on the home page.
  5. Other Headlines customization: You can change the header title and determine how many posts you want here.
  6. Featured Video code: That video on the sidebar? Here’s where you control it.
  7. Adsense 468 x 60: Place your Adsense code.
  8. Adsense 250 x 250: Ditto.
  9. Analytics tracking code: If you’re serious about your news site, you’re going to use analytics service to track your visitors. This is where you put your code.
  10. SEO features: Pick what to use for the page’s META keywords and whether you want duplicate contents (date based archives, content from search result page or category archives) to be indexed by search engines or no. Proximity shows you the recommended options here, so you could just go with them if you’re not sure what to pick.

Proximity Features

Here’s a list of Proximity’s features, which you can learn in more details this way.

  • Custom header image
  • Theme options
  • Drop-down navigation
  • “Smart” home page
  • Archives / blog Page template
  • Advanced sidebar
  • Pretty category archives
  • Author archives
  • Custom search result Page
  • Advanced Single Post template

Conclusion

With all the details and clever features put into it, Proximity is a good option to consider if you’re starting a news site with WordPress. Read the release announcement and play around with the demo site. Proximity is available in various packages: a Single Use License for $59.95, a Developer License for $119.95, also bundled with iNews theme for $119.95 with a Single Use License and $199.95 for the Developer License. The full details are here.

Win A Copy of Proximity

Nathan is extremely kind and is allowing WPCandy to give away one free copy of Proximity to our readers. To enter the contest, all you have to do is comment on this post. Winners will be selected this Wednesday, the 15th. Within the next 3 days, Nathan will also be handing out a free copy of Proximity to a random Twitter follower, so make sure to follow him to enter!

(This is a guest post by Hafiz Rahman of WPLover)

26 thoughts on “Proximity News WordPress Theme Review

  1. Hey guys!
    Two things … if you decide to purchase a copy of Proximity, and you happen to win a copy in either the comment or twitter contest, your purchase fee will be 100% refunded.

    Secondly, I’ll be giving out a copy of Proximity to a follower of mine on twitter (@nathanrice) on Wednesday the 15th as well. You’ll need to be watching my tweets that morning for instructions on how to win. I’ll pick the winner sometime in the afternoon.

    Good luck!

  2. My problem with “premium” themes (or whatever you want to call them) is that I need to spend some time building a site with a particular theme before I know if I like it or not – so a demo program would be great. But obviously that’s not an option when you’d have to give out the code to do a demo. And just viewing a demo page doesn’t really cut it for me. It’s hard to get a feel for the site without having your content thrown in.

    Anyway, long answer to get myself entered for a free copy of a great looking theme. 🙂

  3. I think iChris makes a great point about demos of themes. There have been lots of times after installing a regular theme onto a site when I realize the theme won’t work for that site.

  4. @Michael Clark,
    I think the best way to determine whether or not to buy a theme is by checking out the support after the sale. For instance, some premium theme developers don’t support their themes, they just sell them.

    But, as for me, you’ll notice that the forum for Proximity is not at all lacking in help. I try to answer all questions within a few hours. And on top of that, our resolution rate is very high for support issues. The only times we haven’t had resolutions is when the person who asked the question never returned.

    Also, what you don’t see is the many emails that I’ve written back and forth with customers for support issues.

    Even so, I highly doubt you’ll need support for Proximity. Our customer to support ratio is extremely low. And the reason is, the theme is very easy to use from a user perspective.

    Nathan

  5. @Chris O’Donnell
    Actually, you can only win a single-user license. But, you can always upgrade for a discount, since if you win, you’ll already own the single-use license.

  6. OK guys, be watching my tweets between 2:00 and 3:00 EST today for instructions on how to win a free copy of Proximity. You have to be following me (@nathanrice) in order to win. If you’re not a follower of mine, then I’ll have to pick someone else.

    Good luck!

  7. Whoooosh! this Nathan has it right. Ik’m very, very busy with 2 boys aged 11 and 15 and noooo time to learn css, xhtml, etc. etc. anyone who wants to publish online and allow for may be in print at later time needs this sort of format. the blocking double entries (per category) is simply brilliant. I once told wordpress forums that what the blog world needed was the equivalent of colored “refirdgerator magnets” that could be deployed in moldular fashion like legos for non-devs/programmers. this is it!!
    have a healthy, prosperous day!
    —-rob

  8. Thanks Guys! This is great. I had forgotten I’d enter until I got an email a few minutes ago with the subject “You Won!” LOL

    Perfect! I love it. Thanks again and thanks to Nathan too (which, incidentally, is my youngest son’s name as well.)

    ~ Annie

  9. It was more than 4 months; I tried on my personal server, many themes.
    But I’m not able to have a copy for Proximity, which I think is one of the best themes for news magazine.
    Many themes are well presented, but when you will install theme on your server, you will find a lot of difficulty to do so.
    Nathan had thought about the user, and more effective and nice magazine theme…
    But I did not install it; I would to have it…to test it like other themes
    I’m in the process of final phase of selecting theme…
    I tested many Premium themes, and free themes
    But still few themes to be tested
    I hope Mr. Nathan Rice will send me a free copy to find what that is written is true

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