June 21, 2013 at 4:02 am #47005
OK, I kinda feel like a traitor, but I've signed up for Elegant Themes and they have so many cool things that you can do so quickly.
Why isn't Studio Press so easy to use? Will they get more themes that are easier?
I just tried about a dozen different (pre-installed) backgrounds for one theme, about 8 different colors, and it took all of 5 minutes and most of that was "gawking" at the possibilities. Same with fonts.
Pre-installed background textures would be a good addition to Studio Press themes. Also more choices in pre-installed fonts would be good also.
I think I saw something a while back that Brad got a free membership to E.Themes so they could have him check it out.
Anyone got ideas on which theme company is best in different situations? I LOVE this forum and haven't tried theirs and support is a BIG deal for me.
But I'm also learning that I need to offer clients something that is 1) pretty (but not foo-foo) and 2) fast for me to build, and E.T. seems to be that way.
Do others have lots of different sources for their themes? How does that work out for you and your clients?
Why do you choose Studio Press over the others?
What are the pros and cons of choosing different Theme sources? (I have a few horror stories about buying things on Theme Forest and a few others.)
MaggieJune 21, 2013 at 8:01 am #47023DerekMember
Just for a little background: I've been using Studiopress themes since the beginning (even earlier, in fact, when Brian Gardner was creating themes under Revolution Themes), so needless to say I've become very familiar with the Genesis Framework and how child themes work.
About a year and a half ago I signed up for Elegant Themes, because I saw a template that I wanted to start with for my "I'm getting married" website. I'm a tinkerer, and quite honestly, I found it difficult to make changes and achieve the look and feel I was going for. To me, it felt like I had to do a lot of extra work just to make changes (which may be because I'm so used to Genesis). Also, at the time Elegant Themes was not using a framework and child themes, which meant digging through a lot of files when I did want to change something. So for me, I found Genesis (and their child themes) easier to use.
One of the things I LOVE about Genesis is the parent framework itself. Studiopress has built, in my opinion, a solid platform with which to build child themes on. Additionally, they can handle staying on top of security vulnerabilities, latest web standards, etc. by updating Genesis and pushing that update on to the end user who can update seamlessly without losing the customizations they've made to their child theme. Unfortunately, you just can't do that with a standalone theme like those available from Elegant Themes.
That being said, Elegant Themes does have some beautiful themes available. They are better looking than many of the Genesis child themes, and contain some pretty slick functionality (albeit gimmicky at times). They do have that going for them. Of course, most (if not all) of that functionality you can achieve on the Genesis platform, you just have to put in the grunt work, haha.
Ultimately, I love the Genesis framework because these days I pretty much just build themes from scratch, and being able to do that on top of a well-built, secure, powerful framework makes my job and my life easier (my normal workflow: once I get the theme design as a Photoshop file from my co-worker, I have 6 hours to code the theme and get it online, ready for content).
On a side note: I used to scour the web for "hidden gems" - great themes tucked away in some dark corner. I don't do that anymore, after a few horror stories of my own. Came across this interesting article the other day which only further assured me that sticking to trustworthy theme sources is the only way to go: http://wpmu.org/why-you-should-never-search-for-free-wordpress-themes-in-google-or-anywhere-else/
June 21, 2013 at 10:55 am #47058TerryMember
The short version of my experience.
I come from the software world, good w/design tools (NOT a fine artist) so wear web design & development hats.
Started with StudioPress in early in 2012 after looking at a couple frameworks. Love, love, love StudioPress. Software reuse is huge. Reuse of sound software, better still. The Genesis framework is a sound, tested, yet not over burdened layer atop WordPress with many smart minds contributing to the base and that many talented web folks of a broad background use. Lots of on-the-job testing, can't beat that. The Community is icing on the cake. It doesn't matter what level you are, there is so much more support than I had expected... for free. There is always a line, support can be expensive. Wow.
In the fall of 2102 I wanted to try Elegant Themes. They are so darn pretty! Kudos to Elegant Themes, they are great designers. So I tried it on a client project. First, it's kind of an apples and oranges comparison. Genesis is a great engine beneath the "pretty." Elegant themes is a theme house. That aside...
With roots as a software geek, even learning WordPress I don't think I have ever bought a theme or a child theme (now I just create them) w/o getting into the guts (php& css). No matter how you work, some of your(my) commitment to a framework or theme house is in figuring out how they do things. It was painful with Elegant Themes. They (imho) are focused on folks who like to tweek the configuration entirely via the front end. I'm not their target market. All that configurability adds bulk to and can slow down your site - which can be fine depending on the size and host. The community at Elegant Themes is different too. Lastly, there were some under the hood things that didn't work for me. It may have been the particular theme. Elegant Themes has a lot of pretty themes and they sell a lot of them, it just wasn't a fit for what I was trying to do the way I was trying to do it.
So like anything, it depends on your background and what you're trying to do.
Love StudioPress. There are themes that give you that front end customization for people who don't want to get under the hood and a solid base for those do-it-yourselfers and everything in between.
Both are good... Just, Different. ProductsJune 22, 2013 at 2:21 am #47154
My background was as a Unix systems administrator, and I fell into specializing in firefighting (fast resolutions) and Internet protocols and applications and customer support (all Mac and Unix, no Windows, no router jockey skills, and that unintentionally narrow focus landed me in the untenable position of being irrelevant with 25 years experience on the resume).
Before jumping into website design, keeping websites up and running and responding fast was first order of business, and WordPress allowed me to put something together that would allow the content makers to play with their website and leave me free to track down problems on the server and the network and fix them to keep the systems humming along. So I have a deep appreciation for things that work as they are supposed to, without causing me to pick through log files and sloppy code to figure out how to fix what shouldn't have come out the box broke to begin with 🙂
I found out quickly that not all WordPress themes were created equal. Like Derek, I started out with Brian back when it was Revolution Themes, and I decided to check that out because of what I'd seen another early podcaster, JC Hutchins, had done with his website (he was using Revolution Black at the time). I liked what I saw and have been a fan/customer ever since.
Over the years we powered our sites with themes under Revolution, Revolution Two, first gen Studio Press and now Genesis. In starting up a freelance website business and with maintaining our media sites, the Genesis framework has been my default install for at least the past 2-3 years, and the handful of times I've gone with themes from different brands, it pains me how much extra work it is picking through code I can read has mistakes in it and not knowing enough to fix all of them on my own adds to the frustration.
There are other themes that I try out because they fit a need I haven't found in any Genesis child theme, from Studio Press, Appfinite, Themedy or ZigZag. Yet time and again, after being elbow deep in customizing templates and CSS for a week, I find myself wishing I could convert them to Genesis child themes 🙂 In that I have to agree with @maroontech about stuff under the hood that is either broken, or doesn't make sense, or that I won't ever need. I haven't tried Elegant Themes, and don't know if I ever will, but I'm having similar experiences with other theme houses.
Those frustrations make me appreciate the sensibilities in Genesis ever more every day, but I also wouldn't mind having a few more flashy child theme options, like a few video blog/channel themes, or when I look at Stretch or Minimum I wish I had the time to figure out how to make one of those the base for a flashy parallax scrolling theme.
I want to put together a site, get the client up to speed with being comfortable managing their own content, and move on to the next project. Genesis has proved over and over again that I can do that faster with their products than I've been able to do with anyone else's. Major selling point for me, and one I point out to clients as well.
Now if I could only figure out how to hack a few Genesis plugins to make my life easier, Summer would be a really happy camper 🙂
June 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm #47229David ChuParticipant
My 2 cents: Elegant themes are very pretty. The price is nice. BUT... support? I wouldn't bet the farm on it. I let my subscription lapse. For more details, not to mention some comments from some unhappy Elegant customers, here's my post about that.
But obviously no 2 people have the same needs, so naturally they'll have opposing opinions on the relative merits of theme companies. For my needs, it's Genesis all the way, but a non-coder may enjoy Elegant.
Dave Chu · Custom WordPress Developer – likes collaborating with DesignersJune 23, 2013 at 6:00 am #47281kunigundeMemberThis reply has been marked as private.June 27, 2013 at 3:10 am #47984
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies.
I like Genesis, too. The support forum here is the best. Especially since I'm always tweeking and seldom (never actually) use a theme right out of the box. Always there's something I want changed. I'd be lost without everyone helping me out.
Elegant Themes sure are pretty. As time goes on I suspect Genesis and Company will come up with prettier child themes.
Anyway, just wanted to get back to everyone who commented to let you know I appreciate the input.
MaggieJune 27, 2013 at 6:26 am #48002SusanModerator
I've found that if I'm looking for a "prettier" child theme, I turn to the community marketplace themes - there are a number of pretty themes available there.June 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm #48176
I'm curious. Which do you think are "pretty"?
I sometimes browse through the community marketplace (and gallery/sample sites) to get ideas for different ways to do things. Even if I don't do anything too "different' I think the practice keeps my brain working in different ways.
Also, it's kind of like reading a book or watching a movie. It's never the same twice because you are a different person with different experiences the next time you read it, so you see it differently each time.
As I do more technical stuff and "play" with sites more, seeing the "same old, same old" is never the same as I have a different appreciation of what's been done and can be done each time I go through samples.
It's so cool as a newbie to be able to say: Oh, I know how they did that! When last time I was clueless.
MaggieJune 27, 2013 at 11:39 pm #48177
My current Community Marketplace favorites are Epik and Megalithe, both of which I'd eagerly purchased and used. I'd also bought Ally directly from Appfinite when it first came out, and recommended Adapt for client (warning: Wes' work can be mesmerizing if you stare at it too long). And playing with Megalithe led me to buy Recreate and Prestige directly from ZigZag.
And while they don't have any themes in the Community Marketplace here, I've put together 4-5 sites with Genesis child themes from Themedy (Foxy News, Derby and Grind).
For me, Megalithe, Ally, and now Epik were just stunning. I felt compelled to play with them 🙂 and Foxy News was just fun, to configure and to customize.
June 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm #48179
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll check them out.
MaggieJune 28, 2013 at 1:07 am #48182
I'm the managing partner of a small but successful and growing website design company... probably not much different from many others except, perhaps for our low(er?) price-point and our limited offerings to achieve that price-point.
Our business model requires that we be very efficient and very fast... and that means we have to standardize on one platform.
Early on we chose Elegant. We offered our clients the choice of any ET product. It worked OK until ... well... it didn't. I don't think it is professional to write disparaging things about a company that is not here to defend itself... so I won't. All I'll say is that we could not get the support we needed in a timely manner... sometimes not at all.
I'm very old... probably a lot closer to "dead" than most others here! Having started with EDS in 1974, I know a bit about software engineering and what it takes to run a successful software service company... and (the) one major key to that is vendor support. I remember a time when IBM 'owned' the IT (software and hardware) world... not because of their products... but because they answered the phone with people who spoke your language and who were well-trained to solve your problems.
So when we decided to leave the ET platform my partners and I did an in-depth study on alternatives. We looked for a platform that had solid engineering, better than average support, and a wide selection of themes. After testing Woo, Pagelines, Headway, Thesis, Catalyst, Studio, and a few others I forget, Studio/Genesis scored the highest using the matrix that we constructed to help make a decision.
Like the "old days" it came down to support. We put in a support ticket with SP and received an answer back in a few hours. It was also the right answer (which we knew in advance.) That, combined with this community, sealed the deal.
The folks at ET are in the theme business with an emphasis on design. They have very pretty themes. They are obviously successful with their business model and with their clientele.
The SP/Genesis people are in the software business... with an emphasis on well-vetted programming and good customer support. For our business model, solid, bug-free software coupled with great support more than makes up a lack of design diversity. But we can create "beauty" from the staid corporate look of SP. (Would you believe that http://newmediawebsitedesign.com/authors/book8/ is actually the Agency theme. Doesn't it look more like an ET theme?)
We made the right choice for our business model. Of course the real "smoke test" (that phrase probably dates me!) will occur when Gen 2.0 is rolled out. What will break? What won't work? How quickly will bugs be fixed?June 28, 2013 at 1:27 am #48183
Thanks for the response and WOW, that is a pretty site. Thanks for sharing.
I'm motivated to try something new just for the fun of it. And see what I can whip up.
MaggieJune 28, 2013 at 1:45 am #48184
Thanks for the kind words, Maggie. One of our core-markets is book authors / self-publishers. These are "artsy" folks who want a nice site, but don't have two dimes to rub together! Thus, we have to have a low price-point, but still provide some "high-impact" deliverables.
The concept that has worked for us is to get "real good" at the platform (Genesis) such that we can often make the silk purse out of the cow's ear... like taking Agency and creating something (link in earlier post) that has a bit of "cool" to it. Of course it helps that my partner is a world-class, award-winning book designer... for the past 25 years.
Another thing that helps us is that we pay top-dollar to our contractors... so we can attract really good people... all of whom are located on-shore and who speak fluent English. There are a lot of people out there who are experienced with Genesis so that gives us a good contract-labor pool to draw from when we need it.June 28, 2013 at 2:05 am #48186
Now that's interesting in that I have been working on an author's site and took the job because I knew it WOULD be hard and the person is very demanding. I've learned a lot.
But, I was trying to make WordPress more artsy instead of blocky. It was rough going for both her and me until someone here suggested a few themes that could be 'arted" up a bit, including Quattro which worked out.
Here's is the site so far, but needs more work--such as compressing photos so it loads faster.
MaggieJune 28, 2013 at 8:15 am #48212
Very nice site.
Your homepage is too busy/cluttered for our taste and 'philosophy' of composition, but everyone has different (not necessarily better!) ideas on how a homepage should look or be structured. "Horses for courses," as the British like to say.
You are loading a 1.3 MB .jpg for the background, of which you only see the margins. You also load a 1 MB .png file for main homepage graphic. No wonder the site is so slow to load before it is cached!
There is a much better way to accomplish much the same background effect using a small file about as wide of your margin and a "background: repeat" attribute. (We're not a big fan of photographic background margins... we find them visually distracting most of the time, but again, it's all very subjective.)
You or your graphic designer might want to review the difference between the .jpg and .png file formats (actually .jpg is not a format, but a compression formula) and when to use one or the other.... to create the .jpg images at 72 dpi which will yield a smaller footprint for the site.
You might want to experiment with using gradients via CSS for backgrounds. This will help: http://www.colorzilla.com/gradient-editor/
My partner (who owns http://www.bookwrights.com) is the gran fromage of graphics and composition in our design house. I know the technology... and little else about "art and color" so it would probably be wise to ignore most of what I've said above! 🙂June 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm #48382
Okay, I may have fibbed. I just took a look at what Elegant Themes has for the first time in months, maybe since last fall, and I noticed TheStyle and TheSource... both magazine type layout styles I've been looking for after starting to fall in love with The Nerdist's grid layout.
Now I'm gonna have to play with them, and I'm blaming all of you for enabling my addiction to WordPress themes 🙂
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