Outreach Theme Overview
This week we are taking the beautiful Outreach theme by StudioPress for a test drive. Outreach is a mobile responsive theme based on the ever popular Genesis Framework. StudioPress is marketing this particular theme towards churches or religious groups, but there is nothing stopping you from using it for any website and style of business.
Outreach is a proper mobile responsive WordPress theme so you know your website will look great on all devices. There are a number of default page layouts that you can choose from, you can test each of these on the demo site. We like the Content/Sidebar layout the best, but the Full Width Content could surely come in handy for some pages. It also includes a landing page template that is designed to use with your PPC advertising campaigns.
Outreach theme has 4 default theme colour schemes to choose from: green, blue, red and orange. We like the blue colour scheme and have used it on a website we built for a client: Byron Audio.
The Blog layout page has a very simple but functional layout shown below:
We tested Outreach theme on our iPad mini and our iPhone 4S and the results really are fantastic as seen below:
Outreach Theme Features
- Includes Genesis Framework
- 4 colour styles
- 6 layout options
- Featured images
- Fully mobile responsive
- Theme options
- Threaded comments
- Mobile responsive slider
- Landing page templates
- Unlimited Updates, Support & Sites
- Access to Detailed Tutorials
Outreach theme is a very straightforward and functional responsive WordPress theme that could be suitable for many different types of personal or business websites. Sitting on the rock steady Genesis Framework is always going to be a major selling point, and it is perfectly mobile responsive which is essential as far as we are concerned. There was one thing we found quite annoying about this theme is that in the theme settings there is no way to add a normal image logo rather than using the Title text, you can do it via CSS though but we think this should be standard in the basic theme.
Having built a client site with this theme we can surely recommend it. Also if you have any questions regarding this theme before you purchase it just ask below in the comments, we will be happy to help.
You can get Outreach Theme by StudioPress here.
This week we are taking a look at a brilliant WordPress plugin called MaxButtons Pro which is made by Max Foundry. MaxButtons Pro is a CSS3 button generator plugin for WordPress, it’s easy to use and allows you to easily create you own buttons. You can also purchase pre-made button packs from the MaxButton Pro website, there are 98 button packs with 2084 buttons in total to choose from. The pre-made button packs definitely make it easier, you just create a button from one of the button templates then modify it to do what you want.
MaxButtons Pro Installation
First you will need to get a copy of MaxButtons Pro plugin, it’s only $15 on the MaxButton Pro website. Once you download the plugin, unzip it then upload it to your wp-content/plugins directory in your WordPress website. Then you can go to the Plugins section in WordPress and activate MaxButtons Pro. Once activated navigate to the Buttons menu tab that has now appeared in the left navigation on your WordPress admin. Then go to the tab called License and enter your license key, this can be found in your MaxButtons pro account.
Importing Button Packs
You can get a number of different groups of pre-made button packs from the MaxButtons pro website, either all of them for $99 or 10 packs for $25. There are also a handful of packs that are free, and you can get individual packs for $5 each. There really are button packs to suit many needs, plenty of slick looking call to action buttons and social media icons that will be useful for your WordPress website.
Once you purchase and download your new button packs, simply navigate to the Packs tab in the admin and Browse to the zip file of your button pack and then click Import. Once the button pack has been imported it will then show up in the Packs section, you can just click on it to enter the pack and choose the button you would like to use.
Creating Buttons with MaxButton Pro
You can create your own custom CSS3 buttons from scratch using MaxButtons Pro. Just go to the Buttons menu tab then click Add New to start creating your new button. You need to give your button a name and description, and a URL that the button will link to. It’s also easy to set the width and height of the button to whatever you need.
You get a hovering window that shows you exactly how the button you are creating will look as shown below. This makes it very easy to get a good result fast as you can see each change appear as you alter the buttons settings. There is even a colour swatch on this hover window that allows you to test the button on a different coloured background to see if it works.
Be default the buttons come with two lines of text you can use, a larger more bold one then some smaller text under that. Both lines of text are totally configurable so you can make the font size, style, weight, colour or alignment anything you want.
You can also upload an image icon of your choice and position it on your new button. It can be placed either the the left or right of the text, or above or below it.
All aspects of a buttons border can be controlled in the Border section. You can get some very nice effects using a combination of the Radius and Shadow properties.
Each button has two colour modes, Normal and Hover which are self explanatory. You have controls for the 2 different colours used in the gradient on each of the button states. You can also edit the text shadow, border and border shadow in this section.
After going over all of these settings to customise your button you then just need to hit Save. Once you have saved your button you are then provided with a custom shortcode which you can then use to put an instance of your button into one of your WordPress pages or posts.
Creating Buttons using Button packs
Creating new buttons using the MaxButton Pro button packs is far quicker than building your own from scratch and definitely recommended. Simply go to the Packs tab in your MaxButtons Pro admin then click on the button pack you wish to make a button from. We are quite fond of the Zurb Radioactive button pack, it’s a nice free pack that will let you create some nice looking call to action buttons. See below some of the default button sizes and styles you can choose from in the Zurb pack
To use one of these buttons you simply click on Copy This Button which creates a new instance of that particular button which you can then modify to suit your needs. All of the same customisation parameters are available as mentioned earlier for creating a button from scratch. Again once you have edited the button just save it then you will get your shortcode which you can use to insert it into your WordPress blog posts.
Exporting Button Packs
You can create your own custom button pack zip file using the built in Export feature in MaxButtons Pro. Basically you can make a selection of multiple buttons you have created and or customised yourself, then give your pack a name, description & author and hit Export Buttons. This will give you a zip file you can download to your computer.
We can see this feature being very handy for if you run another or many WordPress sites and you need access to the same set of buttons for those sites too. You could just export the common buttons you need then import directly into your other sites like a normal add on button pack.
There is a Support tab within the plugin which informs you that all support is handled via the Support Forums here. You need to login to your MaxButtons account to be able to view and use the Support forums.
We have been using MaxButtons Pro plugin on another WordPress website we run for quite some time and we are definitely happy with the quick results it gives. If you want professional looking CSS3 call to action and social media buttons for your WordPress website, look no further.
Epik Theme Overview
This week we are taking a look at a new totally mobile responsive WordPress theme made by StudioPress called Epik. This theme demands attention with it’s modern styling and unique design elements. Epik has nine colour schemes to choose from, has a great portfolio design layout and it is based on the super sturdy and reliable Genesis Framework. Hopefully we don’t have to tell you how great Genesis Framework is, out of the box it adds an incredible amount of useful functionality to a default WordPress install.
Epik theme is truly mobile responsive so it displays beautifully across all devices from desktops to tablets and mobiles. This should be a standard feature in all WordPress themes in our opinion, we are living in a multi device world so you need your website to work on mobiles just as well as it does on a computer.
The Portfolio page layout is very sleek and minimalist with a design very reminiscent of Pinterest. There are a handful of different post types you can link the Portfolio thumbnails to so there is quite a bit of flexibility depending on what your actual content is like. Check out the Portfolio page layout below:
This grid style translates very well on mobile devices, it looks particularly good on a mobile phone size screen.
Epik themes features a nice selection of buttons and boxes that can be added simply via CSS classes. It also has a very minimalist landing page template that will perfectly suit squeeze pages and landing pages for PPC advertising campaigns.
One of our favourite aspects of this theme though is it’s Blog page template layout. It’s got a very ultra modern feel about it, the social sharing icons in the sidebar look great too. See the blog page layout below:
We tested the Epik demo site on our iPad Mini and on an iPhone 4S, see below for screenshots of how Epik displayed.
- 10 color styles
- 6 layout options – Archive, Blog, Portfolio, Columns, Landing, Contact
- Custom menus
- Featured images
- Fixed width
- Mobile responsive
- Theme options
- Button & Boxes shortcodes
- Landing page templates
- Threaded comments
- Includes the Genesis Framework
- Unlimited Updates, Support & Sites
- Access to Detailed Tutorials
Epik WordPress theme by StudioPress seems like a very strong contender if you are looking for a modern responsive theme. We can definitely see ourselves trying it out on a website project in the near future. You can get Epik theme at StudioPress here.
By itself WordPress is a powerful tool to base your blog or website around, but it’s really the addons and plugins that really bring it alive. Plugins add a whole new dimension of functionality to your WordPress website, anytime there is something you need to do that WordPress can’t do just go looking and you will find a plugin that does it for you.
We found this great infographic below that lists the 30 most popular WordPress plugins. WordPress has a plugin database of over 22000 to choose from, so this is a great way to narrow down a nice useful list of the best WordPress plugins around.
We hope you find this infographic as useful as we did. What’s your favourite WordPress plugin and why? Leave us a comment with your reply.
Voxel Theme Overview
This week we have a fresh new responsive WordPress theme from RocketTheme called Voxel. This magazine styled theme was released in December 2012 and is based on the Gantry WordPress Framework. Gantry is a rock solid and very powerful framework that RocketTheme uses as the base for it’s WordPress themes. Here is a video that explains the features of Gantry for WordPress, apologies in advance for the soundtrack! Gantry Features Video.
Voxel theme has native support for various RocketTheme specific Plugins. Out of the box Voxel comes with a handful of zip files used for installation and add on functionality including the Voxel theme, Voxel theme Plugins, Gantry Framework Plugin, Voxel Theme RocketLauncher and the Voxel Theme PNG Sources.
Check out the online demo version of a Voxel theme running on a WordPress site here: Voxel Theme Demo
Voxel uses a new RokSprocket Mosaic template that displays your content in a dynamic and interactive grid layout which is perfect for magazine style websites. The actual grids auto align by default so it doesn’t matter if you have different sizes for your images or text in each section. We think it has borrowed some styling from Pinterest as you can see in the image shown below:
Clearly this Pinterest/grid style layout is part of what makes Voxel theme work so well as a fully mobile responsive theme.
Roksprocket is a super powerful fully featured extension that really brings your content alive when used with WordPress. The plugin features RokGallery’s approach to User Interface Design and has an excellent new compound filter system based on the Mac OSX Finder.
We tested the Voxel demo site on our iPad Mini and on an iPhone 4S, see below for screenshots of how Voxel displayed:
- Responsive Layout
- 960px and 1200px Fixed Layouts
- 12 Preset Styles
- 82 Widget Positions
- 11 Styled and 26 Structural Widget Variations
- Powerful Core Gantry Framework
- iPhone/Android viewing support
- RokSprocket Mosaic Layout Integration
- Custom Content Typography
- Fusion MegaMenu & Splitmenu
- Load Transitions
- FF, Safari, Chrome, Opera, IE7+ Compatible
- W3C XHTML 1.0 / CSS Valid
Voxel seems like a sturdy well built theme with a nice feature set. We do like the RokSprocket Mosaic template layout, this theme would surely be a good choice if you need a Magazine style WordPress website. You can get Voxel theme from the RocketTheme website.
Well this isn’t exactly a WordPress theme but we think All In One SEO Pack is an indispensable plugin for WordPress websites so we decided to do a review on it for you. All In One SEO Pack from Semper Plugins adds some fantastic extra features to WordPress to allow you to search engine optimise(SEO) your web site. You can get the free version of All In One SEO Pack from the WordPress plugin directory, this is the version we are using for the review. You can also upgrade to the Pro version from within the plugins own settings or it can be bought on the Semper Plugins website.
All In One SEO Pack Main settings
Once you have installed All In One SEO Pack you need to activate the plugin under the Plugins menu in WordPress. After it is active you can access the plugins main settings under Settings/All in One SEO. From here you can subscribe to the mailing list for tips, tricks and WordPress secrets sent to you from Semper Plugins. You also get a free e-book called 5 SEO Tips for WordPress(worth $39) when you do sign up to the mailing list.
The next part of the settings is displayed below, firstly there is a checkbox to say if you have made a donation or not to the developer of the theme – we support this idea as this is a great free plugin. Next you have the option to have the All In One SEO Pack enabled or disabled. Then you have the controls for the Home page Title, Description and Keywords meta tags. The Home page Title and Description are quite important on page elements for SEO purposes, however Keywords are ignored by the search engines. There is no harm in still using them.
You can also enforce Canonical URLs, plus you then have options to rewrite the Page and Post Titles in the format of your choice. This is handy especially if you don’t want to have your blog name appended onto the end of each page or post title.
Working our way through the rest of the main settings for All In One SEO pack we now get to another section that allows Title adjustments for Categories, Archives, Tags and Search. These can just be left on default if you so choose, or feel free to remove the blog title from any of the options if need be.
The Description format can have extra items added to it with a vertical pipe added as a seperator. You also have the option to customise the 404 Page Title format which is handy if you don’t already have your own custom 404 page set.
One very good feature is that each of the options in the menu items are clickable – so if you’re not sure what it means or does once you click it a section expands that explains the menu option. We weren’t quite sure what Paged format was so here is the explanation we found from clicking:
This string gets appended/prepended to titles when they are for paged index pages (like home or archive pages).The following macros are supported:
%page% – The page number
We left the next two options with their default settings – Custom Post Types and Custom Post Types for SEO Column Support. The Google+ Profile setting will link your Google+ Profile URL to your site’s pages to help you with Authorship ranking. The Google Analytics ID will insert your Analytics Tracking ID into your pages, we don’t use this option as we already have it set in our Theme’s settings.
Next up in the main settings for the All In One SEO Pack plugin is the options to use Categories and Tags for Meta keywords in posts. If you have a custom Posts page set under Options/Reading then you can choose the next option to “Dynamically Generate Keywords for Posts Page“.
The next two options should most definitely be checked in our opinion: Use noindex for Categories and Archives. This will stop the search engines indexing these sections which will help you to avoid duplicate content issues. We also suggest having the next option ticked – Use noindex for Tag Archives which also helps avoiding duplicate content on your website which search engines hate. It’s safe to leave Autogenerate Descriptions checked, however when using this plugin we always write our own Description tags.
Caiptalize Category Titles basically forces Title case on Category Titles. Exclude Pages lets you add a comma seperated list of pages you’d like excluded from All In One SEO Pack. Additional Post Headers could be quite useful as it lets you add to the header section on all post pages, so you could use it to reference stylesheets or similar.
Additional Home Headers only affects the Header section on the Home Page, you can enter whatever additional headers you want here. Additional Front Page Headers sounds like it does exactly the same thing. Having Log Important Events checked means the plugin will create a log file called all_in_one_seo_pack.log which may help debugging any issues you may come across.
Lastly there are two buttons at the bottom left – Update Options which saves any changes you have made and Reset Settings to Defaults which is self explanatory.
All In One SEO Pack Post settings
Now we have covered the main settings section for the free version of All In One SEO Pack it’s time to take a look at the extra SEO functionality it adds to posts and pages within WordPress itself. Under the main posts section in your WordPress blog you will now see three new columns called SEO Title, SEO Keywords and SEO Description as pictured below:
Once you go into an individual WordPress post you now have an added section under the main posting area called “All in One SEO Pack“. In this section you can now specify the page Title tag, Description tag and Keywords tag as shown below. You can also disable that section on any page or post with a checkbox.
All In One SEO Pack Page settings
The All in One SEO Pack settings for individual WordPress pages are only slightly different to the ones for posts. You get the same options as for normal posts but you also get to specify a Title Attribute which is the link title text for the link to the page. There is also an option called Menu Label which sets the text used for the menu item for this particular page.
This is an excellent free WordPress plugin that extends the core WordPress functionality to allow many very useful SEO settings. If your WordPress theme doesn’t add this kind of functionality already(Like Genesis Framework does) then this plugin will work well for you.
While you are enjoying the festive season, there are a few holiday sales on for WordPress themes you may be interested in.
Themify if offering 30% off any theme or Club Membership, just use the coupon code ‘holidays’ to claim your discount here at Themify WordPress Themes. This offer is only valid until the 31st December so be quick!
The team over at WooThemes also has a 30% discount offer, this applies to their WordPress themes, WordPress plugins and WooCommerce extensions. To claim your discount go here to WooThemes and enter the coupon code ‘JOLLYGOOD’ when you checkout to get 30% off. This one also expires at midnight on December 31st.
The team at Copyblogger Media are having a huge sale that’s just started today and runs through until Monday the 26th of November. They have slashed the prices on the very popular StudioPress WordPress themes and they are also giving away Premise for just $95, it normally costs $165. If you haven’t already tried StudioPress themes you really should as they are definitely one of the best WordPress themes on the market. In case you haven’t heard of Premise it has a multitude of features including the ability to create membership sites, take recurring payments, drip feed content, sell digital content, create landing pages and much more!
Copyblogger Media’s Black Friday Sale
The latest WordPress theme offering from StudioPress is a minimalistic responsive style theme called Apparition theme. Apparition supports a custom menu, custom backgrounds, featured post images and fixed width styles. This is a rather spacious looking theme where your content is really what it’s all about. We really like the minimal look and feel and the nice clean design, this theme has a lot of potential, especially being a responsive theme which saves you money by not having to also develop a seperate mobile version of your website.
There are a number of theme colour options including blue, green, orange, red and pink, we think it’s a toss up between the red or blue for the best looking colour styling. The Blog template style has nicely spaced out posts with a number of different options for the snippet that displays before you click through to the individual blog posts. The Contact page has a nice clean form design generated by a plugin called Gravity Forms(3rd party) and a round submit button! Apparition also has a landing page template that would be perfect for sending your AdWords campaign traffic to.
We tested the theme on a mobile and it scales perfectly as you would expect from a fully responsive WordPress theme. Here’s a screen grab to illustrate this:
- Includes the highly acclaimed Genesis Framework
- Clean minimal design
- Truly mobile responsive WordPress theme, scales to any device size.
- Custom backgrounds
- Custom menus
- Featured post images
- Fixed width
- Unlimited Updates and Support
- Detailed tutorial recources
- Once off purchase fee
This month we are reviewing a very very nice responsive WordPress theme from ThemeForest called Slate that is definitely a personal favourite of ours. We truly believe that responsive themes are the way to go to ensure your WordPress website or blog looks fantastic across across all browsers and devices including smart phones and tablets. Slate adapts to your websites styling and also to any device you choose to view it on. Slate will perfectly scale all the way down to smart phone screen size and still be fully featured and functional just like viewing it on the web. It even has built in swipe support for your portfolio images and videos. So in other words your entire portfolio on your website is now swipeable and scalable!
We really like the ultra smart and minimal design which comes with a dark or light background by default and has many page layout options. One thing we also really like are the Buttons which you can find on this page here which shows a number of the styling elements and shortcodes. Also take a look at the Tabbed Content Box and the Tooltip messages which would be a useful edition to any good WordPress website. Also make sure you take a look at the Slate Portfolio demo. You can see by the layout how it would naturally scale for smaller devices like iPhones and also for tablets. We love the default layout of the Blog page too which you can find here.
We don’t have anything bad to say about Slate, we will definitely be using this theme on a few web site projects in the very near future, a single licence will only cost you $45.
Slate Theme Features
Super Clean, Responsive Design
Light and Dark Color Schemes
Fully Scalable Galleries
Mobile Swipe Support
Fully Scalable Embedded Video
Multi-Function Sidebar Widget
Drop Down Menu (on all sizes)
Hidden Header Area
Localized (.mo and .po files included)
Social Media Icons