One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that if you’re a blogger in the traditional meaning of the word – you’re publishing mostly text entries daily/weekly, and you’re not a business, or a company, or a magazine, etc., you’ll most likely find it hard to get a professional blogging WP theme.
There’s a number of premium theme stores, not to mention various places where you can get some free themes, or blank theme frameworks. But even though there’s much quality stuff available no one really focuses on traditional bloggers. Well OK, you can still get some themes for a traditional blog, but they never seem to be made the best the designer could make them.
I think that bloggers deserve to be treated with some quality themes too. And that’s why I’ve decided to review one of ThemeFuse’s themes – Writer, to check whether there’s finally something that does the job well and provides a truly quality solution for traditional bloggers. We shall see…
Who’s the theme for
Well, this one we already got covered. The name says it all. The target group here are writers and traditional bloggers – those whose mission concerns around sharing text content in the most usable and clear way possible.
The most important factor for this group of people is the focus put on the content. If you’re a writer then you know that there’s nothing more important than your piece itself. Therefore, the design can’t be too flashy and should never overshadow the content. The design is there to help in making the content more visible not to be the most important element of the site by itself.
That can be challenging. In essence, every designer can create something flashy, but only few can create something outstanding using just a minimum number of elements.
Second most important thing right after the articles themselves is attributing the author. As a blogger or writer the only thing you have is your name, so making sure that it’s clearly visible on the site is a must.
Is Writer getting the job done?
Well, it does display the author’s name and a short bio in the sidebar by default, which is a great move. So this we have taken care of. Now about the content and the focus put onto it. The first thing worth noticing is that the default setting in which the sidebar is presented on the right can be changed, and the sidebar can even be turned off completely if you find it more suitable for your blog.
The content itself could have a slightly better typography, but that’s just my taste, and you’re probably going to make some adjustments to the theme anyway. Writer doesn’t leave you alone here because it supports the @Font Face attribute and enables you to use some custom fonts. That being said, I think that Writer creates a really good environment in terms of emphasis on the content. The design lacks any flashy elements and, in this case, this is a very good thing.
Also, the default package comes with a small set of header images that work well with the theme, and of course, you can use your own. From what I can see after changing the header image, the whole theme gets a new feel, so even when someone uses the same theme only with a different header image, both sites will have a complete different appearance.
To summarize this segment I have to say that in terms of looks and congruence with the theme’s target group, Writer does a really good job.
First of all, the theme provides an easy way of changing the logo, changing the header title, basic SEO settings, settings of social sharing buttons, and even custom sidebars that can be set to appear on every page.
This, for example, gives many possibilities to bloggers who want to create a custom landing page for a newsletter signup or something like this. In such a scenario you can easily create a new sidebar and populate it with only non distracting elements, so the main message in the center gets the most focus.
Of course, things like the main navigation menu can be changed too, but no modern theme could exist without such a possibility.
Now the thing I like the best.
This is a constant element for all themes by ThemeFuse. I’m talking about shortcodes. For those of you not familiar with the concept, shortcodes are an easy way of including (usually) complex solutions as part of your content.
In its default state WordPress only lets you craft a post as a single block of text with some images here and there. ThemeFuse takes this further and they do it in a very user-friendly way. You don’t have to play around in the HTML code, you can use a simple shortcode instead.
For developers, modifying HTML is not challenging, but for normal people (sorry for that) it is. And shortcodes are a way of making life easier for them.
For example, by using shortcodes you can divide a post into columns, display nicely formatted pictures, include maps, buttons, charts, videos … just let me stop there. If you want the full list check this out: shortcodes in Writer.
You have to admit that even if you’re fairly familiar with WordPress, getting all this done manually can be time-consuming. Shortcodes are a great timesaver here. And for a beginner they are the only way of getting those things done.
Docs and licenses
This isn’t the first thing you think about when searching for a theme but it surely is important.
When you visit Writer’s Docs you’ll see that there is a support forum, an FAQ section, and a documentation package for the theme.
I don’t know how helpful the actual support is because I didn’t have an occasion to find out. So I guess you tell me.
There are two licenses like with all themes by ThemeFuse – Standard and Developer. I’d advise going with Standard if you’re a blogger and you’re searching for a theme you’re going to use yourself. However, if you’re a WordPress developer and want to create sites for your clients then go with Developer.
The Developer license also provides you with a package of PSD files, all source files and a discount voucher for future purchases.
It’s $49 for Standard, and $79 for Developer.
What I like about Writer
I’m going to give you a quick summary here:
- Design that doesn’t grab all the attention making the content itself the most visible element.
- Easily adjustable navigation and sidebars.
- Built in SEO features.
- @Font Face support.
- The price, especially for the Developer package.
What I don’t like about Writer
This is probably something all themes by ThemeFuse have in common – the learning curve. Of course, I can’t say for sure because I haven’t had the opportunity to review each and every theme.
Anyway, here’s the thing. Writer is a theme with many different features and possible adjustments you can take advantage of. All this requires some amount of learning time, so by no means this is a buy-it-and-forget-it type of a theme.
Apart from that I can see only one more problem. In my opinion, the default typography could be set in a way that puts bigger emphasis on the main content block.
My overall opinion on this theme is very good. I see it as a very decent choice for traditional bloggers and writers publishing their work on the internet. It looks professional but not corporate – this often is a difficult balance to keep.
And it’s exactly what bloggers expect. They do want to look professional, but they don’t want to be mistaken for a media outlet or something similar.
Finally, this review has been written by only one person, so please, help me out and share your own opinion. Have you tried the theme yourself yet? Check out the demo.