In my Premium Series I’m taking a look at Premium WordPress plugins and WordPress themes that I personally use, either for myself and for others. All opinions are my own and not influenced by affiliate commissions or anyone connected to the product.
Premium (or paid-for) themes have really taken off in the past year or two, with many seeing them as a viable alternative to a complete custom design. In fact, even with complete custom designs, these are often done on the top of a premium theme to provide the best of both worlds – the great backend features, and the unique design.
One company that provides a lot of WordPress themes is Woo Themes.
Who Are Woo?
Started by three guys, Adii, Mark and Magnus, Woo now has a large number of collaborative designers who contribute code and designs to Woo. They’re also behind the new menu system in WordPress 3.0 that I absolutely love.
They offer over 60 different themes, each with different in-built color schemes, there are themes for almost every conceivable type of blog. They also release at least 2 new themes per month, each with new features.
Not all are paid for, in fact there are over 10 free themes available, so it can be worth downloading one of those to see the quality.
There are a lot of things that Woo do really well:
- The themes look wonderful. It’s all a matter of opinion of course, but generally their themes look great.
- Price.They have a permanent 3-for-1 offer for $70, but more about that later.
- Updates. One thing that has always impressed me is the constant updating of even pretty old themes. Whether it will be bug fixes or adding functionality that other themes have, often you will find a new and improved version of a theme you already have.
- Support. Like most premium theme providers, Woo give a lot of forum support and each theme has it’s own support if you’re having any problems.
- Theme framework. Without getting too technical, Woo have a great menu system for all of their themes that work in a similar way for each theme so even if you change which of their themes you’re using, the admin options and template functions work in the same way. The admin options work smoothly and provide various levels of configurability so you don’t have to touch the code. You can also now automatically update this framework through the admin panel, so you get the latest features and fixes.
- Demo system. The website has a great demo system where you can not only demo any of their themes, and their color style choices, you can also get your own WordPress login and play with the theme options panel for each theme. Very nice!
What’s Not Great
While there are a wonderful number of styles for each theme that can be changed with one click, the themes are not as easy to customize as, say, Headway is. HTML and CSS skills are required to customize some parts of the theme, and PHP experience is often a bonus.
Some people prefer to start from a blank canvas, and here themes like Thesis and Headway are better for that.
The styles also often require a reasonable number of graphics, so if the in-built color styles are not quite to your taste, it takes some graphic work on all the elements to change. This can be time consuming and needs a little experience, though is no different to most other themes but the number of graphics can be frustrating. However a Photoshop of the file helps a lot, but this is only available in the Developer packages. This leads us to the pricing plans…
There are four options overall, two single purchase and two monthly subscription.
The license for any option is awesome, use on as many WordPress blogs as you want! Very refreshing compared to more common stricter one or two site licenses.
The monthly options allow you get the new themes as soon as they come out, PLUS access to all the previous themes (yes all of them!) that have been released. You have to remain a member to get the new themes and updates however you get to keep any themes you have already downloaded if you do quit.
The single purchase options are very well priced. The Standard package now offers their permanent 3-for-1 deal, so three top quality premium themes for $70 is a great deal. The Developer package varies only by providing 4-for-1 and the Photoshop file for each themes. As I have previously mentioned, the themes are quite graphic intensive so the Developer theme is a must if you, or your tech person, are going to be changing the graphics.
What Type Of Sites Are Woo Themes For?
Woo provide a great number of types of themes. They broadly categorize them into six groups: Magazine/News; Personal Blog; Portfolio; CMS; Business; and Multimedia. Most of the free themes are in the Personal Blog category but with the 3-for-1 offer you can pick up a theme from different categories if you’re unsure of what type of site you have, or use them on multiple sites.
Which Are The Best Themes?
Theme choice is a very personal decision, the same as what clothes you like to wear. It also depends on the purpose of your blog, a business site is going to require a very different theme to a video blog or a site promoting your latest paintings. The Woo Theme Playground demo system really is the best way to take a look at the choices available.
They do have a Theme Leaderboard which is ranked by sales, but I really urge you to make up your own mind and see the choices that are available. There really is something for almost everyone!
Where I use this: On many sites, such as Theme Vids.
Pros: Great variety; Excellent Value; Nice designs with different color options
Cons: Can be relatively complex to alter structure or graphic design if needed.
Cost: $70 for three themes
From: Woo Themes (affiliate link)