Rich Photo (or Recipe, Sweet Shop, Clothing Site)

rich-photo-thumbRich WP have released the aptly named ‘Rich Photo‘ photo gallery wordpress theme. As you can see from the demo above this is a minimal and hassle free photo template which allows your visitors to navigate visually straight from the home page.

This Rich Photo is obviously aimed at photographers however we feel that it maybe missing its true calling, and thats a wordpress recipe theme. Consciously or not, the theme designers seem to agree with us, using mostly food related imagery for their demo (or they were just really hungry!) However it is not this which makes us believe that this site would be better adapted to the culinary arts! Those of you who have navigated through the demo already will have noticed the final details page (or post) which is very reminiscent of the recipe pages on many of the more modern cookery and chiefs websites.

Simple navigation rules the day on this Recipe (sorry Photo) Theme from Rich WP
Simple navigation rules the day on this Recipe (sorry Photo) Theme from Rich WP

Creating content for this site could not be easier, simply decide what categories you want to display on the home page, create them and then publish articles (posts) in that category. Thats it, easy? Well its been made even easier than that, upload a photo or image and it is automatically assigned and resized to fit the home, category and details page in one go, no more resizing in photoshop.

For those of you who were wondering you can also easily install Paypal or any other payment option to turn Rich Photo into a shop / ecommerce website.

When your visitors click on an article, you can see from the image above they are presented with easy previous and next photo options (button wording easily changed) so that they can simply flick through the rest of the posts in that category or section.

Visual navigation makes us hungry
Visual navigation makes us hungry

How many different applications are there for a theme / website like this? Well quite a few, put it this way, your imagination is the limit with this one, whether it be a sweet shop, clothing label, art, photography  or one of a million other uses, this site will never cause you a headache to run, or leave your visitors hunting aimlessly for what they need. It is clear, concise and with the right content, stunning.

Features:

  • Two color schemes – Bright and Dark
  • Automatic Image Size Generation. All photo sizes needed across the theme will be assigned and generated automatically.
  • Easy installation and setup with included documentation.
  • Threaded comments support
  • Gravatar support for comments
  • Free updates!
  • Fully SEO compliant

Rich WP offer free updates and support for this theme and according to their customers are very friendly and quick to respond. How many companies do you know that offer up their personal Msn and Skype addresses for ease of contact? The theme / website comes with full and very detailed instructions, and unless you are completely new to wordpress you will not need them, its that simple to use.

Obviously this website is not going to be suitable for everyone, for instance we carn’t imagine this as a corporate or informational site. But if you need a minimal, beautiful and easy way of displaying your work, products or ideas to the world then Rich Photo is it.

If you are not familiar with wordpress and want to get this website up and running, do not worry here’s the ‘The Famous 5-Minute Installation‘ guide for wordpress. Or simply click the install button above or below this review.

BlogKurus WP Theme (Thin Blog)

blog-kurus-thumb1We are so excited about this!! Ladies and gentlemen we proudly present to you BlogKurus! Translated as Thin Blog this is the most innovative and fantastic use of design we have ever seen from a WordPress theme designer. That designer is of course Mohammad Mustamar Natsir.

BlogKurus is not just thin its THiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiN. With very simple functionality and beautiful styling we can see a potential competition ahead between WordPress developers to see who can make the best use of this theme.  But the bigger fight might be to see who can create the best background image to fit either side of the blog,  (have a look at the promo shot below!) please please post links to your developments of BlogKurus in the comments below we are chomping at the bit to see them.

WOW BlogKurus
WOW BlogKurus

We still haven’t mentioned the very best thing about BlogKurus yet, it’s free!! That’s right, one of the best wp theme designs on the net is completely free to download and use straight away (download link at bottom of page).

We cannot believe just how much of what you would expect to find in a blog is right there in this streamlined theme, inline comments, menus, footer content, gravatars and search bars. Can you imagine this developed into a twitter like application or a ultra hi-tech portfolio (changing background images anyone?)

BlogKurus
BlogKurus

Obviously we recommend this theme! There’s a full demo below and a link to Mustamar’s website which is a must see. We love this one so much we are even offering installations of BlogKurus for £150 which is our lowest price so far, so if you are a non-tech WordPress newbie you can have this theme too!

Lastly a big thank you to Mustamar we hope you keep designing and we are looking forward to the next one!

Download BlogKurus Here

Grunge Theme

Grunge ThemeDon’t be fooled by the name, Grunge Theme is not only for grunge bands and the 90’s Seattle scene, according to iThemes it is suitable for designers, musicians and artists. So no need to break out the old baggy checked logging shirts and combats and make a drastic change in musical direction to use this site!

Grunge Theme is a web 2.0 WordPress band theme and has been developed by iThemes.

If you are an artist (visual) or designer we do not recommend this theme! There are  themes available which will be a million times more suited to your needs, unless you are particularly in love with this one we think it is a no-go.

For bands however this theme would be perfect, its sharp and clean with easy navigation. Although its not overloaded with features it is very functional and once branded will make a good impression on your fans / visitors.

Grunge Theme Home Page
Grunge Theme Home Page

So what has it got? Well it has a very well designed ‘latest news’ section, the ability to run as a blog or conventional site, is widget ready and is easy to brand. Above all it is the look of the site which really makes Grunge Theme stands out as a cut above the rest. Its glossy web 2.0 looks set against the dirty industrial background work very well (something to keep in mind while your stylising this site to your own branding) and the composition of the navigation and sidebars / content is very nice indeed. We really like the use of font styles and lines within the content aswell.

The theme could do with a built in mp3 player but there are plenty of free plugins for this functionality. It would also be nice idea to use a shop / sales plugin if you wish to sell merchandise. Both of these features would be very easy to integrate (for the WordPress savvy).

Overall Grunge Music WordPress Theme is very good, with some extra development it could be amazing.

Proximity News Theme

proximity-thumbDeveloped by Nathan Rice Proximity News Theme is one of the major players in the news theme market. But is it actually any good?

Well for a start the entire CMS for this wp theme has been built to prevent you from ever having to alter any code or styles during customization. Everything is configurable through your admin interface. If you are not sure how to use any of these options then  Proximity comes with full support forums, tutorials and training videos. If you have never used a CMS (content management system) site before then this level of support is invaluable, a factor you should take into consideration when choosing which news theme is right for your publication.

Features:

  • Google Adsense built in
  • Social bookmarking
  • Video ready
  • RSS
  • Author archives / Information
  • Gravatar ready
  • “Smart” Home page
  • Advanced side bar
  • Dropdown menus
  • Printer ready
  • Breadcrumb  Navigation

The front end of this website is just as impressive, with broadsheet style and keeping the illusion of being minimal while actually providing your reader with a lot of options. We were very impressed with the author archives which allows readers to see all the articles published by a particular author including a small biography and gravatar. All this information is pulled in from the users (authors) options in the admin! We also really liked the featured video system, but it is not obvious if this can be included with each article.

Click to see full size pages
Click to see full size pages

The theme also has the ability to prevent duplicate content on the front page using what the developer has dubbed “Smart” home page technology. This is a very important feature as normally a number of plugins have to be configured to stop this happening.

Publishing with this theme could not be easier, all image handling is controlled through your admin, including cropping and uploading. No more hours of photoshop and ftp usage before you can get your article out. Writing could not be easier either, if your authors can use microsoft word then they can use this system with no additional training.

When a reader clicks through to a stories page they get social bookmarking options (Digg, Stumble Upon, Facebook etc) and they also get a print button. This has been specially developed so that the story will be printer friendly and print perfectly, printing is usually an overlooked problem with news websites.

Navigation could not be easier with the inclusion of breadcrumb navigation, intelligent links within stories and archive pages, not to mention drop down menus and advanced sidebar features like most popular, most commented and recent posts.

The overall look of the theme could do with some improvements though, it is always difficult to tell when looking at a demo website exactly how it will look until your branding is applied. If the developers boasts are true though any problems with aesthetics should be very easy to ammend. If this is the case then we cannot recommend this theme enough if you are serious about online publishing.

Revolution Album

Revolution Two themes are gaining a lot of popularity and admiration amongst WordPress theme fanatics, they are probably our favourite developers currently on the scene.

Features:

  • Comes with 7 built in colour schemes
  • Widget ready
  • Easy navigation
  • Avatar ready
  • Suitable for photographers, artists and gallerys

Revolution Album is a theme designed purely for photographers and artists who wish to run a photo blog or a portfolio site. Care has been taken in the development of the design to make sure that the emphasis of your site will be your photos or images with everything else toned down, letting your work speak for itself. As you can see from the image below each photo takes up over 50% of the overall design.

Click for full size preview

Navigation has been made very easy with the simple previous and next buttons that you would expect to find in any well constructed photo blog. However below these is a featured photos strip which allows you to show off the crux of your work. This could very easily be modified into a categories selector. Simply make each of the featured photos a link to a different category and add a suitable tool tip (the text that pops up when your mouse is over an image or button). Or put the category titles directly onto the photos here to create a menu!

Directly under the title of each image / photo is a ‘filed under’ and ‘tagged’ area making it very easy for user to navigate quickly to similar works and projects, basically acting as a quick menu system.

Speaking of menus, all the main navigation has the option to use drop-down menus keeping everything at top level nice and minimal.

We think it would be nice to see EXIF data used within this theme and hope that Revolution consider this for future updates / re-designs. There are plenty of plugins available which will do this job and if you are a dedicated photographer then we recommend that you use them with this theme.

It would also be nice to see the featured photos section integrated into a sliding feature where visitors can simply click a forward or back button to have the next set of photos slide smoothly into place. If you are code savvy then you could do this yourself with some javascript.

If you are looking to sell prints or originals of your work then this theme should be a serious consideration, your customers get a clean professional portfolio to easily browse rather than hundreds of thumbnailed images. There are plenty of plugins to add shop functionality, some of them even allow you to directly accept credit cards as well as the usual paypal etc.

Overall this is a very nice wordpress photo theme. Looking at what else is available on the market it would be very hard to find a website design for any system which can beat this one for either its ease of use or its minimal beauty.

The Bel Air Real Estate Theme

the-bell-air-theme-thumbJust to prove how versatile WordPress themes can be along comes ‘The Bel Air Real Estate Theme‘ This is not just a theme but a complete setup for any property based company wanting to reach a wider audience. All the features you could need for sales or property rental are installed with the theme, including an impressive payment or mortgage calculator (easily converted to any currency), photo galleries for each property and even profiles for the ‘agents’ who do the selling.

In essence you will be able to start selling straight away, the backend or ‘CMS’ admin area is very easy to use so entering and publishing each properties details is painless, making it a powerful piece of real estate software. If you or your client are a real estate agency then this theme should be a serious consideration.

Bel Air comes with a choice of five different colour schemes and it is easy to add your own branding. It is also advert ready with a built in ad banner management system so you can monetize your site or if thats not your cup of tea then use these areas to promote featured properties and services. There’s the obvious areas where details of different rooms etc can be entered. But what really caught our eye was the auto thumbnailing of images (when clcked they open in a lightbox style gallery), and the ‘no custom fields’ ease of use when publishing. The authors of this design have gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that publishing is a breeze and that you (or your client) never have to deal with code or anything tricky.

Features

  • Five colour schemes built in (sea blue, red, navy blue, gold and black)
  • Easy to brand and change the colours (if you don’t like any of the above)
  • Mortgage / payments calculator
  • Image auto thumbnailer
  • Lightbox style photo galleries for each property
  • Featured properties rotated on home page
  • Easy search drop down menus (price, location and type)
  • Advert ready
  • Ad banner management

Click to see pages and features of this site
Click to see pages and features of this site

Our only frustration with this theme is that it is not yet using google maps, which is not exactly new technology and would be a perfect addition to its features. The sites authors WP-Realtor are currently considering adding google maps into a future update of the site. Our advice would be to use one of the many Google Maps plugins availible for WordPress until this update is ready to avoid frustrated customers. Actually there is another ‘bug-bear’ with this theme, you have to by either buy a ‘single agent’ or ‘multi agent’ version. The latter being more expensive. Ok so we haven’t had that much experience with real estate software, well actally we’ve had none at all!! So maybe this is normal in the world of property (let us know below if it is!!) but it does seem strange. However neither ‘agent’ version will break the bank and if you find that you need to upgrade then you can do so easily.

Although The Bel Air Real Estate Theme is limited to estate agents, realtors and property companies (public and commercial) we couldn’t resist featuring it. We think this theme is a fine example of how to turn WordPress into an individualised e-commerce platform, something which WordPress developers and designers have been getting better and better at over the last few years (thanks to amazing advances in WordPress itself) and it is finally blasting the fated osCommerce out of the water, not only in aesthetics and functionality but most importantly with innovation.

WP Full Site

WP Full Site is a free theme which aims to turn WordPress into a free CMS (content management system) for small businesses. According to the makers of this theme, every small business should have at least:

  • An obvious way to be contacted, hence the phone number and email link at the very top of the website
  • A clear, concise call to action accompanied by an attention grabbing graphic
  • The option to have or blog or not have a blog

Ok pretty obvious stuff but their wp cms theme does realise all three of these options and allows you to implement them.

The advantage of having a CMS is that you get a nice backend area of your website that only you or your staff can access. Once there you get some very simple but powerful tools to change the content of your site (no more difficult than using Microsoft Word), allowing you to keep it nice and fresh and always up to date, this is very important to your customers as it projects the feeling of a legitimate business, stale sites with old or out of date information very often have the reverse effect!

Click to see the full size home page
Click to see the full size home page
Although the look of the theme itself is basic it does what it says on the box and once your company logos and colours are in there you should have a very nice looking site.

Your contact information is always kept visible at the top of the site which is also very important for potential customers, the email link can easily be changed into a link to a contact form if you prefer. The theme also offers the chance for your company to run a blog (or latest news / current projects… etc) this also helps prevent the ‘stale site’ syndrome and helps your visibility and rankings in search engines.

If you do go for this theme then make sure you bookmark the demo page and keep checking back (or RSS it) as there is a promise of future tutorials and updates which you wont want to miss out on.

One word of warning to those who have never encountered WordPress before (or simply arn’t techie) or if you feel that this would be too tasking or if it is the only thing putting you off using this site then we do offer an installation service and would be happy to install and set-up this website for you. Please see ‘Install Info‘ for more information or click the ‘Install’ link at the bottom of this page if you would like this service.

WP Full Site offers a free download here

You need to install this theme first

Or use the INSTALL option below

High-Def

high-def-thumbailWe have only just discovered Graph Paper Press and are very impressed. They are a company who specialize in making WordPress themes and who put a lot of effort into helping their users with as much support as possible.

But what’s really important is ‘how good are their themes?’ Well lets find out!

The first wp theme from Graph Paper Press we have decided to review is the High-Def theme. Mimimal and stylish the name gives a big clue as to what this theme should be used for! High-Def features a built in HD video player with with full-screen capabilities, perfect for those who dont want to rely on others to host their content i.e. the good: vimeo, or the very bad: youtubes new HD player. But that not all its got! A well designed ‘mac’ style sliding content region and a powerful automatic thumbnail creator for posts (no more custom fields!!).

Features

  • A theme settings page with makes every element on the homepage optional and configurable
  • Five separate widget areas
  • Automatic thumbnail creator
  • HD player with full screen option
  • Advertising ready (if you want it)
  • RSS built in
  • Easy to change to your branding
  • Multi-media support
  • Free support forums
  • Suitable for multi-media use, magazines, review sites and too many more to list here!


Need an example of just how much support Graph Paper Press give you? Check out these screen casts:

>>Watch a brief introduction to the High-Def theme design<<

>>Watch a brief introduction to the themes admin interface<<

The minimal design ensures that visitors wont be lost on your site, and also makes it very easy for you to organise your content. The theme itself is very easy to brand and comes with

‘A theme settings page with makes every element on the homepage optional and configurable’

It is easy to monetize this theme aswell with a nice none intrusive space for adverts at the side. All in all a very nice theme and a great debut on our site from Graph Paper Press. Try it out with the theme demo below or go straight to the High-Def home page for more information, comments from other users and forums!

Revolution Office

Revolution Office comes from the creme de la creme of site designers Jason Schuller (of Revolution Two). Although this design is called ‘Office’ its use is pretty universal and is suitable for almost anyone. With Web 2.0 looks and beautifully crafted composition we cannot stress enough just how nice this site is, please go to the homepage and check out the demo to see for yourself.

Available as a WordPress theme only however Revolution WordPress themes are becoming very well known for supreme quality and an amazing level of after care support. Buts that enough about Revolution (as you can probably tell their a bit of a favorite of ours) lets check out Office theme and see if its any good!

Office is a pretty minimal site which means your visitors arn’t going to have any trouble finding their way around and getting to the information they need quickly. The homepage has an impressive image slider (please try this out in the demo it has such a cool smooth sliding action!!) with a link from the images to the appropriate page or featured article. The slider could be used in so many ways, it could be turned into a very dynamic looking menu or a showcase for photography or any products you are selling or reviewing, your imagination is pretty much the limit with this one. If you do go for this theme please post links and show off your sites below, we would love to see how you have developed this!

Features

  • Beautiful image scroller
  • Breadcrumb enabled
  • Gravatar enabled
  • Widget ready
  • RSS 2.0 enabled
  • Unlimited fast support
  • Suitable for almost any use

office-home
Click for homepage, categories and post page

When you do a search or click on catagories / featured content you are presented with a very nicely layed out page with thumbnails of each item with a text excerpt, rather than just a huge page to scroll down containing all the related articles, or worse a horrible built in google type search results page.

The articles or pages themselves are simple and effective, with a two column look, lots of room for your content and a content details section at the side. This allows visitors to see which sections of your site the article comes from for easy backtracking, and an RSS 2.0 feed. Here’s our only gripe with the design of office, below the content details is a recent content section showing the titles of all the latest storys or pages. This would be so much more effective as a related content section, this way if a visitor has not found exactly what they wanted then its easy for them to quickly get back on track.

So as you have probably guessed we love this design and cannot recommend it enough.

Now here’s the important choice you have to make if you want this site! Themes from Revolution Two are availible as free downloads directly from their site however, the free versions arn’t exactly easy to find and come with no support what so ever!! Not even an instructions.txt in the zip file! Worst of all its not always the most upto date version of the site. Speaking from experience this can be a very frustrating and time wasting way of trying to get their sites up and running quicly even for an expert. Googling dosen’t help either as their support forums are closely guarded and locked to anyone who hasn’t brought their support package. Although slightly pricey their support is unlimited across all their themes and very very quick so even a newbie can get the site up and running in a matter of hours. They even offer customization techniques and tutorials and all questions answered by experts. Their standard membership package only lasts a year however if you want lifetime option then there is a Revolution Pro Plus Membership available for not much more than the standard price! Quite frankly its the option we have gone for and haven’t (yet) regretted it! However if you carn’t afford it, or have a lot (months!) of time on your hands then plug for the free option.

Don’t forget to post and show off your versions of this site below!