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.

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

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!

The New Yorker

newyorkerThis is a huge, huge site. If you ever wanted to run an online newspaper with retro broadsheet style then here is your chance. This is a WordPress compatible ‘theme’ and comes complete with all the widgets and plugins that you will need to have complete control over your newspaper without ever having to resort to using code. This is basically a ready to go CMS newspaper site.

If reto is not quite your thing then the fonts and styles used are pretty easy to customize aswell as colours etc.

Features

  • Comprehensive theme control panel (136 settings)
  • 37 Widgetised areas
  • Dynamic drop-down navigational menu
  • Advertisement banner management
  • Dynamic video block
  • Compatible on all major browsers
  • Suitable for magazine sites as an entry page or complete site
  • Painstakingly validated code (XHTML and CSS)

If you are going to manage and update this site yourself then we would recommend reading through the homepage and demo (links below) very carefully if you are not familiar with WordPress. This is probably not the best site for newbies, however for the price ($39) it stands head and shoulders over other traditional newspaper solutions available.

Band Website

Well the name says it all really! Band Website is a very minimal and easy to use site. Available as a stand-alone website and a wordpress theme this is a very customisable site which is easy to install (standalone, wordpress is always easy!) and has an impressive gig / shows calendar. It also has advertising space in the side bar for your bands latest merchandise. Most importantly it is easy for the fans to use and find the information they want quickly, which should be the main priority of any site and more than often isn’t!

Features

  • Available as a complete installable site and a WordPress theme
  • Very easy to customize
  • Currently reduced to $30 (Paypal)
  • Easy to use gigs / dates calendar
  • Edit, add and delete shows directly on the page
  • Link directly to venue from shows page for info and bookings
  • Photoshop files included
  • MP3 player built in
  • Built in image gallery and contact form
  • Suitable for bands, artists, bars / venues, anyone who needs a shows/gig based site

Home page of the band website
Home page of the band website
The shows page with links to venues and booking agents
The shows page with links to venues and booking agents
Blog page so you can keep fans / visitors up to date with your latest news
Blog page so you can keep fans / visitors up to date with your latest news

Useful contact form for your fans
Useful contact form for your fans

This is not a free theme however it is cheap enough to be a very affordable solution, currently on offer at $30 (down from $60) I would recommend having a look and seeing if this is the right site for your band or client.