While there are thousands of free WordPress themes available, the advantages of a quality premium theme can quickly justify the price (usually under $100). Along with getting a professionally designed theme that looks great right out of the box, premium themes usually come with a solid support community that can help you quickly customize your theme and fix any problems you might encounter–a luxury not found with most free themes.
Behind the scenes, premium themes often include control panel modifications and SEO optimization features that greatly improve upon the WordPress platform. Also, premium themes are often built with cleaner programming code resulting in better SEO and faster load times.
For professional looking blogs and business websites, a quality premium theme can often take you to the next level. Of the premium themes I’ve tried, Studiopress by Copyblogger Media is by far my favorite.
StudioPress offers a number of themes that look great without the need to customize. Studiopress themes are built using the “Genesis Framework” upon which you can add any of a number of “Child Themes.”
StudioPress themes include a number of page layouts that allow each page to be individually customized without additional code. This allows for quick creation of any of a number of page designs within the site. SEO optimization such as meta titles, descriptions and tags and nofollow options are also built into the theme eliminating the need for extra plugins. There are also a number of sitewide SEO options built into the theme and Genesis specific plugins available to extend websites built upon the Genesis framwork.
One of the features I like best about StudioPress is the ability to quickly create and move content on the home page. For example, the home page on the Executive Child Theme is broken into separate content boxes that can be modified using special widgets. By dragging and dropping widgets, content can be customized to show featured posts/pages, categories or even your latest Tweets.
Pictures are easily incorporated into the home page by adding a thumbnail photo to a page or post and adding the post to the featured post widget. With a combination of widgets and thumbnail images, you can quickly create a professional looking home page that looks like it was built by a designer.
Genesis also provides a slider widget which allows you to create advanced image sliders such as the slider on the home page of this website with a drag and drop widget.
Header customizations are also fairly straight forward allowing you to upload custom header images without modifying code. You can also use widgets in the header making it easy to add logos, advertising banners, search forms or other specialized content.
At the moment, changing colors does require changing code although most themes come with a number of color template options. Fortunately, changing colors is not difficult as it’s just a matter of changing the html number for the desired color. One thing to note is that many of the colors you see on the StudioPress sites are actually gradient images. When you change the color, you will lose the gradient.
StudioPress, also includes a number of other widgets that make it easy to customize the original template. For those who feel comfortable modifying code, the possibilities are endless. For example, this website (Jalcomunication.com) is built using the Eleven 40 theme with a heavily modified home page. Eleven 40 is also a mobile responsive theme meaning it will adjust to differing screen sizes such as a smart phone or iPad.
Most StudioPress themes cost $79.95 for the first theme which includes the Gensesis Framework. Additional child themes can be purchased for $29.95 and a developers option which includes all StudioPress themes is available for $299.99. Purchase includes unlimited use of the theme (on as many websites as you like including client sites), access to support forums and lifetime upgrades.
If you’re looking to build a professional looking site without the expense of a designer, StudioPress is a great option.
Editor’s Note: Since writing this post I have started building all client sites using the Studiopress Genesis Framework. Be sure to check out my Web Design services to learn more.
If you’d like help building your Studiopress website, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. From search engine optimization to content marketing to ecommerce, we can help you build a very powerful website you can manage yourself.