If you enjoy WordPress blogging and are looking for ways to expand your online presence in 2009 while implementing a clean, fresh look, ElegantThemes may be a choice suited for you.
First, though, let’s get you qualified: Elegant Themes is a membership site that provides attractive WordPress themes. You’ll need a core understanding of WordPress. You shouldn’t join Elegant Themes unless you have some WordPress experience or intend to gain it in the coming year.
Skills you’ll need include the ability to download themes and plug-ins and upload them to your server. Occasionally you’ll need the ability to copy-and-paste code. If you’re already a Blogger these skills likely are second nature to you. If you’re inexperienced, expect to spend some time learning WordPress basics. The WordPress interface is user-friendly. Until a few weeks ago we had virtually no experience with WordPress, but now can’t imagine a world without it.
One of the first things we noticed about Elegant Themes is that it provides psd files — for Photoshop — in its download packs, meaning you can use Photoshop to fashion a logo for your site.
But Elegant Themes also provided a blank logo. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can edit the blank logo with a free program such as paint.net to create your own site logo. This is a big plus, because an average Blogger may not own Photoshop. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with paint.net if you don’t own Photoshop and have been looking for ways to make your own logos.
As of this writing, ElegantThemes charges $19.95 for a one-year subscription via PayPal. Our purchasing experience was seamless, meaning there were no glitches and we were routed instantly to where we needed to be after purchase.
There are 17 eye-catching themes available for download at the site. More will be added, and we anticipate they will have great curb appeal.Â The owner impresses us as a hard-working designer. Elegant Themes provides a members’ Support Forum, so let’s talk about that for a moment.
We have asked three questions in the forum. Each question was addressed promptly — by the owner and a fellow forum member. We were impressed by the swiftness of the responses, especially because we posed our questions on a weekend.
What made the responses particularly memorable, though, was the thoroughness. We encountered a glitch with one of the themes — an alignment problem. This problem was caused by the recent upgrade of WordPress to version 2.7. A fellow member provided a solution — a code snippet — right in the forum, and the owner incorporated the fix into the theme within a matter of hours.
In reading forum threads, we noticed other examples of members and the owner providing code snippets to fix individual issues. Issues, of course, are inevitable, regardless of the Blogging platform you choose. One of the great things about WordPress is that the user base is large and the documentation is thorough. When issues do arise, there is a worldwide knowledge base from which to glean answers. The Elegant Themes members’ Support Forum has added to this WordPress knowledge base, a big plus.
We have done considerable shopping for WordPress themes. Many are available for free — the theme on the Patrick Pretty Blog is known as “Visionary,” for example. You’ll find no shortage of free themes if you enter the WordPress world.
But we also did some shopping for paid themes. A good number of highly qualified WordPress designers offer paid themes. The range runs the gamut from “should have just used a free theme” to “we’d gladly have paid more for the theme.”
Pricing at Elegant Themes is on the low end of what we viewed online and is more than fair. For a $19.95 annual subscription, we received access to 17 very attractive themes. We’ve seen membership sites that charge as much as $299 for a year’s subscription — while having fewer selections than Elegant Themes.
As always, though, we encourage you to do your own shopping. For our money, Elegant Themes has provided exceptional value.
In the weeks ahead we plan to upgrade a couple of sites with themes from Elegant Themes. On Wednesday, we are launching RateMyVanity.com, and we’re using a theme from Elegant Themes on the site.
We find Elegant Themes to be fresh and new. Our experience on the members’ Support Forum has been a positive one, and we get the sense the owner works hard to maximize value for members. The themes alone were worth the low price of admission.