Thanks to a commenter, I became aware of an amazing free theme site called Deluxe Themes, offering professional WordPress themes for free. The site was created by Ahmad, who is the developer of the Guzel Magazine which I reviewed last October. On a side note, it appears the Guzel theme is now available exclusively on DeluxeThemes.com.
In this review post, I’ll be going over their latest theme, Red Carpet. This design would be ideal for any celebrity bloggers out there who are looking for a feature-packed WordPress theme. A screenshot is below.
And now onto the review…
After unzipping the redcarpet.zip file, you’ll have a folder that looks like this:
To install the theme, upload the /redcarpet/ directory to your /wp-content/themes/ folder on your WordPress installation. After that, upload the contents of the /plugins/ directory to your /wp-content/plugins/ folder. Inside the plugin folder, you’ll find four plugins:
- Popular Posts Plugin – This plugin is for displaying a list of popular posts.
- Post Plugin Library – A combination of similar posts, recent posts, random posts, and recent comments.
- WP-Email – Allows your readers to recommend your blog posts to friends via e-mail.
- WP-PageNavi – Adds more advanced pagination for your blog.
Installing the Theme
Make sure to activate these four plugins first, and then activate the theme. This is to avoid any fatal theme errors that you’d probably encounter if these plugins weren’t active. Here’s a screenshot of what you should have after this:
Everything seems okay so far, and there are no errors or anything. Now we’ll move onto customizing the theme via the control panel.
In your WordPress 2.7+ administration panel, you’ll find a link to a “Control Panel” at the very bottom of the left-hand menu. In here you will be able to control a number of aspects of the theme without touching a bit of code. Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see, this is a really comprehensive control panel. I’ll go over each tab in detail.
- News Options – These options control how many posts are displayed under the Latest Stories area on the left side.
- Photo Options – These options control which category the photos are displayed, as well as how many of these posts are displayed on the homepage in the middle column.
- Video Options – Similar to the Photo Options, this will control which category is set aside for videos, as well as how many video posts will be displayed in the right column.
- Teaser Manager – This is where you control how many words long a “teaser” is. I’m assuming this plays a similar role to post excerpts.
- Setup Sponsors – This is basically a text link ad manager. Just input the title, description, and URL, and a text link will be displayed in the middle column of your homepage. At the moment, there’s only room for three links.
- Thumbnail Manager – Lets you decide on how you want to crop your images (if at all) and lets you define the dimensions you want.
- FeedBurner – You can input your FeedBurner feed name here. I’m assuming you can use this instead of the FeedSmith plugin from Feedburner.
- QuickVideo Publisher – Probably the coolest feature yet. This lets you choose a video sharing site, input a video ID, and instantly publishes a video post directly from the control panel.
- Ad Manager – In here you can control the 15 different ad areas. Simply paste your advertisement code in the relevant boxes.
- Style Manager – Here you can edit the stylesheets associated with the theme, including the default stylesheet and comments stylesheet.
- Language Manager – In here you can alter the language of the site without manually editing code. You can also set up new language files on the fly. The default language is English, while simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese are also available options.
- Widgets Manager – This makes it possible to activate and/or deactivate widget areas. By default, all widget areas are activated.
- Add SAMPLE data – This is also a pretty nifty feature. It allows you to insert a sample video or article (with a thumbnail).
- Theme Doctor – If you’re having problems with this theme, I’d be sure to check this page and make sure you meet all the requirements.
- Theme Info – This area lets you know the name of the theme, along with the current version. This would be useful for diagnostic purposes.
Adding Normal Content
For now, we’ll just talk about adding “normal” content, i.e. not photos or videos. Add normal content as you would with any other theme. Write it up in the post page and select relevant categories and tags. If you want to add a thumbnail, simply use the custom field name ‘thumbnail’ and provide the full URL to the image. The Red Carpet theme will handle all the resizing and cropping for you, depending on what you defined in the Thumbnail Manager.
For adding videos, I would recommend using the QuickVideo Publisher in the theme control panel. In here you can embed videos from a wide selection of video sharing websites, including (but not limited to) YouTube, Vimeo, Veoh, Metacafe, and Revver. You can also set the post thumbnail and preferred video dimensions directly from this page. Make sure you set aside a category for just videos in your Video Options, as there’s a specific post template designed for the category you choose for videos.
Just imagine there’s an embedded YouTube video in the image above. For some reason it didn’t show up in the screenshot.
Remember, you can click any of the above images to enlarge them to full size.
Okay, this is without a doubt, one of the best WordPress themes I’ve ever seen in my life – free or premium. First of all, the design itself is great. I know it’s pretty heavily inspired by People.com, right down to the color scheme, but the theme’s code should provide a solid foundation for customizing to suit your needs. Second, the theme’s functionality is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The photos and videos are great, not to mention the extensive control panel. Ahmad has set the bar extremely high with this one, and I’d like to thank him for providing such an amazing theme for free.
I know in my theme review posts, a number of people comment here for support. Unfortunately, I really don’t have time to answer these support requests, especially since they are for themes I did not create. If you need support, check out this page, where you can get very reasonably priced support straight from the source.
I hope you liked this theme review. It was probably the longest one ever, well over 1000 words, so hopefully I didn’t bore you too much. And finally, I just wanted to note: I was not asked or paid off to do this review, this is entirely my own unbiased opinion. Thanks for reading.
P.S. Expect a surprise announcement tomorrow. That is all.
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