I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the Builder theme by iThemes. I’ve been hearing about how innovative it is, and how easy it is to make a lot of different layouts with this one theme.
I managed to get my hands on a copy, and you lucky Theme Lab readers will now get to see just how easy it is to set up your own Builder-theme-powered site. In this review, I’ll go over:
- An initial overview of the Builder theme, including set up and the various theme options
- How to use Builder’s custom layout feature and how to apply it to your pages
Check out the rest of the review after the jump.
Setting It Up
Initially installing Builder is just like any other theme. Once you get the zip file, just extract the “Builder” folder and upload it to your
/wp-content/themes/ directory. Activate it in the “Appearance” section of your admin panel.
This is what Builder will look like on a plain WordPress install. As you can see, right now it looks pretty plain. Basically just your blog surrounded by a ton of widgetized areas to the top, right, and bottom.
Overview of Settings
You’ll notice a new menu in your dashboard entitled “My Theme” after activating the Builder theme. Unlike admin menus added by themes from other companies which include their logos and such, themes from iThemes appear to have completely unbranded menus. This can be useful if you’re setting up sites for a client.
Start Here – This is a page with links to unbranded iThemes video tutorials, which I believe may be included in every iThemes theme. If you would rather replace this page, there is a tutorial link titled: How to change this Tutorials ‘Start Here’ page to your own custom URL.
Settings – I noticed in the original set up there was just a Home link and no other page or category links visible. This page will let you include you build your navigation menu with a choice of page and category links.
After you’ve set up your widget areas, you can also turn off the rest of the blank widget areas you’re not using (remember the original screenshot where they’re all displayed, for identification purposes).
You can insert tracking code (such as for Google Analytics) and place it in the header or footer. More often then not, this code is placed in the footer, which is the default setting.
Also there are a few SEO options, such as using post tags for meta keywords and disabling indexing of category archives. Both of these SEO options are turned on by default.
All in all the settings are pretty straightforward, nothing too overwhelming.
Now, what you’ve all been waiting for. This custom layout engine is really what sets Builder apart from other ordinary themes. Instead of showing a bunch of screenshots with text, I thought it would be better to create a quick Screenr video to demonstrate how to create a layout and use it within the Builder theme.
The one column layout I did in the video was pretty simple, but remember all the possibilities with different combinations of modules, widgets, etc.
Overall, Builder did what I expected: easily build layouts directly from the admin panel, and without editing code. One thing which I would like to see would be a style editor with the ease of use similar to the layout builder. Maybe even something on a layout-by-layout basis. Even though I value consistency, having different styles on different pages may be a good option to have.
From what I hear, Builder may have a simple style manager coming soon which allows for easy edits of universal style elements, such as fonts, colors, and things like that. When this is done I think it could really benefit all you “noncoders” out there.
Pricing – The Builder theme costs $127, and I know that may seem pretty expensive especially compared to other paid themes which rarely exceed $75. Keep in mind these things though.
- Since the theme is licensed under the GPL, you can use this theme on as many sites you want with no restrictions.
- Since the theme is so flexible, you can use this one theme as a base for a number of completely different sites.
Please note this post is riddled with affiliate links. If you don’t want me to make money, you can always go directly to iThemes.com to buy the Builder theme.
This is my second review of a paid theme (with the first being Aperturious). I know most people visit this site through search engines and such looking for free WordPress themes, however I would like to start throwing paid WP themes in the mix soon, whether it be affiliates, or maybe even direct sales (hint hint).
Anyway, hope you liked the review. I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the Builder theme in the comments.
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