Cherry WordPress Theme Framework by Template Monster
TemplateMonster.com has got to be one of the oldest “premium” template selling companies on the net. Their business model has always interested me because:
- They’re so freaking old. I remember stumbling across their templates back in 2004.
- They have thousands of products, spread across many different categories.
- They’ve managed to last this long. They must be doing something right.
- I rarely hear about them when it comes to the “big players” or “pioneers” in the commerical WordPress theme market, even though they were probably one of the first.
It’s kind of like StudioPress with Genesis. Except StudioPress doesn’t have thousands of other templates for countless other CMS’s (not that that’s a bad thing, they just like to focus on WordPress, which is cool, just saying…)
Bias Disclaimer and Intro
If you know me well, you know I hate theme options. I like intuitive user experiences. I like when things “just work” out of the box. That may or may not affect the tone in the rest of my review.
To get an idea of the designs offered for the Cherry theme framework, browse the links above. I’m going to go over some of the things that stood out to me in the parent framework below.
Here are some quick facts:
- It supports automatic updates, so you don’t have to mess with FTP (or whatever) to get the latest version
- The framework/child theme relationship should ensure any changes you make (to the child theme) won’t be overwritten
- It comes with a “Data Management” feature to save, backup, and restore your framework and child theme files.
- It’s also based on Boostrap and comes with all the responsive goodness.
- It’s free, download it on GitHub and follow along with the rest of my review if you’d like.
It’s also licensed under the GPL, if you’re curious about that sort of stuff.
Customizer and Theme Options Overlap
Many of the options available through the Theme Customization API were also available on the theme options page. This is kinda redundant.
With that said, I found the theme options UI to be quite pleasant and straightforward. It also didn’t clash too much with the WordPress admin UI, unlike a lot of other theme options pages I’ve seen.
It looks like the options pages are based off of the Options Framework by Devin Price, which may have contributed to that non-clashy user interface.
There are also built-in links to TemplateMonster support and documentation, as well as a “Store” to purchase additional child themes for Cherry.
Notice the “clown” template to the far right in the screenshot above, I’m going to mention that later.
Custom Post Types and Shortcodes
The theme framework registers a number of custom post types through the theme itself (i.e. not through a plugin).
- Our Team
I’ve never been a fan of registering custom post types with the theme, as it makes it difficult for a user to switch themes and maintain their custom post type content in the future.
Speaking of making it difficult for users to switch themes, Cherry also includes a ton of built-in shortcodes (*cough* Shortcodes Should Never Be Included With Themes. Period. *cough*).
Once again, this functionality should really be included in a separate plugin. Although I realize this may have been a deliberate decision in order to “lock-in” users to the Cherry Framework, come on…people like to switch themes from time to time.
Let’s make it easy for them.
Unusual Default Logo
The default logo image says “WP-BS” in a dark blue, gradient-y font. I have no idea why it wouldn’t say something more generic like “Cherry” or even something like “Replace This Image.”
Obviously, you can upload a new logo image within the Customizer, or disable it in favor of a text-based logo, but I still found the default “WP-BS” logo to be very odd.
Fonts on Fonts on Fonts
Cherry lets you choose a different font for the body text, as well as headings 1 through 6, separately. There are 538 total fonts you can choose from. Let’s do the math really quick.
- 538 fonts (mostly Google webfonts)
- Multiplied by 7 (body text + h1-h6)
- 3766 possible font family combinations
- Way more combos if you include font color in the equation
Personally, I think this gives the user an overwhelming amount of options, and we’re just talking fonts here. Let’s not forget, this could potentially allow a non-typographically-inclined user the ability to easily produce a very jarring combination of fonts for their websites.
If you like having quick access to hundreds of fonts, then you’ll probably like Cherry. Like I said, most of them are hosted by Google.
All in all, this is not a theme I would use myself or recommend to anyone else, unless:
- They really liked the aesthetics and/or functionality of one of the Cherry child themes and couldn’t find a comparable template or theme anywhere else.
- They understood the deal with the shortcodes and custom post types included with Cherry, and were prepared for a huge painful migration process if they were to ever switch to another theme.
The other weird things I noticed (like the “WP-BS” logo) aren’t really that big of a deal to me, since that can be easily overridden. The redundant Customizer/Options overlap is a personal pet peeve of mine, but can be pretty much ignored for the most part.
When it comes to a competitive advantage for Cherry child themes, and TemplateMonster, it really comes down to the good aesthetics and hard-to-find niches TemplateMonster designs for. For example, I found a Cherry child theme for a clown/circus website. Who else makes WordPress themes for clowns?
On top of that, it doesn’t look like Cherry WordPress themes are purchased very often, some of which haven’t been purchased at all. So people who do buy them early have a (kinda) unique web design for a while.
Here’s the link again for the Cherry child themes, where you’ll probably see the clown template I’m talking about, and the very low download counts. Most I see have only been downloaded 0-3 times. And they have 224 total Cherry child themes to choose from and cost around $75 each (as of the time of publishing).
TemplateMonster seems to have a high standard for aesthetics when it comes to designs, and their Cherry WordPress theme collection is no exception. It’s important to keep in mind all the downsides, however, before purchasing.