Howling Dog Themes is a brand new theme store that recently launched with 5 premium themes. Our very own Zack Tollman is involved with this project and sent me a copy of all themes so that I may test them in my test area for all of you guys.
All themes are powered by the ‘Howling Dog Framework’. Known as K9, the framework can also be purchased on it’s own (known as the K9 Canvas). The framework is really good. Every aspect of your website can be controlled such as the layout, fonts, colours, background images and more. You can add your own custom CSS code in this area too.
The framework also adds it’s own admin bar at the top of your page when you are logged in and viewing your site. The bar has links to your admin area and the K9 control area. You can edit your home page and add new posts and pages through the bar too. I really don’t like the inclusion of this bar. It replaces the existing WordPress admin bar, that has links to every major area of your website, with a bar that has 5 links. I appreciate that Howling Dog wanted to create something unique with their framework but this is one feature they really should have left out, particularly as they replaced a default feature that is very useful with one that is very limited.
The Colligan is a basic looking blogging theme that comes with 15 custom header options and 8 social media profile badges. The comment area seems a little dated and the home page does not have a link to older blog posts either. Both sidebars are widgetr ready though so you should be able to customise that area to suit your needs quite easily. You can see the theme in action at PaulColligan.com.
News Hound is a minimal news theme that boasts a featured article area at the top of the page. Mynti is a blogging design that has a floating sidebar at the left side of the page and comes packaged with a number of different colour scheme. Code Zone is another colourful blogging design that uses CSS3 instead of images to improve page loading times.
Last but not least is Mosaic, a corporate style design with a colourful colour scheme.
Win A Theme From Howling Dog
Howling Dog have kindly offered to give a theme to one WP Mods reader. To be eligible for this prize all you have to do is Subscribe to WP Mods via Facebook and like the link to this blog post.
A winner will be chosen randomly tomorrow and announced on our Facebook page :)
Howling Dog – An Overview
Having spoken with the developers of Howling Dog through email in the last week or so, I am aware that they have a lot of plans for their new theme store and are working tirelessly to provide a good service.
In order to do well in the competitive premium WordPress theme market, I believe they really need to adjust their pricing structure. Currently their 5 theme skins and their framework canvas skin retail for $89.50 each (a developer package is also available for $259.95). When you take into consideration that most advanced themes on ThemeForest retail on average for around $30-$40 and ElegantThemes continue to set the bar for value high by selling over 60 premium themes for only $39 a year, you realise how expensive Howling Dog themes are.
My main issue with their themes is that the themes don’t have the quality to justify the price. Their canvas theme, K9 Canvas, should be a design that showcases how great their framework is (and it is). Unfortunately, the canvas theme is littered with bugs. After I activated the canvas theme I was presented with dozens of errors that were generated by the functions file. This is unacceptable for any premium design; particularly when you bear in mind the theme costs $89.50 and was installed on a test area that is using the latest version of WordPress with no plugins activated.
Whilst I was unimpressed by the Colligan design, I did like Mosaic, News Hound, Mynti and Code Zone. There is no denying however that themes of a similar quality are commonplace in the official WordPress directory. If they reduced the price of their themes to around the $30 mark I would be more inclined to recommend a purchase to those who like one of their designs as their framework is really good and customers get full support for using their themes.
Unfortunately, as it stands, Howling Dog themes seem very dated in todays marketplace and their ridiculous pricing scheme makes it difficult to recommend them.