WordPress theme generators were quite popular 3 or 4 years ago though I can’t think of any good theme generator service available today. WP Theme Generator could certainly change this as it has a lot of great features. It comes with thousands of pre-design objects such as menus, backgrounds, dividers, icons and buttons and more are being adding every day. A good summary of all the elements that are available can be seen on their landing page.
Theee are 7 different pre-made skins to choose from. They’re referred to as layouts though in my opinion that’s a bit misleading as the overall structure remains the same, it is simply the background images and colour scheme that changes.
All designs are built upon a single framework. This allows you to upgrade theme features at any time without having to modify your design.
WP Theme Generator allows you to save your designs to modify at a later date. You could, for example, work on a design and then come back to it several months later to modify and download it. Here’s the best part though; you can make any customisations you make public so that other users can use the design. At the moment there are 50 other designs added to the gallery area, most of which are in my opinion much better than the 7 pre-made skins available via the main menu. When more people start using WP Theme Generator there could be potentially be hundreds or thousands of great designs to choose from.
When you see a design you like you simply click the load link and the design is loaded onto the theme generator. You can then adjust the template more if you wish.
The Default Design
The default layout and design that is shown when you view the home page of WP Theme Generator has a corporate feel to it. The header is similar to most other WordPress designs and features a logo, social media icon list, search bar and a drop down navigation menu. Underneath is a large slider that rotates posts and several widget areas.
I’m not too keen on the 7 default skins that are available in the main personalisation box however there are some great designs that you can load up via the gallery. It really is amazing how a different colour scheme can change your opinion of a design!
To help you understand how the whole thing works, let’s take a closer look at how you can use WP Theme Generator to create a WordPress theme.
Designing The Theme
Down the right hand side of WP Theme Generator is a floating box titled ‘Personalize’. Through this box you can completely change how your theme looks. The design is divided into 7 different sections: Global, Layout, Header, Sliders, Content, Sidebar and Fonts. There are 7 other links at the bottom of the menu that give you more information and allow you to upload, save or download your design.
What’s great about the WP Theme Generator is that all changes are made in real time. The page doesn’t need to reload and any changes you make are shown on your design almost instantly. When you start changing elements, you quickly understand the benefits of a service like WP Theme Generator being developed by a company such as IconShock, as they have thousands of icons, graphics and stock images at their disposal.
WP Theme Generator gives users a huge amount of choice. For example, say you want to change the way your search bar looks. You simply click on the header link and then search box. From there you can choose from dozens of different search box elements. Each element has a different structure and/or colour scheme. You’ll find yourself clicking through most of the design elements to ensure that you have the right one for each part of your design.
Due to how responsive the menu is and the fact that changes are made instantaneously, you’ll be spending minutes customising your design rather than hours. Most of the sections allow you to change some element of the design though the slider section also lets you change the type of slider that is used. You can select from a nivo slider, accordion slider, piece maker and featured slider.
You probably noticed that the default design I showed earlier had lots of widget areas. Thankfully, each widget area can be enabled or disabled via the sidebar manager by simply clicking on the widge area you want to remove.
I’ve reviewed a lot of WordPress frameworks over the last few months. Some of the most feature rich frameworks can take a long time to set up due to the number of options available but WP Theme Generator doesn’t have this problem. I initially thought that it needs more options added however I don’t think this is the case as every element on the page can be changed. In that respect, they got everything right, as it means that you can create your own design in around 5 to 10 minutes.
The video below shows you how easy the theme generator is to use.
Using Your Theme
Once you have your design the way you want it, you can scroll down to the bottom of the personalize box and download it. The file is fairly large compared to other designs at around 11 MB in size and over 800 files.
The theme folder in each download has a number appended to it. For example, the two designs I created and downloaded were labelled wpthemegenerator_051383533105549152402102 and wpthemegenerator_89995453318367162402102. This helps you distinguish the different designs that are saved on your computer however the numbers are unfortunately not appended to the name of the theme. This means that if you upload two different designs, it isn’t clear which is which.
There is no point uploading the framework every time you want to change your design though. So instead of choosing ‘WordPress’ when you are downloading your design, choose ‘XHTML Simple’ instead. That will let you download the CSS stylesheet and images that are required for your design. You can then upload these files to your existing WP Theme Generator theme and overwrite the previous files.
Hopefully this process will be made easier in a future version. An import feature that lets you upload a zip file with all the CSS and images would make changing the design that is live on your website more straight forward and save you the hassle of uploading files via FTP every time you modify your design via the generator.
Once your design has been activated you will see a lot of new options in your WordPress admin menu. The framework adds 5 new custom post types: gallery, portfolio, product, services and testimonials. All framework options can be found under the ‘Theme Generator’ link.
The settings area has four sections: styles, general, footer and pages layouts. In the style section you can change the font that is used in the header and change what type of slider your website uses. The additional slider options available depends on what slider you chose. For example, with the piece maker slide you can change the slider effect and the delay between slides.
Unfortunately, you cannot pull posts from a defined category so you need to upload each slide image and set the URL it links to.
There are a variety of options in the general settings area. Your website logo and favicon can be set here as can the email address that the contact form template uses. 7 pre-defined image packages are available for your gallery, portfolio, product and service pages and there are 8 social media services can be entered for the header area such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, RSS, Google and LinkedIn.
At the bottom of the general settings area are customisation options for custom post types such as gallery, portfolio and testimonials.
In the footer settings area you can enter information such as copyright details directly into your footer area. Tracking code can be inserted just below the closing body tag in this section too.
In the pages layout section you can change the layout of your blog and single post, about and archives pages. Widget areas can be switched off and the style that each widget uses can be changed. You can also set which areas of your website you want the top slider to be displayed.
The framework includes 7 page templates. Despite there being an option to customise the archives layout in the page layouts section, there is no archives template available. There’s no sitemap or author templates either however a 404 template is included.
As you would expect from a framework, there are a lot of different theme templates being used to create the design. Thankfully, the templates are very well coded so you shouldn’t have many problems modifying things directly. Rather than place all styling in one stylesheet, WP Theme Generator has split the styling into over 20 different stylesheets for areas such as shortcodes, widgets and the slider. This makes it much easier to find what you are looking for.
There are two menu locations available. One at the top of the header and the main navigation menu directly underneath the logo. Both of these can be configured through the WordPress menu system.
A total of 9 widget areas have been built into the framework. This makes populating your site with content from other plugins very easy. It also comes with lots of shortcodes for styling your content.
All in all I was impressed with WP Theme Generator. The premise of designing your own theme is perhaps a little gimmicky in some respects but it does work well and the sheer volume of design elements that can be chosen makes creating a unique design quick and painless.
I’m unsure as to whether I should be comparing WP Theme Generator to regular WordPress designs or with other frameworks. One way to look at it is that WP Theme Generator is a simple framework that just happens to have a fantastic way of customising the design (as it does lack many features that other frameworks offer).
It is clear that WP Theme Generator was developed for WordPress beginners and those who don’t want to modify theme files directly and for the most part I think they got it right. It’s not perfect though and does have some limitations but beginners will probably not be too concerned about many of these issues. If you’re a complete newbie to WordPress and don’t want to spend a lot of time modifying your design, my advice to you would be to visit WP Theme Generator and play around with the service for 30 minutes. Get a feel for how the generator works and see if you can create a design that would suit your website. If you like the way it works and like the design you created, I recommend giving WP Theme Generator a try. As I said, it’s not perfect, however I believe WordPress beginners will forgive it’s faults due to how easy it is to create a unique design.
Other WordPress users may want to do a little more testing. Most parts of the design use images rather than CSS which means that designs aren’t as quick as they should be. The framework offers no option to change the size of content areas or the space between them (margins & padding) therefore you would have to make some changes to the stylesheet if you don’t like the default structure that WP Theme Generator has. Surprisingly, there is no support for featured thumbnails and by default all posts are displayed in full in the index and archives rather than using excerpts. There is no post formats support either (however it’s difficult to be critical of the design because of this as the vast majority of WordPress themes don’t support them, many new frameworks do though). Other little things like a link to edit posts and pages are missing too.
The templates are well coded so if you are comfortable doing some HTML and CSS edits you could fix these issues yourself. Again, my advice would be to test the service out thoroughly first and be aware of it’s strengths and weaknesses before clicking the buy button.
WP Theme Generator hasn’t been out long so I’m hoping that we will see many improvements over the next 6 months. They wisely built it upon a framework which means that they can keep improving the functionality of WP Theme Generator designs by simply updating the framework. As the framework grows, the benefit of using WP Theme Generator will too. Despite some of the issues I mentioned above, I can’t help but like WP Theme Generator due to how easy it is to create unique themes and share them with others. If they can address some important issues and offer lighter designs that don’t use as many images, it will gain a lot of fans.
WP Theme Generator currently retails for $29 for 6 months access. A free version does exist though it only lets you download the HTML and CSS of a created design once so isn’t really practical. The premium version offers pretty good value though. It allows you to download an unlimited number of designs and it permits you to
download layered psd files for thousands of gallery elements.
Premium license owners can also save designs and download them later and there is an option to download exclusive themes too. They also provide support to premium members via email, chat and skype. It’s a fantastic deal when you take all of this into consideration.
If you would like to know more about WP Theme Generator, I encourage you to try the service out and see what type of design you can create.
Thanks for reading,
Link: WP Theme Generator