PageLines – The Responsive, Drag & Drop Framework For WordPress

PageLines is a beautiful drag and drop framework for WordPress that is used by beginners and experienced WordPress developers. It was developed by a Californian company by the same name who are well known to WordPress users for releasing popular free designs such as iBlog and Platform.

Today I will be reviewing their flagship product PageLines. There is a free version available of this framework available on the official WordPress theme directory. The free version is great in it’s own right. I have been using it on one of my websites for over a year and it was perfect for that project. It is however fairly limited when compared to the premium version. As such, I will be reviewing the premium version for WP Hub readers so that you can see all all the features which are available in the full version. This will help those of you who are interested in the framework see what it can do and see exactly how themes are created through PageLines.

What Can PageLines Do For You?

Those of you who have never used a WordPress framework might not be aware of what frameworks can do. In essence, frameworks give you a blank canvas to work on. They also give you the tools to help you create your ideal website. Complicated and time consuming tasks are simplified to make the whole process of creating a design quicker and easier. For example, most frameworks allow you to choose whether you want one, two or three content columns. This is achieved through a click of a button rather than modifying the theme stylesheet.

As you will see, PageLines is particularly useful when it comes to creating the structure of your website as it boasts a fantastic ‘Drag & Drop’ visual editor, however it goes far beyond that. Using CSS3 and HTML5, PageLines can be used to create simple designs, complicated designs, corporate designs, blog designs, portfolios and much more. There really is no limit to what you can be achieved with it.

The heart of PageLines is in the backend admin area. Before I walk you through how you can build websites using PageLines, I’d like to show you some examples of websites that have been built using it.

Katzing – The personal blog of creative director Susan Katz.

Susan Katz

Golfbaan Stippelberg – A beautiful design for a Dutch golf club.

Golfbaan Stippelberg

Render Innovations – A great looking business website and blog.

Render Innovations

You can see more websites which are powered by PageLines on the PageLines Showcase page.

Dashboard

The PageLines menu has 5 main sections: ‘Dashboard’, ‘Site Options’, ‘Page Options’, ‘Drag & Drop’ and ‘Store’. The dashboard area is used for support related issues and has 7 sub sections. When you load up the dashboard area you will be shown the updates page.

This shows you any new updates for PageLines. It also shows the latest posts from the PageLines blog, articles from the WordPress community, updated items from the PageLines Store and latest store items (known as extensions).

Dashboard Updates

The ‘Getting Started’ area is incredibly useful for those that have never used PageLines. It links to key documents, the PageLines support forum and links to WordPress.org for common WordPress plugins that have special support within the framework such as Wp-PageNavi, Disqus Comments and NextGen-Gallery.

Dashboard Getting Started

Also included in the ‘Getting Started’ section is a video which shows you how you can create a website with PageLines in just ten minutes. Members who purchase a PageLines Plus Membership will get access to all extensions (i.e. store items) developed by PageLines.

Store items are sometimes referred to by PageLines as extensions. Extensions refer to sections (more on that later), plugins and themes. There are currently 15 extensions available to plus members with the promise of at least 1 new extension added every month. Extensions include themes such as iBlogPro5 and MUD and plugins that add support for bbPress, BuddyPress and Jigoshop.

Dashboard Extensions

Plus members also get access to a live community chat room which is supported from 6am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Powered by Campfire, the chat room is a great way for customers to get priority support quickly and easily.

Dashboard Live Chat

Customers can sign into the chat room using an alias and leave messages for staff and other customers. Files can be uploaded in the chat room too, which is useful for highlighting any problems you have through screenshots etc.

Dashboard Live Chat

The resources area links to many of the pages that were already linked in the ‘Getting Started’ section such as the forums, documentation (wiki) and live chat area. There are however some additional links to the PageLines community including the Developer and Translation Centers.

Dashboard Resources

In addition to the updates section, there is an account section. There were no updates for PageLines when I tested the framework out though from what I can gather the updates section advises you of updates whilst the account section lets you sign in and install these updates live on your website.

Dashboard Account

Like all good frameworks, PageLines comes with an option to export and import settings. Template settings, primary settings, special meta settings and layout configuration can all be backed up and restored later. Those of you who will be using PageLines to build multiple websites will find the export and import option a huge time saver.

Dashboard Import Export

PageLines have done a great job of integrating support directly into the admin area of their framework. There’s links to forums, documentation, resources, extensions and a live chat option too. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming when you use a new framework as there are so many options available however PageLines have certainly made things easier for new customers through the framework dashboard area.

Site Options

Under ‘Site Options’ you can configure the global settings for your website such as the layout of your website, typography and header and footer. Through the ‘Website Setup’ section you can upload your site logo, favicon and login page image. You can also enter your Twitter details to integrate the service into your site and there is an option to add a watermark in your footer too.

Website Setup

Three types of layout widths are available to you. You can have a responsive design with a pixel or percentage width or you can have a static layout by defining the width of your page in pixels. There are two site design modes: full-width sections and fixed-width mode. The full width option lets you make some aspects of your design span the full width of the screen whilst the fixed width mode makes sure everything is in a set area.

Layout Editor

Changing the layout of your website is simple. 6 options are available to you: no side, left sidebar, right sidebar, two sidebars on left, two sidebars on right or one sidebar at each side. The width of your main column and sidebar(s) can be adjusted using the layout dimension editor. You can also adjust the width of the page. To make these changes you simply click on the layout editor and drag the area to the size you want.

Unfortunately, you cannot enter the exact dimensions you want; you need to drag the appropriate column until it’s the site you want it to be. It’s not a big inconvenience but it would be nice to have an option to simply enter the exact dimensions you want your columns to be.

Layout Editor

Compared to some other WordPress frameworks, PageLines offers only basic functionality for customising the colour scheme of your website. Background colors and primary text and link colors can be changed via the ‘Color Control’ section. The background image option is really good too as you upload your background image and set its position without knowing any CSS. If you are using the fixed width mode, you can also show a content shadow on the canvas area and supersize the background image to match the full size of the browser window.

Beyond that, customising the color scheme is fairly limited however there is a ‘Custom Code’ section that allows you to define CSS manually (more on that later), so if you know CSS you should be able to style your page very easily. Hopefully a future version will offer more styling options for beginners.

Color Control

The fonts for several sections can be changed via the ‘Typography’ section. Header fonts, primary fonts, secondary fonts and more are supported. There is also support for cufon fonts and Typekit.

There are dozens of web safe fonts and Google web fonts available. A preview is shown for each font and you can customise each font further by adjusting letter spacing (-0.3em to 0.95em), weight (normal, bold, light), style (normal & italic), text transform (none, uppercase, lowercase & capitalise) and variant (normal & small-caps).

Typography

Shadows, arrows and drop down navigation can all be switched on and off in the ‘Header and Footer’ section. By default a search box is placed in the nav as well though this can be hidden if you prefer to add it to somewhere else such as your sidebar. To the right hand side of the header is a social media area which can show image links to your RSS feed and social media services such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. The image links for the social media websites are only showing if you complete the corresponding field.

Up to 6 columns can be selected for the footer. A footer logo, information statement and copyright area can be configured for the footer in the ‘Header and Footer’ section.

Header And Footer

PageLines is a fantastic option for bloggers. The framework really excels when it comes to customising the look and layout of the blog page. Blog posts can be displayed in one column as normal or, alternatively, a magazine layout can be chosen. In the magazine layout one blog post is shown at normal at the top and all other posts are displayed underneath over two columns.

The way full width posts and magazine style posts can be configured (magazine style posts are half a column in width). There are four types of excerpt to choose from:

  • Thumbnail on the left hand side with the title and excerpt on the right hand side.
  • Thumbnail on top with text underneath.
  • Title on top with thumbnail underneath on the left hand side and excerpt on the right hand side.
  • Title on top with excerpt underneath on the left hand side and thumbnail on the right hand side.

The meta information which is displayed in the post area can also be changed easily. 9 different shortcodes are available such as post categories, post edit, post comments and post author.

Blog And Posts

Certain things can be switched on and off for different areas of your site such as archives, blog page, category lists and search results. For example, you can turn thumbnails off for certain parts of your site if you wish and the full content of posts can be displayed on certain pages too.

Underneath each blog post is a share bar for social media services such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each of these services can be switched off and on. There is no option to add additional services. This is something I believe the framework needs as popular services such as Reddit and Delicious are not supported.

At the bottom of the ‘Blog And Posts’ section are options to control how your excerpt is displayed. You can define the number of words for your excerpts and allow certain HTML tags to be shown in excerpts (e.g. anchor tags).

Blog And Posts

The NavBar has a surprising number of configuration options available. One good option is the fixed navbar. By enabling the fixed navigation bar, the menu will always be shown at the top of the page, regardless of how far down the page the visitor scrolls. This is particularly useful for content pages which have long articles and/or lots of comments. A small logo and title can also be added to the fixed navigation menu, which makes it a good way to raise awareness of your service or brand.

NavBar Fixed Navigation Menu

There are two quick configuration options that can be selected for the fixed and standard navigation bars: align menu to the right hand side and hide the search bar. 5 colour schemes are available for the standard and fixed navbars: black transparant (default), blue, light grey, orange and red.

In the ‘NavBar’ section you can define what menu is shown on your standard and fixed navigation bars. You can also define this via the WordPress menu system. PageLines have correctly set it up so that the WordPress menu system has priority over the menu selected in the option area.

NavBar

The ‘Advanced’ section has a lot of miscellaneous options for experienced users such as:

  • Google IE Compatibility Fix
  • Google Prettify Code
  • AJAX Saving
  • Debugging
  • CSS Minification
  • Minimum User Level for meta information and special post types.

Unless you’re a theme developer who is looking to debug your design, you probably won’t need to change anything in the ‘Advanced’ section.

Advanced Site Options

The last section under ‘Site Options’ is ‘Custom Code’. Here you can add CSS code to the stylesheet and code to just below the closing head or html tags. You can also add footer scripts.

Custom Code

Page Options

The ‘Page Options’ area is where sections are configured. According to PageLines, sections are ‘little packages of wholesome goodness whose code only executes on the pages they are used on’. It’s possible to use PageLines without integrating any sections into your website design though they are definitely one of the biggest features of PageLines and something which sets it apart from other frameworks.

Site Defaults

The framework comes with 9 sections though more are available via the PageLines store.

The 9 default sections are:

  • Hero Unit – An introductory section.
  • Masthead – A great way of directing visitors to a special offer, coupon or page.
  • Callout – A tagline with a multi-color action button.
  • QuickSlider – A simple image slider.
  • Features – A highly functional content slider.
  • Highlight – A way to highlight important information to visitors.
  • Carousel – A useful way of showcasing your posts or pictures.
  • Banners – Add a banner or image to the left or right hand side of content.
  • Boxes – Add boxes of content to your content.

Most sections are simply stylish ways of presenting content to visitors. It’s difficult to explain what each of the above sections do by description only, therefore it is best if I explain what they do a bit more with the help of some screenshots (note: 2 or 3 images are taken from the PageLines wiki, most were taken on my own WordPress test blog).

Hero Unit

The ‘Hero Unit’ comprises of text, an image and an action button. It’s a nice way of pushing visitors towards a registration page.

Hero Unit

The way PageLines is setup, it literally takes you seconds to fill in all the details of your ‘Hero Unit’. Simply fill in the blanks :)

Hero Unit

Masthead

The ‘Masthead’ section is quite similar to the ‘Hero Unit’. The main difference being that a second action button can be added together with a description and horizontal menu.

Masthead

It should only take you a minute to configure this section. Just like the ‘Hero Unit’, you have the option of opening the action button link in a new browser window.

Masthead

Callout

Callout buttons are great for encouraging visitors to sign up or visit a certain area of your website.

Callout

For such a simple section, PageLines offers you a lot of control over how the callout button is displayed. You can align the image to the left, center or right and you can change the color of the button from blue to orange, red, green, light blue and grey. Alternatively, the button can be replaced with an image. The button text can also be changed and header and subtext above can be controlled.

Callout

QuickSlider

QuickSlider is a basic yet functional slider which is very easy to set up.

QuickSlider

Up to 10 slides can be added to a slider. Slides can transition to the next one using a fade or horizontal slide and the type of slider navigation can be chosen. You can automate slides so that they change every 7 seconds too.

QuickSlider

For each slide you can upload an image and define the link URL. You can also enter text and set where on the slide it is displayed. You can’t change the colour of text used on the slider though this shouldn’t be a concern for most users.

QuickSlider

Features

Features gives you dynamic ways to display content on your website. In simple terms, it’s a feature rich content slider and is arguably the best section available on PageLines. Whilst it’s easy to configure, the sheer number of options that you need to set can be a bit overwhelming at first. If you take your time to go through each part, you will soon realise how useful the features section really is.

Features

Navigation can be turned off if you wish though in my opinion it’s better to give users a way of navigating your slides. They can do this using squares or dots, by names, by featured thumbnail or by numbers. The height of the features area can be static or change based on the width of the slide.

Features

There is a whopping 28 transitional effects available. Timeout and transition speeds can be defined and you can show a play/pause button too if you wish.

Features

Features are a special post type therefore all features can be viewed via a ‘Features’ link on the main menu of your WordPress admin area. All of your features are displayed in this area.

PageLines Features

Once you have configured how you want features to be displayed, you simply need to add some to your site. As features are a post type, they are added in the same way as posts or pages. The style and content of the feature is defined here. Text can be displayed at the left, right or bottom or removed altogether. There are four design styles available, all of which use either black or white text on a light or dark background.

A full size background image can be set and you can add a link to your slide too. Videos can also be embedded by adding the code to the ‘Feature HTML’ area.

PageLines Features

Compared to the other sections that PageLines comes with, Features is a little more complicated to set up at first. It’s not difficult at all though it may take a few attempts to get your featured slider the way you want it. Stick with it, as the outcome will make the process worth it.

Highlight

Highlights can be placed in just about any area of your site: be it the header, footer, sidebar or content area. It’s a quick way of adding an image to any part of your website.

Highlight

Highlight only has a few basic options. All you need to do is upload an image but you can also define header and sub-header text. Unfortunately, there is no way to add a banner to the image.

Highlight

Carousel

Carousel allows you to display thumbnails of all your posts. You can also display images using the NextGen gallery plugin or Flickr.

Carousel

You can define the total number of items and displayed items that are shown on the carousel. The transition and autoscroll speeds can also be adjusted. With regards to content, the three main options to choose from are post thumbnails, NextGen images or Flickr. You can also add images via a hook however you would need to know a little coding in order to take advantage of this.

Carousel

The exact height and width of carousel thumbnails can be defined. If you choose to show post thumbnails from your recent posts, you can choose to show all of your posts or show posts from one specific category. There isn’t an option to select more than one category so you need to either show all posts or those from one category.

Carousel

The plugin integrates with NextGen beautifully. If you choose to use NextGen as your source, all you need to do is enter the ID of your gallery.

Banners

Banners can be placed on any area of your website. They allow you to show an image or video at the left or right hand side of content.

Banners

In the ‘Page Options’ area you can set the max number of banners and default banner set.

Banners

Like features, banners are a post type, therefore banners can be added via a link in the main menu. They’re very simple to setup. You either upload an image or place HTML code such as a video in the banner media section. The banner or video can be aligned to the left or right and you can define the width of the text area in percent (1 to 100). Padding can be added to banners too.

Banner Setup

Banners are a great way of integrating images and other media directly onto your page, in part due to how easy they are to setup.

Boxes

Boxes are a great way of displaying content on your website. They’re very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.

Boxes

Up to 5 boxes can be shown in the same row and the max size in pixels can be set. Images can be shown at the left or on top of the text. If you prefer, an image can be displayed on its own with no text displayed.

Boxes

Boxes can be sorted by post ID, title, date, last modified date or random. They can be shown in ascending or descending order. A more link can be shown too and boxes can be styled using a custom CSS class.

Boxes

Boxes are a post type too so can be added via the main WordPress menu. All post types, including features and banners, can be grouped into sets. They effectively work the same way as post categories.

Boxes

Boxes only have a few simple options. You can upload your image, set your box link, and define your more link text and CSS class.

Box Setup

Page Setup

The default setup for each section can be configured in the ‘Site Defaults’ area. PageLines lets you style 7 different areas of your website differently.

  • Blog Page
  • Archive Page
  • Category Page
  • Search Results
  • Tag Listing
  • Author Posts
  • 404 Page

Each page area can be setup in their own unique way. First you need to decide on the layout you want the page to have. Underneath you will see a section called ‘Individual Page Section Control’.

In the basic template you can things like the nav menu, twitter bar and footer columns from different areas of your page. In the content area section you can hide things like the post loop and switch off either of the sidebars.

Blog Page Layout

For each page you can define a unique background image and select the secondary nav menu. Mobile optimisation can be disabled for each page too. Being able to change the background image and menu for each area of your site may seem like a small feature but for me, it’s this level of customisation that sets PageLines apart from many other framework solutions. This kind of thing can be achieved with WordPress using if statements but it’s great to see the functionality built in.

Page Setup Settings

Sections can be configured for each area of your site too. Whatever you entered in the ‘Site Defaults’ area will be used for each section if nothing is configured on a per page basis. Otherwise, the default settings are overwritten. It works really well in practice.

Drag & Drop

PageLines uses a user friendly ‘Drag & Drop’ system for its template system. It isn’t a live editor so you will need to save changes and then reload your page to see them. I generally prefer this setup as the visual editor that frameworks like Headway use can be a bit frustrating at times.

Pages have 4 main areas:

  • Header
  • Page Templates (Content area, sidebar wrap and sidebars)
  • Morefoot (A secondary footer which is displayed above the main footer)
  • Footer

To organise your page you simply need to drag a section from the ‘Available Sections’ to ‘Active Sections’. Each section can be hidden by default if you wish.

Drag & Drop Template Setup

Header, morefoot and footer are ‘Global’ template areas. The first sidebar, second sidebar and sidebar wrap which is placed above both sidebars are also global. This means that they remain the same throughout your website. I was a little surprised that these areas can not be customised for different areas of your website. As it stands, you can change the main content area, background image and navigation menu for areas of your website such as your blog, archives, categories and search results. Unfortunately, the header, morefoot and footer templates and the sidebar area will be the same throughout your website. I hope this is something they address in a future edition of PageLines.

Drag & Drop Template Setup

The main content area can be customised. If you select ‘Content Area’ you will be given a choice of 14 content area types. The 7 page areas I mentioned earlier are included in this list e.g. blog page, archives page, search results etc. In addition to the blog index page, you can also customise the blog post page (this page is traditionally styled using the single.php template in WordPress themes).

There is also 6 page templates: one default page template and 5 custom page templates. WordPress defaults to the default page template whenever a new page is created however the other templates can be selected via the post editor area.

Page Templates

There is no option available to edit the custom page templates. This would be useful if you are using custom page templates a lot as it’s easy to forget which template does what e.g. you could rename one template ‘Gallery Page Template’, another ‘Simple Page Template’ etc. There doesn’t seem to be any way to add more page templates however I’m sure that for the vast majority of users 6 customisable page templates will be more than sufficient.

In practice, I found that ‘Drag & Drop’ template system very easy to use. It should only take you a few minutes to familiarise yourself with how it works and dragging and dropping sections makes the whole process of designing your page pain free.

Store

The PageLines Store offers sections, themes and plugins for PageLines users. The items on offer extend the functionality of PageLines considerably, particularly when it comes to integration with other plugins and services.

The store section within the admin area of PageLines does not simply link to products. Sections, plugins and themes can all be installed directly through your own website. Premium items can be purchased directly via your own website too. All items are not however displayed through your admin area; only featured, top premium and top free items. To see all items you will need to visit the a href=”http://www.pagelines.com/store/” title=”PageLines Store” target=”_blank”>PageLines Store itself.

At the moment there are 22 premium sections and 4 free sections available. Most premium sections are priced at between $4.99 and $19.99. One of my favourite sections is Dettagli Portfolio, a fantastic cross browser portfolio that looks great on mobile devices.

Store Sections

I’m a big fan of frameworks that have themes available. As someone with limited design skills, a good WordPress framework is still kind of useless to me unless I can customise the style easily. Even when a framework makes the process of styling a website easy, the end result is rarely something that I am 100% happy with. This is less of an indication of the quality of the framework and more of an acknowledgement of my poor design capabilities.

Thankfully, WordPress frameworks like Headway, Thesis and Genesis are catering WordPress users like myself who want the quality of a premium design with the functionality of a good WordPress framework behind it.

In this regard, you will be pleased to hear that PageLines has some beautiful designs available for it. MUD and Base Theme are the only free designs available. Base Theme is a starter template that can be used to create child themes whilst MUD is a minimal design that would be perfect for a small personal website.

Store Themes

There are several premium designs to choose from. Modern is my favourite premium PageLines theme. It has a corporate style but could easily be adapted for a personal website or blog.

Unfortunately, PageLines don’t seem to have paid a lot of attention to the demos for their themes. Most of the demo links on theme info pages take you to a URL that is not working or a WordPress website in which the design is incomplete or has errors. This kind of thing hardly installs confidence in a customer. If the demo website isn’t working, it suggests the theme might not be working either. Granted, the responsibility for the demo area showing the design correctly lies with the theme developer, though PageLines should at least take some action against developers who don’t maintain the demo area for their designs.

Perhaps the problem is that 3rd party developers do have the responsibility of maintaining a demo blog which showcases their design. PageLines could eliminate this error by hosting all demos themselves. This would allow them to check that each theme in their store works with the latest version of PageLines and the latest version of WordPress.

The third type of item in the PageLines store is plugins. PageLines plugins are regular WordPress plugins that were created specifically for PageLines users. All PageLines plugins can be viewed via the ‘Your Plugins’ section in the store section of the PageLines admin area on your website. They can also be seen via the WordPress plugins section (i.e. www.site.com/wp-admin/plugins.php

Plugins for Buddypress and bbPress ensure that the services integrate with the PageLines design. It’s great that these services are supported as most WordPress frameworks don’t integrate well with them, which is something that customers of other WordPress frameworks find a lot of frustration with.

Another great plugin is ResumePage. Retailing at $19.99, the plugin lets you create a professional looking resume by simply filling in the blanks.

Store Plugins

The store section in the PageLines admin area also has an ‘Integrations’ tab. It shows integration for Vanilla forums and MediaWiki. As I tested PageLines using a personal license, there were no links to the plugins and no way to install them, therefore I was not able to look at these features more closely.

Store Integrations

The PageLines store could be improved in some ways and I’d love to see more products released through it (premium and free) however overall I was pleased with the marketplace. Currently there are a lot of sections available and a few useful plugins. Where I believe the marketplace can be improved is themes. The framework needs more themes developed for it. The quality of some of the premium themes is high but there simply isn’t enough of them. I hope PageLines can encourage more third party theme developers to create items for the framework.

PageLines Member Area

The current version of PageLines, as well as older versions, can be downloaded via the member area on PageLines.com. PageLines Plus memberships are also listed here.

Upgrades can be purchased via the member area too and billing records are displayed. The account information page lets you change your email and password details.

PageLines Member Area

Most of the other tabs in the member area are support related links to things such as training videos and the developer center.

Pricing

There are 4 different PageLines options to choose from:

  • Framework Only (Professional / Personal Edition) = $139
  • Framework Only (Developer / Business Edition) = $239
  • With Plus Membership (Professional / Personal Edition) = $97 + $14 Per Month
  • With Plus Membership (Developer / Business Edition) = $197 + $19 Per Month

All purchases come with a 30 day no-fuss money back guarantee so if you later find the framework doesn’t suit your needs, you can get a full refund.

Potential PageLines customers have two questions to ask themselves:

  1. Do you want a personal license or developer license?
  2. Do you need the benefits of a plus membership?

Let’s look at the options available to you more closely.

Which License Do You Need?

Whether you want a plus membership or not, the developer license will set you back $100 more than the personal license. Is it worth it? Well, it depends on what your needs are. In addition to all the benefits of the personal license, the developer license also has:

  • Unlimited use on sites you or your business own
  • WordPress Multisite Support
  • Integration support for Vanilla forums and MediaWiki
  • Access to developer resources & beta releases

Developers who need access to the additional resources that PageLines offers should purchase the developer license. If you or business needs support for WordPress multisite, Vanilla Forums or MediaWiki, upgrading to the developer license will be an easy decision unless the $100 price difference is an issue for you. Whether this price difference is a stumbling block for you will depend on how important these features are to your site and what your budget is (Plus membership members will also have to pay an extra $5 per month for the developer license compared to the personal license).

Please note that PageLines should not be restricting the use of their framework on the personal license. I spoke extensively about this issue at the start of this year. Many WordPress theme stores are violating the General Public License for WordPress by placing such restrictions on customers.

Senior WordPress developer Mark Jaquith clarified WordPress’s position on this to me directly when I queried the issue with him at the start of 2012:

Our stance is that WordPress themes derive from WordPress itself, and
thus must have a compatible license. That opinion was validated by the
Software Freedom Law Center back in 2009. A limitation on how many
sites can use a theme would be an obvious violation of the GPL. I
wouldn’t call such themes “illegal” — I’d just say that they are, in
our opinion, violating the license for WordPress. We continue to only
promote themes on WordPress.org that are fully GPL compatible, and we
encourage people to only use themes that respect the license.

PageLines do not actually say that the personal license cannot be used on multiple websites however since they note this as a benefit of the developer license and not the personal license, the implication that the personal license is restricted to one website is there. I am certainly not criticizing PageLines over this issue. When researching the subject for my previous article I found lots of theme developers who were also placing restrictions on how their WordPress themes could be used. The vast majority of them were simply unaware that they were not allowed to restrict usage. So my advice to you is to not worry about the number of websites you will be using PageLines when choosing a license.

What you should be focusing on is access to developer resources and support for WordPress multisite, Vanilla Forums or MediaWiki. If you need any of those things, I recommend buying the developer license. If not, I’d stick with the personal license.

The Plus Membership

The one off price of the Plus Membership is $40 cheaper however there is a monthly fee in addition to this. Once again, there are two licenses to choose from. The personal license costs an additional $14 per month whilst the developer license costs an additional $19 per month.

The membership gives a lot of benefits including:

  • Live chat support
  • Access to all PageLines built extensions (sections, themes and plugins) plus a guaranteed new one every month
  • Access to all new PageLines products and all updates in the future

15 extensions have currently been built by PageLines. The latest is the section Response Gallery. There’s at least a few hundred dollars worth of extensions available to plus members so if you were looking to purchase a few of the officially developed extensions, buying a plus membership could potentially save you money.

The other benefit of the plus membership is support. Framework only customers get one year of forum support and framework updates whereas plus membership customers will get continuous updates (as long as they keep paying). Do you see yourself needing support after using PageLines for a year? If you do, purchasing a plus membership should be a priority. In addition to prolonged forum support and updates, you will also get live chat support.

It’s a good deal when you consider that the membership costs only $14 or $19 a month. It’s only a good deal however if you actually need support actively as this small additional monthly fee works out to be $168 a year for personal license customers and $228 a year for developer customers (though the initial one off fee for plus membership customers is $40 cheaper when compared to the framework only option). This isn’t much for businesses but is a large investment for many personal users.

Overview

When it comes to WordPress frameworks, everyone has their favourites. Some prefer frameworks that keep things simple so that they can modify things themselves whilst others prefer frameworks that take responsibility for everything so that they can get on with writing content. To get the most out of any framework, you need to understand how it works and that sometimes takes time. PageLines is no different.

Creating a simple website using PageLines is easy but it may take you a few hours to take full advantage of the fantastic sections system that PageLines. Once you do, you will be in a position to create feature rich websites that boast galleries, content sliders, call out buttons and much more. I really love how the drag and drop system works. Changes can be made to your website in seconds and different areas (e.g. blog, categories, search results) can be given their own unique structure and style.

Experienced developers will find styling a website using PageLines relatively straight forward. The stylesheet is structured well and has comments throughout to explain what each part is for. For beginners, PageLines makes it easy to change background colours, text and link colours. Fonts can be customised easily too via the Typography section in ‘Site Options’. I’d like to see some additional styling options for beginners. Perhaps the ‘Color Control’ section could be extended to include more classes from the stylesheet.

PageLines Blog Layout

Where PageLines really shines against many other WordPress frameworks is the PageLines store. There are lots of great sections available that extend the functionality of the framework. I would however like to see more themes added to the store so that PageLines have more options for their design.

Compared to some of the other popular WordPress frameworks available, PageLines is a little more expensive. The framework only option retails at $139 for a personal license and $239 for a developer license. In comparison, Headway charges $87 for a personal license and $174 for a developer license and Thesis charges $87 for a personal license and $164 for a developer license. The Genesis framework retails for only $59.95.

In my view, PageLines is worth the added expense. I own Genesis and Headway however the way that PageLines lets you customise every part of your website with ease is a big plus in my book. I am the first to admit that I am a little biased in this regard. I have been using the free version of PageLines for some time now and have come to love the way the framework works (I still use Genesis on a lot of websites too).

If you like the look of PageLines, I encourage you to try out the free version of PageLines. It doesn’t have all the features of the premium version however it’s a great framework in its own right and will help demonstrate how PageLines works.

For more information on PageLines, please check out the links below.

Useful PageLines Links:

  • PageLines – The home page of PageLines.
  • Demo – A demo area which shows the PageLines framework in action.
  • Pricing – The different pricing options available.
  • Documentation – A great wiki which shows you how PageLines works.
  • Store – The official PageLines store.
  • Showcase – A list of websites which were built using PageLines. Worth checking out if you want to see examples of what PageLines can do.
This article was authored by:

Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity, Internet Marketing and Social Media on his personal blog and and provides technical support at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter: @KevinMuldoon and Google+.

Kevin Muldoon has authored 830 posts.Visit Website

Showing 3 Comments

  • Thanks Kevin,
    Exactly what I needed to help me decide on a framework. You know you wrote a book here, don’t you? Absolutely fantastic examples / screenshots in every detail we could need to understand how PageLines works. I also appreciate your candid opinion about the pricing which I’ve found is stopping me from trying it. Even the $87 Headway is slowing me down. [BTW, you might want to eliminate the "There's" start of a paragraph that isn't there under the Overview heading.]
    Thanks again,
    –Sally

    REPLY
  • Kevin Muldoon (Admin)

    Glad you liked it. I have Headway as well. I preferred version 2. The new version (version 3) has most features but in my opinion many simple tasks are overly complicated.

    Have you tried the free version of PageLines yet?

    Also, sorry, I’m not 100% sure of the error you are advising me of. Can you clarify what you mean about the ‘there’s’. I’ll make sure i correct it.

    Kevin

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  • Alec Calzada

    Kevin!

    I stumbled upon PageLines and was kinda shocked at how much it let me do without having to pay for it. I had a lot of questions at the start, but your article walked me through each and every extension and how to use it. You saved our website! Thank you so much for writing all of this (it was a lot!).

    If you are ever in the neighborhood for a marketing video please let me know! Myself and my team would love to help you get the word out there to folks about PageLines with one of our videos.

    Thanks you once again and good luck!

    Alec Calzada

    REPLY

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