Standard Theme is a premium framework that was created specifically for blogging. This is actually quite uncommon as most WordPress frameworks heavily promote the fact that they can be used for any type of website e.g. corporate, blog, portfolio etc.
I was incredibly impressed by Standard Theme before I even tested it. Those of you who have read my reviews of themes before will know that I am a big fan of the traditional blog layout over the corporate and magazine style designs that have become commonplace over the last year or so. Not that those designs aren’t useful. They can be used for blogs as well though very few designs are being released solely with bloggers in mind and because of that the blog template is usually an after thought rather than the focus of the design.
The Standard Theme Design
The first thing that will strike you about Standard Theme is how great the design looks. It’s usually difficult to gauge the quality of design that a framework can generate for you before you try it out as the demo is nothing more than an empty shell.
The Standard Theme demo is different. The theme has a traditional blog layout with one main content column and a sidebar at the right hand side. A navigation menu is placed at the top and bottom of the page and there are social media links at the very top right hand side of the page too.
It has great typography and supports post formats too. Twitter and Feedburner counts are grouped together and can be displayed in any widget area. Unfortunately, there’s no option to add your count from your Facebook fan page.
Customising The Standard Theme
Standard Theme isn’t a drag and drop framework like Headway. You can however customise the design of your site a little through the settings area. For example, you can choose to display the top navigation menu below your header area and whether the sidebar goes on the left or right hand side of your content.
Many things can be adjusted through the settings area. You can change the size of your social media voting buttons, enable and disable featured images and decide whether to use the Standard Theme menu system or the default one from WordPress.
An author box is also built into the framework. This can be switched off an on via the settings area. You also also enable and disable the authors website link, Twitter link, Facebook link and ‘Share By Link’ (an option to email a post). There is no support currently for LinkedIn or Google+.
Social media links are floated perfectly at the side of your design. There is support for the vast majority of social media sites, the only exception being Google+.
There is an in built advertising system for 468×60, 125×125 and 300×250 pixel ads. You can rotate ads on your sidebar and upload the image and link for each banner. Unfortunately, you cannot set the alt tag for each image.
The framework also has support for Feedburner and Google Analytics integration and you can backup and restore your settings for your theme whenever you want through the settings area. This is useful if you are testing things out and you want to make sure you can go back to a specific setting structure.
Designing Your Website
Although the framework has a good settings are that allows you customise many aspects of your blog layout, Standard Theme wasn’t created for novices. There is no facility for changing colour schemes and no drag and drop interface for changing your site structure.
Those of you with a little experience in customising designs will love the way that Standard Theme works. A custom CSS template is included so that you only overwrite the CSS classes that you don’t need to. By not modifying the default stylesheet you can revert back to the default design at any time.
There are dozens of templates included in the framework. The code is clean and well documented. A great effort has obviously been put into leaving out unnecessary code, which makes Standard Theme a great base for creating the perfect design for your website.
Support for customers is pretty good too. There is an introductory document that explains the basics and a dedicated support forums. They have also released a PSD design kit to make it easier for designers to create the layout they want.
Thankfully, those who know little about HTML and CSS are not comfortable editing templates are not completely forgotten about. In the member area you can download additional theme customisations (i.e. pre-made designs). There’s a good variety of designs available so you should find something you want.
Simple Standard – An example of one of the customised designs that are available.
The video below walks you through the version of Standard Theme that is currently available. It walks you through the settings area and shows you how easy it is create a website using the framework.
New Version Coming Soon
Unfortunately, the current version of Standard Theme is around one year old (bar a few tweaks and updates). It was clear to me when I was testing the framework that it was a little older due to the absence of Facebook from the count widget and the lack of Google+ integration.
Thankfully, there is a reason for this. 8bit are currently working on the next version and it sound very promising. I spoke to Chris Ames, the product manager for 8bit, about the upcoming version. He explained that the whole framework has been rewritten from scratch. It has a cleaner user interface and will be mobile friendly, He also noted that it was not designed for beginners though designers will absolutely love the new version.
The new version is scheduled for release for around January 2012. I’ll make sure I test it for you guys once it’s released and give you my thoughts on the framework.
All in all I was very impressed with Standard Theme. It isn’t fair to compare it to other frameworks such as Headway or Genesis as their interfaces allow you to change the structure of your design easily. Due to this, Standard Theme is more suitable for designers who are looking for a good clean framework to help them build designs for their clients. Though I believe anyone who is comfortable editing CSS will be able to adjust the default design to suit them.
I’m of two minds as to whether I should highly recommend Standard Theme at the moment. Whilst there are some things that could be improved, in my opinion it is one of the best frameworks for creating a blog design and is very well priced too. However, I am aware that there is a new version one or two months away. It sounds like it’s going to be a big change from the current version so because of that, I think it’s best if you wait to see what the new version is like as it could be more suited to developers than beginners.
There are two licenses available for Standard Theme. The personal license retails for $49. It can be used on as many domains as you want though does not give you any support beyond the online documentation. You can only download the theme once i.e. you will not get access to future updates.
The support license will set you back $99. That gives you access to lifetime updates and support, access to the support forums and tutorials and FAQS. It also allows you to download the additional stylesheets that I spoke about earlier.
If you are keen on purchasing Standard Theme but are unsure which license to purchase, don’t worry, as you can upgrade your license at any time by simply paying the $50 price difference.
Hope you enjoyed the review :)
Link: Standard Theme
* Thanks to developers 8bit for donating a test copy of Standard Theme for the purpose of this review.