Zwin is a beautiful responsive WordPress design theme that was designed for resumes and portfolios. It was only released a few days ago but as soon as I saw it on ThemeForest, I knew it was exactly what I needed for my personal website.
Despite some problems with the theme, which I will discuss later in the article, I am very pleased the design. I had initially used my domain name KevinMuldoon.com as a blog a few years ago. Due to my commitments on other projects, I never had the time to update it, so I replaced it with a simple HTML template (but ensured the WordPress installation was kept live). A few months ago I changed it back to a blog and made an effort to update it regularly with web development tips and general advice about working online.
The fact is, to make any successful blog successful, including a personal one, you need to update it regularly, and that’s sometimes a difficult thing to do when you are maintaining websites, developing new websites and writing for others. So I’ve been on the lookout for a good portfolio design that would highlight my work, give examples of articles I have written and promote my writing services online.
Even though I haven’t really updated my blog much over the last few years, it still gets a little traffic every day due to me linking it within articles I have written and including it in my author bio on lots of different websites. Before changing my design, I would get an email every few weeks regarding one of my websites or asking if I would be willing to take on a writing job. Since uploading this design to my website on Saturday, I have had 4 job offers within 3 days. When you consider that my website was getting the same amount of traffic before I switched to the Zwin design, it really is unbelievable the number of job offers I’ve had with this design compared to a blog design. Clearly, a design that focuses entirely on promoting an individuals strengths and qualities is more beneficial than a blog that is never updated!
In this article I will be showing you what Zwin can and cannot do. As I normally do with designs that I have used on one of my own websites, I will first look at the theme features before delving more into how good the theme is to use in practice. I hope it helps you decide whether it is the right design for you. Enjoy :)
Zwin Theme Features
Zwin was obviously designed specifically for people who want to showcase themselves to others online. Look at it as an enhanced vCard rather than a traditional WordPress design. There’s no blog and no way to add pages; everything is controlled via the options area and portfolio custom post type.
The design has four sections: Profile, Resume, Portfolio and Contact. First impressions might lead you to believe that the theme uses flash due to the cool way that visitors can transition from one section to another. These transitions are actually powered by jQuery so look great on any browser and any device. Just above the main design is a social media area that lets you display icon images to your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google+.
The profile page is the first section that visitors will see when they visit your website. At the left hand side it shows your shows your name, job title, profile pic and a description of who you are and what you do. The description area isn’t that big but is sufficient for a short bio.
The resume page lets you highlight your work and educational experience. At the right hand side of the page you can rate your skills out of 7.
Websites, photographs and videos can all be showcased in your portfolio. It’s not the most advanced portfolio layouts available in a WordPress theme so photographers may want to look at alternative options but should be ideal for everyone else.
A detailed Google Map is displayed at the top of the contact page. Underneath is some basic contact information about you such as your address, phone number and email. There is a form for people to contact you directly too.
Zwin Theme Options
The whole theme is controlled via the theme options page. The only part which isn’t is the portfolio section, which is controlled via the portfolio post type.
In the profile section you can enter all your personal information and social media profile details that are displayed on the home page. If you click on your profile pic, an option will appear to upload a different image. Alternatively, you can simply replace the photo jpeg image which is stored in the theme images folder.
Zwin makes it very easy to add, change and delete the skills that are listed on your resume page. You can group related skills together and give them a rating out of 7.
Configuring your resume works in a similar way to configuring your skill set. You can set the job/course title, short description of the job/course, year of employment/enrolment and a more in depth description.
When you hover over the details of each job or course, you will see an option to update or delete the entry. You can then modify the settings as you fit.
Via the configuration area you can choose which colour scheme the theme uses. There are 5 to choose from: yellow (default), blue, red, purple and green. The initial and hover settings for each portfolio items can be modified. There are lots of different effects to choose from such as SliceUpRandom, Fold and BoxRain.
Your website favicon can also be changed and there are 8 predefined background images to choose from. Alternatively, you can just set a background colour.
Tracking code can be inserted directly into your website via the configuration page. The text used on your portfolio page and footer can be set here too and you can configure the email and subject title for your contact form.
The one part of the design that isn’t controlled via the options area is portfolio items. You need to name your item and upload an image and set it as featured. There are 7 different portfolio types to choose from: image, YouTube, Vimeo, iFrame, Quicktime, Flash and an external link. As noted earlier, the effect that portfolio items use is controlled via the configuration area.
Zwin Pros & Cons
Zwin only takes 5 to 10 minutes to configure but it’s not without its flaws. Some elements of the design haven’t been tested thoroughly. I’m sure many of these problems will be ironed out in the next few updates but at the minute there are some things that may frustrate some of you when you are setting the theme up.
Take the profile page for example. The theme correctly only shows social media icons for services that you have entered details for. On my own website I am only displaying the links to Twitter and Google+. If you don’t enter any social media profile URL’s, the ‘Social Profiles’ textbox at the top of the page still displays i.e. even if there are no social media profiles listed.
A bigger problem is the personal information fields. Whereas social media profile icons will only be displayed if you enter your URL there, all personal information titles are displayed whether you complete the boxes or not. Therefore the name, date of birth, address, email, phone and website titles will be shown whether you like it or not. I was a little annoyed with this when I first activated the theme on my website as I have no interest in publicly displaying my date of birth, address and phone number publicly on the web. I realise many people do publish this information online in their resumes though due to the widespread problem of identity fraud, I would recommend people ask potential employers to contact them directly for this information (Note: I’m aware that persistent spammers can gain this information through other methods such as checking the whois information of domains you own without privacy protection, I’d just rather not offer this information on a plate!)
The theme displays your email address on the profile and contact pages. It’s set up to ensure that only valid email addresses are entered into the email field. I found this to be a royal pain in the ass. Email harvesting is still a big problem on the web so I don’t like simply printing my email address on a website. One of the ways round this is to display something like emailme – at – mywebsite dot com instead of [email protected] This is only a minor inconvenience to those who want to email you and it reduces the chance of bots grabbing your email address and spamming it to death. Zwin doesn’t allow you to do this though. If an email address is written like ‘emailme – at – mywebsite dot com’, it simply won’t be displayed. I really don’t think email validation is necessary as email addresses are being entered by the website owner rather than a visitor.
Another annoying issue on the profile page is the website address. Firstly, there is no option to make the website address linkable, it is just displayed as text by default (the developer has hinted this might be added in a future update though). Secondly, there isn’t enough space for most URLs. The theme demo uses the website address http://www.asmith.com. Clearly the developer chose a short 6 letter domain intentionally so that the website address fits nicely in with the rest of the design.
Most websites will use much longer domain names. The screenshot below shows you what is displayed when I entered the domain name of my personal website http://www.kevinmuldoon.com/. Any domain names with over 8 characters will cause this to occur.
I don’t have many concerns about the resume section. The skill set option is a fantastic addition and everything is easy to configure. My only criticism is that many people may find this section a bit restrictive. It was created to display employment and education history but there is no option for you to write an introduction or upload images etc. I’d love for this section to be a bit more flexible in this regard.
There’s not much wrong with the portfolio section. It’s easy to add new portfolio items and you can group items into different categories to make it easier to view your portfolio. Items are displayed by default with recently created portfolio items listed first. Hopefully in a future version there will be an option to rearrange the order of portfolio items as you see fit.
If you complete all the personal information details fields in the options area, the contact page looks great. The Google Map at the top of the page will automatically generate from the information entered in the address profile field. The problems arise when you don’t complete all the profile fields.
When the address field hasn’t been completed, the Google Map will just show an empty blue background. A blank space will also be present under the contact info area and the email, phone and website titles will be shown whether you have completed those fields or not. The simple contact form does work very well though.
I really love the 5 colour schemes that are included with Zwin. The profile (home) page is where you will notice the big difference as on the resume, portfolio and contact pages it’s only the menu icon at the top of the page which is a different colour.
There is unfortunately no option to change the colour of the text that is used on the profile page via the options page. The name and job title are displayed in white in all designs. This works well with all the colour schemes. In the yellow colour scheme a light gold colour (#bc9010) is used for the about me box on the left hand side of the profile page whilst a slightly darker gold colour (#a87f09) is used for the personal information on the right hand side. In the other colour schemes there isn’t enough contrast between the text colours and the background colour, which makes it difficult to read. Have a look at the 5 colour schemes below to get a better idea of what I’m referring to :)
If you know no HTML or CSS, Zwin might not be the best design for you because of the many issues I noted above (such as field titles displaying when the fields are empty in the options area, lack of flexibility etc). For everyone else, Zwin is the best WordPress theme available at the moment for a basic resume website.
This view may seem a bit surprising giving that I have pointed out all of the themes flaws in this article though the thing is, none of these issues are really that big of a problem. The theme only has one stylesheet and 6 templates. All of these templates are well coded and thoroughly commented too. This makes customising the design incredibly easy.
I uploaded the design to my personal website on Saturday. The portfolio template remained untouched though I made some slight changes to the profile, resume and contact templates. It took me less than an hour from clicking the buy button on ThemeForest to completing all the little changes I wanted. Anyone who is comfortable making small HTML and CSS changes will have no problems modifying this theme.
I’ve looked at lots of different HTML and WordPress templates over the last year. Whilst I was impressed by some designs, none of them impressed me enough to click the buy button. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed with the theme after uploading the design to my website and finding out that personal information fields like date of birth etc were hard coded into the templates. I wasn’t disappointed for long though as the templates are so easy to modify.
A license for Zwin retails for only $25 from ThemeForest (An HTML version is also available for $8.). It comes with the original PSD files, a built in theme update notifier and is well documentated with links to video tutorials. Developers Rbista have so far being very active in responding to support questions from people who have purchased the theme as well.
I highly recommend checking Zwin out if you are looking for a good design to promote you and your work online. It has beautiful simplicity, a great portfolio section and looks great on desktops, tablets and mobile devices. The theme has been selling incredibly well since it was released on Saturday and I expect this to continue as the design is only going to get better and better. New features scheduled for future updates include the addition of Pinterest and YouTube to the Social Profiles area, rearranging the order of profile fields and even the option of a blog template.
Even though I’ve always found it difficult to find the time to write on my personal blog, I’m really looking forward to the addition of a blog template as it would allow me to keep my site primarily as a resume but still blog every now and then when I have time (and with WordPress, switching to another design at a later date if the blog becomes more important is always an option).
All in all Zwin is a fantastic design and a great option for a personal website, online resume or simple portfolio. If you have any questions about Zwin that I haven’t addressed in this review, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer any queries you may have.
Thanks for reading,