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Howling Dog WordPress Themes

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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.

Howling Dog Framework

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.

Howling Dog Framework Admin Bar

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.

The Colligan

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.

Mosaic WordPress Theme

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.

Thanks,
Kevin

Link: Howling Dog WordPress Themes

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Comments (6)

Comment by HowlingDogThemes says:

A couple of updates to this blog post.  First, there is now a free version of the K9 Canvas framework.  You can download it at Howling Dog Themes.  Second, the themes are now $29.50.   Previously all themes were packaged with our Pro  version of the framework which put the cost for an individual theme at $89.50.  Once we released the free version of the framework we decided to also sell the themes by themselves so they could be used with the free version or the Pro version.
 

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Yes no problem at all. Ask him to get in touch and I’ll do my best to help :)

Comment by Kelly Hodsdon says:

Thanks Kevin. No arguments with your comments. :-)

For the K9 Canvas errors, thanks for posting them — Yikes! Seeing all those warnings would take the wind out of any install. You have run into something we haven’t ever had happen before. Basically, when the user tries to activate the “K9 Parent” Theme, it auto-creates the “K9 Canvas” theme by copying all the files for the theme then activating the k9 Canvas theme. Helps keep people from editing the parent theme itself which can easily cause issues.

In your case, the errors indicate there was an issue with 22 of the files… again, not something we’ve had happen before. If you are willing, I’d like to have Zack to contact you and see what happened. We’ve only had exposure to about 7 hosting companies (including WP on windows servers, blech!), there may be sometyhing unique in your situaiton we should be aware of.

Either way, thanks for comments! Appreciated.

Cheers,
Kelly & The Howling Dog Team.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to the review. There are not many developers who would respond to criticism in such a positive way.

Price

In itself, I think the price of the framework is justified. There are cheaper and even free alternatives however the framework seems to work well so to developers this would save them a lot of time.

The 5 themes that are available aren’t really for developers though as most developers are looking for a blank canvas (which you provide). I appreciate that users can modify the 5 themes using your framework however I believe that that there are better alternatives for non-tech users out there – many of which are free.

I think it would be best to price the framework slightly cheaper and then reduce the price of skins to the $20-$30 mark.

Admin Bar

Yeah I definitely think there needs to be an option to remove it or even just remove it altogether. I appreciate it was designed before WordPress added the admin bar as default.

Canvas Theme

The errors I got were:

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/images/index.php) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/custom.css) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/scripts/1-init.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/scripts/0-superfish.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/install.php) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/hangers/readme.txt) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/ie7.css) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/ie8.css) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/functions.php) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/ie6.css) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/options.php) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/license_hdt.txt) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/screenshot.png) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/Raleway.font.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/Sniglet.font.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/ChunkFive.font.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/League_Gothic.font.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/Junction.font.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/Prociono.font.js) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/cufon/readme.txt) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/style.css) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Warning: copy(/***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-canvas/readme.txt) [function.copy]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /***/wp-content/themes/hdt-k9-parent/functions/core-functions.php on line 796

Once again, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to my points. It’s refreshing to see a theme developer take criticism in a positive way.

I’m sure we will see Howling Dog get better and better. Make sure you get in touch when ‘The Kitchen Sink’ gets developed :)

Kevin

Comment by Kelly Hodsdon says:

Thanks Kevin for reviewing our framework. We love getting the unvarnished opinions from people, only helps us improve.

Here are a couple of thoughts based on your review:

– Price: I totally understand your position on the price and agree; if you are an individual blog owner just looking for a theme to slap on your site, we have a healthy price point. However, if you are a blog owner who plans to do any customizing to a theme for their site, or a web designer who produces multiple websites, our frameworks saves hours and hours editing and customization. Those are the target audience for us and where the value really is.

– Admin Bar: the option to turn off our admin bar and use WordPress’ has been planned for our next release after Labor Day. We’ve been using our framework for over 2 years, and back then there was NO admin bar except via plugins. So we added our own configurable admin bar that included links to our controls and the ability to edit what appeared for our clients. Only recently did WordPress add the admin bar (then had now way to disable it until 3.1). We like the updated WordPress bar which is why we’re adding the choice in the next release.

– K9 Canvas: was very surprised to hear you had any issues with it. Please post the errors you were getting, we have not seen what you experienced. This is not a “new” framework, we’ve used it on hundreds of sites, so are anxious to find out what happened with you.

— To address your other comment, the K9 Canvas intentionally simple — we built it as a blank “canvas” for a web designer to build their themes on. It’s exactly what we start every time with when we code custom designs to WordPress (some examples – http://howlingdogthemes.com/showcase/ ). I do, however, agree with you we should have a theme that throws in everything including the kitchen sink that really shows off everything the framework can do — a great idea and we’ll do that. We’ll even call it “The Kitchen Sink” theme. :-)

Thanks again for the review!

Best Regards,
Kelly & The Howling Dog Team.

Comment by Sumon @ Sumon Seleem's Blog says:

Another framework. Looks good! But the price is too high.
By the way, count me in for the giveaway. Liked the post and already subscribed to the Fan Page.

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