There comes a time when every moderately successful WordPress website owner should consider upgrading to a premium theme. Premium themes look better, have more functions, are easier to use (once you've learned the framework), and are generally going to earn you more in the long run. They can be a bit of an investment initially, but the ROI is plain to see.
Your site INSTANTLY looks better and starts waving the “I'm an authority” flag a little bit harder.
Nate can debate the finer points of whether or not you need a premium theme with you another time. Today I'm here to talk about the themes I use to build my niche sites at Human Proof Designs. When it came time for me to upgrade my first site from a freebie to a premium theme, WPZoom was where I went.
Why not Elegant themes? Why not StudioPress? Why not trawl through the galleries on ThemeForest?
Because I found WPZoom.
I didn't know much about all the different theme options when I wanted to upgrade. All I knew was, I was sick of my site looking like this:
I asked around, and some people I respected said that while there are thousands of premium themes out there, most of them aren't worth anything. They're ugly, they don't function properly, they're out of date, or worse, they're unsupported.
Some themes can even break your site if they aren't coded correctly. It's crazy.
WPZoom – The Support
The thing that impressed me the most when I started out using them was the support level. Pavel and his team have a great support forum which is actively moderated. I've since found forums where I have to wait A WEEK to get an answer about a theme question. WPZoom usually answer within 24 hours, and sometimes a lot faster.
I've even had Pavel himself log into one of my sites and completely fix some coding I broke and import settings from an old theme to a new one. Basically he fixed my entire site. That's an incredible support level.
When it comes to big companies like StudioPress, who produce way more complicated themes that are hard to use, can you expect the same level of support?
In fact I could turn this into a “Why StudioPress and Genesis pisses me off” post quite easily, so I'll go back to WPZoom.
WPZoom Themes – What Are They Like?
If I'm honest, in the last 6 months WPZoom themes have got a LOT better. Back when I started using them, I'd say 4 or 5 existed that I really wanted to use, and only 12 in total were responsive. The guys have worked hard though and they bring out a new theme every month. Take a look at the one they just released, Diamond.
In fact, their last 6 themes have been excellent and beautifully produced.
Most theme “clubs” or services where they have more than one theme on offer will have all their themes built on the same “framework”. This is like the backbone of the theme, how customization is done to it, and where all the various settings and configurations lie.
WPZoom was my first premium theme, so I did find the framework a bit confusing at first. In all honesty, it's not too tricky. Most settings are self-explanatory, and any changes you make are reversible with a “restore defaults” button.
The hardest part is figuring out which settings to use. Maybe you want to change the titles of a Portfolio page and can't quite find the settings to do this, you could potentially waste a lot of time. Luckily, each theme has documentation and tutorials in the WPZoom members area, so if you head there when you get stuck, you'll find your answers.
There are also some really cool homepage and sidebar widgets available which allow you to have all sorts of custom features, like video widgets, sliders, or call-to-action boxes. WPZoom also created some enhanced “latest posts” widgets too.
How Does The Framework Compare?
When I tried out the Genesis framework, I realized even more how good the WPZoom one is. StudioPress is a massive company and its Genesis framework is touted as being the best available. Powerful, easy to use, bla bla. It might be powerful, but man does it take a long time to figure out. It's not intuitive at all. WPZoom easily trumps it.
If you build a framework that is better than the “best of the bunch”, then you get my vote.
The one negative you could say is that they aren't the cheapest themes out there. They also aren't the most expensive, but they're definitely toward the higher end. For me value is more important, so I'm happy to pay. I get so much support and help that it's well worth it.
Many companies will tell you “We don't offer that” or “Sorry, follow the instructions” when you ask for help. Not only do WPZoom usually add things in especially for you, but it's the company owner who does it. Gotta love Moldovans!
They did recently reduce their prices and simplify the membership to just one monthly fee (for those of you who build many sites). Currently it is $75 for a single license, and $199 + $19/m for the developer's license (unlimited use of all themes and extra files).
You can view more info on the pricing page.
There WAS a time where I looked around at other options an considered a move away from WPZoom, but in the end I stayed. Why did I look away? Because I felt the current collection was a bit limited, since then they've brought out some excellent themes. I also wanted to see if there was anything better out there, and haven't really found anything I like more.
They also brought out the drag+drop plugin Zoom Builder, which isn't included with the themes, but makes them even easier to customize and build into something special.
I would definitely recommend WPZoom, and have done so on numerous occasions.
Dom Wells has been working online since Mid 2012 and has enjoyed a variety of successes. He now creates websites for others to get started with, and provides training and clear maps for them to follow. Learn more at Human Proof Designs