Yesterday I was discussing my experiences with relaunching my wife’s personal training and figure competition website, ankhjii.com. In that post I was talking about the decisions I made on relaunch and selecting WooCommerce for our eCommerce solution. Like I discussed in that post, I’m normally a roll your own solution kind of guy. I like to code my own stuff or use minimal plugins with my own adaptation. That’s an old mindset, back 5 or 6 years ago, the WordPress ecosystem wasn’t nearly what it was today. It was difficult to find a plugin that would do what I want and even harder to find a quality theme. Times have changed, here’s my theme selection story.
Recently, the quality of products being put out for WordPress have become truly quality. There are established developers who have proven that they are here to stay. It took me a while to realize it but it’s a fact, there are people out there doing what I need and doing it far better than I’m capable of. When I need to put together a project, I don’t need to go it on my own. I can pull together some really high quality products for relatively cheap – ofetn for free even. That was the case with my online store, it was a very simple shop and I didn’t need much, producst display, shopping cart, and a way to accept payment. WooCommerce let me do that for free!
But, after installing WooCommerce I realized it was time for a overhaul of the theme. The theme we had been using was acceptable, it always looked pretty good. I wasn’t ever totally happy with it, but for a small site it worked. Now I needed to look to the future, I needed something that I could build on, I needed something that looked good and professional. Two things my last theme didn’t do well were mobile display adn WooCommerce product display. I definitely needed that.
I decided to try a premium theme out. I mentioned it earlier, but I often designed and coded my own themes. I didn’t have the time or desire to do that this time, I figured I’d let someone else do the work for me and tweak things as I saw fit. I spent a good deal of time shopping around at the well known theme shops, one thing I knew is that I was gonig with a reliable shop. I always recommend you do your research before buying a plugin or theme. Does it do what you want, what is the track record for the company, how long have they been around, etc.
I’d seen Elegant Themes many times before but nothing really caught my eye, until now. I stumbled on their newest flagship theme at the time, Divi. The theme looked like it could really work for the ankhjii.com relaunch. It looked clean and had a tonne of options. Plus, judging by the blog posts, it was being actively developed and I could expect future enhancements. It also fully supported WooCommerce – I needed that. One thing that used to turn me off of Elegant Themes is that they don’t support post formats, that is true of Divi as well, but I reassessed my needs and really, I don’t need that for this project.
I pulled the trigger and bought it, I just went with the personal package for now, that gets me access to all of Elegant Themes for $39, I don’t get .psd files or plugins with that, but I don’t need them. It took me a while to learn what everything does in the theme, but I tell you what, it’s pretty awesome! I needed a truly flexible homepage approach. We sort my wife’s posts into various categories depending on if they are nutrition related, supplements, personal training, portfolio, media, competition, etc. Divi has a page builder built into it that gives me complete control over pages. I was able to position elements very specifically on the ankhjii.com home page. Take a look, it’s cool! I did all of the arranging and everything with the built in features, I didn’t have to write any code. Not only that, but I went from buying the theme to having my site set up in one night, and that inclides setting up WooCommerce!
The theme also comes with various premade layouts you can use, other users have also been know to share theirs. You can import and export layouts to share them which is a very cool feature! If you can’t think of the exact layout you need, someone may have already done it for you! Finally, the theme is responsive. The responsive layout works very well too, regardless of what custom modules and layouts you use. I’m very happy with the way the site looks on a mobile,
So, am I a 100% fanboy now? Well, not entirely. Just a few things I’d mention. They have a wonky looking options panel in the backend that is confusing. It is not styled using the built in WordPress styling and that irks me. No plugin or theme should have a panel that looks wedged in to WordPress. Some of the options are also repetitive of options built in to WordPress, that introduces confusion. In my opinion, the options panel should look native to WordPress and should not have any confusing settings. If it’s built into WordPress, don’t put it in your options panel. Finally, as I mentioned before, no post format settings. I don’t need them, but they are a part of WP, I feel every theme should support and use the formats.
Now these few issues don’t wreck anything for me. I dig the theme. In fact I used it on another webnsite I launched on a whim, On My Bike – a personal cycling/motivation website for myself. You can check out the two uses of Divi here, Ankhjii’s site and On-My.Bike. The sites have a similar feel, of course. I haven’t dug into customizing too much, I like the layouts. I imagine you can go crazy with the theme and take it far further than I have!
All in all, I am very happy with the Divi theme, I look forward to seeing what gets added in the future, and my wife’s site will be using it for a long time! What do you think? Do you use Divi? Do you have a favourite go-to theme?