You can have the best content in the world, but if your website looks bad, no one is going to care. I subscribed to Elegant Themes because I wanted great looking websites without spending a lot of money, and they are the only WordPress theme provider that I use. In the past, I have been reluctant to suggest Elegant Themes to others, because I’d hate for too many websites to pop up looking like mine. However, because some of the instructional content on The Affluent Blogger is specifically tailored for Elegant Themes, I have decided that it would be a disservice to readers not to post a full review.
When I first began building WordPress websites, I thought that I would get by using free themes only. I didn’t want to spend money for anything other than domain registration and hosting when I wasn’t even sure whether my ideas would actually make money. However, I quickly found that I simply didn’t like the way that any free WordPress themes looked. I like clean, fast-loading, minimal website designs that don’t burden the user with a bunch of useless widgets and window dressing. I like websites that look good, but if an element doesn’t add value for the reader, I don’t want it. Elegant Themes definitely fit the bill. These themes scream professionalism and do an excellent job of adding design flair without wasting space. Many new webmasters start out just like I did, wanting to get something for nothing. However, the fact is that on the Internet, you often get what you pay for. Budgeting a small amount of money to get all of your WordPress themes in one pop will put you one giant step ahead of your competition right from the get-go.
The thing that convinced me to purchase a subscription was value for money; I had been looking at WordPress themes that cost over $100 each. Elegant Themes costs just $39 a year for unlimited usage of the themes. Around two new themes are added each month, and your subscription gives you access to each one, for as many websites as you like. If you cancel your subscription, you retain access to the themes that you have downloaded — you just lose access to updates. I am a huge fan of that. The only thing you can’t do with your subscription is resell Elegant Themes to others. If you are a Web developer, you can install Elegant Themes on websites that you design for your clients. This requires a Developer’s License, which increases the subscription fee to $89.
As of this writing, Elegant Themes has over 70 themes available for subscribers. This article contains just a small sampling of my favorites. The scope and variety of the themes available make this an excellent value for anyone interested in starting multiple websites, because each new theme is so different from the rest. Some of the themes are great for text-heavy information-rich websites. For example, The Affluent Blogger uses the WhosWho theme and formerly used the PureType theme. However, magazine-style WordPress themes are all the rage right now, and Elegant Themes features many of those as well. TheStyle is one of my favorites; you can see a picture of that theme below. I use TheStyle for an e-zine that receives hundreds of visitors each day. I can’t tell you how many of them have asked me where I got my WordPress theme from, and except on The Affluent Blogger, I have never told.
Elegant Themes does not stay strictly within the blog paradigm for its WordPress themes, though. If you need to set up a page-based rather than post-based theme for a business whose website will remain relatively static once it goes up, Elegant Themes has many page-based WordPress themes as well. DeepFocus (pictured above) is currently one of my favorites. Want to create a short stub online, like a virtual business card? Elegant Themes has several themes for that, as well.
Of course, you are probably already aware that WordPress works well for these things. However, Elegant Themes has several niche WordPress themes for very specific purposes — things that I would have never even considered doing with WordPress. Elegant Themes has a question-and-answer theme, sort of like Yahoo Answers. They have a theme for a video sharing website, a site selling an iPhone app, and even an eBook theme. Themes like these are the reason why I have been so impressed with the variety available from Elegant Themes. I get ideas for new websites just by browsing the themes.
One of the most impressive things I have seen on Elegant Themes is a fully-featured storefront theme (pictured to the left). This theme allows you to integrate a free shopping cart and process payments for products from within WordPress, something that can cost hundreds of dollars elsewhere. Using your post tags, the theme automatically shows customers related products, making the website extremely easy to navigate. If you don’t sell physical products yourself, you can configure the “Add to Cart” buttons to send readers to your affiliate links instead. I have done this with a rather successful Amazon affiliate site, and will explain how you can do it in a future post. With well-written product descriptions, the Elegant Themes storefront theme for WordPress has a killer conversion rate, because people only browse the site if they are actively looking for products to buy.
A subscription to Elegant Themes includes technical support, either through direct emails or through their very busy forum. The Elegant Themes forum has several contributors who I believe are compensated, which means that requests for help receive responses very quickly. I have often had my questions answered within minutes. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to know that if I am in the middle of working on a website and need help as close to right now as possible, I can get it. Paying customers are treated with the respect they deserve, and no question is too “dumb” to receive a proper answer. Include a link to your website, and someone will take a look and tell you exactly what to modify to get the look you want, right down to the exact PHP code.
The last item that I want to mention is the extremely helpful back-end control panel included with all Elegant Themes, called the “ePanel.” This feature takes many of the most important functions that website operators need on a WordPress blog that they intend to make money from, and puts all of them in one place. The ePanel allows you to manage advertisements, SEO-related functions such as meta tags and URL canonicalization, and integration of code for tools such as Google Analytics. With other WordPress themes, all of these features require separate plugins, increasing the amount of time required to get a new website up and running. Because ePanel looks the same for each Elegant Themes WordPress theme, once you have learned how to use it once, launching each new website becomes second nature.