It’s theme review time on WPin. Read my experiences and thoughts on the Checathlon WordPress theme.
Recently I was approached by a gentleman called Sami who incidentally runs a company called Foxland to review his theme Checathlon. Foxland specialize in fast loading accessible and minimal stylish WordPress themes for a wealth of uses.
Sami has some very good looking WordPress themes available on his website and to say I was pleased to be approached for a review judging by his works, is an understatement.
Before I begin the review of the Checathlon WordPress theme it’s worth noting in complete transparency with you the reader, this is in fact a paid for review.
There are no affiliate links contained within this review, and this review of Checathlon was not submitted to Sami at Foxland prior to the review by published for edits etc.
Sami via email did state that he want’s and honest opinion on his work and to that end, this is what I aim to offer you the reader and of course Sami.
OK? Ready? Let us begin with the review of Checathlon.
Installing the Checathlon WordPress Theme
The first thing I will say about Checathlon is how lightweight it is in terms of file size, it comes in under 1MB. When you compare that with other themes that is a thing of beauty in fairness. No bloat.
I digress, theme installation is a relative breeze, via the backend or indeed via FTP. You decide, I’m assuming (rightly or wrongly) you’re at a stage in your WordPress life, whereby you know how to install a theme!
Took me all of 3 seconds to install. Nice. Like a kid in a candy shop all eager and what not I immediately navigate to the home page to see what it looks like!
Well installation is an absolute piece of cake. I’ve been a little naughty here by navigating to the home page, especially since I’ve not set up the theme properly. I can’t help it! I just love taking a look at a WordPress theme after I’ve just installed it.
It’s one of my foibles, for that I’m sorry!
**It’s worth noting that the base version of Checathlon is actually free. Yup, totally free, it’s available for you to download over on Foxland and have a play around with. You can do so here if you like.
To unlock extra features there is a plugin for it that gives you additional functionality. More on that later!
Checathlon theme installed, what’s next?
Well from the screenshot above you will see there’s some new text in the admin sidebar, called Checathlon. It’s by clicking on this we can see the screen above.
This gives me some details on the theme, where to find help, plugins that are supported by Checathlon as well as the option to get Checathlon plus. This option extends the functionality of the theme itself.
Installing the Checathlon Pro plugin for extended functionality
As I am keen to see what Checathlon can do and of course realize its full potential I am in fact going to install the pro plugin, which Sami has incidentally provided me with. So lets install it then.
All of Checathlon themes settings and customisation offerings are actually done from the WordPress native customiser. No additional theme option panel exists. I’m not a massive fan of bespoke theme option panels in fairness, never have been. The above shows before the pro plugin is installed.
Well as you can see from the above, there is actually quite a few new additions to the WP native customiser with the pro plugin. I’ll go through them one and all, don’t worry!
Clicking on this gives us the above screen. It’s here we have a variety of options relating to our home page and more.
We have an option for the front page. Navigating to this means we can change certain things. To see what I mean take a look at this:
Front page settings
Here we can hide sections, keep them visible and such. We can hide the service and pricing section, decide whether to hide testimonials and lastly whether to hide blog posts.
We can also change the pricing area title to something a little more ‘salesy’ as well as the testimonial section.
The last option which is slightly cut off is the blog article title. Here we can rename the blog section that shows your latest posts. Or hide it by checking the tick box, hide blog posts.
Featured area settings for Checahtlon
Right off the bat we have more options, it’s worth noting at this point there are indeed a wealth of options available for the front page. On the customization front Checathlon is doing well.
The featured area settings deal with featured content. It’s here we can select pages as users we believe visitors may well be interested in. What you can’t see from the screen grab above is there, there are in fact 6 pages you can choose from.
Or if you do not want to feature page content at all you can choose to not show anything via the check box. Personally I think it’s better to at least give people an idea of the content they might be interested in.
All use the featured image from the page itself and either the page content (up to a limit of around 55 characters) or indeed a catchier excerpt if you have excerpts enabled from the top drop down see below for what I mean:
Before widget settings
Checathlon has a section before the footer widgets funnily enough called ‘before widget settings’. It’s here you can choose from the back end what you would like to display from the widgets page.
You can set the title, or indeed leave it blank if you wish. You can also set icons before the widget area to denote something relevant. There are in fact 49 different icons to choose from. There’s a wealth of icons to cater for most tastes.
The first widget settings. Here you can choose to add a background image that will fill an area, you can also change the content background color and opacity (slightly cut off in the screen grab) to suit your needs, this is done via a handy slider so you can see it happening in real-time. Then adjust accordingly.
Footer text, yes you can change that.
You know how annoying it is when you want to change the footer text in a WordPress theme and have to Google it and the theme in question, then find out it’s a massive ball ache?
Well you don’t have to worry about that with Checathlon. You can add in your own text or just decide to not show it. It’s the little things with Checathlon that have impressed me so far.
This is one of them.
Choosing your fonts
Checathlon comes with 38 different fonts. It’s here we can choose fonts for the site title, the post title, the main navigation, our headings and lastly the base body (the content itself).
There is lots to choose from and thanks to the Checathlon themes use of the WP customiser we can see the font changes in real-time.
Making your stamp on Checathlon, or in other words color options
It’s here where you can make your mark in terms of color for Checathlon. You know your business / brand, you know the colors you need to choose.
Well this is where you can do it with color options for the header and main navigation, the content itself, buttons and lastly the footer. It’s all done by sliders so you can mix and match and see your website take shape thanks to the real-time updates of using the WP customizer.
A slight niggle with the above
From what I could see, there was no option to change the color of the font for the site title itself. Maybe it’s me being an idiot or something but I could not for the life of me change it.
Could change everything else save for the site title font color. Could change the font, just not the color itself. Maybe Sami could shed some light on it.
It’s not an issue if you have an image as a site title, or logo if you will.
As if you haven’t already noticed the Checathlon theme is responsive, which in this day and age is of the utmost importance. Looking at the gallery images above, you may well have noticed the image which denotes the header and main nav color options.
It’s worth noting here you can in fact change the color of the mobile menu. See below for a closer look:
Ok so like on the forth option down the work background is missing an ‘n’. I’m not going to hold that against Foxland FFS, this review is probably littered with typos!!! Anyway, irrespective of all that noise, it’s nice to have an option to choose something different color wise for our mobile visitors!
Site identity for Checathlon
Here we can add a logo if we need to. Would have been nice to see a recommended width and height for the logo addition, just so we know what is best for our shiny new site.
We can of course choose to not have a logo and use text instead as well as add in a tag line, although the tag line is not shown in Checathlon. Perhaps it could be a new addition to the theme? Would be nice to have some smaller text underneath to add something sexy!
Lastly is the site icon option, you know the favicon which is shown on mobile users devices if they save a bookmark to their phones, as well as being shown in the little box at the top of browser tabs.
I apologize, you can change the title color!!!
Ok, so I humbly apologize. It would appear you can in fact change the color of the header text! I’m not going to edit the previous text as this review of Checathlon is done in real-time!
I missed this part, in fact by reviewing the theme you begin to put pieces together. By editing the review to gloss over this would not be fair. Suffice to say Sami has stored the site title color in the ‘colors section’.
It was not obvious to me as a consumer, I would have preferred to see it under the colors section. Makes sense to me. Niggle over, now we can move on (sorry Sami, just wasn’t obvious to me!).
I need a hero! (A hero image or indeed a header image)
Sorry bad pun! Anyways, the above option allows you to change the header image, to see what this does see below:
The header image in all it’s glory.
Well as you can see the header image is displayed. It’s nice and full width and eye catching, the only thing is however the image above is shown as a constant throughout the theme.
Sure you can randomize the header to showcase your works and jazz it up a bit etc, etc. It would have been great to see an option on a per post or page basis where you can select and image that is representative of the topic or post content.
Random header images are great don’t get me wrong, but tailoring it to coincide with page content would have been perfect, in my opinion.
A minor niggle? Yes to a degree, however I think it would be a massive boost to the theme itself.
Some of you will no doubt be familiar with the above, as it is found in most WordPress themes that support the WordPress customise section, as is of course the site identity section.
There is quite a few options available to you here, such as image position, and whether you want the background image to scroll with the page. Leave it fixed, make it full screen and more.
Menus in the Checathlon theme
Checathlon has two supported menu areas, now I’m assuming you’re not an idiot and are familiar with how to add menus and such. The two supported locations are in the header, and another menu called social.
The social menu places icons at the footer of the theme itself. I created a menu and called it social and added in a custom link for Facebook see below for the result:
As you can see from the above there is support for a number of different networks. Ok so like Twitter is on their twice, that’s because I added a URL to Twitter and called the link Facebook to see how it pulls the icon in. It does so from the URL not the text itself.
The social links have a nice hover effect to them and fit in well with the general aesthetic of the theme itself.
Widget areas in the Checathlon theme
If you like a widget in a WordPress theme then you’re in luck. Checathlon has a few to choose from that’s for sure. The standard stuff the main sidebar, a widget area after the content area (great for a call to action widget, email sub and such).
As well as before footer widgets, actual footer widgets, a front page widget area and lastly a service and pricing widget area.
Service and pricing widget let’s look at that
So maybe it’s not the best example of content for a widget but you get the general idea. The service and pricing widgets are displayed on the home page itself and offer a strong call to action for a visitor.
You can choose an icon from the 49 available, add header text to name the widget, a description a price and lastly name the button and provide a link for the button to point to. I really like this it’s simple and elegant and presents itself well.
You can add more widgets as I have:
You will see that the last widget has a paragraph. Now you can choose to automatically paragraphs if you wish. How does the above look on a smaller screen? Maybe like a tablet?
They do look rather nice, I think sometimes plain is best. That sounds like a derogatory remark against Foxland. It’s not meant as one, just less is more, in Checathlons case it’s more.
Footer widgets and before footer widgets
I’m going to kill two birds with one stone here. Take a look a the image below first:
Now the above has three before footer widget areas enabled. I’ve chosen an icon from the following section:
The above is shown obviously before the footer. So if you don’t want to show service and pricing widgets you can add some text here via a text based widget. Add marry it up to the icon in question.
Me personally? I’d like the flexibility of not showing an icon in this section. Mainly due to the fact it limits me to a degree. If I wanted to put an image in a before footer widget or whatever I fancy I’m stuck with an icon that I don’t really want or need.
It’s just a little addition that I think would benefit the theme itself, sure it’s a small addition but I think it needs it. Hey that’s just me.
Anyway back to this image:
You see at the bottom, where you have the site title stating Checathlon Demo? Well the site tagline does actually get added to the site if you add it via the Customise screen in WordPress. Would have been nice to have an option to have it at the top instead or both in fairness.
You will also see the two search boxes I have added as widgets. I know they are the same it’s just to show you the reader how the footer widgets work ok? So as you can see it looks rather good with two widgets to the right.
Before footer widgets do remain constant throughout all pages
Static front page & additional CSS
These options are the staple of the WordPress Customizer so no need for an image. You can choose a static front page from a drop down menu or indeed add additional CSS to make small changes. As ever big changes will see you needing to create a child theme.
Page templates in Checathlon
There is no page template for the main home page itself as mentioned elsewhere in this review. There are however 4 page templates available to you. They are as follows:
Team Page Template
This is an about the team section, this content is shown at the top of the page. Then members of your team are shown below. This page uses the Team Page template, in a grid format. All you have to do is add child pages to this page and they will show below the page content.
You can add a featured image to the team members page and it will be displayed as above. You can also set the job title using the following code:
<p class=”job-title”>Creative Director</p>
This simple code added in the text editor (not the visual editor) adds in a nice job title under the team members name. Again page content will be shown here, or you can in fact use the excerpt section on the team members page to make it punchy.
Just remember to add the job title code to show like the above image.
Featured Page Template
This actually functions in the same way as your home page. As I have mentioned before, this is done by the widgets available, it’ so if you want a specific page to be featured it will show the following:
- Page content
- Service & pricing widgets
- Highlighted pages (obviously of your choosing)
- As well as the before footer widgets
- Front page widget area
- Blog posts
Obviously again as I have mentioned elsewhere, you can elect show or hide sections. Whatever you do here in terms of hiding sections etc will also affect the static front page as well.
Pricing Page Template
This page template will show the content of the page and underneath your service and pricing widgets. Which is handy if you decide to make another page and go more in depth on what you as an individual or business offer.
Account Page Template
This one did nothing for me in fairness, I did go through the theme documentation and the it finally twigged. This page is for those of you who want to show an account page for Easy Digital Downloads.
Checathlon offers full support for Easy Digital Downloads and using the shortcode supplied to show account details from EDD and setting the page template as Account we get the following:
Checathlons Blog Page
The above is where your blog posts will live. I love the look of it, it’s simple and elegant. The one thing I would say is that it would be great if we could have a sidebar here to get users attention with widgets and such.
Checathlon has a great widget for service and pricing and it’s a shame that they cannot be show, I found no way of changing the layout of the above to include a sidebar.
Whilst I understand this is not an option in the theme, it would be great to have it there as an option for those who like a sidebar on their blog archive page.
Portfolios with JetPack & Custom Content Portfolio
Checathlon also integrates quite nicely with JetPack, the JetPack suite has an option to add portfolios as a custom content type. I installed JetPack and created a portfolio piece as below:
Portfolios when using JetPack will be held on the ‘portfolio’ portion of the URL itself. See below for the archive of the portfolio page:
That’s if you want to use the Jetpack porfolio plugin. If you do not want to or don’t like the idea in general you don’t have to use it. You can in fact use a plugin called Custom Content Portfolio available here. This plugin is completely free and compatible with Checathlon to boot.
Once I installed it and had a tinker with it you can see the difference. The plugin allows you to add website details of the portfolio piece a description how long it took to complete and more. See below for an example:
Looks better right? I think so, if I had to choose which one to go with, either Jetpack or the Custom Content Portfolio plugin I think it’s obvious which one I would choose.
Testimonials In Checathlon
Yes Jetpack is here to help with this if you want to take advantage of it’s custom content post types. This functions in the same way as using Jetpack for portfolios. Take a look at the screenshot from the Foxland Checathlon demo below:
Looks rather good, nice and clear with salient points from more than happy customers! Again if you do not want this functionality then you can of course avoid activating it from the Jetpack settings page.
Easy Digital Downloads & Checathlon theme
As you may have noted I mentioned that Checathlon makes use of Easy Digital Downloads. For the uninitiated EDD (Easy Digital Downloads) is an eCommerce platform that helps you sell digital products.
Checathlon offers full support for EDD, and upon activating the plugin from the WordPress admin you end up with some new additions in the WordPress customizer.
I’ve actually added in a link in my custom checkout page to redirect them to the main downloads area. I like the ability to customize this page and add in useful info!
The downloads featured area title let’s you change the title under a single product listing. Make it catchy and underneath your single product will be other products of interest. They will only show up on EDD product pages so as not to conflict with anything else.
Review thoughts on Checathlon WordPress theme
I’ve really enjoyed my time testing the Checathlon theme, it’s simple nature means it’s great for first timers to WordPress to use and get up and running in no time.
It’s lightweight in terms of loading and to get decent results in terms of page content and such is really easy. It has plenty of functionality right out of the box, the free version obviously has limitations in terms of theme settings.
You can however still achieve decent results without the need of purchasing the Checathlon plus plugin. Which I might add is different to a lot of other freemium themes on the market.
If you choose to opt for the Checathlon Plus plugin this is €75.00. Which I believe having tested the theme in-depth is a relatively small amount of money to get your website up and running and looking good.
What I like about the Checathlon theme
- I love the simplicity of it.
- Great looking design right out of the box.
- Easy to use, I mean really easy.
- Plenty of functionality in the free version
- Checathlon Plus plugin adds a nice level of customization to the theme itself
What I don’t like about the Checathlon theme
This is usually where I would put something that really grinds my gears about the theme itself. Well I have to say nothing has irked me as far as Checathlon is concerned.
Recommendations for Checathlon
As I test as in-depth as I can with themes / plugins I did notice a couple of areas for improvement. As a consumer these are just a couple of things I noticed and are in no way damaging to the theme.
Just would be great if:
- You could set header images on a per page basis.
- Ability to turn of before widget icons.
- Sidebar for blog archives template being able to choose one or hide it.
The above might sound a little pathetic to some, however I believe they would be welcome additions to what is in my opinion a fantastic WordPress theme.
Checathlon WordPress Theme Review
- Functionality - 9/109/10
- Design - 9/109/10
- Ease of use - 10/1010/10
Checathlon Theme Review Verdict
Quite frankly an awesome WordPress theme. The work Foxland / Sami have done on this quite something. As I've stated before it's very easy to use and has plenty of options for customization.
Whether you decide to go for the free version or extend it's functionality with the Checathlon Plus plugin, you are sure to have a great looking functional website with either option you choose.
Would I recommend you downloading the Checathlon theme? Yes for sure.