Having recently been in touch with ColorLabs asking for a theme to review (I am nothing if not direct) they very kindly have allowed me to look into the Responive Backbone WordPress Framework, well that was nice of them. Well as always I am quite thorough so lets kick this off then…
INSTALLING BACKBONE RESPONSIVE WORDPRESS THEME FRAMEWORK
Zipped up and ready to install, installation is very easy upload and activate and your done. I have to admit, I am a little in love with Backbone already. The first thing that greets us is the below screen after we have installed of course.
Well the above speaks for itself, but what you can’t see is the rather beautiful effect of dragging in elements from the left menu and then changing them around. First up I decided to have a play with general settings, just because I like to muck around and try and break things.
General settings gives us the ability select various settings for our blog, from using a logo as the blog title instead of text, upload a logo, allowing of comments on posts/pages, both neither etc. Also options for pagination, displaying breadcrumbs and more.
I have to say it’s very intuitive so far, I’m not just saying that BTW, but genuinely it’s pretty smooth. From my brief play so far this WordPress Framework would be ideal for noobs.
Backbone has a wealth of options available via it’s incredibly easy to understand interface. Each section is very straight forward almost guiding you through them in itself, from adding social media platforms, share buttons in posts , thumbnail settings and more.
LETS TAKE A LOOK AT THE FEATURES
The Open Graph setting allows to you to dictate what Facebook will display for your blog should people want to share it on Facebook, here we can enable or disable, allocate an image, enter our admin data.
Subscribe setting, allows us to enter in our feedburner URL and select whether or not we wish to display it etc.
Thumbnail settings, by dragging this into the blank space we are presented with a wealth of options. Such as the below:
As you can see we have choices on using the WordPress featured image as a post thumbnail, setting the dimensions, resize thumbs dynamically, thumbs in RSS. So post images are covered very well indeed.
The analytic section allows to enter in Google analytics, Go Squared, Feedburner URL and Feedburner comments URL as well. So yet another plugin is saved from being used, so far so good!
Footer settings, this gives us the option to add in a custom affiliate link should we want to in our footer, as well as entering your own custom footer content at the very base of the site, instead of powered by WordPress etc, nice feature as a lot of themes you have to tinker around with them and locate where they are to change them, so again a nice touch.
Post settings, we can tick to enable the author box on a post page, as well as whether to display related posts on a post page, although I have to say I am not sure how it will get the info for related posts, I am assuming from post tags. Assuming mind you.
Magazine template settings, I am as I mentioned earlier really starting to love this theme. This section sees us selecting from a wealth of options for things such as a feature slider (in built), giving our featured slider a name, selecting whether we want to display post excerpts in it, slider tags so our posts automatically get entered into it. Adjust the height of the slider, manually change the height of slider, how many posts can be selected to be displayed at any given time.
All this as well as featured categories, featured posts, featured image dimensions (manually change it), exclude specific categories via post ID (numerical value). A normal posts section, how many posts to display here, normal post dimensions, image alignment, size of normal post excerpt, all this and what the layout will be. Whether it’s full width, sidebar right or side bar left.
Portfolio settings, yes you read it right, the Backbone WordPress Framework also supports portfolio functionality. Here we can select whether to enable it, give it a description as well as setting a contact page for our portfolio page, from a drop down list of your pages.
Photoblog settings, well not much to choose from but suffice to say on/off!
Business Template Settings, here we can choose elements for our business template, such as slider and slider categories for the slider, sections for the business such as defining pages to link to from the home page, contact details and more.
Ad settings, another useful tool, this allows us to select ad code to put at the top of a post or at the top of the theme with boxes to input adsense code or any code in fairness that is ad related.
SEO SETTINGS FOR BACKBONE WORDPRESS THEME FRAMEWORK
Another section here, this will enable you to select whether you wish to enable the theme Framework inbuilt SEO options, such as setting page title, keywords and more, all this is done by custom fields in your blog post. Worth noting though you can switch them off and use All in one SEO, HeadSpace SEO or the very popular WordPress SEO by Yoast.
SEO settings are relatively simple, personally I like to go with a none quantity plugin such as the aforementioned, mainly due to the fact if you ever want to change your theme and not use the framework you would still retain your SEO work, which as we all know can take time etc, would be a shame to lose it so to speak.
LAYOUT SETTINGS FOR THE BACKBONE WORDPRESS FRAMEWORK
This section gives us 8 options they are thus:
- General styling: this enables you to select colors for links on hover etc for your blog as well as selecting a background image, border colors, custom CSS etc.
- General Typography: choose the font style for your H1, H2, H3 and so on as well as the size, bold itallic etc
- Layout: choose the main default layout of your site, full width, right sidebar, left sidebar, double sidebar and more. Also we can select how many footer widgets we wish to show.
- Header Styling: similar in functionality to the general styling section, this option allows to restrict color selection and more purely to the header area, upload a background image etc.
- Post Styling: This option gives us a range of selections to make from post title font, post text font style, comments background color and a whole lot more.
- Navigation Styling: This section covers our menu at the top of the site, here we can select colors for hover, border styles, rounded corners and more.
So that takes care of the wealth of options in terms of the Backbone theme framework settings what about posts and pages themselves? I for one like to have the flexibility of choosing different page or post styles on an as and when basis. Thankfully Backbone delivers on this score.
ADJUST LAYOUT STYLES FOR YOUR WORDPRESS POSTS
As you will see from the image above or indeed if you purchase this theme we have a number of options for layout on a per post basis. These range from full width post, right sidebar post, left sidebar post, double right sidebar, left and right sidebar post, and double left post sidebar post.
Whenever I have an idea for a blog I like to segment posts via layout, this framework would be ideal for a couple of site ideas I have different post layouts for posts. Thinking about doing a round up post of the 100 best cross stitch designs but want full width imagery to highlight the stunning designs, then select the full width layout, the list goes on.
Would have been nice to: Although this functionality is great, it would have been nice to have the ability to create a custom widget section for each individual post layout, this I believe would be a killer function. Perhaps in a new update?
This layout selection applies to pages as well, but here we have the option of using predefined templates, such as the blog template, business template, contact form template, magazine templae, photoblog template, portfolio template, or indeed sitemap template.
Each template is configurable from the backbone settings page, and we can adjust a wealth of options.
Our shiny WordPress admin bar also has two new additions, well three actually. We now have a portfolios menu, photoblogs menu, and the general settings for Backbone. The portfolios & photoblogs menus allow us to create categories for each respective section, along with the creation of new portfolio posts and photoblog posts. So if your after a theme to showcase your web design work, patchwork designs, corporate products etc, this theme is ideal.
Of course you do not have to use either of these but if you have great imagery (are a photographer) or a visual based company you may well want to take advantage of these.
Its a relatively simple affair to create a home page for your photoblog, from pages select the photoblog template, add some categories and of course some photoblog posts and your away. The same principal can be applied for the portfolios option, blog template, magazine template etc.
PHOTOBLOG SETTINGS ON BACKBONE
Photoblog settings for Backbone are very easy, simply select an image to upload (or copy a URL from your already uploaded media) or select not to show anything, or embed, embed allows you to add a video embed code to be displayed. Choose whether to crop the image alignment from center, bottom, left, right or top. Add text as you would do with any standard post then select your photoblog category and voila a new photoblog post has been added.
PORTFOLIO SETTINGS IN BACKBONE
Portfolio section, first of all you will need to create some portfolio types, think Websites, Video, Artwork etc. Think of them of categories. Once you have added the relevant imagery you have some field boxes to fill in such as year, designer, developer, producer etc. These will then be displayed on your portfolio page template. All portfolio items are show in a grid style format with light box support. Along with an AJAX loading more button to load more of your works.
Would have been nice to: It would have been nice to be able to rename the fields for portfolio posts, probably possible via some tweaking, for me it would have been nice to be able to do this as standard, but hey nothings perfect.
WHAT ABOUT SHORTCODES?
Yup Backbone supports them, via a useful addition to your WYSIWYG editor, simply clicking on the new addition we can add shortcodes for:
- Buttons: we can add a button change the color the link it points to and more, clicking on this shortcode generator will bring up a preview box so you can see your button before you add it. (V.useful)
- Icon Link: add in a custom image link for an icon add a url for it and more. Preview box supported!
- Info Box: need to alert someone to some content? No problem view preview of your info box, custom image url supported select border width and more.
- Typography: Add a dropcap, custom typography, abbreviation, highlight text and more
- Content Toggle: add a toggle box to display more info decide whether to show it open or closed as standard, preview supported.
- Related Posts: Show related posts by tag, select thumbsize and how many to display
- Contact form: add a contact form to a post with this code, select the subject and embed.
- Column Layout: select the amount of columns to display on the page/post from one to 6
- Tab Layout: add more content restricted to clickable tabs to highlight functions or features of a topic etc
- List Generator: add an ordered or unordered list to the page/post
- Dividers: add a flat divider, horizontal rule etc
- Social Buttons: add a twitter tweet, linkedin share, Google Plus button, twitter follow button and more.
Would have been nice to: Contact form some CAPTCHA support would have been nice to eliminate spam, especially if your post is popular. A minor niggle.
The above shortcodes are a great addition and offer a wealth of opportunity for layouts of posts or indeed pages, giving your blog a real unique feel.
WHAT ABOUT PAGE TEMPLATES?
Well glad you asked see below for some snapshots of how they look to get a feel of what is possible.
Backbone Business Template
Backbone Magazine Template
Backbone Portfolio Template
RESPONSIVE WORDPRESS THEME FRAMEWORK
Also worth noting this theme framework is responsive, so it will scale to fit various devices such as iPhone, iPad and various other devices, an excellent feature and one these days is being requested more and more. It does all of this without the need of a plugin etc. Another string to it’s all ready heavy bow!
MY VERDICT ON BACKBONE WORDPRESS THEME FRAMEWORK
Well this framework certainly is intuitive to say the least. Love the dashboard and the simple drag and drop method, simple yet feature rich. This framework in a noobs hands or indeed in someone who is experienced could product some really beautiful sites, with smooth process of navigation for the end user. Ideal for beginners and with more advanced options such as custom CSS options and more the more experienced of you could use this framework and product some real quality websites.
Any niggles? Have to say not really, apart from the bold highlighted ‘would have been nice too’s’ there really isn’t an awful lot this theme cannot do. I thoroughly recommend it anyone looking for a strong foundation on creating a range of WordPress powered websites, you really could not go wrong with the Backbone Theme Framework.
Backbone also has a couple child themes available as well called Vidio a Video Blogging theme built off of Backbone as well as Sakura a Business Theme built off of Backbone.
Do I think it’s worth it? Yes most definitely, $79 or $159 for a framework that could help you make more money by designing client sites, with an easy to use framework and like I said if you have the skills you could make some really unique and beautiful designs.
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