Well, this WordPress theme review is all about the Paperback theme. It’s a new theme by Array Themes and it caught my eye as Sell With WP started using it on their own website. As ever I’m always keen to get my hands on goodies and I approached Mike @ Array and he very kindly sent me over a review copy.
The usual info: This review was conducted using the latest version of WordPress and has no plugins installed on the site. It’s on a live URL and this review is carried out as is.
Good, that’s out of the way let us continue with my review of the Paperback theme.
Installing the Paperback WordPress theme
As part of my review process, I always like to start with installation. I have had emails from people (just leave a comment why don’t you!) stating they like the in-depth route I take and the refreshingly honest opinions (read stark) I do go give. By installing the theme and letting you know how it goes you get a better overview of whether it’s right for your needs and such.
The zip of the theme is really light in fact it came in at 1.07MB which compared to some themes I have reviewed or played with is incredibly lightweight. What’s in this zip, what devilry could it contain to be so small? Anyways once installed we get the below snapshot:
Well, the image above is a little cut off granted but the minute you activate the theme you are greeted by a rather sleekly designed getting started section. I kind of get the impression this could be a bit of beauty of a theme. Just by taking a look at the getting started guide.
The guide itself takes you through everything that you need to get going, from the installation of demo data (via a handy download link on the setup page itself) right through to the installation of Jetpack to make it look like the demo.
The theme is installed and as I mentioned all the theme install info is housed in the backend of the WordPress admin. I navigated away by accident, however, I found it again by checking the appearance menu and clicking the ‘Getting Started’ addition. Told you this was a real world install. Boom.
Next, we will be going through step by step and following the Paperbacks theme guide verbatim.
I nicked this image directly from the backend help guide as it’s a better illustration of what we are going to go through. Anyways I’m going to read through the getting started section, bear with me. Grrr. (sorry)
License Key activation
Activation of a license key sees your Typekit fonts activated and gives you access to once click theme updates.
Thus ensuring your copy of the Paperback theme is always the freshest and correct version available. I’m not going to do that as I don’t really need to for this review. But as a consumer of this theme, it’s very handy to have!
Installing Jetpack for Paperback
Now Jetpack (like it or loathe it) needs to be installed for this theme to function as it does in the demo. You don’t have to install it if you do not wish to, however, you will be missing out on the following a carousel, contact forms, infinite scroll and lastly tiled galleries. So I am now going to go and install Jetpack for the purposes of this review. Back in a tic.
Jetpack is now installed as per the theme guide I need to now install and activate the following: carousel, contact form, infinite scroll, tiled galleries.
Well, the contact form one was already activated upon installing and signing into WordPress, so I just activated the other three and bobs your uncle. All done for now. Took me roughly 3 minutes, that’s what I like, no complex theme options panels with a bazillion different things I have to tick before I can get going! All good so far.
Next up: installing the demo data via the link provided in the theme guide panel.
Installing demo data for Paperback theme
The theme guide does give us a link to download. It’s an XML document which is used by the WordPress importer plugin. In order to set up the site as it should be I have installed the plugin via the admin and am now ready to import the XML file provided by Array.
*Problem: Not the theme creators fault at all, my import kept timing out due to the memory function of my install. A quick google search threw up the following to be added to my wp-config.php
/** Memory Limit */
The above rectified the matter and worth noting if you have purchased the theme itself or indeed want to buy the theme and come across this problem when importing demo data. I think this may well be web hosting provider dependent, it worked for me though.
The above shows some of the data that has been imported, we have new post content along with categories and tags and of course imagery all provided by the XML import. There was some page content imported as well, just didn’t upload the pic 😉
Right that’s Jetpack sorted and the demo data installed, whats next? Image preparation that’s what.
Preparing your images for Paperback
Ok, I’m assuming the demo import media is all good to go so I don’t really need to do anything with the media files as such. However, if you already had images on your site and you’re not going down the demo data install route then you can simply get a plugin called regenerate thumbnails.
This plugin will ensure all your imagery on your current install is displayed correctly and fits in with the Paperback theme.
Menu locations and assigning them.
Ok, so Paperback supports a number of different menus and options. Namely a mega menu which is a rather nice feature indeed. We need to assign the menus to there corresponding places and ensure the site is exactly the same as the demo.
The theme supports four menu locations and which are as follows: Primary menu, secondary menu, footer menu and social menu. The demo data install actually installs five menus (more on that later).
I’m not doing this ass way round, however, the social menu is where you can add links to your various social media accounts. This will be displayed in the top right of your theme with smashing icons depicting the networks in question.
Here you can enter the full URL to your social media account by pasting in the social media URL the Paperback theme automatically displays the correct icon to for the link. Paste in a Facebook URL it changes the icon to Facebook and such.
Currently, the social menu supports the following networks and icons: Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Dribbble, Github, Flickr, Codepen, Behance, Dropbox, Pinterest, Reddit, Soundcloud, Spotify, WordPress, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, RSS, and Email. (straight from the theme guide)
So you’re more than covered if you’re a sociable beast 😉
Now the other menus the demo import created are a secondary menu (which goes at the top) the footer menu (yup you guessed where that goes) and a primary menu. You could choose to put the Primary menu in the primary menu slot in the menu back-end screen if you so wished. What about this other menu you speak of??
Onwards to the mega menu then shall we?
Now, this is what drew me to the Paperback theme, that and it’s general styling. I think this is a rather natty feature and one that I could see a lot of people using.
The above shows the other menu from the demo import, this will end up being our mega menu as in the theme demo itself. To get a clearer idea on how this functions take a look at the theme demo here or see the short video below.
This video is available in the theme guide itself (I hope Array doesn’t mind me pinching their video and showing you!)
As you can see from the handy video this functionality is quite awesome indeed. The only thing I found as a visitor to my test site was that the menu required a click to activate the mega menu. It would have been nice to have the ability to hover and it loads as well. A minor quibble, in fairness.
What you will have to remember to do to get this to work is to visit the native theme customizer (yup no complex theme panel for this puppy) to ensure you activate this option.
Which leads me next on to Paperback theme customization
Setting the color options and more via theme customizer
As mentioned on the previous page, Paperback supports the native customizer built into WordPress. Those familiar with this will know this does make things very easy indeed.
From here we can configure a number of different things such as theme options, site title (standard), colors, menus, widgets etc. So let’s take a look at the theme options panel first.
Theme options for Paperback
When clicking on theme options we are greeted with two more entries, they are namely general settings and featured posts slider. Let’s look at general settings:
Post Layout. From here you can select a layout for your blog posts. Choose from: 1 column + sidebar a two column grid + sidebar and lastly a 3 column grid with no sidebar. It’s worth noting whatever you elect from here will be applied to all post archives and the home page.
Category Mega menu: If you remember elsewhere in this review of Paperback you do need to activate this to get the functionality to work. So if you ever find yourself thinking “my mega menu doesn’t work in Paperback” and before you ask a support question just remember to activate it here!!
Fixed Scroll Bar: Now this is something I haven’t touched on as yet. However, if you check out the theme demo you will see what I mean. This scrollbar will show up once you have been down the site and then scroll back up again. Voila, it will appear to see the demo to see what I mean here.
Comment Section: this is pretty cool, you can enable a click to show comments or elect to always show them. See the demo for an example.
Now the header of the featured post
Rather than having to embed a shortcode in a post or indeed in a page and such, you can activate or deactivate what Array calls the “Hero Header”. This was in fairness another thing that caught my eye and prompted me to email Array about reviewing the Paperback theme. You see the image above? Now see the image below:
See the difference? Well, quite frankly it’s kind of sexy. I love this, I really do. The minute you activate it and you choose the “Feature Post Category” to display you are greeted with the above.
A well designed and well-executed hero header. Great typography thanks to the Typekit integration and a well laid out featured post. Not only that but you have a selection of other featured posts from the same category all displayed underneath the most recent one!
You can also choose to change the opacity here as well. This option and indeed the size option are both used on single post pages. See below for changes Image, very quickly might I add.
Color changes and tweaks
If you feel inclined you can, of course, make changes to certain aspects of the theme itself from a color point of view. Again this is available in the native customizer so fill your boots. Although in fairness why you would want to when it looks as good as it does out of the box so to speak.
If you wanted to there is a box for some custom CSS built into the native customizer on this section, however as ever anything more than minor adjustments and you’re looking at creating a child theme for Paperback.
Next up, some other features and the review verdict!!!
Other features in Paperback
Did I mention the explore button? Well in the top right corner of the theme is an explore button. By clicking this we are greeted with the below:
When clicked we have a drop down with categories, tags, and archives. But above all else, we have a great looking sidebar with an option to search the entire site or specific categories via a drop-down. Love it!
Related posts look great as well
At the base of a blog post are related posts or posts from the same category. The way they are displayed looks great and gives readers a new way to navigate through your lovingly prepared content.
Posts are displayed very well indeed. With a variety of different ways to shape it. Thankfully this is all supported via classes for an example see below:
So no need for page composers and such, just good old fashioned content creation. Of course, Jetpack is used for image galleries, carousels and such. I can’t show you them in action but the demo can so go take a look at it here.
Paperback theme review
- Cost - 9/109/10
- Features - 8/108/10
- Ease Of Use - 9/109/10
- Design / looks - 9/109/10
Paperback theme verdict
The Paperback WordPress theme is available from Array Themes for $69.00 here. Is it worth the money? Yes most definitely.
A piece of absolute cake to install. The theme install guide is fantastic, the only stumbling block I had was getting the mega menu to work. Instructions were probably there somewhere but I managed to get around it easily enough.
Hardly any. Have to be blunt about it. It's so bloody easy to use, the content is well styled and would fit with any discerning blogger.
Ok so if I had to pick something it would be the menu, it's minor but I quite like being able to hover and take a peek at what's going on.