Welcome to another WordPress theme review here on WPin. This time around we have another theme from the talented people at PixelGrade. The theme I will be reviewing is called PILE 2 it’s a cutting edge portfolio theme for showcasing your creative works.
If you’re a regular reader of WPin.me you will have seen a review of another theme by PixelGrade called Rosa a restaurant focused WordPress theme, having reviewed the theme earlier this month I had high expectations for the PILE 2 WordPress theme. Let’s get started then.
PILE 2 WordPress Theme review info
As ever I have a clean installation of WordPress 4.5 with no other plugins, pages or posts or any other content. I always like to ensure I have a clean canvas when reviewing WordPress themes and plugins.
About The PILE 2 WordPress theme or should I call it Pile2?
The PILE 2 WordPress theme was initially launched in October 2014, with strong sales in the region of 1.3k+ and an average review rating of 4.83 on ThemeForest it certainly seems to be doing very well for itself.
Why the review of PILE 2 now? Well PILE 2 has now become Pile 2, it’s had a substantial update and now has a new way to showcase your work. Let’s see how this puppy gets on then, shall we?
Installing Pile 2 WordPress theme
As with all my reviews, I always like to start at the very beginning. I truly believe it’s the way to get a review done. If I have any problems installing etc. what would be the point of glossing over the issues for a misleading theme review? Exactly, unlike other WordPress focused blogs, I tell it like it is.
A piece of cake installing, just uploaded the theme via the zip file (FTP if you wish) and we have the PILE 2 WordPress theme ready to rock and roll so to speak. What happens when we activate it?
Well, we’re prompted to install a number of plugins, in the same way, the Rosa WordPress theme I reviewed this month does. The theme requires Customify and PixTypes. Whereas the recommendations are recommended only.
For the purposes of this review of the PILE 2 WordPress theme I am going to install everything as it should be to ensure there are no hiccups along the way. Well, a couple of minutes late all plugins are installed and ready to go. Couldn’t resist taking a sneak peek at the site once the theme and the plugins were installed see below:
Nothing to look at at the moment granted. What we need is content! Now I kind of know how PixelGrade does things with there WordPress themes, all the functionality of the PILE 2 theme is in the native WordPress customizer. So it’s a quick click on the appearance menu in the WordPress backend and hit customize.
Installing demo data for PILE 2 WordPress theme
As I mentioned everything is in the WP customizer with the theme options panel and clear calls to action for specific areas of the theme itself. Theme options, layout, colors, fonts, blog and the standard stuff from WordPress.
We’re going to take a look at the theme options for PILE 2. It’s here we will find our demo data content at the moment the site is pretty empty so we need content people!
After we have navigated to theme options there is a host of other options we can take a look at. We won’t be going over these just yet, as there’s no point tinkering with settings when there is nothing on our WordPress portfolio website! I’m going to hit the import demo data button and see what happens.
Thankfully the PILE 2 theme keeps us abreast of what is happening. Letting me know that depending on what host you are using and their set up it can take between 1 –3 minutes.
Well, I can tell you it took 1 minute 20 seconds. I’m with Heart Internet for my web hosting and they’re usually pretty good with decent speeds and such. Demo data all installed now what? Let’s take a look at the website, shall we?
Well as you can see from the above we now have content. It all looks very swish indeed, although the text is hard to see on the hero image being white and the image being quite light in itself. However, these are minor teething points and can easily be rectified via some adjustments using the theme options in the WP customizer.
The most important thing is we have content that we can play around with so let’s get started then, shall we?
Theme options for PILE 2 2 WordPress theme
You will note I will probably refer to PILE 2 as PILE 2 or PPILE 2 2. Apologies for that, however, I am unsure as to the full official theme name at the moment! Anyways let’s take a look at the theme options panel for Pile or Pile 2.
We’re going to go through everything here so you know what you can expect if you purchase the PILE 2 theme from Themeforest.
First up you can select a logo and upload it to your portfolio.
The second option sees you adding a logo for the transparent hero area. Which is handy if you have bright imagery and such.
PILE 2 actually has a pre-loader animation when flicking between pages, it’s here you can choose something that stands out.
Don’t want AJAX loading in between navigation? Switch it off in the next set.
Right-click protection, this is pretty sweet. Not only can you prevent the right click save image functionality of browsers you can show a message if someone decides to do such a thing!
Lastly, what you don’t see in the image to the left is the option to change the footer section.
Lastly, we have options to view the site in desktop, tablet, and mobile views to make sure everyone looks the way it should an all devices available. Which is very handy for getting your content just right is important.
Next up is the hero area, it’s here you can choose whether or not to show the scroll down arrows after the hero header.
On or off, nice and simple.
Social Sharing options for the PILE 2 2 theme
Especially if you’re website is your creative showcase! PILE 2 actually uses AddThis to handle social sharing.
Through the on-screen prompts in this section you can select which services to show, enable AddThis analytics and tracking as well as adding in your AddThis username.
Other options include AddThis Google analytics tracking and an entry (not visible in screenshot) to add in your Google Analytics property ID as well as enabling Analytics social tracking.
Analytics fans rejoice as PILE 2 has a stack of options you can enable or disable.
Not a fan of AddThis? Then, of course, you could use the social sharing functionality of a WordPress plugin or why not use the incredibly popular JetPack plugin to do it for you.
Regardless it’s good to have options on this front and PILE 2 does not disappoint.
Layout Options For PILE 2 2 WordPress theme
Purists would argue with you, however, if you’re not a coder PILE 2 has this down to a tee for you.
Change the logo height, the header height, choose whether to have the header with the full browser or set to content width.
Header sides spacing can be adjusted here you can increase or decrease to your heart’s content.
Another cool feature is the header position, you can choose to have it static or sticky (follows you as you navigate down).
Want more space between your menu items? Yup adjust accordingly.
Navigation style standard or Hamburger style. If you choose Hamburger style you’ll get the standard Hamburger icon of three lines. It looks sure looks clean and works well.
Don’t like the icon? Perhaps you want to add text plus the icon?
Or maybe you just want some text instead of the Hamburger icon?
You can do all of the above via the WP customizer all in real-time might I add!
Customizing colors via PILE 2 theme options
General deals with things like accent color, text color and headings color via three color picker boxes.
Header deals with the header menu background color, header menu text content color. There is also a box to tick if you want a transparent header while in the heading area.
Lastly there is a box to choose the content color if you elect for a transparent header.
Content deals with the general background of the content color after the hero area and sliders etc. If you want you can even upload an image and choose whether to repeat it and more.
Footer has the same sort of options as the general settings but with options for background, text color and credits color (copyright section).
Lastly, we have an option similar in approach to the general and footer settings. Although this section is for the portfolio archive. It deals with items color, items background color. The opacity can for the background be set here as well as the border size for portfolio items.
Font options real-time updates in the PILE 2 theme
Thanks to the real-time nature of the WordPress customizer PixelGrade make good use of it.
Here we can change fonts and get a real-time impression of how they look within our portfolio site. No constant refreshing and previewing in another tab.
It’s all here for you, you can choose heading fonts, choose the size of them.
As well as change the description fonts, change the navigation font select the boldness the text-transform (uppercase, lowercase, capitalize) as well as choose the size of the font and the spacing between the letters.
Lastly, we have options for the body font, the body font size, and the line height. The beauty again of these options is we get a real-world instant view of the text changes.
So for the non-techies out there they can tinker around without getting to grips with code and still achieve some quite remarkable results.
Blog options for PILE 2 WordPress theme
Thankfully PILE 2 does, it has options for showing social sharing buttons in posts to increase engagement. Choose whether or not to show comment avatars or comment numbers.
For the archive itself, you can do a number of things: choose the read more text, make it more alluring for readers.
Choose the excerpt length (simply choose a number of characters to show.
You can even choose whether you would like to display the date in your blog archives/category archives.
All you have to do is type ‘0’ to disable or enter the number ‘1’ to enable it.
The blog archive layout itself is rather pretty to say the least. Don’t worry we’ll get on to that soon!
The last entries for the PILE 2 WordPress theme in the customizer deal with CSS, the site identity, menus, widgets and lastly choosing the static front page.
These are all standard options so I won’t bore you with the details on them. Most of you will already know what they all do.
Getting to grips with content in the PILE 2 theme
If you’ve taken a look at the demo on Themeforest already, you will already know that the PILE 2 theme is rather beautiful.
However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for me if I can’t create easily and have to jump through a thousand hoops to make changes I lose interest. You’re probably the same, right?
Page content is handled rather simply, in fact, see below for an image of the home page in the back end of WordPress:
As you will see from the above image the text in the center of the page editing screen is what is outputted in the below image:
The hero slider output and the rest of the page are made up via some fancy UX see below for how the slider works or the slider for the hero image:
The hero content for the home slider is just underneath the page editing screen. It’s here we can set a color background for the hero slider using the widget in the sidebar, set the opacity and add a video if we wanted instead of an image as a background.
We can choose from different hero area heights such as full height (will show the arrow down if you have chosen to enable this function) or chose from two thirds and lastly half height.
We can also adjust the content alignment of our hero section using the directional box. It’s here you can tweak and make sure you’re hero content get’s the look it deserves.
The next section deals with the output of the content below your page edit. Or your previous works. See below:
The content above is dealt with nicely from another section in the page editing screen this is called the featured project’s options see below:
This section gives us the option of highlighting specific works on our front page. The first section selected projects deal with adding more slides of content to the hero section.
Simply start to type the project you wish to show and it will be added to the hero slider itself.
The next box deals with the option to exclude specific posts from the worklist output. So imagine you have 3 projects in the slider and don’t want to duplicate them in the project output section.
All you have to do is type in the name of the posts and add them in to prevent duplicate content. You can change the name of the view project button as well as deciding how many projects to show on the page itself.
Like infinite scroll? Or prefer standard nav such as previous or next? Simply choose the option to suit the pagination style.
If you want the hero slider to autoplay you can choose this option, if you enable it you will be given an option to enter in a delay in milliseconds simply change to suit.
The PILE 2 theme projects & page builder
Creative projects in the PILE 2 WordPress theme looking quite stunning. With fancy image effects and more. So ever keen to see how it works I loaded up a projects page from the demo import contents.
As you can see from the above there are plenty of different styles available for showcasing your creative endeavors in an eye-catching way.
Welcome to the drag & drop
Fans of drag and drop editing will be happy. Others that hate drag and drop avert thy eyes. PILE 2 uses a drag and drop editor on its custom post type of projects.
Simply click add image and an image box will appear for you to add in one of your creative piece’s.
Clicking on add image or indeed text allows you to adjust the box in terms of length and size. Adjust it in terms of moving it above or below previous content.
You can also adjust the alignment of the content as well, choose from top, right bottom and left. The gif above does a nice job of explaining the fact you can have multi-levels of content either images or text and align them as you see fit.
The hero header section is back again. You know the interface for that I’ve mentioned it previously. Also, there is a custom CSS styles box which allows you to add in some additional styling if you know your way around CSS that is.
You can also use the page builder on pages themselves all you have to do is select page builder from the page attributes section on a page.
Projects look beautiful in PILE 2
It’s true, the output of the projects drag and drop editor looks quite beautiful. The way things move up into view upon scroll the layout (which you can control) the focus is purely on portfolio content.
It looks gorgeous. It really does.
PILE 2 is WooCommerce compatible
Pile does support WooCommerce. You will note from the image above that on the far right there is an icon for the WooCommerce cart.
As I’m keen to test everything with a theme I installed WooCommerce and it worked as it should out of the box with no dramas. In fact, the product page looks rather lovely as well!
Blog page content in Pile
The blog archive page looks nice with each one of the categories output under the blog page title. A simple click on the text will navigate to the category of your choice.
PILE 2 shortcode support
PILE 2 also has a range of shortcodes you can use in a page or post itself. You can choose columns and then adjust the number of columns and how many via a slider. Add in buttons, icons, tabs a separator and a slider. Great for showing off a quote or an image on blog post or page.
WPIN DISCLAIMER – PAID FOR REVIEW
This review of the PILE 2 WordPress theme was a paid for. That being said, the review was published before submitting to the theme creator for approval. All my findings are my own opinions.
For an overall verdict please read the pro and cons to the PILE 2 WordPress theme at the base of this review. If you are interested in me reviewing your WordPress theme or indeed plugin please use the contact form here.
PILE 2 WordPress Theme Review
- Functionality - 9/109/10
- Ease Of Use - 9/109/10
- Style - 9/109/10
PILE 2 WordPress Theme Verdict
I have to say PILE was a joy to use. It’s relatively simple to create something of note and well worth playing with. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself messing around with the settings and what not.
If you’re a photographer or an artist who likes a minimal approach to design, then the PILE WordPress theme is right up your street.
The PILE WordPress theme is available on Themeforest for $225.00 - I thoroughly recommend you take a look at the demo of the theme now you know what to expect in the back end 🙂
Easy to use for newbies and pros
Minimal effort can create beautiful results
Nice intuitive drag & drop builder for projects
Supports WooCommerce & WPML
Reliance on the page builder when switching to another theme means projects & page content will be lost or garbled
Lack of a sidebar – I understand the theme is meant to be stark but all blog posts are full width with no room for a sidebar
Same for WooCommerce products no sidebar option