Responsive Blog Theme Review, A Premium WordPress Child Theme By CyberChimps.
The Responsive Blog theme by CyberChimps is actually a premium theme for their free theme Responsive. Responsive in itself is a popular theme available on the WordPress repo.
Theme Review Disclaimer:
This review of the Responsive Blog theme is a paid for review, it contains no affiliate links whatsoever. All opinions in this review are my own and at no point was CyberChimps privy to this review content, nor was it edited by CyberChimps.
Reviewing the Responsive Blog WordPress Theme
Right back to the business at hand. As I often mention in my WordPress theme reviews this review of the Responsive Blog theme was conducted on the latest version of WordPress 4.7.3 at the time of writing this article.
I have no other plugins installed, I’m on shared hosting and running PHP 7.
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Let’s get this theme review started then
As usual, you can either install via FTP and your FTP client of choice or you can simply upload via the back-end. I have chosen the back-end upload.
You will, of course, need the free Responsive parent theme installed before you can activate the premium child theme. Otherwise, it will tell you, you need to download the theme install it. A simple notice on the theme screen itself will say parent theme missing install here. Which I did by the way.
Theme activation and prompts
As the Responsive Blog theme comes bundled with a few plugins we are prompted to install them. Also, we have an option above that to go straight to the Theme Options page for Responsive Blog or get help.
Nice to see help isn’t too far away should you need it. I am going to install the plugins recommended for the Responsive Blog theme.
Addon plugins for the Responsive Blog theme
The plugins in question are:
Responsive Add-Ons: Which is available on the WordPress repo, it essentially adds some new functionality to the Responsive theme without having it baked into the theme. It’s a standalone plugin developed specifically for the Responsive free theme and respectively the pro Responsive Blog theme.
iFeature Slider: This plugin adds slides to your install of WP. You can add slides set transition times, add images then use the shortcode generated to embed in posts/pages. It’s free to use and not limited to just CyberChimps themes incidentally.
Slide Deck 3: Another slider plugin, this one has more bells and whistles to it. The Responsive Blog child theme comes complete with a personal license of Slide Deck 3.
Plugins are now installed. Let’s take a look at the theme options for the Responsive Blog theme.
Responsive Blog theme options
Navigating the Responsive Blog theme options section in the WP back-end under appearance throws up the above screen. It’s here where we can go to town and set a number of different options.
Responsive Blog Home Page
Here we can choose to override the standard front page option within WordPress. By doing this there are more options to choose from. Selecting to override will use the Responsive Blog themes custom homepage which comprises of several elements, which are as follows:
Slider section: Here you can enable or disable the slider section, as well as choosing a category to display blog posts from. There is a recommended image size of 1363 x 609 px for featured images for blog posts that display in this section.
You can also choose to disable the effect of the slide as well.
Callout Section: This section deals with a call to action box just under the menu itself, or indeed under the slider (if you choose to show the slider. See below for an example:
Using the theme options we can change the text of the callout, as well as change the button text and lastly the URL of where to send people to once clicked. Don’t want to show it? Simply disable it from the theme options.
Other sections you cannot see in the image are:
Featured Category section:
It’s here that you can set some features for your business/blog the featured image size for blog posts or at least the recommended is 37 px by 30 px. Basically good for icons and such. As well as giving the section a title to make it attractive to visitors.
Here you can showcase images from a blog post category as well as setting a title for the section itself. Perhaps name a category portfolio then create blog posts with a featured image size of 800 x 531 px. The images shown here will be your featured with no text on them till you hover over them. Enable or disable as per your needs.
Create a title to this section and add testimonials to show off how good we are. In the WordPress backend is a Testimonial tab where we can add them in choose a testimonial category to give it an image of 150 x 150 px. These will then be shown as below:
Don’t want testimonials? Well, disable them if you wish or enable.
Recent Posts Section:
Here you can choose to enable to disable recent posts from a specific category as well as naming the section. The output looks like the below:
Theme elements settings
Relatively straightforward. Here you can disable the call to action button, breadcrumbs choose whether to enable minified CSS (speed up page load) enable the blog title and choose a title. As well as displaying some copyright text of your choosing.
I’m not going to show you a screenshot of this as clicking on it takes you to the native WordPress section for a custom header, with a prompt to do it in the live customizer the suggested width is 300 px with a suggested height of 100 px.
Home Page settings:
The next section actually deals with what the Responsive Blog theme calls a “Responsive Front Page”. It’s completely different to overriding the standard home page as mentioned earlier.
As you can see from the above you can add a headline, some content a call to action button a URL box to choose where to send visitors after clicking on your CTA button. As well as some featured content. It looks like the below:
You can see from the above how it all lays out. The bottom three boxes are actually widgets, these can be configured from the widgets section under appearance in the WP backend.
There are no specialized widgets with specific output for this section. My advice? Create a blog post and add content, then copy the content from the text tab and add a text widget and paste the content into. Voila. Job done.
Here you can set the general layout of pages. Choose from default, content / sidebar, sidebar / content, content / sidebar half page, sidebar / content half page and lastly full width page.
These settings will apply to static page layout, single blog post and lastly the blog post index/archive.
Here you can add the URLs to your social media accounts and your RSS feed if you so wish you have to input the full URL to your social media accounts. These in turn get displayed in the copyright footer as below:
CSS Styles & Scripts
These two sections deal with additional CSS (style elements and such) and of course scripts. You can choose to embed scripts like Google Analytics in the header or indeed in the footer then hit save.
This section deals with verification of your website for Google, Bing & Yahoo. For instructions on how to add your website to Google, you could check out this awesome post on how to do it and get indexed within 20 minutes!
That’s it for theme settings. It’s worth noting that a lot of these settings as outlined above can actually be done via the native customizer in WordPress itself see below:
Blog posts in Responsive Blog theme
These function in the same way as all blog posts do, nothing new there. You do however have the ability to select which layout you would like to show on a case by case basis which is quite cool.
Great if you want to separate the layout of specific posts, choose from default, content/sidebar, sidebar/content, content/sidebar half page, sidebar/content half page and lastly full-width page.
Blog post layout for archives
There are in fact three different layouts for the blog index page. You can choose from:
Blog (full posts)
This option will show all of the content from a blog post, whether it’s 10 words or 1000.
Blog Excerpt (magazine layout)
A nice looking clean layout in a magazine style. This option certainly looks the part and functions quite nicely indeed.
Blog Excerpt (summary)
This layout shrinks the length of the post content text on the archive page. This will show an excerpt if you have added an excerpt on the blog post page itself. If not it will take post content.
Page templates for the Responsive Blog theme
There are in fact quite a few page templates for Responsive Blog. It’s here you can actually set the layout for your dedicated blog page as outlined above.
You can also choose from content/sidebar, sidebar/content, content/sidebar half page, sidebar/content half page, full-width page, responsive front page and landing page.
This option is chosen as a page template will load the page content but will not load the menu itself. Which of course could be good for targeted email campaigns, advertising and more. See below for an example:
Useful if you add a contact form and pad the page out with some specific content relevant to a marketing drive and such.
The Responsive Blog WordPress theme has CTA buttons available to utilize via adding some CSS styles, all you have to do is click on the text tab on a page or post (next to the visual tab) and paste in the respective size.
There are four different sizes of buttons as shown below:
Well, CyberChimps has you covered on that as well. By adding 15 different colors for you to choose from, like the button sizes, you will need to paste this into the text editor and revert back to show them on the page itself.
Findings on the Responsive Blog theme
What I like:
- It’s very easy to use, very easy indeed. Up and running really quickly in truth.
- Clean layouts with minimal distraction mean your visitors will focus on your content.
- It’s responsive and renders well on my cell phone and tablet.
What I don’t like:
- I don’t like the fact that everything is blog post related.
By this I mean on the home page with the featured category section, you have to have a post in a specific category which is fine. However, the image size has to be a specific size of 37 px by 30 px I get that as well.
However, when you click on the post title and navigate to the post itself it shows the tiny icon which is the featured image and it just looks silly. I think this section would be better served as page content, as not everyone wants’s their service or solution content displayed in a blog post format.
- Homepage gallery section I do like this and here’s a reason I don’t.
I like it as it fits in well with the overall look of the theme and displays nicely. What I don’t like is the on hover effect it shows post content instead of a post title which makes no sense to me.
- The inability to change colors on the theme itself.
Sure the more tech savvy would be able to do this via some CSS and go to town. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do, however for the average users they are used to seeing a color picker in the native customizer to change colors and such.
- You have to be careful with featured images for the slider section
By this I mean as the text is dark it will not show very well on a dark image, so you might have to do some editing of your photos or add make them show in a different section to counter this.
Yes, they are, easily rectifiable and they shouldn’t put you offer what is a great little WordPress theme. It’s simple and very easy to use and if you’re using the Responsive free theme, you will be at home using this one for sure.
The Responsive Blog Child WordPress Theme
Is available on Cyberchimps website and as it’s a premium WordPress theme it will cost you $67.00 to purchase.
For that $67.00 you get the Responsive Blog child theme as well as the following:
- All 50 Current Themes & Plugins
- 12+ New Themes a year
- Use on unlimited websites forever
- You can cancel anytime – no contract