It’s been a while since I’ve added any content to WPin, so I thought I’d kick off with a review of the Writer WordPress theme. Join me as I go in-depth and tell it like it is. Actually, I will add I purchased this theme from MyThemeShop a couple of months ago.
So I thought why not get back into things with a review of something I purchased!
About the Writer WordPress theme
The Writer theme is built by the people over at MyThemeShop, it’s specifically geared towards those who favor the written word, you know journalists, authors and alike. It’s a simple WordPress theme at heart and is might I add very easy to use.
Those of you looking for a multi-purpose WordPress theme look elsewhere, those of you looking for something easy to use, with a focus on content, read on.
Installation of Writer Theme
I’ve installed the Writer theme via the zip file and added it via the WordPress admin. Once it’s installed you will be prompted to install some plugins. Now, this is important: You do not have to install them, they are merely recommended, they are not essential to your install.
You do not have to install them, despite them being listed as essential. However, the first one the updater would be useful to you, as this updates the theme as and when new versions appear.
WP Review, this is the free version of the premium plugin WP Review Pro. You can install it if you wish, again it’s not essential. WP Shortcode, this plugin deals with shortcodes for buttons, columns and more.
Again not essential, however, you can install (it’s free) and have a play around with it. Lastly the WP Tab Widget, this adds an AJAX-enabled sidebar widget to help users flick through your content. Worth noting this is the free version of WP Tab Widget Pro!
The next tab along is for recommended plugins available from MyThemeShop, I’ll be honest, I’m not going to cover them as this review would read like war and peace. No one want’s that, plus my fingers may well end up hurting.
Writer theme options
Theme Options for Writer WordPress theme. Well, the above is what you will see when you navigate to the appearance menu in the WP backend. It’s here this section lies, and it’s here we can tinker around with our website.
Here we can add a logo for our website, a favicon, a touch icon for mobile devices, a metro icon plus more. In fact, to add the whole image detailing what’s in the general settings tab would take up loads of room. So I will list them as follows below:
You can add your Feedburner URL, there’s a box for adding header code (think Google Analytics, verification etc). A footer code box, again for things like GA or other scripts like live chat and such.
There’s an option for pagination type as well, choose from Next / Previous, Default (Numbered 1 2 3 4…), AJAX (Load More Button) and
AJAX (Auto Infinite Scroll).
We have a box for responsiveness, allowing you to turn it on or off. Can’t see why you would want it off! The option is there for you, however.
Other options include the right to left language support and lastly the number of products you wish to show. Yes, the Writer WordPress theme is WooCommerce compatible!
Writer Theme Performance Settings
A useful section indeed. Here we can set up our performance choices, that will help your website run a little quicker. Of course nothing beats a decent caching plugin, however these few small change options can help. Again this is a big section but I will cover it below:
Prefetching: Enable or disable prefetching. If the user is on the homepage, then the single page will load faster and if user is on a single page, the homepage will load faster in modern browsers. (this was actually lifted directly from the description for it, why sum it up when it’s already done!).
Lazy Load: This option only loads images when the user scrolls down the page, that way it’s less server load, and speeds up the process for the user viewing your blog etc.
Under this section are options for lazy load featured images and lazy load post content images. Refer to the above explanation for deets.
Optimize WooCommerce Scripts: As I mentioned the Writer theme is WooCommerce compatible. By enabling this option it will ensure that WooCommerce scripts only ever load on WooCommerce pages and products. Thus helping to speed up your website.
Use Cache: The last prompt is just a recommendation to use a caching plugin, the Writer theme recommends using W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
Styling Options For Writer Theme
It’s here you can choose a general color scheme for your install. As well as choosing a Sidebar position, either right or left. See below for the site background options:
Site backgrounds, it’s here you can either have a background comprising of a solid color, choose a pattern from the available ones on show, upload your very own image, or if you prefer choose a gradient.
Adding your own image gives you options for:
Background Repeat: Default, No Repeat, Repeat Horizontally, Repeat Vertically
Background Attachment: Default, Fixed, Scroll
Background Position: Left top, Left Center, Left Bottom, Center top and more
By choosing a gradient the box will expand to show a start color and of course and end color. You can choose from horizontal or vertical directions for the gradients.
Lastly, you can choose whether or not you would like the background to work on a parallax basis, so if you have a background image the image would stay in place as the user scrolls down your website.
Custom CSS: There’s a box for you to enter in some custom CSS if you wish, however, to make wholesale changes go with a child theme, much easier if you are drastically changing the look and feel.
Lightbox: Lastly there is an option to show a lightbox when users click on an image, this, in turn, renders a popup effect with the larger image on view.
Header Options In Writer Theme
This is where you can tinker with the header of the website to get it just right. You can choose to show the navigation above your logo or below, whether you want the menu to follow the user down the page as they read and whether or not you wish to show the Primary navigation menu.
Other options are as follows:
Show header search form: Choose whether or not to show a search form in the header, simple on or off.
Header background: Identical in settings to the site background already covered above.
Navigation background: Again identical to the site background options.
Show logo: Simple on or off for this option.
Header Text: This option is your strapline see top right of my site. It’s here you can use simple HTML to bold a point or make it italic etc.
I’m not going to bore you with another screenshot of this. Options are:
Footer widgets: On or off. If turned on you can choose from 3 widgets or 4 widgets.
Footer widget background: Same as background settings.
Copyright background: Same as background settings.
Copyright text: This will be shown on the bottom right of the website, it supports HTML and can be used to stress a point or a corporate message etc.
This section actually deals with your home page funnily enough. In order to make use of the above options panel, you will need to create a page and choose the home page template for the admin bar on the right.
Then head on over to Settings > Reading and choose your newly created page as your homepage. Then revisit the above section.
Don’t worry I’m going to break all this down for you.
The homepage layout manager lets you choose sections you want to display on your homepage. It’s here you can add an intro section and more.
You can drag and drop to enable or disable whatever section you want to. So if you only want the intro section and maybe the blog section you can pick and choose to fit your needs here.
Another menu actually drops in when you click on home page layout manager the below is on offer as available options to you:
This section deals with the content directly under the primary navigation. Here you can choose your background color, pattern or image (same settings as the background settings) for your intro section.
You can also add an intro section title, choose the color of the text as well as an add in a subheading, again you can choose the color of this text as well.
Lastly, you can add in an image, so if you’re not too keen on the bearded smiling gentleman you can, in fact, swap it out and tinker with the above settings to get it all looking how you need it to.
Featured On Section
This section is the next entry in the homepage layout settings. It outputs as above. However, you can make changes such as:
Background color for the featured section: (choose from color picker box)
Featured on section heading: Something sexy to attract attention can be entered here.
Featured on section heading color: Choose a color from color picker box for heading color.
Featured on items:
Each subsequent section can be set up via widget box, here you can give it a title, upload a logo image, add a quote and lastly choose the color of the quote text color. You can delete and add to your hearts content.
Here you can add some about text and image. You have a view options available to you to choose from. See below for what this section will look like:
This section sees you adding an image (shown on the left) and some text. When adding text, you need to remember to add an opening and ending paragraph tag:
Opening paragraph tag <p>
Closing paragraph tag </p>
Other options available are Background settings similar to ones already outlined in above review. Plus you can give this section a heading, choose the color of the text for the heading and lastly change the color of the about text.
This section actually does require the WP Subscribe plugin. You don’t have to have this section you understand. However if you would like to show a subscription box you will need to install the plugin add in the relevant details.
Then allocate it to the widget entitled Home Subscribe Widget. As per previous layout sections, you can, in fact, change the background color (same settings with patterns, your own image etc) and lastly change the color of the text show.
There are in fact more sections, there is another about section so you can add something punchy to your website/business.
There is also another subscription box for you to fill in with the WP Subscribe plugin, this section and the about us 2 section is filled in by using the standard options and settings already outlined earlier in the review.
The last section allows you to add content from your blog, you can change the background color as we have come to expect with the Writer theme as well as adding some header text to highlight the section.
Writer theme blog settings
The Writer WordPress theme has a number of options when it comes to your blog layout. It is worth stating that you cannot have both layouts enabled, i.e. it’s either the homepage layout or indeed the blog page layout as the main home page. The below is an overview of the blog homepage settings.
The blog settings page deals with the front end display of your blog.
Blog slider: Here you can choose to show recent articles in a slider format on the archive page of your blog, you can also nominate specific categories should you desire.
There is more to this section, again a screenshot would be massive so I will do this via text 😉
The number of posts: This is a box with a numerical value in it you can choose how many posts you would like to show in the slider.
Slider post meta info: This section allows the enabling or disabling of meta sections within the slider itself. Choose from showing or hiding the author image, the author name and lastly the date.
Custom slider: This is a useful feature and one I can see myself using as well.
It works on a similar basis as the other settings. Here you can name the title of the slider, upload a specific image to be shown and lastly add in a URL to point the slide too. You can, in fact, keep on adding custom sliders to your heart’s content. Although you don’t want to put off a shed load of them.
Featured categories: The next section deals with featured categories, in a similar vein as other settings it’s just a case clicking on a drop down, choosing a category, the number of posts and choosing a thumbnail size for the section.
As well as the above you can add another featured category section, then allocate a different category and change the post count etc.
Lastly in the blog section is the Home page post meta info, here you can drag and drop, author name, author image, and date.
Single post settings for Writer theme
Settings here are very similar to others, which is good personally speaking. It let’s you get comfortable with the theme itself and flows nicely, nice continuity.
It’s here you can (via drag and drop) set the order of the post layout. Choices are post content, author box, related articles and lastly tags. Simply drag and drop the order you wish your posts to have.
Next, up meta info, drag and drop, author name, author image, and date. Breadcrumbs, you can choose to enable or indeed disable, as well as choosing to highlight author comments and lastly whether or not you wish to show the date in comments.
Social media settings for Writer
Another nice feature is the social media settings for Writer. Here you can choose to show buttons above content, below or whether or not you would like to float them. If you choose to float the buttons will be displayed on the left.
Choose whether you would like social media buttons on pages, as well as the buttons themselves. Here you can enable or disable which buttons you would like to show in your posts/pages.
Simply drag and drop your preferred networks and you’re good to go. If you do not wish to show any and would like to disable them, then simply move all networks to the disabled box.
Ad Management settings
The Writer WordPress theme comes with a couple of ad sections for you to monetize your blog / business. The slots are:
Below post title: This allows you to add in Adsense code or any advertising code you wish, it will (obviously) display under the post title itself.
Below post content: The same as the above except below the post content itself.
Also worth noting, there are two additional numerical value boxes under each of the above. They are titled “Show After X Days” this allows you enter in the number of days you wish to show the ad itself. You can always set this to “0” thus disabling the time schedule.
A rather cool feature with the Writer theme and a majority of MyThemeShop themes is the ability to add custom sidebars and attribute them on a per post or page basis.
Not only that but you can apply a specific custom sidebar to an archive, single pages, posts and more. The settings above relate to side wide settings. However in the post/page editor, you can select from showing a sidebar or indeed showing a specific one you have created.
Great for highlighting and optimizing your post or page with relevant information pertaining to the topic/content at hand.
There is an entry in the MyThemeShop admin panel for navigation, however, Writer and all of the other MyThemeShop themes use the native WordPress navigation settings. If it ain’t broke why try to fix it, right?
This section deals with typography settings for the site title, navigation, H1, H2 and more. You can choose from a wealth of fonts available and set the boldness text size and change the color. The nice thing about this is you can preview the fonts you choose to see if they are in keeping with your overall aesthetic.
There’s also support for Character sets such as Latin, Cyrillic and more.
Import / Export in other words getting started
Another useful feature, this time it’s the initial setup (if you’re not confident following the above) you can always elect to import theme settings. If you go down this route you will have three options available to you as per the above image.
Import theme options, import theme options, and widgets, import theme options, widgets, and content. Very self-explanatory, for some, this may well be the way to go if you’re not au fait with WP or indeed have issues setting up a website.
It’s a useful feature, and gets your website looking exactly like the demo(s) themselves!
There are other options here, such as the ability to export your theme options (if you’d like to use them on another website). A great feature.
Child theme for Writer WordPress theme
What if you want to make lots of changes to your theme? Go crazy and what not! Well, that would require a child theme of Writer itself. Now no doubt some of you will be scratching your heads on this one.
Worry not see below:
The above is found on the import/export section. All you have to do is name your child theme, hit create child theme then navigate to themes in the WordPress backend and enable your newly titled child theme.
It’s that easy, then you can make changes to the CSS and Functions.php (which incidentally) are the two files housed in your theme, so play around and get your site looking the way you need it too!
Lastly, there’s a support section where your environment is listed, by this I mean your server settings, WordPress version details, plugin information and theme settings are all listed in a dialog box. Here you can cut and paste details and send them to support if you need help.
This will help the support team deal with any errors and quickly resolve issues if you have any of course. Great feature, I’ve not used it yet!