I’m back with another honest review, this time focusing on themes. I know that even if you are settled on your web hosting and, maybe, you’ve decided to use WordPress (WordPress is my personal preference!), you still need to pick a theme. Why?
A theme is going to make designing your website sooooo much easier! A theme usually includes font styles and sizes, colors, layouts, and maybe even widgets or content blocks to make designing easy. Themes are your friends. A good theme will have some very important parts:
- A good theme will be mobile friendly and will look good on any device. Bonus points if it’s mobile friendly with minimal work on your part.
- A good theme will be easy to customize with its own options. Bonus points if it has it’s own theme options panel.
- A good theme will include layouts that are modern and easy to adapt to your own needs.
- BONUS: A good theme will include a good page builder to make designing your pages easy
- DOUBLE BONUS: The theme will include pre-built pages for a variety of needs, from opt-ins to webinars to homepage content to make setting up marketing campaigns fast and easy.
In this review, I am focusing specifically on Themify’s Ultra theme. So, let’s take a look and see how it stacks up.
What is Themify Ultra?
Mobile is Life
In today’s online world, mobile is life. Being mobile-friendly can determine whether you see sweet success or end up homeless, living in a van down by the river. Seriously, mobile traffic is now larger than desktop traffic and will only continue to increase. Having a site that looks good and still functions on the many phones and tablets out there is extremely important. I can’t stress it enough! So, how does Themify Ultra handle mobile sites?
Generally speaking, Themify Ultra manages to be mobile friendly on most devices. But there are some issues. On my client site, I had to duplicate some sections and designing one section for desktop and one for mobile. Essentially, I had to double my work to make it look good. One example was an embedded video on the homepage. Without my duplicate and redesign method, the video was showing up extremely small. I had it in a 3 column layout to center it on the page on desktop. These columns were not mobile responsive.
Another example was the mobile header. I have a header with a logo, menu, and social icons across the top. I used their very informative blog post to create a custom sticky header. But on mobile, I had issues with the hamburger menu and layout. The custom header, like other sections of the site, actually has 2 versions of the header to allow for mobile responsiveness. And to fix the hamburger menu required a support ticket and custom coding on my part to get it just right.
On my usual review schedule, the mobile-friendliness of this theme gets an OK review. It is generally friendly but requires work, time, and possible help from support to get there.
You Gotta Customize It
I always strongly suggest customizing any theme you use. Don’t just use it out of the box. First, you want your website to fit your branding, including fonts and colors. But you also want the theme to be somewhat unique. In terms of your theme, a good theme will be easy to customize, no matter your skill level. What I mean is, you don’t have to have years of coding experience to customize elements of your theme.
In this area, Themify Ultra truly shines. I mean it. Themify has included their own theme dashboard for all the options. This includes adding custom header code for analytics or your Facebook pixel. You can set a custom 404 page, which is always a good thing. You can set fonts for all your headings, update colors, set your preferred header layout, footer layout, blog archive layout. I mean, the customization is as easy as point and click and save. I can’t help but gush over how easy it was to get all the website defaults set. Seriously, it was a-maz-ing! *insert inappropriate sounds*
In terms of theme customization, Themify Ultra gets a good rating! They even get the bonus points for having their own customization dashboard for all their options.
What's in a Layout?
Moving on to the next item on our list, I want to talk about layouts. There are two meanings to this in terms of website design. The first meaning is the basic framework of your site. This would include the header, whether your pages have a sidebar or not, and the footer. It is very, very basic. The second has to do with the different sections included in a page, such as an a page title, a slider, or an opt-in. For this part of the review, I am focusing only on the first meaning.
Themify Ultra actually does really well with their layout options. You can select from multiple header and footer layouts for your entire site, or even have a different header or footer layout on each page. Or, for landing pages, you can have no headers or footers at all. It definitely gives you a lot of freedom. And if you are wanting something that they don’t offer, well, you can follow that blog post I mentioned earlier and create your own custom header using their hook content feature.
The header includes several options for the type of header you want: video, slider, image, color, and more. My client site uses a video header with text and an image overlaid. It looks nice and adds pizzazz. I also only have the video header on the homepage. The other pages have just a menu.
You can pick where you want the sidebar, and the single posts have cool layouts like the new split layout. And the blog post layout comes with its variety of options for a layout, from a masonry grid to a slider.
In terms of basic layout, Themify Ultra gets a good rating. You have plenty of options that are easy to select and go. Unless you get into a custom header, you generally shouldn't have to touch a single line of code.
BONUS: All I Do is Build, Build, Build, No Matter What
OK, I save this as a bonus point because a lot of themes do not include a page builder. Some aren’t even compatible with the current page builders out there. But a theme that includes a page builder ensures full compatibility. You won’t have to worry about the theme breaking the page builder or vice versa.
Themify does indeed come with their own unique page builder, which is included when you purchase the theme. This thing is slick, with plenty of content block options and each block is fully customizable. You can do your building in the back-end of WordPress, seeing it as blocks set within rows and columns. OR you can do all your page building on the front-end, seeing how your changes will look in real time!
The page builder generally works without lag or issues. I’ve never had it freeze up on me.
The only issue is, sometimes a row’s background won’t show up when the page builder is open. I can go check the settings and see the image is there, but when I save it the background is missing. Usually, this is a signal to me that the theme or builder has an update. Update: a recent improvement to their page builder has eliminated this issue!
BONUS POINTS: Yes!
Overall, Themify Ultra does get bonus points for having their own compatible and easy-to-use page builder. They also have several page builder add-ons, which are included when you purchase the theme.
DOUBLE BONUS: My Layout Brings All the Boys to the Yard
This final section is really just icing on the cake. Any theme that gives you predesigned layouts for a variety of pages (the second kind of layouts I mentioned above) is worth its weight in spam. Spammity Spam Spam at that.
Themify does deliver on this as well. You can go into Themify Builder, select a layout you like, and load it in seconds. And that means you’ll get to spend more time on crafting amazing content that will build trust and gain attention. These layouts are pretty incredible. I’ve played around with a few of them and found I only really needed to change maybe the colors and fonts to fit the brand. Add in the text and it was good to go.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
DOUBLE BONUS POINTS: Yes!
So, Themify Ultra definitely gains double bonus points on this one as well. Seriously, Ultra boasts over 60+ pre-designed layouts included with the theme.
Ready to Buy the Theme?
Themify Ultra + Page Builder is $49 for a one-year Standard License and includes:
12 Bonus Builder Addons
60+ Pre-designed Layouts
Smart Layout Options
And More . . .
Disclosure: The link in this box is an affiliate link. What this means is that, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission from that purchase. It in no way affects my review in any way.Buy Themify Ultra
Despite Themify Ultra and accompanying Page Builder hitting several good marks in this review, I am still hesitant to recommend them outright. Every time a new update is ready for my client’s site, I usually notice that there is a new update when parts of the site break or backgrounds disappear. Last December, they pushed an update that left many Themify users with issues with their site design. A lot of the “fixes” involved people having to add custom code to the WordPress CSS editor to get sites back to what they were. I personally moved my site to another theme and page builder to simply avoid the possibility that an update would be problematic. No one wants to spend precious time to fix a site every time the theme updates. And this is frustrating for someone who has years of experience with coding and debugging sites. I simply am not sure that I want to put someone who doesn’t know code through this kind of helpless frustration.
Update: I have continued to look at Themify, test them out, and see how things improve over the last few months. I am happy to say they do listen to their users. First, issues with updates have been fixed. They have released a separate plugin to handle all their updates for themes and plugins. This should also mean not having the site break every time. I still need to test out a few things, so my overall rating won’t change right now. As I test the theme, I’ll update this post.
Final Overall Review: OK
There have been updates and Themify seems to be doing all they can to fix the issues I've noticed with their theme. Once I have had a chance to do further testing, I'll update this rating if things are improved.