Here at Theme.fm apart from creating our own themes, we like to play around with other people’s creations. It’s not just an opportunity to see what others are doing, how they’re rolling out and what kind of features they’re implementing in their themes, but to actually learn from them by reading their code, structure and documentation.
Today we’ve taken the Unspoken premium theme by WPShower which is a magazine and blog theme for WordPress. It was released last month with a couple of updates afterwards. Today Unspoken comes with 7 unique color schemes, a featured slider, customizable home page, widgets, menus, shortcodes and social bookmarking built-in.
After downloading the theme archive and looking at the file structure, we figured that the installation process was as simple as copying the folder over to our themes directory on our WordPress setup, so we didn’t bother to read the documentation, but seems like we were wrong.
After activating the theme and browsing to the home page of our playground website, we saw this:
We did have quite a lot of posts and pages in the installation but the only thing Unspoken seemed to pick up was the popular tags at the bottom of the page. Quite a disappointment for a first impression, right? Of course an experience WordPress user, one who had dealt with more than one premium theme would eventually figure out that it requires setup.
Theme Options & Setup
The good thing we noticed about Unspoken is that it didn’t create any new fuzzy admin page in our Dashboard (gosh we hate those!), instead it placed a Theme Options page right inside the Appearance section, just where an average user would be expecting to see it, perfect! But wait.. Really?
So the guys at WordPress.org have spent endless nights and gallons of coffee to come up with a brilliant Settings API designed to create options and settings pages, perfect for themes and plugins and all you give us is a form with a bunch of divs and table layouts just because it looks cleaner?
Well maybe it does look cleaner, but hey, think about the average developer who would want to build a child theme based on Unspoken, how on earth are we supposed to add our new settings to that Theme Options page? Fine you can keep it this way, but in that case at least give us a couple of action hooks on the options page and the update options function ;)
Other than that, the Theme Options page seems fine — quite a lot of things to play around with and quite self-explanatory settings names. But this still hasn’t made it clear on what happened to our home page and why is it blank. So we went off to see if the Add New Page screen had anything interesting, unlucky!
We read the theme features that said highly customizable home page so we kept looking at where that homepage customization place is hidden so eventually we stumbled upon the Widgets section and there it was! Turns out there’s a registered sidebar called Homepage, so first thing we squeezed in there was the standard Recent Posts widget, sounds fair doesn’t it? But meh!
We did get the list of posts, but nobody bothered to style them accordingly, so we had a bunch of blue and purple links with a completely unreadable font size. Most of the other standard widgets seemed to work the same way, so we figured that we’re only allowed to use the widgets with the WPSHOWER prefix, okay!
Then again, we dropped the recent comments widget, the one with the WPSHOWER prefix and got the blue ugly links again, oh well! Oh and then we dropped in the shower Tabs widget, gave us a blank page again and then one more with an admin-ajax.php fatal error, what a frustration ;) We surrendered at this point.
Color Options & Alternative Layouts
The color options. This, together with the points outlined above made us give up. Completely. We switched the color skin to black and here’s what we see:
Toggled a couple of other color skins, and the blue links persisted, what a mess, right? Well at that point we figured that the theme might not be as bad as it seemed to us, it might be us after all. We didn’t read the documentation, we didn’t watch the videos, we didn’t even open the readme file, but hey. Do you have to do all that just to get your theme working?
Think Twenty Eleven, it might not have all that functionality of a premium theme, but think how obvious it is to work with and you’re up and running in one simple click! Most premium themes are lacking this feature today and so does Unspoken.
Unspoken is a good theme and WPShower is a good company, and their documentation is okay, the videos are fine. It really would have been nice if we didn’t have to read and watch that to get the theme running. We’re all busy people and have no time for that, seriously.
Unspoken is available for $59 and has a demo page too where you can see of what you might have achieved ;) On our scale from 1 to 5, Unspoken is rated at 2. Sorry guys, but we would have given you a 3 if your docs didn’t say Word press instead of WordPress. Twice!
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