At Yellow Cat Design we use a many different approaches to web development depending on the requirements. This can range from completely bespoke hand coded sites using a custom built CMS to those that are built using themes as a framework. The beauty of using a theme such as those that Themify develop is that if chosen carefully you can find one that matches your designs without having to compromise on your creative vision. The time that this saves on custom development means that we are able to offer uniquely designed websites of the highest quality for a fraction of the usual price.
In this instance we used the Stack theme as it was pretty much identical to the wireframes that we had already sketched for the site. The metro style tile layout was perfect for our client and we had identified right at our initial briefing meeting that this approach would suit the aims and content of the site.
Initial installation was simple enough, we just logged into the Themify members area to download the theme files. These were then uploaded to our WordPress installation and were ready to use straight away. A neat feature is the ability to import the demo content so that you can get a feel for how the theme works and what features are available. However, as we were simply using Stack as a framework and intended to customise it fully we didn’t take up this option.
Pages can quickly be constructed using the Themify drag & drop tool that is simple enough for novices to use but flexible enough to give designers plenty of control over the page layout. With options from 1 to 6 column layouts as well as asymmetric layouts and a huge range of modules we found that every layout we had designed could be easily recreated. Whilst the drag & drop tool is great and one of the best we’ve used there’s still room for improvements. For example it would be helpful if there was the option to give modules a title for easy identification because when you have multiple copies of the same module with different content it can get a bit confusing (see example).
One way around this issue is to switch to the front end editing mode which allows you navigate the page itself and simply click on the element you want to edit. This is a really good feature and is perfect for any clients who don’t want to be messing about with html or anything too complicated but is probably a little too basic for creating more complex layouts that we require.
The only other feature that I could recommend would be the ability to save a page layout to be re-used elsewhere on the site. For example, once you’ve spent a while with the drag & drop tool creating something like a complex case study layout it would be useful to be able save this to re-load the case study template for future case studies. You can do this using the “Builder Layouts” section but we couldn’t find an option to create reusable layouts from pages you’ve already built – this could be a small but useful feature to add.
The website that we built using Stack is still under development but we are pleased with initial results. We have needed to make a few CSS changes to get the layout to suit our needs because of the way the tiles scale on mobile devices but the support has been very good as our first question was answered in good time. The customise menu also provides a wide range of options for adjusting the site without delving directly into the CSS and although this can still be a little fiddly to do it provides yet another level of customisation which is really important to the way we work. We still have some work to do to iron out a few styling issues at the time of writing this but initial feedback has been very good.
Overall we would recommend the Stack theme because of it’s distinctive layout which coupled with the drag & drop tool gives you a complex responsive site that can be easily edited by an end user with no coding experience whatsoever. In places it’s not the most polished theme that we’ve ever used and it requires a far bit of tweaking to get it to work the way you want it to but this is more than offset by the other features and the price. As a new member of Themify (this is our first theme) then the Stack theme has certainly persuaded us that should our designs require us to use Themify in the future we would have no hesitation.