Since the recent introduction of WordPress 3.8, designers and developers everywhere are scrambling to update their current themes, as well as, create new and exciting themes that are compatible with the new release.
In order for a theme to really be considered a premiere theme, it should meet today’s demanding design specifications and include additional features that are not found in most free themes. These are features such as an abundance of short codes, drag and drop page builders, tons of sliders and numerous mobile technologies such as parallax scrolling, animations, responsive behavior, and retina displays. Popularity with the Windows 8 operating system also introduced the need for more user friendly flat designs.
Keeping up with all of these demands is a tall order for creators and only the most dedicated teams will be successful. It takes a considerable amount of patience, time and money to create premiere themes.
Technology is growing at an exponential rate and new features, add ons and requirements for themes are introduced each day. As a result, themes, technologies and updates are being created on a daily basis. Authors are hoping to cash in on the holidays and introduce their themes at the start of the brand new year. The fact of which is solidified by the number of new releases that have been introduced on Themeforest in the past month alone.
As a reviewer, it is my job to stay on top of all of the newest themes and see which ones have the greatest potential and which ones designers should be on the lookout for in 2014.
I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of the most interesting themes that I have found so far and take this opportunity to wish all my readers “A Happy and Prosperous New Year!”
Live Grid ~ interactive
While most of us were busy opening gifts and celebrating the past few days with family and friends, authors like Mad_Velikorodnov were hard at work adding new themes to the ThemeForest website. Live Grid Responsive Interactive WordPress theme happens to be the most recent of those. Searching for some new themes to experiment with, Live Grid caught my attention because of the large full page homepage grid that at first glance did not seem to have a navigation menu.
In fact it doesn’t ~ well, that is until you click on one of the images and the menu appears ~ pretty cool. I am now intrigued and I have to investigate this theme further. After all, this is what a good theme is supposed to do, grab the viewers attention enough so that they will want to learn more about it.
What I found was a highly interactive and truly unique theme that contains one of the coolest navigations menu systems. Not only is it hidden until you “activate” it, if you look at the picture above, you can see the menu has tiny interactive hover thumbnails for the sub menus adding even more interaction. As a user, I am already entertained and I have not even gone into the theme yet. Well done, so far!
Digging deeper into the theme, I uncover a host of amazing features including password protected portfolios, a masonry grid style blog with a full screen background image, advanced theme options panel, light and dark skin options, 5 different homepages, 5 types of galleries, 2 types of contact pages and cool animations such as a musical transition that sounds like you’re taking a photo every time you change pages.
If Live Grid is the sign of things to come for the new year, then I simply cannot wait to see what 2014 will bring.
Panacea ~ professional
There is no doubt in my mind that if Panacea had been introduced about three weeks ago, it would have made it into the one page corporate themes collections list. It certainly fits the bill, Panacea is a fully responsive bootstrap 3 WordPress single and multi page theme that is best suited for health professionals, but can just as easily be used for a variety of different professional websites.
Clean and professional looking, it has a really nice interactive toggle feature that doubles as an index carding system for small descriptions of medical issues, drug interactions or just about anything else. The design of this toggle feature alone adds a unique look and feel to the theme and is part of its overall charm.
This theme is a “set it and forget it” style, meaning it does not have a huge amount of customizable features, but it does have options such as page layouts, unlimited sidebars, tons of shortcodes, colors and fonts.
If you’re looking for a really nice professional looking theme that does not require a great deal of tinkering with, then this is definitely one to consider. Panacea looks great and has everything that you need for a modern professional website.
Impreza ~ impressive multi purpose
Just when you thought technology could not get any better, Impreza comes along with impressive horizontal parallax background to turn the cyber world upside down with its outstanding WordPress retina responsive theme from UpSolution. Perfect for just any website, you can easily modify the page layouts, styling and colors directly from within the backend, build your own design or use one of the 10 predefined color styles right from the integrated WordPress Admin Panel.
In addition to global options, Impreza allows you to set styling options for each separate element making this a truly customizable and flexible theme.
Its overall design is clean and fresh and has a great deal of interactive elements but what I really like is the full page blog post that actually looks and feels like a classic blog and has a large content area. The small circle thumbnail featured post page is unique and adds a different unique style.
It will be interesting to see if Impreza stands the test of time alongside many other similar type themes. For now, it is holding its own quite nicely.
Online Sale ~ elegant e-commerce
Practically just out of the box, Online Sale delivers a sleek and elegant Responsive WooCommerce Theme that is sure to be a hit in the coming days with online retail shop owners everywhere. This theme is so elegant, even the portfolio image hover impresses as it gently fades in over the category images.
With a simple to use checkout system, you can be selling products online in a manner of minutes with this truly great looking theme or create your own personalized designs using the powerful admin panel and visual short-code generator that comes with it.
Some of its main features include unlimited colors, sidebars, shortcodes, galleries and a pretty impressive classic style widget ready blog.
Oddly named, this theme is best suited for high end product websites such as furniture, interior design, jewelry and fashion.
Envelope ~ creative concept
And then there was envelope!
Envelope is ready made portfolio theme created for the creative mind. It is a personal style WordPress theme suitable for individuals looking to showcase their work in a totally unique and creative way. The design concept is what makes the theme unique and sometimes that is all it takes, an original idea and a great concept. Here, the concept is to simply open the envelope and see what lies hidden inside.
Perfect for a free lance designer wanting to establish a portfolio or create an online resume, the theme is really out of the ordinary and a breathe of fresh air.
The custom pages (including resume page, contact page and portfolio page) literally “pop out” of the envelop as you choose them and the blog resembles a tumblog or timeline style adding an even more unique design. A full screen image background ties it all together and creates a really nicely designed package.
While this theme is definitely not for everyone, it is worth a look if you are a creative individual looking to create a quick, fun and interactive website.
HumbleShop ~ digital genius
Finally, someone did it. Yes, it is true! Thanks to its creators, Humblespace, the new HumbleShop theme is the one and only digital download theme that actually looks like more like a website than a hacker paradise. It is actually so user friendly and inviting, people will want to download a digital product from it. In the past, digital download websites tended to look rather cold and “tekkie like.” This often deterred people from wanting to purchase from these types of websites for fear of getting a little more than you paid for.
HumbleShop is about to change all that with its user friendly, flat modern design and its not a moment too soon.
Complete with the Easy Digital Downloads Plugin, HumbleShop is a bootstrap based framework theme with tons of additional features such as unlimited sliders, google fonts, a highly customizable homepage, google map, three sidebar layout, related products functionality and support for prestashop, opencart and shopify ecommerce.
HumbleShop may be the first of its kind, but I highly doubt it will be the last because in a world where online purchasing competition is high, the demand for better marketing is a priority.
Better marketing begins with user friendly designs that sell products and do not scare away potential buyers.
Dictate ~ Niche Oriented
An all in-one premium WordPress theme, Dictate is a multi-purpose “niche” type theme that can be used for a variety of medical, fashion, spa, entertainment, and general business websites. Utilize the 72 built-in elements and the advanced Visual Composer page builder to modify any of its features or simply use one of the six different themes included to create stylish niche websites.
The theme comes with an amazing array of features including an event management system, timetable manager, mega menu support, unlimited sidebars, unlimited galleries and portfolios, layerslider and so much more it truly begs the question, what is not included in this theme?
While each different niche has its own look, each is equally as clean and professional looking as the other and the posts page is elegant and interactive adding an even more professional look and feel to the theme.
This is one of the themes that I will be on the lookout for because I have no doubt that it will be on the top selling list before long.
Hooray ~ Colorful Blogging
As expected, a colorful classic magazine style blog is what you get with the Hooray WordPress Blog theme from bdayh, but what is totally unexpected is the easy to use review system that is integrated into the blog along with the related posts module and password sidebar options.
These features are not often seen in regular blog themes and it only proves that 2014 is going to be an amazing year when it comes to what we can expect to see included in newly released themes.
Clean and classic the design is loud, proud and user friendly for a great viewing experience. Complete with tons of post formats, color coded categories and larger than life imagery, Hooray is a blogger’s dream come true for an easy to use blogging platform that is social media friendly and highly interactive.
In the social world, nothing else matters but quality shareable content that is entertaining. This theme has it all and a whole lot more!
Deck ~ Bold, White and To the point!
Totally white has never really been my preferred style, but then again I have a friend who is an interior designer and she will argue this very fact.
When I saw this theme, it could literally envision her saying, its bold and beautiful and you do not need anything else to create magnificent designs, you simply add the color build upon it. For those creative type individuals like my friend, who appreciate minimalistic clean design, Deck WordPress theme is definitely a good choice for you.
HandCrafted, this design is totally white, bold and minimalistic but every bit as powerful as any modern theme and comes with a host of different features such as custom menus, custom colors and post formats.
Deck is proving that even minimalistic design is capable of surviving in this modern demanding world.
TieTheKnot ~ Knot like any of the others!
Perhaps in total contrast to many of the themes on the Wedding Collection list, TieTheKnot is the most colorful wedding theme on ThemeForest. It is so colorful, it hardly seems like a wedding theme at all and it certainly breaks away from the every day. Younger couples tend to be moving away from traditional wedding themes and this proves that fact even further.
It seems like there is a paradox when it comes to weddings today, there are those older couples that stick by the traditional wedding celebrations and those who want to move as far away from it as they can. Wedding themes can often reflect this and oddly enough, TieTheKnot seeme to be somewhere in between satisfying both types of design styles.
Complete with features like a date countdown, wedding music player, wishlist, wedding quotes revolver, RSVP, timeline storyline and image placeholders, its easy to see that while the theme may be modern and colorful, it is still able to compete with the more traditional themes.
For couples who want to be a bit more unique and colorful, the TieTheKnot theme is definitely one (err rather two) of a kind!
Where do we go from here?
The answer to this question is anyone’s guess, but if these ten themes are any indication of what is in store for us in terms of WordPress Premium themes, then the sky’s the limit in terms of what we can expect.
It is interesting to note that all of the themes in this list have been introduced to ThemeForest in the past week alone and as you have no doubt noticed, they cover a wide variety of different styles and niches.That is indicative of the new release of WordPress 3.8 .
Over the next few weeks and months we should expect to see a great many new themes and interesting designs being introduced as each author struggles to create updated and compatible designs.
Before purchasing any of the themes on this list you should be cautioned and made aware that because they are relatively new, it is possible that not all the “bugs” have been worked out in each theme and sometimes little issues may arise. It is for this reason that ThemeForest requires all themes to have some form of support and no theme is given a rating score until it has been officially rated by a few different individuals.
As a result, this review is merely an overview of some of the newest themes to come out, rather than a numeric or stared rating.
If you want to purchase any of the themes, feel free to do so, however, like I will always caution you to do, read the documentation and try the demos to make absolute certain the design is what your looking for before you buy.
“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” ― Brad Paisley