Essenza – Responsive Grid Portfolio Theme

Product by:
Peter Zaborszky
Price:
45

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On October 30, 2013
Last modified:November 6, 2013

Summary:

ess1

Featuring an understated yet stylish palette, and an interface that feels as slick as it looks, Essenza – Responsive Grid Portfolio oozes sophistication and technical competence. It doesn’t include a Shop, but since this is clearly not what the Theme is aiming for, we can hardly criticise it for that. More seriously, the Gallery options did not impress us as much as the rest of the Theme, but perhaps this says more about how great the overall design is than about the Gallery’s themselves, which are perfectly functional. Overall we think this is a great theme, and one that is perfectly suited to multimedia and visual content presentation. Unfortunately, issues regarding how the Theme is intended to be viewed limit its appeal.

Resident Designer’s Opinion

I really liked this theme in general – it felt classy to me, and was smooth and intuitive to use. I do have issues regarding orientation however – some views clearly benefit from being viewed in landscape (such as Showreel), others in portrait (such as individual blogs). This would not be a problem when viewed using a tablet or suchlike as you can simply change the way you hold the device, , but can be a bit jarring on a desktop (or laptop) computer. Although a minor point as it can be simply ignored, I also hated the ‘Windows 8’ blog style, and thought it completely out of place with the rest of the theme. On the other hand, I absolutely loved the slideshow effect in Slider, which is a fantastic show-off your content.

Highlights

One of Essenza’s biggest strengths is that it is ‘perfectly responsive’ This is beautifully illustrated in its Slider view, where you can drag and ‘flick’ between pages. Ideally suited for touchscreen use, this is intutive way to navigate your WordPress site, and it impressed us with how fluid and, yes, responsive operation felt, especially when you consider that high resolution images were being used. If left to their own devices, the screens will enter a slidshow, changing screens and  panning in and out in a way that reminds us of OSX’s beautiful screensaver effect.

slider 1
Showreel allows you to display full page, high resolution videos. While the power of your computer and speed of your internet connection must be a factor, we were again impressed with how smooth everything felt.

showreel

Clearly designed as a blogging and multimedia platform, there are four kinds of Blog page available:

blog 1
The regular blog looks good but is very wasteful when it comes to screen real estate when viewed in portrait mode (such as on our PC monitor)

blog 2
Featuring the same stylish design, but more desktop friendly, we like the Masonry Blog

blog 3
Fans of Windows 8 (and Windows Mobile OS) will love the ‘flat tile’ design of the Mosaic Blog, but we are not so sure

blog 4
The Single Post view looks good, but we are again concerned that it appears designed mainly for mobile devices, viewed in portrait orientation. We do however like the sidebar option, which lets you add material tangential to the main article

Shop Layout

As we noted, the Essenza Theme is all about presenting multimedia and written content in a stylish way. As such, it does not include a Shop option.

Portfolio / Gallery Style

Image presentation however, is an area you would expect Essenza to excel in, and here we were a little disappointed. There is nothing wrong with the Gallery Styles, and they are functional enough, but they lack some of the flair found elsewhere in this Theme.

galleries 1
The Masonry Gallery uses the same tiled image look as the front page, but without the moving cursor effect. It is attractive, and clicked-on images display nicely in the foreground, but perhaps is not as visually striking as the rest of the design

gallery 2a
The Squared Gallery is essentially a static grid – functional but definitely lacking a certain wow factor

gallery 3
Grid view is very similar. As with all the Gallery views, you can filter what is displayed

Features

  • iOS7 compatible
  • WordPress 3.7 tested and approved
  • Minimal and versatile design perfect for every portfolio
  • Perfectly responsive
  • Retina ready (crisp images on any resolution)
  • Insane custom fullscreen slider
  • Light and dark versiondemo data import
  • Massive admin with template customizer, pagebuilder, custom visual slider builder and unlimited possibilities
  • Built with HTML5 and CSS3
  • Smooth scrolling enabled
  • Sticky header with integrated search
  • Dynamic image loading, the right size for the right resolution
  • Thorough social integration (Vimeo, Youtube, DailyMotion, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, SoundCloud, Instagram, Flickr, Dribbble, Behance, etc.)
  • SEO optimised and easy Google analytics integration
  • Dynamic AJAX pages loading
  • Multilingual, super easy language translation
  • Drag&drop sortable portfolio and galleries
  • Custom Essenza icons and a huge set of FontAwesome icons
  • 600+ Google fonts
  • 3 different blog layouts with 8 different post types
  • Visual shortcode generator with many useful shortcodes
  • Unlimited colors
  • Unique backgrounds and sidebars possible on every page
  • Facebook login for blog comments
  • Developed with WP_DEBUG enabled
  • Supports child themes
  • Thorough documentation
  • Free lifetime updates and support

Pricing

With an overall great look and ‘responsive’ interface, we think that Essenza is perfect if your target audience is likely to be mainly using tablets. However, some work needs to be done before we recommend laying out the $45 asked at the moment, as this is clearly a niche (though growing) audience. Although on the cheaper side of ‘average’, broadening template options to provide more consistent experience across all devices would be essential to fully justify the price. That said, there is much to like about the theme, and if your website is aimed squarely at tablet users (for example it is iPad app review blog), then it could be a perfect choice.

Conclusion

Sophisticated and a pleasure to use, we like Essenza, but do feel that at present you need a tablet to get the best out of it, not just in terms of how screen space is used when considering orientation, but in the whole ‘grid’ concept, which is clearly inspired by Microsoft’s new-look, touch orientated OS. Multimedia content, particularly videos and slideshows, looks fantastic, although less inspiration has gone into the Galleries. Still, bearing in mind that it is best suited to a niche market, there is much to get excited about with Essenza.

2013 Blogrid