Explorable Theme review

home 1
The full screen live Google Maps banner looks absolutely stunning, and because it is fully integrated with the Maps API, it offers full Google Maps functionality

Explorable takes a simple idea and runs with it. By embedding full integration with Google Maps into the design, Explorable keeps its focus as a theme tight, bringing various elements of the standard ElegantThemes design templates to bear in a beautiful, highly functional and elegantly realised whole. While ElegantThemes can’t take credit for the wonder that is Google Maps, Explorable shows how a talented designer can use its API to make a website that will impress visitors visually, while providing information in an easy to access and intuitively presented way.

Resident Designer’s Opinion

Explorable’s use of Google Maps not only looks great, and gives the design a very swish feel thanks to all the clever things you can do Google Maps, but works because the map elements tie in nicely with the overall website design. Travel agents and adventure writers will have a field day with this theme, marking fully explorable (right down to street view) locations on the map, which can be seamlessly linked to relevant blog posts and image galleries. User locations can be easily sorted and filtered, while the preview box on the main map screen allows visitors to browse locations and intuitively explore the content as they wish.

The rest of the design is fairly standard ElagantThemes fare, but this is as usual no bad thing, as it looks great and compliments the Maps functionality perfectly. The default black and grey color scheme is nicely offset by flashes of bright blue, which makes everything look smart and cheerful rather than the sober it might otherwise have been, and unlike with some other ElegantThemes themes the alternative Customizer color schemes work well. I like it.

Highlights

map 1 As we noted above, the full-width Home page banner is also a fully featured instance of Google Maps. You can zoom in, zoom out, and scroll to see the entire planet. Website owners can set location markers, which when clicked on show an onscreen preview of an associated blog page article with an image and details about that location. Location markers are red, while the active marker show is blue. Here you can see us dragging the Street View marker to a location in Arizona.

strret view
And here is a lovely full page Street View image, which is of course fully functional (i.e. you can look around 360 degrees, and travel along the road using the cursor keys)

maps lists sort
Locations can found using the Listings dropdown menu…

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…or sorted through using the flexible filter controls

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This makes it easy to find just the location you want

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There is also a locations List View, so users are never short of ways to home in on the content they want

contact
In addition to Google Maps functionality, Explorable provides all the bits and bobs a website owner needs to deliver a polished browsing experience. Here the Contact Form, while using the standard ElegantThemes template, looks very stylish and professional. The full screen banner header is partly responsible for this

sitemap
The Sitemap similarly shows that Explorable can cover the basics with aplomb. There are also Advanced Search and Login Page templates

Basic customisation can be performed through the Theme Customizer flyout, which lets you change color scheme, font colors, and fonts. Unlike some other ElegantThemes designs, which are clearly only really intended to work with the default color scheme, changing the color scheme in Explorable works well

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The design can be further customized using the full ElegantThemes suite of shortcodes, which as other designs in the rage amply demonstrate, can be used to add all manner of functionality, and with some imagination can look very striking. The full list of shortcode categories is Button Varieties, Content Boxes, Toggled Content, Tabbed Content, Image Slider, Easy Tooltips Social Media, Password Protect your Content, Author Info, Column Layouts, Custom Icon Lists, Corporate Lists, Corporate Pricing Tables, funky DropCaps effects, and Quotes

Blog features

ElegantThemes’ standard blogging features integrate well into the Google Maps functionality, providing an intuitive and good looking browsing experience.

 blog map

Jumping directly from a preview window on the main map page takes you to beautifully presented Blog /info page showing both its geographical marker, and an appropriate image. There is plenty of room to write text, and the sidebar both looks good and makes website navigation a breeze. Note the space for a custom text widget, which allows to you insert a shortcode of your choice

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The Blog ‘history’ or ‘list’ view is standard ElegantThemes fare, but no less striking for that

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The double image – banner plus blog picture, helps breathe new life into the standard blog template

comments
As usual the ElegantThemes comments section looks good, and we like how users can individualise their posts with photos or avatar pictures

Portfolio and Image Gallery layout

Explorable uses the standard ElegantThemes Image Gallery and Portfolio (Small, Medium, Large, With Sidebar and No Text) templates. If you are familiar with ElegantThemes then you will have seen these before, but this shouldn’t detract from the fact that they look great and do their job well. The Portfolio templates allow the inclusion of multimedia content and (usually) a small text caption, but are otherwise very similar to the Image Gallery.

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The portfolio pages look great, and allows you to jump directly to a related Blog article, or expand an image for a closer look

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As always with ElegantThemes portfolio, the close-up image view looks great, and we like the animation that accompanies it

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We prefer the rollover effect in the Image Gallery, but otherwise (aside from the text captions) it is very similar to the Portfolio pages

Features

  • Google Maps Integration
  • Filterable Listings Search
  • Perpetual Updates
  • Responsive Design
  • Visitor ratings system
  • Theme Options
  • Secure and Valid Code
  • Unlimited Colors
  • Shortcodes (see above for full list)
  • Page Template
  • Complete Localization
  • Browser Compatibility
  • Theme Options
  • Page Templates

Price

With full (and well realized) Google Maps integration, we feel that Explorable is one of the best ‘travel themes’ we have come across. If you are looking for a snazzy looking and wonderfully functional travel related website then the $39 asking price is low just for Explorable on its own, never mind that fact that you get another 86 themes thrown in (some of which are excellent). It is very difficult faulting the bargain that the ElegantThemes pack brings at the worst of times, but with Explorable we have another theme that is worth the price of admission all on its own.

Conclusion

If you have any reason (or can think of any reason!) to include full Google Maps functionality into your website, then Explorable is a must. It is, it is true, something of a one-trick horse, but it does its trick slickly, beautifully and with panache. The various elements of the usual ElegantThemes templates work smoothly and intuitively with Google Maps to provide a fantastic user experience that really shows off just how flexible the core ElegantThemes design really is, while Google Maps itself is of course as impressive as ever. We love it!

2013 Blogrid