At A Glance: #
WhiteHousePro 3 is a commercial theme by PageLines. The theme features a large featured content block, is comprised of a blue, grey, black color scheme, has 9 different sidebars for widgets and has good typography. WhiteHousePro3 costs $77.00.
As per their Terms and Conditions page
All PHP code in our themes are licensed under the GNU general public license (version 2, June 1991 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html). The same as WordPress.
Installation was as easy as uploading the theme zip file from within the theme addition page in the WordPress back end. I’m happy that the days of FTP are over with when it comes to installing a theme.
Configuration And Use: #
After installing WhiteHousePro3, it’s time to go through the configuration process. Unlike some other themes that integrate seamlessly with the existing UI elements of the WordPress back end, WHP3 has their own version. However, their version is not much different from WordPress. One of the nicest touches to the configuration panel is the welcome screen which just gives a synopsis of what you’ll be configuring.
Something else you’ll want to notice before you begin configuring this theme is that each options panel has a button that will backup feature information. That way, if you change a configuration that breaks, you’ll be able to go back to one that works. While this concept of saving options is not new, it’s cool to see it on every page for the sake of not screwing anything up permanently.
Header And Nav – As in many other themes, WHP3 only offers a box where you place the full image URL for the new header. I still think it’s much easier on the user if there was an upload button that uploaded the header image into the media library of WordPress. As for the navigation options, you can enable drop down support or hide sub headers. This part of the configuration can be removed once WordPress 3.0 ships as it will have built in menu functionality.
In order to show specific categories within the sub navigation area, you’ll need to enter their ID numbers. I don’t know why commercial themes continue to do this sort of thing. There are much better ways to accomplish the same task without the user having to know anything about ID numbers.
One of the perks of the sub navigation menu is the themes use of icons for various social media networks. There are icons for YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and of course RSS. WHP3 provides boxes for a URL to your account for each service.
Pages And Posts – This section starts off with the ability to show WP titles on pages. Next is the ability to show author info in the bottom of posts. This particular feature is great if you’re using WHP3 as a theme on a multi-author site.
The flexibility in WhiteHousePro3 becomes more apparent with the next few configuration options as you can decide where certain things are displayed or if they are displayed at all. This includes the post thumbnail placement, post excerpt placement, full post content placement, features on blog/posts page, where the post footer link points to, the text associated with the post footer link text, background colors for the post beta bar, post meta bar text and link colors, and last but not least, the post footer social links text.
While most of these options such as colors could be easily changed in the CSS file, since they are specific to posts/pages, I don’t mind seeing the options easily available to change within the options page.
Sidebar Options – From here, you can choose which sidebar design will be the default as well as the one used for pages and posts. Each sidebar mode has a different visual style which can be seen from the theme demo. You can also edit the welcome heading that is shown at the top of the sidebar along with a welcome message that can be shown on all pages or not. When sidebars have no widgets within them, you can configure the sidebar to disappear to provide more content real estate.
Footer Options – In WHP3, there are three widgetized sidebars that can be shown above the footer. You can even provide a custom logo image for the footer but just like the header, you’ll need the full image URL. A nice touch that was added is the ability to show your latest tweets above the footer. This is a nice option to have since it will be one less widget taking space within your sidebar. Like many other themes, WHP3 also provides a text area to provide text links or the usual copyright info.
Text Options – Out of the box, WhiteHousePro3 looks pretty darn good when it comes to typography. However, if it’s not up to snuff for you, there are options to change it. One of the things that I’ve seen in this theme but not in many others is Cufon support. This is a special technique that allows you to use fonts that are outside of the web safe font group. There are options to configure the text color for the usual elements. H1, H2, text links including the hover element.
Global Options – WHP3 comes with five different color schemes. Blue, black, green, orange, and red. From within this options panel, you can configure the favicon image, twitter feed, remove the WordPress auto-formatting, Google IE compatibility fix, and an Apple touch image which will be used when users set your site as a webclip in the iPhone or iPod Touch.
Custom Code – Within this panel, you can add bits of custom code such as CSS which will override the default styling, header scripts, footer scripts, and an area for something called Asynchronous Analytics. That’s a new one to me but apparently, Asynchronous analytics provides the following benefits:
- Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution
- Enhanced data collection & accuracy
Once the initial configuration is complete, there is a dedicated options panel for setting up the featured content area. This is one of the more comprehensible featured content sliders I’ve seen in a theme. From here, you can configure the timeout for sliding, feature transition time, various transition effects, show the play/pause button, feature navigation mode and the removal of feature transition syncing. Syncing features wait to move on until after the previous one has cleared the screen.
Unfortunately, all of that coolness goes away once you figure out that each feature needs to be configured separately from each other. For those that like ultimate control over everything, they will enjoy the way this is set up but I prefer to select a few categories to display in the featured content block so that I don’t have to mess with it ever again. With this system, you’ll need to occasionally go in and change a few things around to make sure the featured content is fresh.
Support is provided via a few different methods. There are a number of videos, tutorials and documents that can be accessed free of charge from their Docs area. PageLines also has a forum available for support queries. Since there are free versions of all the themes they offer, the forum is NOT locked out to paying customers only. Last but not least, for pre-sales questions and non-support queries, you can send them a message through their contact form.
WhiteHousePro3 by PageLines is a great looking theme and functions well out of the box. This theme is great for those that like flexibility in the theme options to configure how the theme works but in some aspects, I felt as though there was too much flexibility. I’m most disappointed with the featured content slider just because I can’t select a category to display and have it cycle through those posts only. However, the options related to how the Featured area works such as the animations is awesome. While I didn’t mention this earlier in the review, PageLines offers bbPress themes to go right along with their WordPress themes. For example, with WhiteHousePro 3, you’ll want to use the Congress bbPress theme. The only downside is that the bbPress themes come at an additional cost with no option to have them bundled.
It’s also worth mentioning that there is a free version of this theme available at the WordPress theme repository but the free version does not have the breadth of features as the pro version. Another thing the Pro version has the free version does not is a wide range of page templates.
If you purchase this theme, I recommend using a different color scheme other than the default one as I don’t think you’d want your site looking too much like the original WhiteHouse.gov website. Considering the lack of images and use of white within the theme, it wouldn’t be hard to customize this into something cool.
VIP Members – Keep an eye out for a special deal within the next few days related to PageLines.