Whenever I build a new website, I scour the web for fresh ideas and inspiration. Since the majority of my work involves WordPress website design and development, I like to see what others are doing. And let me say that there is no shortage of free or paid-for WordPress themes. The market is saturated and there are a lot of mediocre and poorly-coded themes out there. But the themes by ThemeIsle are not those themes.
ThemeIsle premium WordPress themes are designed well, look great, and would make a great addition to your WordPress design and development toolkit.
Overview of ThemeIsle
According to their website they offer over 30 free and premium WordPress themes and templates. Two in particular caught my eye. The first was Zerif which is a single page business theme. The other was Parallax One, another single page business theme. Both are responsive and come with several options. Parallax One is free while Zerif has a free and professional version. Zerif Lite will be used as my reference for this review.
ThemeIsle offers three different pricing models, four if you count the free versions. I won’t give the specifics of each which you can view on their pricing page. Basically, they offer a basic package, Treasure Chest Light, for $99 per year; Treasure Chest at $149 for two years; Pirate Club for $299. Pirate Club gives you lifetime access for all themes and plugins and any new ones that they create.
In my opinion the Treasure Chest option is a steal. It would be hard to find a better deal for two years of free upgrades and support.
I installed Zerif Lite on a clean, local WordPress installation. I used the test data available from WordPress which they use to test themes that are submitted for the WordPress.org theme directory. Installation was easy and error free.
The free version of the theme recommends the installation of two plugins, the ThemeIsle Companion and Pirate Forms.
ThemeIsle Companion creates widgets for the testimonial, team member, our focus, and clients sections of the theme. This makes it much easier to include widgets for these sections.
Pirate Forms is ThemeIsle’s contact form plugin. Their website says it’s “easy to use”, “fully customizable”, “provides reCaptcha”, and includes “SMTP.”
While I did install the ThemeIsle Companion plugin, I did not install the Pirate Forms plugin because I prefer to use Caldera Labs, Caldera Forms plugin. It’s a responsive, drag and drop form editor.
Zerif Lite is highly customizable, but not so much that the user would get overwhelmed with option paralysis. It’s really well thought out.
Two really nice features under General options (located in the Advanced options section) were the ability to Enable accessibility, and to use Zerif’s custom front page design or stick with the default WordPress template.
If the user sticks with the custom front page design then there are options to hide sections that may not make sense for their website. For instance, if the company is brand new they may not have “testimonials.” If so then the user can hide the section until they do receive feedback. The ability to hide the Testimonials option is found in “Frontpage options” > “Testimonials section.” > “Hide testimonials section?”.
If the user gets stuck, ThemeIsle offers documentation for Zerif Lite. Documentation for a free theme is rare in the WordPress theme industry.
Because these themes are updated on a regular basis, website creators are encouraged to create their own child theme with the ThemeIsle themes as a parent. This will keep any customizations the user adds intact between theme updates.
I only used the free version of Zerif for this review. According to the Customizer panel, the Pro version adds a couple of sections. It adds a Portfolio, Packages, Subscribe, Ribbon, and Google Map section.
The documentation features a comparison table showcasing the difference between the free and pro version of this theme. Among the upgrades, background video, unlimited color choices, and the ability to reorder sections would be a worthy the cost.
The pro version also needs to purchased if it’s necessary for the user to remove the ThemeIsle credit link within the footer.
What I like about ThemeIsle
The website itself stands out with it’s pirate anthem. It’s well organized and easy to navigate in search of answers.
Again, it’s rare to see thorough documentation for free themes. If such high quality documentation is available for the free tier users, then I’d imagine it’s even better for paid subscribers.
The number of options available within the theme customize options is impressive. But it’s not so much that it is overwhelming. Also, each option is fairly straightforward.
I dislike can be improved
First let me say that when something is offered for free, I have the option to use or not. But, I don’t care to complain about a free theme when someone has taken the time to create something and offers is for free. Second, this is my personal opinion and we all have our opinions. 😉
The free versions of the themes are great for personal use, but in a business setting, I can’t see using them for the simple fact that I can’t remove the “theme credit link.” But I understand their reasoning.
I saw an error (IMHO) of how the mobile menu was laid out. In the picture below, if you look at the About The Tests menu you should see what I’m talking about. About The Tests is a dropdown menu and in desktop mode it displays correctly. However, in the mobile menu, after clicking the dropdown arrow, I’m taken to the About the Tests page instead of being shown the sub-menu links. But, if I click on the red-orange box with the white arrow, then I get the expected behavior.
If your in the market for a new WordPress theme, I can highly recommend the themes available from ThemeIsle. The WordPress theme market is incredibly saturated and it’s becoming increasing difficult to find high quality themes for purchase.
If the Zerif Lite free theme suits your specific needs, then it’s a great theme to begin with. Simply install, add the recommended plugins if needed, and customize for your audience.
If you find the free version limiting, which it is to a degree, then the prize points at ThemeIsle really are a good deal. Most themes that I’ve seen that are worth purchasing have been about $59-$79 per theme. With ThemeIsle, $99 per year would give access to all of their themes and basic support for one year. But for $149, you would get an upgrade in support and 24 months of support and updates.
Wishing you the best on your quest for the perfect WordPress theme.