X is billed as the ‘last WordPress theme you’ll ever have to buy’. This bold claim refers to the fact that it includes multiple designs within the one package. The developers of this theme have called these unique designs Stacks and the package currently includes three different stacks, with more planned for the future.
Unlike some other themes that include skins and the ability to change the appearance using custom settings, these stacks really are unique designs. The X theme also includes a powerful set of options for customising the stacks which goes a long way to ensuring no two installations of this theme will look the same.
When creating this theme and its stacks, the developers consulted with a range of expert internet entrepreneurs. This exchange tool place in order to solicit advice on what features and design concepts should be included to make this the best WordPress theme on the market for anyone wishing to build a successful website.
With such high ambitions, this definitely seems like a theme with potential and one that is worth a closer look. Read on for our in-depth review of the X theme by themeco.
X 2.0 – The Update
With over 16,000 sales since its launch, the original version of X quickly became the most popular new product at ThemeForest, the marketplace where it is available from. However, the developers haven’t rested on their laurels and have recently released version 2.0 of this very popular but highly configurable WordPress theme. Among the new features that have found their way into this update include a new stack, which brings the total number of stacks up to four. For those unfamiliar with the term, the stacks are the unique designs which make up this theme. They are almost themes within a theme and give you a whole set of design templates to work with when setting up your custom WordPress designs.
The new stack which has been added to the X theme version 2.0 is entitled Ethos and its designed for those wishing to use a magazine-style layout for their WordPress website. The key features of the magazine-layout Ethos stack - this new theme within a theme – include a featured content carousel, real-time filterable categories, and multiple options for displaying featured images for blog posts. You can also experiment with your copywriting by giving each post two titles: one which is displayed on the list of blog posts, and one which is displayed on the single post page. The Ethos stack also comes with its own accordion shortcodes to provide extra content presentation possibilities.
As well as the new stack, another big addition to the X theme in this updated version is support for mega menus, a feature made popular by the UberMenu plugin. This means you can add impressive looking and highly functional menus to your WordPress site using this new feature and ensure they are styled in order to blend right in with the X 2.0 stack you are using. In fact each stack has its own unique styling for these mega menus to make sure they seamlessly integrate with the rest of the theme. Version 2.0 of the X theme has built upon the success of the first version to add a good selection of options and features to an already highly flexible WordPress theme.
As mentioned, one of the key selling points of this theme is its ability to offer multiple designs, all in the one package. The other highlight of the X theme is the method for customising your site. Many premium themes come with their own theme options page which isn’t native to WordPress, and can therefore be painful to use. However, that isn’t the case here and X comes with a very intuitive feature they call the customizer, which is used for changing how your site looks.
As mentioned, this theme comes with three separate designs which are referred to as Stacks. While they can all be heavily customised, they are the foundation of everything you do with X. While there are more stacks on the way, the three available at the time of writing are:
Unlike child themes, the stacks are individual designs and are very much separate entities. However, you can still create child themes for each stack. This allows you to make changes as you would with any other theme. In fact, there are a number of child themes included in the X theme package to help you get started.
The X customizer might look familiar as it has been built upon the native WordPress theme customisation menu. However, it’s been vastly upgraded to give you more control over how your site looks and functions.
The customizer allows you to do pretty much anything that affects the appearance of your site, including:
- Change the stack
- Header placement
- Menu placement
- Sidebar position
- Boxed or full width
Not only can all of the above modifications be made at the touch of a button, they can all be previewed live within the same browser window. The days of applying and refreshing are over with this theme. It’s also worth pointing out that while the changes can be previewed live, they aren’t visible to any visitors to your site until you confirm them.
A really great feature of the customizer is the ability to import and export your settings. This means that you can create a site exactly how you want it, then export the configuration, and then import it on another site that has this theme installed, to quickly recreate the same look and feel. For anyone building sites for clients, the benefits should be obvious.
One Page Homepages
In a recent update to this already highly versatile theme, the ability to create single page homepages was added. One page homepages have become a very popular web design trend in recent months and by adding this type of layout to the theme, it gives even more credibility the developers’ claim that this is the last WordPress theme you will ever need to buy.
The one page homepages that can be built using X feature a fixed horizontal navigation menu, which when clicked, gracefully scrolls the visitor down to the relevant sub-section of the page. The scrolling works really well in both directions and the full-width design looks excellent. So now thanks to this update, this already featured-packed theme has had another string added to its bow.
Functionality via Shortcodes
Some premium themes include many of their core functionality as part of the theme itself. This can include features such as layouts, buttons, forms and many other page elements. This means that when you change themes, most of your content is broken and no longer renders in the way it did when you created it.
Thankfully the developers of X have included a custom plugin that contains shortcodes (40 at the last count) for much of the functionality of the theme. This means should you ever switch to another theme, you won’t be left with a massive clean-up job to undertake, fixing post content. That is of course provided you leave the plugin installed. Not being tied into a theme makes it an easier decision to install it in the first place.
The theme is also a suitable choice for anyone building an eCommerce store as it full integrates with the free and ever popular WooCommerce shop builder plugin. Each stack comes with its own online store design, so anyone building an online store doesn’t miss out on the selection of individual site designs that come with this theme.
Responsive design is a must. With a growing number of users visiting websites on their smartphones and tablets, it’s not acceptable to offer a theme that isn’t usable on small screen devices. Thankfully the stacks that come with this theme swiftly respond to match screens of all sizes, thanks to their fluid layouts.
There are many features of the X theme that are related to appearance and it seems a shame to lump them together, but for the sake of brevity here are some of the highlights:
- 600 fonts included
- Backgrounds support images, patterns and solid colours as well as multiple images that transition on single posts
- Icon fonts for adding 400 individual responsive icons to your posts
- Retina ready with support for high resolution displays
- Customised social sharing buttons
- Includes all Photoshop PSD files
Due to all the control you have over the appearance of your site, there is little chance that two instances of X will look the same.
Installation and Setup
The installation of X takes place in the usual way for a WordPress theme. Simply download the zip file from your account and then upload it via your WordPress admin dashboard (Appearance > Themes > Add New). Like many premium themes, it does require and recommend the installation of a couple of additional plugins. These are:
- Force Regenerate Thumbnails (free)
- X Shortcodes (included with the theme)
- Contact Form 7 (free)
- Slider Revolution (included with the theme)
During the installation and setup process, the theme provides an easy way to install these plugins, which saves you having to track them down yourself.
Sometimes when purchasing a premium theme, it can be a bit of disappointment once it is installed and it looks nothing like the demo version that promoted you to make the purchase. Thankfully X comes with some demo content which can be imported to help start your site off on the right track. The support for this theme also includes some great walkthrough videos for configuring the theme.
With so many options, features and settings, you could be forgiven for thinking X is a tricky them to setup and use. Thanks to the decision to use an enhanced version of the native WordPress customizer for configuring the theme, there is no cumbersome theme options page to get to grips with.
However, I did find it quite time consuming to work my way through the sheer number of options that make up the customizer. If you do want to delve deep into the settings and truly create your own custom designs, such as changing the style of the buttons, modifying font sizes and editing margins, then you will have to put some effort into navigating the vast array of options on offer.
However, that is the price you pay for having this amount of control over the design of your site. It’s worth pointing out that if you are happy using the stacks as they are, then you can avoid spending the time exploring the options. Although you would be missing out on a great opportunity to really build something of your own.
Also, it would be nice to be able to reset the options once you’ve experimented with them and saved your configuration, should you not be happy with how it turns out. However, you can import the configuration file for each individual stack and its layout to apply those settings to your site, overwriting any changes you’ve made to the layout and appearance.
With a theme as vast as this, in terms of features and functionality, it does need some good support material to help you get started. Once again X does not disappoint. There are numerous support videos available to walk you through setting up the theme from installation to using the customizer and beyond.
There is also a support forum for raising any issues you might have while working with X. When posting a query to the user forums, a reply with a solution was posted in under two hours, which is very impressive. Furthermore there is an extensive set of written documentation accessible via the members’ area. This provides a good alternative to the videos.
Also, as previously mentioned, this theme was built following the advice of successful internet entrepreneurs. The developers of the theme have included the input and guidance from 10 of those experts, in the forum of text and videos. They cover a range of subjects such as sales, affiliate marketing, design & conversions, local marketing and SEO. This additional content gives you a great insight into why the theme was built as it was and how you can ensure your site performs to its potential.
There is also a selection of training videos accessible from the members’ area which cover topics such as building a membership site, working with video and creating information products, to name but a few.
This theme is definitely well supported and the additional videos provide good value.
Popularity of X
Despite this theme only being made available in November 2013, thanks to its large number of sales it has already propelled the developers to Elite Author status at ThemeForest. Not only that, but it made them the fastest ever authors to reach Elite status at this leading WordPress marketplace.
However, despite this popularity there is little chance you will run into another WordPress site using X that has been configured in the same way. This is due to the sheer number of options available for setting up this theme. Not only do the three stacks give you countless options that relate to the overall design of your site, but the multiple settings covering layouts, backgrounds, colours, as well as the newly added ability to create one page homepages, it means that no two sites built using X are likely to look that same. If you want a theme with strong consumer support, but without the risk of your site looking the same as everyone else’s, X definitely has the credentials.
The X theme is available from ThemeForest for the price of $60. While this is a bit more than the usual price of a premium theme at this store, when you consider what you get for your money, it’s a fair price.
X really brings something extra to the table, in terms of the individual unique designs that are included in one package. The vast amount of options for configuring those templates also helps make it an ideal choice for anyone who wants to create something of their own, based on an already appealing design.
When you consider the additional videos from internet experts that are included, then the package comes with everything you need to create a site that not only looks good but performs well.