TeslaThemes launched in 2013 and is a premium theme shop for WordPress users. While there is no shortage of WordPress theme shops in operation today, there is always room for additional well-designed and easy to use themes.
In this TeslaThemes review we will take a look at the templates on offer, and find out how easy they are to setup and use. We will also explore the different features they include, as well as the overall appeal of signing up to this premium theme club.
At the time of are writing there are 18 themes available at the TeslaThemes shop. They can be purchased on an individual basis, or access can be granted to all of them by joining the theme club.
The themes themselves span a number of categories, making them suitable for a range of different types of site. However, as with most WordPress themes, many of them can be used on sites with a different purpose to what the theme was originally intended for.
Zoomy is a good example of this: it’s a theme that is listed as primarily a photography theme, but it could work equally well for any number of site types including a creative agency website or a regular blog.
While the multipurpose nature of these themes is a welcome addition, the main criteria for judging a WordPress theme is whether it looks good or not. Thankfully TeslaThemes have some really visually appealing WordPress templates in their collection. The designs are up to date and in line with the latest trends in theme development.
The themes all have strong homepage layouts making them ideal for use on sites that are more than just a blog. However, in addition to this, the themes do have good provisions for those who either want to use them for a pure blog site or add blog functionality to a business website or eCommerce store.
For those planning on using WordPress to develop an online store, the Hudson theme, which is compatible with the free WooCommerce eCommerce toolkit, is a good choice.
Some of the themes have multiple page layouts for displaying blog posts, such as full width, masonry, and with sidebar. This gives you a good amount of choice over how your blog content is presented, whether the blog is the sole focus of your site, or an additional feature.
When it comes to installing the themes, it’s simply a case of downloading the zip file from the website and then extracting the contents on your computer. Then you can either upload the installation zip file via the WordPress admin dashboard, or via FTP using the additional extracted directory.
This isn’t the most intuitive approach to theme packaging but it does work; just don’t try to upload the downloaded zip file directly into WordPress without first extracting the contents.
The original zip archive also contains the documentation for the theme. This covers everything from installing WordPress on your server, using the theme framework options, and setting up the theme. While the Tesla themes do make use of a framework, there are no separate framework theme files to upload as there is with the popular Genesis Framework.
Once installed, the opportunity to import demo content is available. This is a nice feature to have as with many themes it can be hard to replicate the demo version of theme on your own site. While you wouldn’t want to copy the demo theme verbatim, it's nice to have a base to work from when setting up your own site. The demo content also includes the many page layouts that come with the themes, giving you plenty of options for creating an attractive homepage for your site.
Framework Options and Control Panel
Although the appearance and design of a theme is vitally important, the ease of use from the admin perspective can be just as critical. Many visually appealing themes can be let down by badly implemented theme options pages and admin control panels.
These themes however, use the TeslaThemes Framework, which allows users to make certain changes to the appearance of the themes through the control panel, without the need to edit any of the underlying code. As mentioned earlier, the framework is not a separate set of files which are installed along with the themes, but a part of the themes themselves.
Through the theme control panel you can make changes to a number of areas on your site, such as:
- Choosing a logo and favicon
- Set a custom background image and its positioning
- Add links to your profiles on the various social networks
- Setup the contact forms and location maps
- Adding custom CSS
- Easily add code to be inserted into the footer
Apart from the additional TeslaThemes branding column, the interface of the framework options panel closely resembles the native WordPress UI, helping it to fit in with the rest of the WordPress admin options pages. Although there are a few options for changing the appearance of the site, such as adding a logo, setting the background image, there is no opportunity to change fonts and colours or the other elements of your site.
When you compare this to how easily changes can be made when using the Genesis framework together with the Genesis Design Palette Pro plugin, it doesn’t make this such a good choice for those who want to be able to change the appearance of their site without editing the code. Although you will pay a lot more for Genesis and that plugin.
Presentation vs. Functionality
The Tesla themes come with a lot of built in functionality. Some say this isn’t the best approach to take with theme design, recommending that the content-generation features, such as shortcodes, and custom post types should be provided via a plugin.
This approach would allow users to keep a lot of the theme functionality that has been applied to their content, even if they change themes. However as it is, if you decide to change to another framework or a theme from another designer, it is highly likely that you will have to go back and make a lot of changes to your content to fix it.
The WordPress themes from Tesla do make use of custom post types for features, such as the sliders, portfolio management, team profiles, the gallery, and more. While it’s good to see these features available to the end user, if they were provided through a plugin, it would counter the problems related to data-portability and theme lock-in.
By following the WordPress guidelines on plugin territory, the developers of these themes could make the decision of whether to try one of these themes or not a choice with less wide reaching and long term implications.
When it comes to updates the team vows to constantly update their products in order to iron out any bugs and ensure their compatibility with the latest version of WordPress core. Subscribers are notified of theme updates, allowing them to ensure their chosen design is kept up to date.
Documentation and Support
Once you become a paid up member of the TeslaThemes Club, you get full access to the four main support channels:
Non-customers can also browse the forums with read-only access to see what kind of issues users are experiencing and the level of support provided, giving a good indication of how these themes are supported.
Each theme includes the user documentation in the downloadable zip archive, giving you access to a local copy of the user instructions. This is a good idea and makes it easy to locate and check the documentation when setting up the theme. As mentioned earlier, the documentation includes everything from installing WordPress right through to customising and using the features of the theme. The instructions are easy to follow and provide a good resource.
There are three pricing options for gaining access to these themes:
- Starter: $39 (single theme)
- Standard: $49 per year (all themes)
- Developer: $69 per year (all themes plus all PSD files)
Enter the coupon code ‘ATHEMES‘ to receive 20% off the above prices.
The Standard and Developer options include access to all themes (currently 18), as well as the 18+ themes Tesla plan to release each year. The Developer plan also includes access to the all the editable PSD source files for the images that are used in the construction of the themes, giving you additional options for customising their appearance.
As these themes are released under the GNU license and so, like WordPress itself, they can be used on an unlimited number of domains making them ideal for those with more than one site, or those building sites for clients using WordPress.
Full details of the pricing plans can be found on the pricing page.
Getting access to 18 themes for $49 is certainly great value. The majority of the themes on offer look really good, with fresh designs which are modern and up to date. This makes them all very usable, unlike some other theme clubs which contain a substantial selection of outdated themes, which you would probably never consider using.
While the collection of themes includes a few that have been designed for quite specific uses such as the Medpark and the My Countdown themes, the rest of the offerings are truly multipurpose and can be used for pretty much any type of site. However, users with lots of strong images, whether they are photographs, graphics or other images, will be able to make the most of the Tesla themes. This is due to their layouts and decent range of options for presenting visual content.
The issue of including site functionality and content-generation features as part of the theme, instead of as a plugin, has to be mentioned again. This is something that you will have to consider when evaluating these themes. As you do get access to 18 themes with this club, you still have plenty of options for changing the design of your site without losing functionality. However, if you want to install a theme from elsewhere, you could have a big migration job on your hands if you’ve used a lot of the features such as shortcodes, custom post types, and templates.
Overall though, if the design of the Tesla themes appeals to you, then you should definitely consider buying into this great value theme club. The themes are all well documented and easy to setup, as well as providing plenty of options for displaying your content in a number of attractive ways.