- Highly versatile theme
- Many page templates and layouts included
- Impressive front end page builder tool
- Regularly updated
- Helpful documentation for beginners
- Includes many third party plugins
- Support for lots of third party plugins
- Maybe too many features for new users
- Not ideal for those seeking a minimal theme
- Requires some configuration and set up to get started
X is a best-selling multi-purpose WordPress theme that includes many pre-built layouts and configurations, as well as an impressive front end page builder tool.
X is a best-selling multi-purpose WordPress theme that includes many pre-built layouts and configurations, as well as an impressive front end page builder tool.
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 four 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.
Since version 4, X now includes an impressive, purpose built front end page builder tool called Cornerstone. This tool gives you even more control over how your website will look, ensuring you can build the website you’ve always wanted.
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 4.0 – Update: Introducing the Cornerstone Page Builder
Since the last update to this theme, sales of X have jumped from around 32,000 to just over 61,000. After taking a look at the details of version 4, there is no reason to think that this impressive rate of growth won’t be maintained.
The major highlight of the release of version 4 of X has been the inclusion of the Cornerstone page builder tool. Although the third party Visual Composer plugin is included with the X theme, the package now includes its own custom built page builder tool.
The developers of X have built Cornerstone from the ground up, and it’s been designed to integrate seamlessly with the theme. This means that users of X now have access to a purpose built page builder tool, rather than having to rely on a third party plugin of this type.
You can find out more about Cornerstone later on in this review, but for now, let’s just say it’s an impressive 100% front end and intuitive WordPress page builder tool that makes it very easy to create your own custom page layouts in no time at all.
Although, that isn’t to say that you can’t still use an existing third party page builder on your X powered website. In fact, the Visual Composer plugin is still included in the package, giving you another option for creating all the custom page designs your website needs. However, one you’ve tried Cornerstone, you probably won’t want to go back to using anything else with X when it comes to creating custom page layouts.
Other updates in version 4 include improved compatibility with a selection of popular WordPress plugins. This includes the latest versions of WooCommerce, BuddyPress, bbPress, Visual Composer, and Slider Revolution. This is good to see as it shows the developers of X are ensuring their theme will continue to work with these leading ecommerce, discussion, and content builder tools as they are updated.
X 3.0 – Update: Lots More Functionality
Sales of X are showing no signs of slowing down, with over 32,000 sales and counting. To highlight the developers’ commitment to this theme, version 3.0 of X has recently been released and it includes some great new features.
The team behind X has been busy working on creating over a dozen new WordPress plugins, covering a range of uses, from building custom newsletter sign up forms and direct email list integration, to tools for white labelling X for use on client sites. These premium extension plugins are now available to those who have purchased the X theme, giving them lots of extra useful functionality.
To make it as easy as possible to install these new premium plugins, they can be added to your site from the add-on section of the theme control panel, located on your WordPress dashboard. There’s no need to download and upload the plugin files, as they can all be installed directly from your website.
Future plans for X include partnering with other WordPress plugin developers to bring their tools directly to the theme. The acclaimed Soliloquy slider plugin is one example that is already available to X users as part of the 3.0 upgrade.
X 2.0 – The Update
The original version of X quickly became the most popular new product at ThemeForest, (the marketplace where it is available from), racking up 25,000 sales in no time. 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 four 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 four 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.
Cornerstone: The New Page Builder Tool For X
Version 4.0 of X sees the release of the new Cornerstone page builder tool. Cornerstone has been developed by the Themeco team, the creators of X, to integrate seamlessly with X and your WordPress website.
Cornerstone is delivered as a one of the many add-ons available for X and is available as a standalone plugin for users of this theme. It’s a required add-on for X as many of the new page layouts have been built with this tool and its shortcodes.
The Visual Composer page builder plugin is still available as one of the optional add-ons that are included in the X theme package. However, the developers of X recommend that you use their Cornerstone page builder instead. This is due to the fact that it was created especially for use alongside this theme. Any pages you’ve previously built using Visual Composer will still function correctly, provided you keep the plugin active on your site.
Once you’ve installed X from the add-ons screen, you can get started with creating your custom post and page layouts.
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.
Using the Cornerstone Front End Page Builder Tool
Cornerstone works with both WordPress posts and pages, and can be launched from either the individual post or page editor screens, or from the view all posts screen.
After switching to the Cornerstone editor view, you can launch the builder to start creating your custom page layout. Once Cornerstone has loaded, you get a full screen window to work on your page layout.
The Cornerstone page builder windows consists of the main canvas, as well as the editing sidebar. This gives you a live front end view of your page as it develops, with the controls displayed in the sidebar area.
If you’ve used any other editing apps, such as Photoshop, or even the WordPress Customizer tool, then this layout should be familiar to you. At any point, you can collapse the editing sidebar. This then gives you a more accurate impression of how your website visitors will experience your page.
One of the great advantages of using a front end page builder such as Cornerstone, is that you don’t have to constantly save your work, switch browser tabs, and reload pages to see how your page will actually look when it’s published. This live front end preview saves you lots of time and effort, making the whole process a lot more intuitive.
When it comes to the page creation process, with Cornerstone, this is broken down into four main areas or parts: the layout, the elements, the inspector, and the overall page settings.
The Layout Pane
Through the layout pane on the editing sidebar, you can add sections to your page design. These sections are essentially rows, and each row can have its own custom column configuration.
As well as creating your own layouts from scratch, X and Cornerstone also includes some pre-built page layout templates. These can be loaded from the layout pane, giving you a head start when creating a specific type of page. The pre-built layout templates include: an about page, available positions, pricing plans, and a sales page layout.
Cornerstone also includes a good selection of pre-built blocks. These blocks can be inserted into your layouts and include a number of popular page elements that you might want to use in your layouts.
The available blocks include: about information, core values, features, frequently asked questions, menus, pricing details, product information, and meet the team details. Most blocks are available in a number of different variations, to suit a range of preferences.
The blocks can be added to your custom page layout; while the pre-built page layouts replace your existing layout. If you do load one of these pre-built page layout templates or blocks, you can then simply click on the elements to add your own content through the Cornerstone interface.
The Elements Pane
However, if you are creating your own layout from scratch, once you’ve added a section to your page layout, you can then insert one of the available elements into it. Simply clicking on the section switches to the elements pane on the editing sidebar. From there you can search, or browse through the elements to find the right one for your layout.
Cornerstone comes with a good selection of page elements. This includes: accordions, buttons, rotating cards, call to actions, icons lists, pricing tables, sliders, and a whole lot more. Once you’ve found the element you want to use, simply drag and drop it onto the canvas, to add it to the section where you want to display it.
After you’ve added an element to your layout, you can then click on it to begin customizing it and adding your own content. Depending on the element, you should be able to enter the content in the editing sidebar pane. This gives you a live preview of your changes as you make them.
The Inspector Pane
The third pane on the settings sidebar is the inspector. Through this pane you can customize the sections, columns, and elements that you’ve added to your layout.
From this pane, you can set a section and column background, including a picking a colour, specifying an image, or setting a background video. You can also set the padding and margin values.
You can also click on any of the elements that you’ve added to your layout in order to edit its content with the inspector. Depending on which element you’ve clicked on, this could include editing the text content, changing a font or style, updating a Google Map location, or a whole host of other details and settings.
As you make changes to your content though the inspector pane, you will in most cases, get a live preview of your modifications as you make them.
The Settings Pane
The fourth pane in the settings sidebar, covers the settings of the page you are building. Some of the settings including changing the page or post title, setting the post status, controlling comments, and setting a parent page – all things you would typical manage through the WordPress post or page editor screens.
Through the settings pane, you are also given the ability to set the template for your page. With X and Cornerstone you get a good selection of page templates to choose from. This includes options with and without sidebars, as well as a layout with no sidebar, header, or footer which would be perfect for creating a landing page.
If for example you do want to create a landing page with Cornerstone, you can simply select the appropriate page template. After saving your changes, you will then have a totally blank canvas to work on, with none of the traditional elements of WordPress on display.
The Cornerstone editor screen also includes a responsive preview tool. This tool makes it easy to see how your website will look on a range of screen sizes and resolutions.
Once you are finished, you can save your page layout to add it to your website. You can also publish, or change its status, through the settings pane.
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 four 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 $64. While this is a bit more than the usual price of a premium theme on ThemeForest 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.
Now with the addition of the Cornerstone page builder tool you get a truly versatile theme that can be used to create almost any type of website with WordPress. While many other premium multi-purpose themes may include a third party page builder tool, X goes one step further and features a purpose built tool that has been designed to work perfectly with the theme.
Cornerstone is not only easy to use, but comes with a great selection of page elements as well as pre-built layouts and content blocks, which will enable you to have a custom built website up and running in no time at all.
One of the best multi-purpose themes at ThemeForest just got a whole lot better, thanks to the inclusion of its own front end page builder tool.
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.