Monochrome Pro magazine theme review

Thad offers a range of premium WordPress themes together with some “lite” versions which are available for free download. This review looks at the premium theme Monochrome Pro, details of which can be found here.

Thad’s designs are refreshing and break away from the rather busy looking news portal type of magazine theme that are often seen. The first thing that struck me was the simple black and white minimalist look with lots of whitespace, the sparse use of a strong accent colour, and the overall layout of the home page. The home page also features a slick rotating gallery to give a visual impact to the page together with access to featured articles.

Monochrome home page sample - click to viewMonochrome home page sample - click to viewMonochrome archive page sample - click to viewMonochrome post sample - click to view

Click image to view larger version.

Out of the box, the theme doesn’t require any plugins, which I think is a good thing. Personally I don’t like being forced to use a particular plugin to get a theme to work – especially if I prefer a different plugin for that specific functionality. Having said that, some themes require specific plugins to work and this shouldn’t be reason to not consider a particular theme – it’s just a point to bear in mind.

A nice touch, for those who are nervous of editing theme files, is an Options page available in Design>Theme Options in the Dashboard. This lets you assign categories to the various parts of the homepage and enables you to get the theme up and running in no time at all.

Documentation is brief (a readme file and some notes on the web site) but covers the essential steps required to get the theme working.

If you are someone you likes digging in to the CSS to change the colours, fonts etc, it’s worth mentioning that all of Thad’s designs are built using the Blueprint CSS framework. This does, at first glance, make the CSS a little harder to delve into, but some notes are provided and once you have identified which of the many CSS files are safe to edit, customising your site is no more difficult than with any other theme.

The only issue I encountered during several days of playing with Monochrome on my test site, was a slight inconsistency with the layout of the text under each gallery photo during image transitions. This wasn’t major, but I found it a little niggling. Taking care with the amount of text to display in this area minimised the problem but it didn’t disappear completely.

Nevertheless, everything else worked as expected and it is easy to get a Monchrome driven site up and running in very little time.

Plus points:

  1. Beautiful layout
  2. Clever use of javascript gallery for homepage
  3. Options page for configuring the site
  4. Support forum

Minus points:

  1. Blueprint CSS – although a great tool for designers, it’s not as intuitive to modify as a simple stylesheet.
  2. Support forum is not as lively as those of some other premium theme sites.

Overall, I think Monochrome is a fantastic theme which is easy to implement if you don’t stray too far from it’s original design concept and layout. Having played with the theme on and off over a few days, I really began to appreciate the thought that had gone into the design – and the code.

And finally, I bought the theme and I’m using it for a future project. That can’t be a bad recommendation, can it?

Overall rating: 4 stars

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