Personal Blogging Theme By BloggingTips.com

At A Glance:

This theme is compatible with WordPress 2.8.6 and was released by Kevin Muldoon of BloggingTips.com. This theme has two columns, one for content and one for the sidebar with the option of splitting the sidebar into two narrow columns.

License:

The Personal WordPress theme is licensed under the GPL and is available for $49.95.

Installation:

Installation of this theme was painless although I did run into one hiccup. On my local server, I use the WP-PageNavi plugin to handle page navigation. When I installed the Personal Blog theme, I ended up seeing the white screen of death. Here is the error I received after I enabled plugins one by one to locate the issue.

Plugin could not be activated because it triggered a fatal error.

Fatal error: Cannot redeclare wp_pagenavi() (previously declared in
C:\wamp\www\wp-content\themes\PersonalTheme\functions.php:404) in
C:\wamp\www\wp-content\plugins\wp-pagenavi\wp-pagenavi.php on line 180

After getting in touch with Kevin, he let me know that information will be added to the F.A.Q. that the theme uses its own page navigation feature which will most likely clash with navigational plugins. This is the only issue I’ve run into with the theme.

Configuration:

This has become the bread and butter of most commercial WordPress themes. This one is no exception as it provides four distinct expandable option columns for configuration as seen in the following screenshot.

configurepersonalbloggingoptions

The only downside I encountered with these expandable columns is that after the save button is pressed, the page is reloaded with all of the panels being closed. I’d much rather see them remain open. Changing the color scheme, fonts, etc is as simple as selecting an option from a drop down menu. This theme offers up to 10 different color schemes and provides an easy way to upload a custom background image. There are 5 different font schemes to choose from as well. If you don’t want to use normal full post listings, Personal Blogging provides options to show excerpts only or a number of posts with titles only. This provides a bit of flexibility in terms of the home page layout.

Sidebar configuration is straight forward with the option to show a bio section in the sidebar without messing with code or a text widget. There is also a place to add social media icons by adding your account link to the appropriate boxes.

sidebaricons

As for the navigational section, there are options to show or hide the RSS/Email section. It’s nice to see a built-in way to subscribe via email. If the search box cramps the navigational menu, you can hide it in favor of using the search widget in WordPress.

tophalfofthesite

Last but not least as has been standard on most WordPress themes, there are a slew of boxes to add things such as Googla Analytics code, Feedburner ID links, the ability to exclude links from the menu and footer links. Speaking of menu and footer links, I want to highlight something I have yet to come across in another theme. That is, the ability to have two navigational menus, one in the footer and one in the footer that can be controlled to show menu items in one but maybe different items in another. On WPTavern.com, I simply hard coded the links into the footer as the theme only has a way for me to easily edit what shows up in the top nav menu.

topandbottommenu

Notice how I don’t have menu item 165 in the menu links area so that it shows up in the top menu. I also have it in the footer to show up and sure enough, it’s in both menus. I can easily adjust whether to have it be on the top or bottom which is a very nice feature as most sites these days simply don’t have the room for all of the different pages and menu items created at the top of the site. An alternative to that problem is drop down menus but unless the theme has those built-in, you’ll be spending time using plugins or adding that functionality to the theme.

The only downside I see from this implementation of the idea is that end users have to figure out the ID’s for menu items they want to show or hide. I’d much rather just see a list of pages I have created and check mark the ones I want to hide in the top menu and check mark the ones I want to show in the footer. Doing things this way would add another notch to the ease of use.

Support:

Support for this theme is provided via a special section on the BloggingTips.com forum.

Final Thoughts:

All in all, I didn’t encounter any issues with this theme outside of the navigational plugin conflict. I can’t comment on quality of code since I don’t know enough to warrant a good opinion but the theme works as is. I think there is enough flexibility in this theme between color schemes and font choices where it wouldn’t take much to create a personal blogging theme design of your own. If you want to see the theme in action, check out the demo.

If you decide to purchase this theme, please consider doing so through this link where I’ll receive $19.98 or 40% per sale.

Also, Kevin has allowed me to give away a few copies of this theme. If you are interested in obtaining this theme, let me know why in the comments and you just may get a copy complete with support forum access.

5 Comments


  1. Glad you like the theme Jeff.

    You made a good point about the admin sections being closed after saving. I’ll be honest, that’s not something I noticed during development. I’ve made a note to address this in a future version.

    With regards to plugins, unfortunately the more you customise a theme and give options to the user, the more likely the theme will clash with a plugin out there as you are adding functionality that some plugin out there does too. But it’s impossible to add functionality to a theme and be 100% certain that it won’t clash with a plugin because there are thousands out there and more are released every day. There doesn’t appear to be any problems with any major plugins though (apart from page navigation, which is built into the theme itself).

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  2. Looks like a very interesting theme. Would love to try it out with a bit of a darker tone.

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  3. Great review Jeff!

    I ‘ve been using Tumblr for my personal blog but now want a lot more from a personal website. I would like to have pages and more control of the theme. Tumblr lets me do that, but it’s not flexible enough for me. As such, I want to move to WP and have been testing out a few premium themes on my self-hosted install. It looks like this one has everything I need. I’ll be looking at it closer.

    PS: one of those free licenses would really help :) – I’m in college and they just raised my fracking tuition!

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  4. Just getting started and know VERY little. I would be blogging for a not for profit agency. Is there a problem with that? Looking at worldpress.com Seems to be the best available and I like that it can be customized. Obviously since we are a not for profit (services to sexual assault survivors…lots of kids being seen) a free license would be most helpful.

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