Ravel is a free new WordPress theme released by ThemeHybrid with a focus on blog, portfolio, and professional sites. It’s the result of teamwork between Justin Tadlock and Tung Do. Ravel is slick, modern, and has an eye pleasing color scheme.
One of my favorite features of Ravel is the social icons that blend in seamlessly with the design. Ravel also makes use of Tadlock’s technique of using menus to add social media links making it easy to add and remove buttons. If you’re planning on using this theme to blog, the content width is only 540 pixels which is a bit cramped for my liking. Because of the cramped content space and the sidebar, it’s easy to have a post title look like a paragraph. I’d like to see at least 600 pixels dedicated to the blog portion of the theme.
The theme is responsive but instead of shoving all of the sidebar widgets below the site, Ravel keeps the sidebar as is and hides it. It’s accessible via a red icon that expands or contracts the sidebar. I’m curious as to whether users prefer this method over the typical behavior.
Ravel has built-in support for the Custom Content Portfolio plugin. This plugin allows you to manage your portfolio of design, photography, and other artwork. One of the other nice features is the custom made tabs widget. You’ll find it in the widgets administration area labeled as Ravel Tabs. Ravel Tabs is like four widgets in one. It displays recent posts, popular posts, recent comments, and a tag cloud. (Do people still use tag clouds anymore?) Tabbed widget plugins can be finicky to configure and sometimes, they don’t work well with themes. Ravel Tabs works great and is easy to configure.
Ravel contains an introductory template. This is great to use as your site’s frontpage instead of the most recent blog posts. One feature that sets ThemeHybrid themes apart from others is the use of custom styles for the visual editor. This stylesheet enables the visual editor to take on the look and feel of the frontend of the site, delivering a what you see is what you get experience. Although I prefer a darker style for the visual editor, I wonder if users will see it as a downside because of the contrast difference between the surrounding meta boxes and the editor.
Ravel is a great looking theme that has a look and style I’d pay for. It’s available for free from ThemeHybrid and soon, the WordPress.org Theme Directory. Tadlock said the theme has already been submitted to the directory and that’s where future updates will come from.