At A Glance:
RichWP.com is a commercial theme provider maintained by Felix Krusch. RichWP has a variety of theme styles available including magazine, photo blog, news, and business oriented designs. The theme I’m reviewing today is called Rich-Biz 1.3. Rich Biz is a business oriented design that contains a large space to promote the initial offering of a product or service with up to three widget containers below the main content. This theme is monochrome in color with gray and white being the primary two colors. The third color of red enables links to stand out within content.
All themes that are for sale on RichWP.com are licensed under the GPL.
The first thing I found out was that this theme does not play nice with WampServer which is what I use to create and manage my local server environment. However, when I installed the theme on a live site, it worked just fine. It must also be pointed out that when you extract the files from the theme zip file, they will not be added to a folder that is automatically created, leaving a mess within the extraction location. The manual specifies that it’s best to upload the zip file through the theme management page and allow the extraction of files to take place there so that the file names and paths do not get screwed up. Once I installed the theme this way, everything worked as expected.
Configuration And Use
Before you can dive into the theme to customize it to your hearts content, you’ll need to create two pages. One called Home with the Frontpage Page Template applied and the other called Blog or News. Then, in the Reading Settings area of WordPress, select Static page and choose Home for the front-page and Blog or News for the Posts page. This will ensure that the front-page contains the three boxes at the bottom mimicking the demo site.
Another thing worth mentioning is that after the theme is installed, you’ll need to edit the Media settings to make sure the image dimensions are compatible with the theme. Refer to the themes manual to figure out what these dimensions are.
As is standard on most commercial WordPress themes, Rich Biz has it’s own theme options panel to guide users through the configuration and design process. The theme options panel does a good job of not inundating the user with all of the options up front. Instead, they use a tabbed interface for the main menus with drop down sub-menus. This keeps the page nice and tidy throughout the configuration process.
While Rich Biz provides options to exclude pages in the navigation menu or include pages in the footer navigation area, you need to know the ID’s of those pages in order to make this panel useful. I much prefer the method seen in other commercial themes where they provide a list of pages that have been created and you select a check-box next to each one you want to include or exclude. However, with a new menu management system on the way with WordPress 3.0, this may become a moot point in all commercial themes. Asides from the navigation, users can configure custom icon images to replace the ones that ship with the theme, whether to enable or disable a built in light box effect and other options.
Rich Biz provides a Front Page tab that contains options to edit the content for the three boxes that appear within the Front Page. The nice thing about this particular options panel is that it provides a way to edit the front page template file without touching any PHP. The HTML or content goes into each corresponding box with options to link the title to a particular page or post. The options also give users a chance to upload a big picture inside of the big box which would be perfect to showcase a product. This is a design meant to be static most of the time so you won’t find an image scroller within the big box at the top of the site although this would certainly be a cool enhancement.
As for design options, Rich Biz did not skimp. Users can edit everything from the navigation text links to the content and sidebar box designs from within the options page. One thing I found annoying is that whenever I clicked the save button to apply a color code change I made, I was redirected to the first option tab with all of the sub menus closed. For those that like to apply color changes one hex code at a time such as myself and then view those changes, this behaviour will become an increasingly frustrating inconvenience.
Rich Biz also comes with it’s own advertising manager where you can apply advertising codes to specific areas of the theme. For example, an advertising block under the post headline or an advertising block above the comment box. Adding these is as simple as copying and pasting the advertising banner code into the corresponding box and saving the changes.
Last but not least, the Upgrade tab provides easy access to upgrade the theme to the PRO version. If you purchase the regular theme, upgrading to the PRO version is only $57.00. The PRO Version of the RichBIZ theme is aimed at designers, and gives you full control over your theme design. You can change the look and feel of your site with just a few clicks with access to pre-made color schemes.
Support for RichWP products is handled through email as well as Skype. Felix states that any support for the initial setup for any of his themes is free. Support that extends beyond those boundaries will cost you $75.00 per hour. If you have a design that needs to be coded into a WordPress theme, Felix can do it in about 7-10 hours. RichWP also has a couple of video tutorials available for their themes.
The theme itself works as advertised without any problems and is well suited to be used for a corporate website or the face of a product. When I inquired about a specific problem via email, Felix was quick to give me a response. However, I don’t understand how an email or Skype only support system could scale with an increasing amount of customers. Furthermore, since no public forums are in use, it’s hard for a customer to gauge how good the support is.
Before I wrap up the review, if you register an account with RichWP.com, RichBiz is one of the free themes you’ll gain access to as well as the Magazine Theme giving you a chance to play around with those themes.