WordPress began as a blogging platform, and even today, its primary usage remains that of a blogging tool. In other words, while WordPress can and does power eCommerce as well as portfolio sites, its focus still remains on sites where you publish regular content: a blog or a magazine.
As such, it is not surprising to see a good number of WordPress themes that cater entirely to blogs and magazine usage. In this post, I will be reviewing one such premium WordPress blog and magazine theme Master.
Master is a premium WordPress theme for magazines and blogs that comes with five blog layouts, three sliders and nine ready to use demos that you can choose from. It offers over 40 custom widgets and shortcodes, as well as a specialized feedback system.
Need custom fonts and a drag and drop page builder? How about retina display and support for WPML for localization? Did I mention support for RTL languages? Yes, Master has it all.
Custom icons and colors are supported for categories, and so are different layouts for the homepage. In fact, the theme is bundled with nine custom home page templates by default. Master is mobile-ready, that is, fully responsive, and supports HTML5.
If the above description does not suffice for you, here is a quick run-down of the features:
- Custom Page Builder
- Ability to install demo content
- Custom home page layouts
- Homepage templates
- Default Blog Layout
- Custom sliders
- Customizable Mega Menu
- Of course, a custom footer.
- Integration with Google Fonts
- Unlimited sidebars and colors
- Enhanced jQuery with HTML5 and CSS3
- Compatible with WooCommerce and Bootstrap
- Cross-browser compatible
- Integration with SoundCloud audio
- Flat design
- 1170 grid layout
So, by the looks and talks of it, Master does sound like a killer WordPress theme. And in terms of performance, how does it fare? I decided to give it a spin on my test site.
Mode of Operation
The installation and activation process is the same as that of any other WordPress theme. You just need to upload and activate the theme.
Although the theme came with multiple default layouts and a lot more, I decided to test it from scratch, so after installation and activation, I aimed to go straight to the settings. However, right after activation, the theme took me first to the Import Demo Content page. Essentially, you get to choose across 9 variants with different home page styles and so on. You can either install the complete demo package, or just the theme appearance, or just the widgets. For all practical purposes, the import and export action happens right under the WordPress Tools menu. I am assuming that this will be a one-time activity for most users, and virtually anyone using the theme on their site would be interested in importing only the theme options and/or widgets, not the entire demo content.
The import process does take a little bit of time though, and patience is a virtue here. I was running it on my nginX server with WordPress 4.3 and the only plugins active were Jetpack and Wordfence, and it took roughly 5 minutes for the full procedure.
At this point, another aspect that left me slightly unimpressed was that once the import is done, the Import page does not highlight the currently active layout. I had chosen Home Blog 3, and it was still giving me the option to import the same layout again.
That said, I went straight to the Appearance–>Theme Options section. The theme uses OptionTree for that purpose, and since it is a quite common framework for theme options management, you must have encountered it earlier. Essentially, most of the settings have to do with the appearance; for example, custom logo:
The header settings section:
And the social networks and profiles management section:
All in all, there is nothing too outlandish about the Theme Options section. The OptionTree framework is not the most intuitive one out there, but it does what it is supposed to do, and that’s what matters.
Support and Documentation
Quite possibly, the biggest USP of the Master WordPress theme is that it is very well documented. The documentation is laid out in terms of sections and sub-sections, and you can easily browse through each section. There is also a dedicated forum where you can get help.
But beyond that, the theme makers have their own YouTube channel for video tutorials. I was really pleased with the manner in which the video tutorials have been presented. It is probably not as professional as hosting the videos yourself, but YouTube does the task well, and even on mobile devices, you can surely watch the videos with ease. I do not know how they are going to cater to the few countries where YouTube might be banned, but for all practical purposes, Master gets full points in the documentation section. Here is one such video tutorial uploaded by the theme developers:
Master is surely an impressive WordPress theme for blogs and magazine websites. It does not use anything that might lock you down: no crazy custom post types, no billions of plugins to install, nope, nothing. It just offers a fully functional and ready to get going WordPress that can suffice for most blogs and magazines out there.
The theme also comes with separate layouts for Arabic websites, and while Arabic is one of the most spoken languages out there, in terms of WordPress themes, it is not so well catered to, so Master has a big potential for success in this niche.
The one downside that I noticed was that the theme needs some minor brush-up. For instance, how often will you import the demo content to your site? Probably zero, since you will be using your own content anyway. Maybe once? But the theme insists on adding a highly prominent (and practically useless) “Install Demo Content” link to the WordPress admin panel header bar.
Does it make sense? No. Does it hinder the theme’s performance in any manner? No. Should it be removed? Yes.
Beyond that, the theme is pretty good, and if you are looking for a blog and magazine theme for your WordPress site, Master is well worth checking out. A Regular License for this theme costs $59.