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Thoughts on the ElegantThemes Website Redesign

Readers of this blog will know that I like the work of Nick Roach over at ElegantThemes.com quite a bit. I’ve reviewed some of Nick’s themes in the past, including Flexible and Trim and I’ve usually only been able to find positive things to say about his work.

Yesterday, Nick launched a redesign for ElegantThemes, the first major overhaul in three years. The change sparked a fiery discussion on his blog with mixed feelings from his users. Radical change is always going to polarize audiences, but a crucial point to remember is that design is organic. It evolves. Nick made it clear in his blog post that he was asking for feedback for that very reason; to see what works well and what needs changing.

In the spirit of support, I decided to put a video together outlining my personal thoughts on the new design. The opinions expressed in the video are entirely subjective. In general I think it works well. I do think there’s room for improvement, but that goes for any design.

I’d love to know what you think about his redesign. What works and what doesn’t work for you? What has your experience been when launching a new design? Did you get straight to work on user feedback or did you let things simmer for a while and make changes later on?

Written by Will Ellington

Originally from the UK, I currently live in Osaka, Japan, where I work in higher education. I’ve been a WordPress user since 2004 and have developed numerous projects with it over the years. Wpliving is a place to share things i've learnt along the way, and to explore innovations in WordPress too.

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12 Comments

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  1. In your opinion, why do theme designers like Elegant and Woo not make their own websites responsive, if this in fact the future of web design?

    Is “responsive” just a fad?

    Is “responsive” the responsibility of the website or the device or both?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  2. Noticed that it wasnt responsive either. I browse the web late at night on my Android EVO phone and responsive helps a lot.

    While I think we are at least five years away from this, phones and tablets are getting larger and higher resolution screens. Many people think that the future is not responsive because smaller screens and resolutions are going to be a thing of the past.

    I can visit non responsive websites and enjoy them if the padding is sufficient and the typography is large.

    All this being said, this wpliving sans theme is bullet proof. It looks great on tons of screens and is a model for other developers to follow.

    • Hey James, regarding theme developers’ homepage not being responsive, sometimes I think it’s just a case of the “mechanic” driving a broke down vehicle. They work on cars all day, so they let their own rigs slip in maintenance and really don’t care about keeping up with the latest trends. I’ve seen this metaphor hold true across multiple disciplines. That’s my experience anyways.

      Getting back to WP Themes, take a look at the developers over at “My Site My Way” http://mysitemyway.com/ . Check out their their forums and blog posts. Their customers are pleading for responsive layouts, but they’re slow to respond or really face this issue head on. They say “coming soon” and leave it somewhat vague. I’m sure it’s difficult to make the transition with all that inertia of non responsive themes to adapt, but WOW, what an opportunity for leadership, transparency, and leading by example on THE HOMEPAGE.

      Yes I agree the Sans theme is awesome. My only gripe is the lack of responsive video functionality on “pages” in addition to posts. Beautiful typography, and definitely broke the mold on layout, uniqueness, and portfolio focused minimalism.

  3. Videos on this website ARE responsive. I am watching them resize on my phone and kindlefire right now. I am almost 100 percent positive that pixel8 made sure videos behaved that way on purpose.

    Really don’t think you need any plugins. Might just be a few devices here and there that get stuck.

    Cheers!

    • Hey James,

      Videos are Responsive on Sans blog posts (like where we are right now on WP Living), portfolio items, and Home Page Hero Video, but not on pages, hence the need for the responsive video plugin. Regarding this issue, Erik from WeArePixel8 recommended:

      “This will require a bit of customization in a child theme as there is no target div for the jQuery to turn a video into a responsive element. You could probably add the parent div, but it will more than likely need some additional customizations as that is an untested theory. ”

      I found the plugin to be the simplest solution.

      The Sans theme is a fantastic theme. The lack of Responsive Video on Pages was my only issue with the theme. The plugin was an easy workaround.

  4. The new design looks good, but the conversion rate is lower than the previous one. I don’t know why. Maybe the problem comes from bright lookings of Elegant Themes

    • Thanks for the input Robert. I assume that by “conversion rate” you’re talking about affiliate sales? If so, then I’m surprised that you were already able to see such a dramatic change.

  5. New design looks really great and professional. Nick did great work on redesigning the whole site, but as robert new design isn’t converting well.

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