Trim is the latest WordPress theme by Nick Roach, the founder and lead developer/designer at Elegantthemes.com. It is a fully responsive, minimal CMS and blog theme that comes loaded with multiple templates, colour schemes and modular layout options.

Looking back over Elegantthemes’ (ET) extensive collection, Trim marks somewhat of a turning point in terms of design. It is a step away from the graphic-intensive themes that characterize this company’s work and a step closer to a theme framework – something ET would (in my opinion) benefit from. But don’t just take my word for it, Nick Roach himself points this out in a recent blog post:

Many of our members have told me that while our designs are beautiful, they are often too stylish and graphic-intensive for their company. For this reason, I try to tone things down every once in a while and create something a bit simpler.

There’s no doubt that Trim is ‘toned down’ and honours its name in every sense. But is it a step too far? Does it cross the border between ‘minimalism’ and ‘nihilism’? Or is this an example of simple design at its best? Read on to found out.

Core Functionality

Trim benefits from the core functionality that goes into all ET designs. This includes the bespoke “epanel” admin panel, a user-friendly, tabulated options interface that allows you to manipulate elements of design and functionality at the click of a mouse button. For a full spec list of epanel capabilities take a look at this page.

It also sports a responsive layout, meaning that the theme will render properly across different digital platforms, including PC and laptop monitors, iPad and iPhone etc. Responsive WordPress theme design began as a trend late last year and seems set to become a prerequisite for all new WordPress themes. Hence the fact that ET is currently making its back catalogue of themes responsive.

One of the things that ET has become known for is its huge range of shortcodes and styles. From buttons and text layouts to in-post image sliders and corporate pricing tables, there is a shortcode for everything you’re likely to need. Shortcodes can be used both within the main content of your site, but also in peripheral widget sections. They are an effective way of styling content without having to tamper with code.

Trim has been tried and tested across all major browsers and comes with clean and valid code. It makes use of native WordPress functionality including menus, widgets, galleries and threaded comments.

Layout and Design

As you can see in the front page screenshot to the right, Trim is set up as a CMS theme comprising multiple content elements that can be arranged and changed via the admin panel.

Starting at the top, the main navigation bar supports drop down menus and also integrates your social media profiles in the form of icons.

Next is the slider. It’s important to note that there are 3 alternative sliders to choose from. These can be activated in the admin panel. The default slider is clear and simple to use and also support video, which is a nice touch and something that too few developers think about.

From the slider we arrive at a second layer of navigation and a corporate branding section. Here the idea is to highlight specific services or types of content in use on the site. These elements can be switched off in the admin panel. The mission statement section makes nice use of shortcode icons.

Finally there are two extended footer sections which highlight blog content, photo collections and other widgets. In breaking the front page down into these bite-sized sections, I think the modular nature of this CMS theme is quite clear. It is however clearly targeted at content power users. Companies or individuals with large amounts of data types, looking for a clean and effective way of showcasing the best of their work.

For users with more modest amounts of data, you’ll be pleased to know that the theme also comes with a separate blog layout which pairs content down even further.

Things I like best

I’m a huge fan of minimalist design and I tend to gravitate towards website with clean layouts and bright aesthetics. On this level Trim is outstanding. As someone who views and reviews a wide range of premium and free WordPress themes, I get a clear sense of craftsmanship with Trim. Every element has been invested with thought and care both in terms of its visual impact and composition and also in terms of its usability.

I very much like the sheer number of options on offer with this theme. However, I also recognize that for newcomers to WordPress, this may be somewhat of a burden. It takes a fair amount of time to master all the options. Fortunately, there is excellent documentation at hand, including video demonstrations. This goes a long way in opening up the theme’s assets.

A clear example of option range is to be found in the various portfolio templates with no less than six layout variations to choose from. The upshot of this array of options is that you really can make this theme your own and that’s the whole point of buying into a minimal design in the first place.

Things I like least

There’s little to write home about in terms of negative points. The one thing that did strike me, and I alluded to this in my intro, is that sometimes, I feel the font treatment goes a little too far into minimal territory. Take for example the top layer navigation bar.

If you don’t have a monitor with decent contrast settings, there’s a good chance that the menu will be almost illegible. Fortunately, this can be changed in the admin panel where you can assign new colour schemes to links and fonts.

I would also like to see more ad integration in this theme. The whitespace in the header for example, would be prime real estate for a banner ad.

And what about pushing that blog template further by adding a slider option there too?

Conclusion

All in all, the Trim WordPress theme is a stunning, minimal CMS template, packed with features, designed with passion and logic and adaptable to a range of uses and needs. And at $39 for a year’s access to entire Eleganttheme collection, including Trim, you can’t really go wrong. I strongly recommend this theme and I very much hope that this marks a turning point for ET and that we’ll see more of this sort of design go into other form factors in the near future.