The X Theme: Inside Look, Customer Showcase & More
Word has it that X, which was released by Themeco (theme.co) at the end of last year, is a great asset for web designers and developers everywhere - and the last website theme you'll have to buy. As more professionals hurry to get their hands on it, the wildly spreading enthusiasm is growing every day. X provides multiple designs, free updates, full BuddyPress and WooCommerce integration, excellent Shortcodes, and a fantastic live previewer. In this article, I'd like to introduce you to some of the greatest features in X plus take you behind the scenes to hear directly from their developers as well as showcase a dozen different sites built by this powerful theme. Let's begin…
Case Study: Performance Optimizations
For the developers out there, we reached out to the Themeco team to share with us a little bit about how they go about developing X, what features are important to them, and most importantly how they go about creating a product that is both feature-rich as well as optimized for performance. Here is what they had to say on the topic of performance with a real-life example from one of their recent releases.
"Performance is a big deal to us and we are constantly on the lookout for even the tiniest detail that we can improve upon to ultimately make X perform at the highest levels possible. With our 2.2.0 release, we specifically wanted take a closer look at how the Options API (http://codex.wordpress.org/Options_API) compared to the Theme Modification API (http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Modification_API) for storing and retrieving settings from the database. The Theme Modification API essentially acts as a wrapper for the Options API as theme modifications are stored as options, but this is done by serializing all stored settings into one row in the database instead of individual rows for each option. While utilizing the Theme Modification API is ostensibly a better choice as it stores all options within a serialized location in the database, we were curious to know if the unserialization process in retrieving each value might be affecting performance. We ran both methods through a PHP profiler to see where any potential bottleneck might be and through our research found some interesting data points:
On average, 67% of an entire page request happens within the get_theme_mod() function when it is utilized. Compare this to 29% on average when utilizing the get_option() function. This certainly narrows things down for us as we can see right away that one is twice as fast!
When using the Theme Modification API, PHP's unserialize() function accounts for roughly 23% of the load time. So if a hypothetical page was taking around four seconds to load, nearly one second of that would simply be attributed to the converting of data from its storage format into something more usable at runtime. Again, the Options API does not need to take advantage of this as all settings are stored in the database without any modifications, so they can be fetched immediately.
The default method used in the Customizer when adding settings is the Theme Modification API, which is what we utilized in the theme up until our most recent release. We were curious to know what would happen if were were to switch to using the Options API instead, which stores each setting as an individual row in the database. Upon doing this, we instantly noticed the following improvements:
81% improvement in page load times in the Customizer.
31% improvement in front end load times.
These are very meaningful findings that made a huge impact on from tend and backend performance with a very minor change. So should we forget about the Theme Modification API altogether? Not necessarily. It can be a bit subjective as it really depends on the application and the amount of data being accessed regularly. If you're working with a small set of data the difference isn't going to be noticeable, but if you're working with a theme framework, or plan to store dozens of options, then the Options API seems to show much better performance."
Completely Customizable Designs
I've never seen anything like this before. The Stacks from X are actually multiple, specific designs all for the price of one theme (with more in the development lab). The Integrity Stack is ideal for elegant, business-like sites, whereas Renew is the epitome of flat design in the instance where you don't want any 3D elements. For a minimalistic and modern look, you may prefer to use Icon and so place your site content in the spotlight. Finally, the most recent addition to the X family is Ethos, a visually compelling design that is perfect for magazine and news websites. Remember that these are not individual themes (although they almost function like that) but rather different designs built into the one X theme!
Creating a way to build multiple unique designs into one performance-optimized theme was not enough for the Themeco folks. They decided to reinvent the way their WordPress theme was administered by doing away with the admin panel.
Instead of forcing you to make changes on the backend of your site, Themeco provides their customers with quite literally the most fun and effortless way to manage the configuration of your site: with a live preview!
However you choose to manage or customize your website, know that each and every move, and its overall effects on the site's apparel and functionality, can be previewed live. It's child's play to establish pixel and percentage width, set background colors or images, as well as decide on the complexity, position and height of sidebars and navigation elements. Instead of it being a chore to manage the setting up of the admin parts of your site, it is actually an enjoyable experience with X.
Innovations Powered by Elite Marketers
If all that weren't enough, the Themeco team set out to pick the brains of some of the world's top specialists in email/video marketing, SEO and copywriting. This invaluable feedback was then taken and built into the theme and training material providing X customers with much, much more than just a "theme." X users are all privy to more than the average WordPress Shortcodes. Through a simple plugin, they can take advantage of several brand new Shortcodes created by the engineers of Theme X. For instance, the Table of Contents Shortcode increases Google site visibility, as well as invites more pageviews. Furthermore, the Responsive Visibility Shortcode allows users to choose which things to exhibit or leave out on various devices.
One thing you will quickly see when using X is that extreme thought and planning has gone into every single detail. Creating a tool that is as extensible as X can be quite the challenge given the different skill sets and abilities of customers in the "web design" world, however the final product that Themeco has put together is simply superb. It's no surprise they are the fastest selling theme of all time over at ThemeForest and have set several records with the theme in the process.
Support That Is Second To None
Perhaps one of the most complimented aspects to Themeco's offering in X is their incredible customer support. With recent reports of average response times being just a few hours, it is no wonder that people are flocking to this WordPress theme en masse! In addition, their superb documentation and ever expanding video tutorials provide numerous self serve resources for those wanting to get the most out of X. With customers ranging from complete beginners to the government, Themeco has established themselves as the preeminent provider of world-class support in the WordPress space…something you have to see to believe!
Demos & Customer Showcase
No other WordPress theme has ever been met with such raving success: over the course of a few months, more than 20,000 copies of Theme X were purchased and part of that is due to the incredible demos they have put together. To access over 30 unique demo sites be sure to head on over to their main page: http://theme.co/x/
Moreover, we wanted to take you behind the scenes to see actual customer sites built with this amazing theme. As we shared above, Stacks are the unique designs built into the X theme. They come with their own unique look and features, so we have picked out 3 sites for each Stack who are using X at the time of this writing. Be sure to check them out below to get an idea of just how extensible and versatile this theme truly is. Don't forget that ALL of these were built with the same theme.
Integrity Stack Examples
Renew Stack Examples
Icon Stack Examples
Ethos Stack Examples
The Future Is Bright With X
It goes without saying, the future is quite bright with X. After learning more about the attention to detail on every aspect of the theme in addition to Themeco's commitment to keeping X the best theme on the market both now and in the future, you can rest assured that when making the move to X you will have a team of committed professionals with you every step of the way (and have a lot of fun in the process).