A few months ago a friend approached me with an idea that his group had about creating a website that helped auto dealers sell or trade cars to each other. Of course the first thought that came to mind was, “I’ll bet there’s a WordPress theme for that!” And I started looking at the different options that were out there that might meet my needs and the needs of my friend’s group.
I started looking around at the various plugins and themes and ended up choosing ClassiPress over Classifeds Theme and Templatic’s Classified Theme. In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I very much dislike Templatic and recommend that no one EVER buy one of their themes. I had a terrible experience with the one theme that I bought with them and have been warning people ever since.
Having run with my ClassiPress-based site for a few months now, I know the theme well enough to write this review. So here we go!
I must say that all of the dozens of themes I’ve used both free and paid, ClassiPress is BY FAR my favorite theme of them all. I have bought themes from ThemeForest, WooThemes, Elegant Themes, and other places and out of all of them with all their bells and whistles, this one is my favorite. Just thought I’d give you a heads up before hand so you’ll understand my bias as I write this 🙂
Probably the coolest feature of this theme is the ability to create your own forms on the fly for different listing categories. For example, you could set up a form for automobiles that has custom fields such as make, model, miles, VIN #, etc. and then snap these fields into a form. You can create a separate set of fields and a separate form for each listing category. So again, I could have automobiles, homes, electronics, etc. each with their own set of custom fields and their own form.
This is sweet for a few reasons: 1) The interface is amazing and easy to use. It also automagically adds the proper custom fields to the proper posts. 2) The custom fields have their own settings so you can toggle whether or not they are required fields and whether or not they can be used as advanced searching criteria. What’s that you ask? What kind of advanced search criteria? Well, look at the image below for an explanation:
As you can see, the custom fields can be used to filter results as I have here which is pretty amazing. This type of functionality is great to see WP and throws the doors wide open for the uses of this theme in particular. Armed with just a bit of creativity and this feature, this theme can be used for many different types of applications that relate to any type of directory-based websites that go beyond just classified ads. I could love on this feature all day, but we should move on…
The next amazing feature is their interface for front-end ad (post) editing. This thing is sweet. Here’s a look from their demo site:
As you can see, the layout is neat, concise, and intuitive – the latter of which is much needed for a site like this. Users can edit, delete, or even pause their own listings which means less phone calls for you! The dashboard also provides built in counters for displaying the number of listings and their corresponding statuses. Again, this feature yields itself to many, many other options that go beyond just a classified ads theme.
I don’t have time to sing the praises of all of the features of this theme, but here is just a quick summary of a few more:
- Payment Gateways – Comes with built in payment gateways out of the box so you can start making money
- Custom Post Type for Ads – To keep them completely separate from your blog
- Memberships – Users can pay per item to post or they can sign up for a monthly membership that either discounts the listing price or makes it free
- Pricing – Admins can set the price for each category of listings rather than just one universal cost
- Automatically Prune Ads – Don’t want too many old posts taking up your pricey server space? Set a task to automatically delete old ads
- Other Useful Things – Common sense features like logging in with Facebook, adding banner ads and tracking, the ability to change the paths for the dashboard, listings, and user profiles, cufon, coupons, a and dashboard widgets for tracking transactions and sales made on the site, and the ability to turn pretty much every other option on or off is included making this the most robust theme that I’ve worked with so far in my WP career.
But of course, even the best can be better. While AppThemes have already added features since I last updated, there are a few things that could be tweaked here and there to make the theme even better.
One of my primary goals with this theme was to create a private, member-only site. Unfortunately, the membership functionality doesn’t include this option. There is no good way of hiding all of the listings behind the login or some type of member-access without using a plugin – which is what I did. I tried it with both s2member and WPMU’s Membership Plugin, both of which worked well and got the job done. It’d just be nice to have an integrated solution.
It would also be great if the theme took their amazing custom field creation forms one step further and allowed them to be easily displayed on the listing excerpts just as they display them on the listing itself. It’s a fairly easy thing to hack in yourself if you are familiar enough with Wordperss, but again it’d be nice.
But actually, the biggest problem I’ve had with ClassiPress was building a child theme. For those of you now familiar, a child theme allows you to make changes to a theme in a way that allows the theme to be updated without loosing your changes. I set up a child theme, but when the new updated version of the theme came, the developers