Catalyst Theme is a new wordpress theme framework from the developers of Frugal Theme. As with many of these next generation WordPress theme frameworks, Catalyst aims to help you quickly develop your WordPress blog design in any way you see fit. As you can see, I have purchased Catalyst Theme myself and I am learning how to use it on this site. So far I’m pretty impressed. It has a multitude of design options which allows you to be very creative with your site design, and it has some really nice features which makes it easy to use.
Here are some of the cool things that are a part of Catalyst Theme
- Dynamik Child Theme with over 600 design options. While the Catalyst Theme has a core set of options, the Dynamik Child Theme expands on this with even more options to give you complete control over the look of your site.
- Included 22 Dynamik Child Skins. Don’t like the default Catalyst look? There are 22 different skins to base your designs on. And if you choose, you can easily create your own custom skins.
- Custom layouts, widgets and hooks. With Catalyst, you can create any layout you want (1 col, 2 col, etc), and you can place your widgets anywhere you choose. Not only that, you can have different layouts for any post or page.
- Custom CSS Builder. Allows you to easily edit the CSS for any elements on your site within the Catalyst Theme option pages.
- SEO Friendly Options. Includes all the common SEO features you want in a theme like setting custom post titles, descriptions and many other important SEO options.
Catalyst Theme Initial Look
I’ve only been using Catalyst Theme for a day now, but there’s a lot to like about the theme. For one thing, it is really easy to use out of the box. Each of the customization options of the theme includes tooltips that explain each option very thoroughly. Also, you can check out the videos in the Resources page to see how all the advanced functions like Custom layouts work.
As far as customizability goes, Catalyst Theme will be hard to beat. Almost all of the common settings (fonts, colors, padding) you will want to customize for each element of your site can be changed from the option pages. You can choose between a variety of layouts (1 col, 2 col, 3 col) and adjust the widths for each. If there is an option that the theme doesn’t expose, just press the #Custom button next to the element and you can insert the desired CSS without having to figure out the exact CSS selector yourself.
One other nice touch that I immediately noticed is that the Save Changes button floats near the top of the page no matter where you scroll to on the page. I’m finding it to be really convenient, especially when I have to make a lot of changes on an options page. Plus, because of some nice use of AJAX, there’s no page reload after saving. It’s a small thing, but it really makes using the theme more enjoyable to use.
Catalyst Theme vs Thesis Theme
Thesis Theme is still the most popular premium theme framework out there. But it hasn’t been updated recently and new challengers like Headway Themes, Genesis Theme Framework, and now Catalyst Theme have come out with some really unique features that are starting to make Thesis look antiquated in comparison.
So far, I’m finding that Catalyst Theme is easier to use then Thesis. Especially for less html/css savvy people. Unlike with Thesis, all the customization and design changes you want to make using Catalyst Theme can be done from within the theme options itself. I also predict we are also going to see a lot more cool and innovative skins for Catalyst Theme compared to Thesis since support for them is way better.
Then there’s the price. The Thesis Theme personal option is $87, but you can only use the theme on a single site. With Catalyst Theme, you can get the theme for $97, but you can use it on UNLIMITED sites. This is a big difference for many people, especially internet marketers like myself who create many sites.
All in all, I like what I have seen so far from Catalyst Theme. It looks to be an awesome theme framework and I’m looking forward to playing some more with it to see what it can do.