WPSumo is a WordPress framework brought to market by a team lead by Dragos Roua. With other commercial WordPress frameworks already well established (such as Thesis and Genesis), you might be wondering if there is the need for another service. Read our comprehensive review of WPSumo and find out for yourself.
Settling into WPSumo
To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of settings on offer inside WPSumo. Thankfully most of the features are switched off by default, making it easy to work your way through them one by one. This makes checking them out individually, and observing what they do fairly straightforward.
I liked this approach as it made easing your way into using the framework possible. This is opposed to being presented with your site, with all the bells and whistles turned on, but without any content to populate the new features, such as featured posts and the slider.
Extremely Flexible Layout Manger
WPSumo really does away with the notion that all the pages and posts on your WordPress site will look alike. While some themes let you apply a few different predefined layouts to your pages. The WPSumo layout manager allows you to easily assign a different layout on a page by page basis, from the available options, at the click of a mouse.
For one post, you could have just one column that takes up the whole width of the page, or choose to have one column for your content and multiple sidebars. Or just have sidebars and no content if you feel it’s appropriate.
But there is much more to the layout manager than that. What really captured my imagination was that you can create a custom sidebar, and only display it on one post. If you are writing a post on your blog about your travels, you could show a custom sidebar alongside that post, with a list of links into related sites, all linked using your affiliate ID.
Creating one of these custom sidebars is simple enough, create one from the ‘Sidebars and Layouts’ settings by giving it a name, and then populate it from the ‘Widgets’ menu as you would any other sidebar.
The possibilities are endless and by using these features of WPSumo you can really take back control of your site while still having of all the functionality of WordPress that we all love. Custom sidebars are perhaps the highlight of the WPSumo framework for me so far.
One impressive way WPSumo makes designing and creating visually rich pages or posts with advanced layouts easy, is through the use of shortcodes. The shortcodes generator gives you the ability to quickly customise and add many page elements to your WordPress posts and pages. While these are very simple to implement, the results are frankly stunning.
The end result, displayed on the page, looks amazing and will instantly elevate the appearance of your site above the countless other WordPress blogs out there. However, when you consider how easy these features are to use and add to your pages, you will truly appreciate the power of the WPSumo framework.
Using these shortcodes is incredibly simple, just edit a page or post, click on the ‘wpSumo Shortcode Generator’ button from the standard editor menu, and then use the shortcode generator to add your chosen elements to the page. You can add tabs to a page, which allow you to create the effect of having pages with in a page; you can easily create visually attractive ‘call to action’ boxes. Buttons can be added to pages with just a few mouse clicks.
What is more, is that the settings and appearance of all these elements can be easily customised simply by adding values to the relevant fields such as those for the height and margin, or by selecting an option from a dropdown menu, to change the colour.
Power users can also apply styles from external CSS files, giving you even more control over how these shortcode elements will look on your page. Even without supplying your own CSS style sheet, the built in options from the style editor look great. This allows you to easily give the elements on your page a professional appearance without digging into the code at all.
WPSumo makes comment integration with Facebook a breeze thanks to the built in functionality that links the framework with most of the social networks out there. If you so choose, users can comment on your posts using either the standard name and URL format, or using their Facebook account. The two types of comments are kept separate by tabs. While this out of the box functionality is great, I’m not too keen on keeping the two sets of comments separate as I feel it could hamper discussion, due to non-Facebook commenters not being able to reply directly to comments left by those using Facebook.
While most blog readers are likely to have a Facebook account, not everyone wants to leave a comment with their full name and photo on display.
Blog Audit Tool
This is a nifty little tool that was a plugin, but is now part of WPSumo right out of the box. It lets you set goals for things like how many posts you will publish and how many comments you hope to achieve per day or week. You can also view the number of interactions with your posts from visitors, as well as view the number of posts you’ve made over a period time using a graphical display of the data.
The idea of this tool is that it will help you see which posts are more successful than others, and allow you to easily check your productively levels. Being able to see what types of posts are popular with your readers is a great way to help plan future posts for your site. All the data can be broken down by user for more individual results.
The Whole Package
Maybe they called this framework WPSumo as the package is so stuffed full of features? If you don’t want to waste time researching, hunting down and then testing the WordPress plugins you need,to give your site the functionality you require, then you will be pleased to know that the WPSumo team have included a lot of the functionality you would normally need to install plugins for.
These include things like social share buttons, with custom positioning; Facebook commenting, on a site wide or post by post basis; ad display options; basic SEO fields for pages and posts; contact forms and feed displays from Twitter, Flickr and Facebook etc.; plus a load more we haven’t got the space to mention here.
If you want to save time by not having to manage a myriad of plugins, and you want out of the box integration with the best social networks, then the level of functionality of WPSumo should be exactly what you are looking for.
I don’t need to tell you about the proliferation of mobile devices, and the developers of WPSumo didn’t need telling either, as included in this framework is a customisable mobile child theme, with its own settings module in the main admin area of WPSumo. While it is automatically served to mobile visitors, they have the option of viewing the site using the regular theme, to see what they are missing, or not missing in this case, from the full version of your site.
WPSumo Child Themes
By using the integrated style editor, modifying the existing theme to create your own child themes is a painless task. There is so much you can do without having to even view any CSS or code, that even those new to WordPress customisation can start making changes and tweaking things from day one. Using the style editor’s graphical user interface, you can easily change the colours, fonts, sizes and positioning of most of the page elements like you were using Word.
There are also some child themes available for WPSumo from the developers of this framework, with a few more to come. These include:
- The Product Theme
- The Mobile App Theme
- The Author Theme (coming soon)
- The Magzine Theme (coming soon)
Final Thoughts on WPSumo
I’ve loved evaluating this framework and have been constantly surprised at each turn. There are so many possibilities here, that I keep thinking of new ways I could use them to improve my existing sites and for new projects. The bundled functionality and integration with social networks that also removes the need for countless extra plugins is ideal for those new to WordPress, and for those who would rather spend their time creating content than researching plugins.
While more experienced WordPress users probably have their favourite plugins for most extras, the functionality of the included tools here won’t disappoint. They also come with their own set of benefits, such as ensuring you don’t have to worry about updates and compatibility with new versions of themes and so on.
If you want certain posts and pages of your sites to have a different appearance, side bars and widgets, compared to the main look and feel of your site, then WPSumo is just what you are looking for. If you are doing any kind of marketing and want to create landing pages and compelling calls to action, all from inside the WordPress dashboard, and without installing any third-party premium plugins, then the cost savings in letting WPSumo deliver on all these fronts makes picking this framework a no-brainer.
You could toil away for days and weeks using free themes and plugins, and create something that gets you by, however, if you spend a bit of money upfront, you could save yourself a whole lot of time and effort, and create something that goes above and beyond what most WordPress sites on the internet could ever hope to offer.