Solostream is pleased to announce the release of WP-Responsive, a new premium WordPress theme designed mainly for folks who have or want to launch a business website. As its name suggests, this theme responds to your visitor’s screen size. That way, your site looks great on all sorts of devices – from laptops and desktops to tablets (e.g. iPads) and smartphones (e.g. iPhones).
Solostream is pleased to announce the release of WP-ClearPhoto 1.0, a new premium WordPress theme designed mainly for photography enthusiasts or anyone who has a portfolio of projects to show the world. With its clean, elegant design, it’s the perfect container to show off your great work, while its built-in versatility and added features also make it suitable for a business blog, website or online magazine.
Over this past summer, we examined how best to improve our products and services for Solostream customers. We reviewed all aspects of our company including products, development, marketing, technical support, custom work support, communications, etc.
This self-examination led us to conclude that – while we’re doing a good job – there is definitely room for improvement. Therefore, as of today, we’re implementing some exciting changes that we hope will deliver overwhelming value and the highest possible level of support. Here’s a summary of the changes.
1. Solostream Premium Themes Membership
All our premium WordPress themes are now available exclusively via this membership option. This means that for one low price – starting at $59 – you can have access to all our premium themes. We consider this an overwhelming value because you can get all 20 of our premium themes for less than the previous price of a single theme. In fact, if you do the math, it works out to less than $2.00 per theme.
While your membership is active, you’ll have unlimited access to all premium themes, free theme upgrades and free access to our excellent support community. There are additional benefits available for customers who choose the Silver (6-month) and Gold (12-month) memberships. These benefits include:
- Free access to new themes (at least 1 new theme per month).
- Access to Photoshop PSD files.
- Special tutorials.
- 20% discount on Solostream services, such as custom design work.
2. Solostream Themes Are Now Fully Licensed Under GPL
If you’re not familiar with the GPL (GNU General Public License), the biggest benefit to you as a customer is that you’ll be free to use your Solostream themes on an unlimited numbers of sites/projects. From our perspective, it brings our company and products more in line with WordPress – which is licensed under GPL – and we believe this will enable us to create new and more meaningful relationships within the WordPress community.
3. Support Forum Overhaul
While the present system has served our active community well, we’ve been searching for a tool that can provide our customers with better answers and faster delivery. Through our search, we discovered a relatively new tool called Zendesk, which we have been testing for several months with our custom work customers. The biggest benefits of Zendesk for you will be:
- When you type a question in the forums, this tool will search our knowledgebase/forums automatically and pull up related topics to help you find your answer as soon as possible.
- As part of Zendesk, there is a ticketing system that will enable streamlined communications so you will be able to better track the resolution of your support requests and custom work orders.
Options for Existing Solostream Theme Owners
First, take a deep breath and have confidence that we’ve thought with deep concern about your situation. You will have the opportunity to choose from two options going forward.
Option 1 – Convert Your Existing License to a Membership
If you’ve purchased a Solostream theme in the past, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade to the new Solostream Premium Themes Membership at a greatly reduced rate. We’ll be sending you a special Gold (12-Month) Membership upgrade offer via email later today, so watch your inbox for it.
Option 2 – Keep Your Existing License As It Is
If you prefer to keep your existing license with unlimited upgrades and lifetime support, you’re free to do so. The only difference that you’ll notice is that you will now need to use the new support system. A major plus will be the ability to login to the Solostream Member’s Area, and download the latest copy of a theme without having to make a request to the support team. We’ll send your login information via email later today.
We’ve provided a lot of important information to you today. We’ll continue to do our best to provide more details as we move forward, but we didn’t want it to be overwhelming at this time.
I was recently in a hotel undergoing a renovation that posted the usual “Please Pardon Our Appearance” signs in the lobby. As cliche as it sounds, we’re going to ask the same of you today. I hate doing it, but it accurately reflects the reality. We’re making all these changes to improve your experience with Solostream and WordPress, and we’re doing everything we can to mesh our new tools into a smooth running operation. We have made our best efforts to get it right from the start, but inevitably there will be a few bumps in the road. Please be patient.
Finally, if you want to get a sense of what this has all felt like for our team, pull out a copy of the movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and remember to “be excellent to each other.”
We recently launched WP-Mystique as the newest addition to our collection of premium WordPress themes. Like all of our recent themes, WP-Mystique is built on the WP-DaVinci platform, so it’s complete with all the cool, little options you’ve come to expect – stuff like:
- two different featured content sliders
- alternate home page template and featured page slider for business sites
- featured videos slider
- featured photo galleries slider
- multiple page layouts
- a slick theme settings page
- and much, much more.
Heck, we even threw in 12 different color options for you. All-in-all, we think you’ll find it a flexible and elegant little package to power your WordPress site. Check out the demo site here.
We recently received some nice accolades and would like to share it with you.
We’re pleased to inform everyone that Solostream has been awarded and recommended as a Best Web Tool provider by WebHostingSearch.com and these are the words of recognition directly from them. As part of this recommendation, Solostream has been added to their directory of recommended product and service providers.
“Solostream has been awarded and recommended as a Best Web Tool and Development resource for providing outstanding Premium WordPress Themes in building your WordPress Powered website. This award is given by Web Hosting Search, a leading company in providing best reviews for top web hosting sites and reliable resource for web development.”
Video: How to Use WP-Elegance to Make Your WordPress Home Page Look Like a Business Website Rather Than a Blog
We recently upgraded WP-Elegance to make it more useful to folks who want to use WordPress as a business website rather than blog or online magazine. In this short video, I show you the exact steps that will transform your WordPress home page into a business home page rather than a blog home page. You can see the end result on the WP-Elegance theme demo site.
If you’re looking for the perfect theme to power your WordPress business site, we just put the finishing touches on some great new features that make WP-Elegance (demo site) the perfect choice. Here’s a screenshot showing the (new) Widgetized Home Page Template with the (new) Featured Pages slider (see description below screenshot).
New WP-Elegance Features
Featured Pages Slider - this feature allows you to select specific WordPress pages (rather than posts) via the Theme Settings Page, and display them in a slider on your home page, a single post page or a static page.
Featured Page Widget - This is a simple widget that allows you to place a featured page in any of the widgetized areas, such as the sidebars, footer or the new widgetized home page template (see below). The widget gives you controls to add a thumbnail, page title, page content/excerpt and a “read more” link. Thumbnails can be aligned left, right or at the top of the excerpt.
Widgetized Home Page Template – Maybe you want your home page to look more like a business website instead of a blog. If so, this alternate home page template gives you 3 widgetized columns where you’re free to display whatever content you like via widgets. Add the Featured Pages slider to the top, and you’ve got yourself a slick looking business home page.
Image Attachment Template/Photo Gallery – If you like to show photo galleries on your WordPress site, you’ll love this new addition. See here for an example.
WP-Elegance is the latest addition to our collection of Premium WordPress Themes. With this latest offering, our mission was to give you the power and flexibility of our popular WP-DaVinci framework all wrapped up in a sexy design that exudes style, grace and beauty. Time will tell how well we did of course, but we’re very happy with the result, and the initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
As I said, WP-Elegance is more than just a pretty face. You also get a powerful theme settings panel (click thumbnail to the right) that makes it simple to customize the look and feel with the click of your mouse. Not to mention the multiple post and page layouts that can be controlled on a post-by-post or page-by-page basis. That’s not all, of course. Among the many other options, you also get:
- 10 built-in color options (that are easy to modify via the theme setting page).
- Multiple featured content modules.
- Multiple built-in banner ad spaces.
Go ahead, and check out the full list of options here. We think you’ll be impressed.
I Love You WordPress, But We Gotta Talk
WordPress is a phenomenal web-publishing platform, and I love using it. Mostly. There’s one thing I seriously dislike about it though – writing posts within the WordPress dashboard. If I had a dime for every time I’ve walked away from my computer feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by this issue, there’d be an alarming shortage of dimes circulating the U.S.
First off, when I try to write something in the WordPress post editor, I feel thoroughly confined; like trying to breakdance inside a cardboard box. Not that I’ve done much breakdancing, and certainly never inside a box, but I assume it would be a rather unpleasant experience (if you happen to be a cardboard-box-breakdancer, feel free to debunk my assumption).
The other problem for me is distraction. It’s usually a challenge for me to write under the best of circumstances, but when my visual field is bombarded by the dizzying array of links, buttons, checkboxes and empty fields available in the WP dashboard, it’s like … fuhgeddaboudit.
Yes, I’ve tried some of the common tricks to overcome these problems. First, for example, I increased the height of the post box from the default 10 lines to 20 lines. You can do this in your WP dashboard under Settings >> Writing. It was a good start, but still far from optimal; just breakdancing in a slightly bigger box.
Then I tried using fullscreen mode when writing posts. This function is available only when writing in Visual mode (rather than HTML mode). It’s activated via the little, blue button on the toolbar next to the spellcheck button. With fullscreen mode, your enlarge the post editor box to cover the entire area of your screen.
That was a better approach, but it went too far in the other direction. I can’t stand to see text spread across the full width of my screen. The other problem with fullscreen mode is you have to switch back to normal editing mode whenever you want to save your draft, which I do a lot.
Windows Live Writer to the Rescue
In my effort to find a better way, I asked almighty Google to give me a solution, and of course she did (with a memory like that, Google has to be a woman). Of all the reviews and tutorials I found on the subject of “desktop blog editors, Windows Live Writer, again and again, was pronounced the cream of the crop. Here are some of the reasons why:
- It’s free.
- Easy to install and set-up.
- Allows you to manage multiple blogs on multiple platforms (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc).
- Clean, uncluttered interface.
- Complete WYSIWYG editing functionality.
- Excellent image editing functionality.
- Several cool, little extras like word count and spell check.
That’s a short list, and I also decided to do a brief screencast below to show you a bit more about it. Once you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’d suggest you run right over, download Windows
Love Live Writer, and start using it. I’m sure it’ll give you a new lease on your blogging life. It has for me.
WP-DaVinci is out latest offering to the premium WordPress themes world, and although it may not appear so on the surface, it’s far beyond anything we’ve put out in the past. WP-Davinci is our first attempt at creating a WordPress theme framework.
A theme framework is similar to a standard WordPress theme, except a framework is designed to be a flexible foundation to speed up theme development. It also makes it easier to update your theme whenever the need arises, such as when a core WordPress update impacts theme functionality. With a framework, updates can be done without messing up any custom modifications you may have made to the theme.
As I said, this is our first attempt at a theme framework, and we’re clear we have some work to do before WP-DaVinci can be considered a full-fledged theme framework. In the meantime, we want to get it into the hands of folks like you, and get some feedback on it as we continue to develop it over the coming months.
As it stands right now, what you have is a simple and elegant premium WordPress theme designed with efficiency and flexibility in mind. We’ve built in a few more options beyond what’s been offered in our previous themes, and here are some of the high points:
Multiple Page Layouts
If you take a look at the demo site, you’ll see there are 7 different page layouts, including 2-column, 3-column and full-width layouts. An added twist is that you can select your page layout site-wide via the theme settings page, or you can select it on a per-post or per-page basis from a drop-down box on the Add Post/Add Page console.
Featured Content Options
We’ve given you 3 different featured content options; a Featured Article slider, a Featured Videos slider and a Photo Galleries slider. You can add any or all the featured content to you home page (as shown on demo site), and you can also add it to an individual page or post via the Add Post/Add Page screen.
Banner Ad Integration and Management
There are several built-in banner ad sections that can be managed via the theme settings page. You can also manage the various ads on the Add Post/Add Page screen. That way, if you want a specific advertisement (different than the one set on your theme settings page) to appear on a specific post or page, you can simply add your banner ad code on the Add Post/Add Page screen when you create the post/page.
Yes, the standard Solostream theme settings page was due for a face-lift, and we gave it one. The new theme settings page is created with a jQuery tabbed navigation script to help shorten the height of the page, and it looks a whole lot prettier too (click the thumbnail to the right to get a shot of it).
Four Built-in Styles and Style Modifications via Theme Settings Page
You can see the four different built-in style on the demo site. In addition to that, on the theme settings page, you’re able to modify the look of the theme yourself. In particular, you can change the following items:
- Body background (color or image)
- Body font and link color
- Custom logo
- Navigation bars background color and link color
- Post title font and link color
That’s a brief rundown. Now head on over to the demo site and take a look for yourself. We hope you like it.