Along with GeneratePress Premium. And er, OceanWP Premium. Look, I’m a little indecisive. It wasn’t that long ago after all, that I ran through the rigamarole of setting up OceanWP in what I thought was my liking.

More details below but the headline is: Changes ahoy again! And in fact, shortly after I publish this post, I’ll be flicking the site over into an out-of-the-box style of GeneratePress. Many of the plugins, hooks and Elementor previews for it require it to be the active theme to work with.

For posterity — the before shot (desktop).

I think it’s worth calling out though, that OceanWP even in it’s free version is an amazing theme. The flexibility it offers beats the pants off some of the other highly recommended Elementor (free or pro) friendly themes like Neve or Astra.

OceanWP lets you modify which order the Elementor hooks show up in, or whether they show up at all.

So why change theme entirely, rather than customise further?

Good question.

The answer being that OceanWP — possibly as a result of just how much flexibility it offers, and possibly entirely down to some quirk of my own site — has a few issues that I couldn’t easily seem to override or fix.

None of them on their own were deal breaking, but in combination they’ve got to me enough to retrigger taking a look around at what else is out there.

Example? Well, if you were a mobile or tablet user (or even just narrowed the horizontal width enough on desktop) the responsive version of the menu had the error text ‘undefined’ sitting below the menu options.

I also didn’t much like the fact that the main archive page used the tagline in such a huge title font. But configuration of how that appeared was tied to archive titles more generally. I looked into playing around with a CSS override, but of course it uses the same class descriptors as well (which makes sense given the configuration tie-in).

There were are few other smaller bits and pieces too, but the long and the short of it is — I’d still recommend OceanWP to someone looking for a great out-of-the-box free theme that ties in to the WordPress customiser to a frankly amazing degree.

So if you’re switching OFF OceanWP, why buy the premium edition?

Another good question!

The answer lies pretty much 100% in the Elementor extensions it provides. I did enable a bunch of the theme specific plugins too, to see if I might be able to work with OceanWP around some of the bugs and issues noted above with them.

But nooope. Turned most of them off again almost straight away. I have no doubt they’re useful for certain WP powered websites. Just… not mine.

So with having discovered that, I’ll need to make an assessment on whether or not it’s worth paying for to keep these extensions updated beyond the year. My prediction is: Probably not. But guess we’ll come back and revisit that later. ;)

And Elementor? Why go Pro?

The ThemeBuilder power of it, primarily.

The free version of Elementor lets you design fantastic standalone pages, and a few other bits and bobs. But Elementor Pro lets you go in and fully redesign how things like the Archive pages are put together. Search pages. Individual blog page templates. Headers. Footers.

Things that were previously tied 100% into a theme and you had no means of customising (beyond what the Theme allowed you to) without diving into the code.

If you’re curious.. Er. Here’s a 28m tutorial. This tutorial works from essentially a blank state, but Elementor friendly themes like OceanWP, GeneratePress, Astra, etc can be used to fill in the bits you don’t especially need or want to build by hand.

Jump to ~3m 30s if not interested in the grabbing and installing of the blank slate ‘Hello’ theme.

I had a bit of a play last night with a custom header. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, but one that I have a lot to learn about yet!

My first priority will be to configure what I can from GeneratePress alone, then it’ll be time to dive in here crack my knuckles a bit. :)

Final Note: None of this is necessary!

I just wanted to acknowledge this. Especially for any of our new joiners for Blaugust 2019.

As long as you’re not making your readers eyes bleed. As long as you’re not causing them strain by too small or too tightly packed text. As long as you’re not getting your readers lost on an unnavigable site…

Then all the rest of this is fluff. Don’t worry about it until you’re happy you’ve settled into a content creation rhythm which is comfortable for you. Or at all.

And if you do start poking around at custom themes and all that — there are plenty of utterly free options to look through first, including many of the ones I’ve mentioned today!