Taking the Elementor Pro Plunge

Taking the Elementor Pro Plunge

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!

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4 thoughts on “Taking the Elementor Pro Plunge”

  1. The thing is… your “blog” now looks like a little bit more like a website than it did. I very much differentiate between those two things when I see them. They have completely different implications. To me, a website is either a professional front for a commercial organization or an amateur, hobbyist equivalent that largely pre-dates even “Homepages” let alone “blogs”.

    My first ever web presence was a “website” dedicated to my favorite band, Dolly Mixture, which I constructed using Dreamweaver in the mid-90s. In retrospect it had blog-like content here and there, but it was designed to be a static resource similar to other “websites” I visited at the time. Modern websites aren’t static but they also aren’t blogs. They tend to mimic magazine layouts or tv channels, with fresh content rolling in all the time. The EverQuest Show, for example, is very much a website not a blog.

    Blogs, to me, are more like pages from a journal or a diary. Each entry is a discrete entity, separate from every other. Time to Loot absolutely reads that way, exactly like a blog, but there’s now some small dissonance between how it looks and how it reads. Several other blogs I follow also do this – Aywren’s “Just a Geek” being a prime example. It doesn’t really affect how I react the content but it does have some barely-definable affect on how I receive it. Not necessarily a negative effect, just somehow different.

    I guess it all depends on what kind of impression your trying to create. Not sure how helpful this is, since it’s largely based on personal assumptions and emotional responses, but I figure feedback is generally useful!
    Bhagpuss recently posted…More Of The Same: KoAMy Profile

    • I really do appreciate the feedback, Bhag.

      Interesting to me that you reference Aywren’s blog as a prime example of hitting that dissonance between website aesthetic and blog content though. Although let me backtrack a moment first and say I do get what you mean on this. And it isn’t my intent to create a commercialised website look and feel (or possibly worse, an amateur attempt at such). So if that’s how its looking to people, it is really powerful feedback to receive and understand.

      Back to Aywren’s blog though — to my eye Aywren has hit a look that says to me ‘modern blog’ (not ‘modern’ in the sense of it being hypercommercialised, even with the added understanding now there is monetisation ticking away in the background). It has quite a neat aesthetic, reflective of Aywren’s interests over all.

      So it’s possible we are starting from different points of view here — but at the same time I have zero inclination to write off your feedback even if that’s true. I have no illusion as to hitting anywhere even close to Aywren’s quality either.

      Is the main issue on my current setup you think, the landing page with the carded entries?
      Naithin recently posted…Taking the Elementor Pro PlungeMy Profile

      • By complete chance, not long after I posted the above comment, I happened to read a post on Leekseverywhere ( https://leekseverywhere.wordpress.com/2019/08/10/a-quest-for-inspiration/ ) which finished with a list of nine blogs, the only one of which I had heard of being Tales of the Aggronaut. I clicked through all of the other eight and my gosh! Every one of them looks nothing at all like what I would recognize as a blog. By comparison, both your and Aywren’s blogs look positively conventional, to the point where I would revise my comments and confirm that, yes, Time To Loot and Just a Geek do look like blogs to me.

        What makes all the other eight feel like websites not blogs is that none of them have a single, complete post on the landing page. You and Aywren do. That’s the fundemental difference to me – a blog is a series of individual, discrete posts, intended to be read as they appear, in chronological order. It’s a public diary, effedtively, even if the content isn’t necessarily personal. Having what is effectively a content page showing the latest six or twelve posts as equal options to choose from makes it a magazine not a blog. And there’s nothing wrong with magazine-format websites. They just aren’t blogs.

        I recognize this is a stubbornly old-fashioned point of view and not really fair to bloggers with the skills to present their work in a less conservative fashion. On the other hand, almost all the blogs I read don’t look like that. They look like conventional blogs. Even the new ones.

        I would definitely rescind my comments on your blog and Aywren’s. I think the issue there, such as it is, has more to do with the amount of white space than anything. Having seen some real website blogs today , there’s really no comparison.
        Bhagpuss recently posted…Seventeen Days : WoW ClassicMy Profile

        • I really appreciate you coming back for a follow-up comment Bhag. :)

          And to be fair, when you would have dropped your first comment — I DIDN’T have any complete posts showing on the front page. I changed that after your first comment and dropped the card style appearance I had there.

          I think ultimately it is possible to get a nice, clean look, without throwing away the things that make a blog a blog. So I’m going to be giving that another shot. :) Not sure if I’ll be giving it another shot *today*, but I will.

          And your feedback — whether positive or negative — is always appreciated and respected. :)

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