The BindTuning team has created a wonderful WordPress theme based on Twitter Bootstrap. Here’s our impression on what you get, how it works and what it looks like.
To start with – we do not heavily use WordPress ourselves since we are dedicated Drupal users and developers as you can read in another blog post.
Nonetheless there are many fields of application, where we encourage people working with us to set up a WordPress instance and handle their web presence by accessing a simple and comprehensible GUI which does not take ages to learn. One of these fields is our arts sector. Every ensemble or soloist needs a web presence, needs to upload content of different type regularly and neither has the time nor the background to get into a complicated system like Drupal provides. Do we know how to play the Violoncello? No, we do not. So why would we ask our fellow artists to learn how to “just to place this line of PHP after this one … and then you’re done, easy, huh?”
That’s why we set up WordPress, introduce these great people to the backend and show them how to handle minor configuration tasks. Letting them out into the wild world web does not mean we do not care about the underlying frameworks. Oh, we do care. A lot. Since every artist has specific requirements and taste, we want themes to be quickly adaptable – so we select Bootstrap based themes. It is simple, has a great documentation, regular updates and there are many thousand websites with additional resources.
Now for TheBootstrapTheme by BindTuning
We like it a lot. The following paragraphs will walk you through our thoughts about the theme, the ecosystem and will give you a brief outline about what you get.
The Download Page
They have implemented a great styling wizard: You can either paste a link to an existing page or upload an image. Then the wizard “reads” the info and creates proper CSS classes to make your new design look like the source you’ve just entered. From what we’ve tested it works great. Sometimes you have to type the “http://”-part manually, but we don’t consider this to be an issue caused by BindTuning but rather by the browser (Chromium on Ubuntu 14.04).
What you get
- the theme in a zip
- an XML file with your applied config options
- A very nice setup guide. It is not an abstract guide applying to all themes but it already covers your personal style guiding you through the setup in a step-by-step fashion. Impressive work! We will come to that later as it deserves a separate entry.
- the license of course
The Theme Itself
There aren’t too many ‘pure’ Bootstrap themes for WordPress. Of course, various of them make use of Bootstrap but they are heavily modified. This can be great but does not necessarily mean to fit everybody’s needs. What if you want to adapt a Bootstrap theme to your personal styling preferences? With BindTuning’s theme you can easily do that.
Of those ‘pure’ BS themes available for WordPress, many of them have certain flaws or are buggy. Lots of them also draw up issues when it comes to adding plugins. This is caused by design philosophy regarding code. You can definitely see: This theme was created by a team which has got their own design framework and standards.
On the Theme Settings Page you can apply many different setups according to your needs. Basically it comes with a couple of different layouts:
Frontpage or Blog Page
- List Styles (with small icons, big icons, date entry, date and icons)
- Full Width – of course with a nice icon
- Grid View
- Pinboard! This is our most preferred option as it is customisable as well.
Each of the layouts gives you the option to include comments, related posts, authors and so on. Clicking on either the heading, the icon or the ‘more’ link leads you to the entry. So this meets different behaviour of site visitors. I like that a lot.
The theme comes with two menus which – again – are customisable.
- The main navigation menu which offers the standard Bootstrap navbar or a Mega Menu.
- The vertical sidebar menu offers a default, a Mega Menu plus a collapsible accordion style.
Of course, you can put there anything you want.
h3. Social Media Integration
You don’t have to install plugins for having your content shared by site visitors. BindTuning includes your accounts from Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Also there’s the Sharing Box including all the major networks. Great!
You can apply as many widgets as you wish plus you can sort them properly without messing up the style. If you add BindTuning’s widgets you can define the position as well.
How cool is this? While other themes make you go fuzzy with different slider plugins, BindTuning gives you the option to add multiple images to be set as ‘featured image’ to a post. Simply add multiple featured images to a post – hello Bootstrap Carousel.
Yes, they have included their set of shortcodes. You want a slider on the front page? You want accordions or tabs? Simply insert some code and there you go. We haven’t found a button on the post edit page yet, but since we are not too fond of WYSIWYG editors, we do not bother. You can find them on their support page, Aunt Google helps you.
Well, this is the most beginner friendly setup guide we have ever read. Even if you’ve never created a website, following this guide can put your new site up and running within a couple of minutes. Although WordPress itself is quite self explanatory, the BindTuning team has put together a perfect step-by-step installation and customising walkthrough. It even explains the ‘mechanics’ of WordPress of how to create pages, blog posts and how to customise the layout.
Nerdy stuff (continue on your own risk)
- The theme comes with minified CSS. Good one.
- Properly commented code!
- Wonderful code formatting. Most Bootstrap themes out there are a mess, here you find proper indentation (brackets!) and formatting.
- FontAwesome included
- What we miss a little bit: Bootstrap delivered by an CDN!
As an end user you might not be too keen on knowing about that, but if you want to change something, this is a requirement. So we appreciate clean code formatting a lot.
It looks great on mobile devices and does not show any errors. Many Bootstrap themes for WordPress are properly formatted while browsing on the desktop, but show misbehaviour, misplaced divs or do not follow the scaffolding standards of Bootstrap. As you definitely want to provide your site visitors with a good mobile user experience, you want to take a close look at this.
We definitely give it a 10/10 rating. If you want a theme not too apart from the standard Bootstrap layout, then you’re on the right spot. If you aren’t a WordPress expert or a web designer, you can bring your new site up and running within a couple of minutes. Just add the content, some images or videos, click a few buttons – et voílá, you’re online!
What to do next?
Follow them! Their team is very active on various channels, find them on Twitter or on Google+. If you are on Google+ you will definitely enjoy their posts as they feed you with interesting topics, funny graphics and point to helpful resources!