I’m surprised at myself. Of all the reviews I wrote about WordPress Themes, I just realized that I have never once written a proper review for this particular theme I am presently using and have been using for the past few years. I mean, I love the Catalyst Theme. I have done Catalyst Theme videos I have written Catalyst Theme tutorials. So how on earth can I have not written a proper Catalyst Theme Review?
Here’s to make amends.
How I Became A User Of The Catalyst Theme
The brains behind it all is Eric Hamm. The Theme wasn’t always known as Catalyst. If I remember correctly, the Theme started life at or around 2009 with the name of Frugal. At that time, I was madly in love with the Thesis Theme but as if it was fated, an event happened during that time made me lose a lot of that love for the developer. Even though I still loved the Thesis as a Theme per se, (even till today) the respect that I had for the developer was gone.
I started looking for a replacement and started playing around with a couple of other Themes. One of those that caught my attention was the Frugal Theme.
Before the Frugal Theme became premium, it was distributed for free. After improving the Theme many times over, Eric decided that he should at least get something in return for his tremendous effort in developing the Theme. I really do not remember how much the Frugal Theme cost exactly back then, but I think it was less than $50.
However, I did not buy the Theme as I was still having some reservations and I have just bought the Thesis not long before.
One fine day I saw a Tweet about a contest in the Frugal Theme blog where the winner will win a licensed copy of the Frugal Theme. All I had to do was to Tweet about the contest and so what the heck, I thought. I entered and forgot all about it because I have never won any kind contest in my whole life.
Unexpectedly, I won. That was around May of 2010 and like they say, the rest is history.
A Brief History Of The Catalyst Theme
The Frugal Theme was slowly picking up pace. At a later stage, Eric roped in another very talented coder by the name of Seth Merrick to take the Theme to the next level.
With Seth on board, they developed a WordPress Plugin called Impact which lets users create dedicated and unique pages within their WordPress Blog. Along the way, plans were also set afoot to re-write the Frugal Theme from scratch to make it even more awesome.
I can’t say much about what went on in this development stage, but around the end of October 2010 not long after releasing the update of the Frugal Theme to version 3.6, it was announced that the Frugal name will be discontinued and all existing users were invited to find a new name for the new improved Theme.
The new name will be decided by the Frugal Community and the name with the most votes will be used. Catalyst won hands down.
Thus saw the birth of the Catalyst Theme.
Becoming A Beta Tester For The Catalyst Theme
As a responsible Theme developer, The Catalyst Theme was however not immediately released to the public. It went through rigorous rounds of beta testing to flush out any possible bugs.
As I was now a very active user and strong supporter of the Frugal Theme, I was privileged to be invited to become of the many Beta Testers of the Catalyst Theme. We were to report back any misgivings and give our opinions to improve the Theme further from a user’s point of view.
Catalyst Theme Official Release And Initial Pricing
After months of polishing up, on the 7th. of December 2010, Catalyst Theme Version 1 hit the road.
Taking the step of most major Premium WordPress Themes, the Theme came with 2 flavors. The Personal Edition and the Developer Edition costing, $97 and $174 respectively.
Yours truly and all other existing Frugal users, got to upgrade for Free according to their existing versions. I had the Personal Edition but soon upgraded to take advantage of the extra benefits that came with the Developer Edition.
This initial price structure have gone through a few phases of change since then.
What Are The Benefits Of Using The Catalyst Theme
Time Saver And Easy To Use
The biggest benefit, to me at least, was the Catalyst Theme is a major time saver. Bundled with the Catalyst during purchase is the Dynamik Child Theme which lets you do more than 800 different things with your Theme’s layout. For those like me who likes to change the looks and layout of their Theme at their whims and fancy, Catalyst is like a gift from God.
For the layman and the noobs, most changes can simply be done with the click of the mouse without writing a single line of codes. In fact, you do not even need to use your keyboard. Just your mouse will do. No other WordPress Themes or Frameworks I have seen allows you so much flexibility and options to change and move things around without wrecking your brains out.
Front End And Back End Theme Editor
For the intermediate user who understand CSS, they can go further by inserting their personal custom CSS codes in the Advanced Editor. This is very useful if you are one who likes to insert third party elements not included within the Theme. You can style all these extras with the Advanced Editor.
To make things easy, there is a front end editor which when activated, will show you the exact location of each location you want to edit. If your CSS codes are not properly arranged, the Editor will automatically clean up the codes for you.
Full Use Of Hooks.
WordPress Hooks, if described to the uninitiated and non tech-savvy will make them go a little mad and they will rather not lay their fingers on it. If a Theme do not provide you with the necessary tools to use WordPress hooks and you need to code in the hooks manually, it can be quite tedious.
Basically, WordPress hooks gives you the flexibility of inserting whatever you want to wherever you want in your Theme. To write the codes for inserting the whatever, you will need to learn and understand PhP, which is many times more difficult to learn than CSS or HTML.
Catalyst Theme serves up these hooks in a silver platter. All you need to know now is where the hooks are located. With that, you can simply put in the codes for whatever you intend to use in the Advanced Options then just choose the hooks prepared for you by the Theme.
Unlimited Hook Boxes And Widgets
With the obstacle of using hooks out of the way, you can now create unlimited number of Hook Boxes and Widgets for whatever you want.
For example, you want to show 100 banners under your Post Title or 100 Affiliate links under your Header or wherever, you can go ahead and create 100 widgets or hook boxes to use.
Okay, that was an exaggeration. 100 banners under your Post Title is way too much, but you get the idea.
Create Unlimited Custom Pages
If you have a huge site or if you market 100 different products in your site, the Catalyst Theme lets you create unlimited number of custom pages for each product. Each with a totally different layout and look.
So if you market 100 different products, go ahead and create 100 different looking sales pages. Catalyst will have no problems with that.
Alright, alright… that was also an exaggeration but again, you get the idea.
Create Unlimited Child Themes
With the bundled Dynamik Child Theme, you can spawn out unlimited child themes of your own for sale or free distribution.
Catalyst Child Developers gets the added benefit of listing their creations in the Catalyst Marketplace for free and they keep all the proceeds from the sales of their Theme.
Catalyst Theme Has The Greatest Community.
The Catalyst Community is the greatest. New comers are always warmly welcomed and no questions are too noobish for them. Community members helps each other voluntarily and most do not have to wait for the moderator’s answers.
Best Support I Have Ever Seen
Eric Hamm, even being the top dog, is so humble that he is willing to come to your site or go to your server personally to solve your problems.
One Price, Lifetime Upgrades And Support
No other Premium Themes offer these kind of price structure. There is only one price edition.
With the revamped price structure, every one is equal. One price applies to all and everyone enjoys the same benefits. Unlike before when you have to pay more to get more.
And of course, everyone enjoys lifetime upgrade and support.
Everyone gets the full developer benefits despite the price being pale in comparison with the Developer License of other Premium WordPress Themes.
Concluding My Catalyst Theme Review
I thank you if you are reading this last paragraph of my Catalyst Theme Review. I never intended it to be this long winded and if you feel that I am being biased, well, I am. I love the Catalyst Theme too much to not being.
I openly admit that I am an affiliate, but so am I for other Themes that you see me displaying banners here. I am still using the Genesis for 2 of my other blogs and despite everything, I am also still using Thesis in one, though I gave up on Thesis 2.
Compared to the Catalyst, these 2 other frameworks will never take over the number position in my heart.
I hope I did not bore you to death with this Catalyst Theme Review of mine.
Till the nest post then.