Drag & Drop WordPress Theme – Ultimatum Builder Theme Review
Ultimatum is billed as a ‘total design suite’ and is a theme builder for WordPress. This means that it is competing with the many other WordPress page builders already on the market such as Headway, PageLines DMS and the iThemes Builder, to name but a few.
The main selling point of this WordPress page builder is that it gives you the freedom to create the theme you want without the need for any coding knowledge. Version 2.5 has been recently released and has incorporated feedback from users of the previous versions.
To view some of the sites that have been crated with this tool, check out the Ultimatum showcase.
Some of the features and functionality that can be used when building your pages with Ultimatum include:
- Powerful forms builder
- Handful of shortcodes
- Visual Composer page builder plugin
- Layer slider
- Revolution slider
- ShowBiz Carousels
- Post galleries
- Post ordering
- WooCommerce integration
By default, most of these features are disabled and can be enabled via the Advanced Settings under the Theme Settings page.
Installation & Usage
Ultimatum is installed just like a regular theme, either via an FTP upload or through your WordPress admin dashboard. Once the 5 MB file has been uploaded to your WordPress site, the service can be accessed via your themes control panel, where it can be activated with your API key.
Ultimatum also recommends the installation of a free plugin: the Ultimatum Library. This plugin contains the fonts and images used by the theme. Although when I clicked on the install link I got a 404 error. However, I was able to download the 18 MB file, and then upload it before installing it.
Once the theme has been setup, and before you’ve done anything, you are presented with a blank canvas to build your designs on.
The settings page for Ultimatum allows you to set site wide items, such as the default logo, a favicon and an image placeholder. You can also create the sidebars your theme will use by entering their names.
From the Advanced Settings, clicking on Extra Settings allows you to turn on some of the features listed above. From here you can also set the Layout Editor Options, where I would recommend turning on the Elements at bottom option which you will use when building your page layouts. Otherwise they will be displayed in the sidebar, creating a very long page.
The templates section allows you to create and import templates. When creating a template you can choose to use the Ultimatum grid framework, or alternatively select the Twitter Bootstrap from the available options. When selecting a template type you can choose from the following options:
- Mobile Web App
Each has their own settings such as element widths and margin sizes. The appearance of these options hints that this builder is a good choice for those wishing to build WordPress sites for a range of devices. Once you’ve created a template you can then go on to design the layout which we will cover in a minute under the Building a Page heading.
Ultimatum also includes a Custom Post Type creator which makes creating additional WordPress post types and custom taxonomies very easy. When creating a new post type you can easily choose what elements your posts type will have such as Titles, Comments, Categories and Tags.
From the general settings menu item you can also access the library which contains the fonts and icons used by the theme builder. Fonts can be enabled form a range of sources including Google Fonts and Cufon. After installing the library plugin you get access to a very large selection of icons for use in your designs.
After you’ve worked your way through the intuitive settings, it’s time to start building your first page designs with Ultimatum.
Building a Page
From the Templates sub-menu you can get to work creating you page layouts. With Ultimatum you start with a blank canvas to create your themes on.
This can be a little off putting as I was not really sure exactly what can be done with the tool. Deciding what to do with it can take some time as you get to grips with the different options available. A starting template with some elements included would be nice to help users get started.
The first step is to create a new layout. From here you can name the layout and select the type. There are two types of layouts here which include:
- Full: main layouts which you can assign to posts and pages
- Partial: layouts you might want to use more than once, and include them in your full layouts
Creating your initial full layout first is a good idea. After that you can create partial layouts which might include the header and footer which can be used in other full layouts.
This is a good idea in principle as you can use sub-templates for your designs. However it does mean you have to go into the edit screen for each partial layout each time you want to make any chances. Unfortunately you cannot edit them from the full layout editor page, despite them being visible and on display. This slows the whole process down quite a bit, which is a shame.
The next step to take is to insert a row, where you can choose from the many column and row layout combinations. It is also possible to create your own row layouts.
The available elements that can be added to your layout are simply listed using their titles. There is no real way to know what they are, unless you can tell from their name, or decide to drag them onto the layout and then save and view your site. Again, it’s a slow process and there is no live view like with PageLines DMS.
Once you’ve identified which element you would like to feature on your page, you can drag and drop them into the desired location on your template.
You can set the site wide settings such as font styles, borders, background colours and images. If you are designing a responsive layout then you can also select which elements are hidden from different devices such as desktops, tablets and phones. This is a good idea as it helps you keep control over how your pages are rendered on a range of different screen sizes.
While dragging and dropping your way to your ideal page layout, you can also edit the CSS for the template as a whole, or for the layout specifically. This gives you the best of both worlds for creating the look and feel you want.
At post level, you can use the shortcode button that is added to the post editor toolbar. This allows you to insert layouts and elements into your posts and pages allowing you to modify the post without applying a template to it.
Having both the option to create templates which can be applied to many posts and pages as well as being able to edit the layout of individual posts is a great idea that offers a lot of flexibility.
Support and Documentation
When it comes to support and documentation for Ultimatum there is plenty of resources to help you get started.
There is a larger user forum for owners of this page builder. All the widgets are supported in their own sub-forum and there is also support for third-party integrations such as WooCommerce and the bundled premium plugins such as Visual Composer.
Another mode of support that is offered is the webinars. If you’ve missed any, they can be viewed from the archive.
The documentation area is extensive with each part of the tool covered in detail with plenty of screenshots to help walk you through the processes.
There is no support ticket or help desk service so using the forum is the best way to ask for help.
For those interesting in buying this premium page builder for WordPress, there are two pricing plans available:
- Starter: $65
- Pro: $125
The extra features of the pro plan include the ability to export templates, access the mobile web app builder and get WooCommerce support. Both plans include lifetime updates without any hidden or recurring fees.
The lack of any bundled templates and the absence of any kind of showcase for the page elements which can be added to your layouts left me a little underwhelmed. I like to see what can be done with a tool before I decide whether it’s worth investing my time in learning it. On this front Ultimatum didn’t do a good job of persuading me.
Although it’s worth noting that the recently released PageLines DMS does strongly showcase the elements that make up their tool, but this has in some cases created unrealistic expectations from its users, who were then left disappointed.
However, perhaps I am not their target customer. The product is often lauded by users for its blank canvas approach. This enables designers to build something of their own, from scratch without having to edit existing templates and layouts. If that appeals to you then Ultimate might be a good choice, although Headway also offers this functionality in my opinion.
A nice aspect of Ultimatum is that is uses a twin approach of letting you build templates that can be applied to posts and pages, as well as allowing you to edit the appearance of individual posts and pages using the shortcodes, which I assume are part of the bundled Visual Composer plugin.
I’m going to take a leap of faith and state that this is a tool for more serious, dedicated and long term theme and page designers (who don’t know enough code). While I didn’t have time to use Ultimatum extensively, I’m guessing that the more time you invest in it, the more you will get out of it in the long term.
So while it didn’t wow me in the short term, I believe it has potential. If you’ve been using this tool for a while please let me know if I’m right or wrong.