Today we are looking at the Total Theme, created by AJ Clark from WPExplorer this is his flag-ship multi-purpose WordPress theme which boasts over 11k sales on ThemeForest and a star rating of 4.82 out of 5. AJ has been around in the WordPress community for years now and is famous for releasing some great quality free themes on WPExplorer and also a number of premium themes on ThemeForest, AuthenticThemes and CreativeMarket, his work rate is very impressive – you can read more about him on this interview I did with him on WPLift.

The Total Theme was first released in December 2013 and has undergone continuous development since then with new layouts and features being added all the time.

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Total Theme Features

As with most themes of this type, the feature list is very extensive, allowing you to create many different types of websites using the theme. What I like about Total when compared to other themes is it aims to be non-bloated, allowing you to to disable features that you won’t be using – this is one of my biggest problems with large multi-purpose themes so happily Total aims to avoid this.

Here is a run-down of what you get when purchasing this theme :

  • Page Editing – Using the Bundled Visual Composer plugin you can create page layouts visually.
  • Additional Plugins – Templatera for Template Management, Slider Revolution and Layer Slider 5 for creating custom sliders
  • WooCommerce – Fully compatible with WooCommerce so you can use it to run an online store
  • Theme Demos – There are currently 18 theme demos you can create for unique looks
  • Sample Data – Sample data is provided for each different theme demo, simply download and use the importer plugin to configure your site.
  • Theme Options Panel – A clean options panel with the option to toggle on or off different features.
  • Theme Customizer – Total makes good use of the Customizer so you can see your changes live before applying to your site.
  • Automatic Updates – Using the Envato Toolkit plugin, you can receive automatic updates to the theme.
  • Full or Boxed Layout – Pick a layout option from the Customizer.
  • Mega Menu – Create large complex menus with the Mega Menu option.
  • Custom Post Types – Post types provided for Staff, Portfolios and Testimonials.
  • Custom Fonts & Icons – Uses Google Fonts and FontAwesome.

You can view the full list of features here.

Total Theme Demos

Before we take a look at how the admin side of things function in this theme, I thought I would show you a few of the demos which you are able to create out of the box by uploading one of the sample data files. This is done using the native WordPress importer plugin located here.

Flat

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Appy

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Construct

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Corporate

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Installing The Theme

After you upload and activate the theme, you are presented with a number of recommended plugins to install to make the most of your theme – these are optional but I recommend you add them for now, you can always deactivate later if you are not using them.

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Now you have the option of starting your theme from scratch or importing the sample content from one of the theme demos, you can download the sample data here. If you download the whole zip file, you will see it contains sample content for all the different demos along with the Base demo which is a large file and it will setup your site like the main demo which contains every feature, it is noted that if you choose this one to install it is a large file size that some hosts might not be able to handle, there is also a Base Essential file which is smaller in size so that is the version I chose for this review.

Once you are done importing the sample data, if you intend to use a slider you can also import the data within the “Revolution Slider” there are 11 sliders included with the Base demo, to install this visit “Revolution Slider” > ” “Import Slider” and upload one of the zips within the Revolution Sliders folder.

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The final step to installing your theme is setting up a homepage and blog page, visit “Settings” > “Reading” and choose a homepage template from the drop down for “Front Page” and choose the Blog template for “Posts Page”.

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At this point you should also resave your permalinks by visiting “Settings” > “Permalinks” and saving your choice.

You can now view your theme on the front-end and see what it looks like, all the sections and content will be in place from your chosen template – all that is missing will be the photos, image placeholders will be used instead which will need updating.

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Configuring the Theme

To begin customizing your theme, your first stop should be the options panel located under “Theme Panel”, the first page is a list of all the available theme options features with the ability to toggle them on or off. This is such a refreshing change for me, having reviewed numerous large multi-purpose themes this is one done correctly – it uses the default WordPress UI and the ability to simply disable features that you don’t intend on using is a huge benefit for me – keeping bloat to a minimum.

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You will see each theme feature also listed in the WordPress admin menu, if you click to toggle a feature off and click “Save Changes” you will see it is then removed from the admin menu.

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You can go into each theme feature via the admin menu and see all the available options for it, for example, the “Image sizes” option allows you to define custom image sizes throughout your website – a great feature explained here is “On the Fly” Image cropping :

This theme includes an advanced “on the fly” cropping function that uses the safe and native WordPress function “wp_get_image_editor”. If enabled whenever you upload a new image it will NOT be cropped into all the different sizes defined below, but rather cropped when loaded on the front-end (cropped once then saved to your uploads directory), thus saving precious server space. However it may conflict with with certain CDN’s, so you can disable if needed. If disabled you will need to “regenerate your thumbnails”.

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To being customizing the look of your site, you need to visit the “Customizer” located under the “Appearance” menu in WordPress. From here you can edit all the visual options for your site.

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There are a huge number of customization options available to you here, but the way they are set out doesnt feel overwhelming – for example, the top link is “General Theme Options” which when clicked opens a new list of options which you can configure for site wide options like accent colors, background, social sharing links, page animations, button colors and so on.

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If you wish to edit any of the provide page templates or create your own, this is done via the bundled Visual Composer plugin – Im not a huge fan of this plugin but it’s probably the best of its type and is user-friendly to use. You can load any of the pages via the “All Pages” > “Edit” links which will load it up, allowing you to make changes:

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Clicking the “+” button at the top will bring up the “Add Element” box where you can insert a large array of widgets and layout features :

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If you prefer to do the template editing on the front-end, you can do that also by clicking the “Front-End” editor button which will load the page up and you can click on elements to customize them that way.

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Pricing

The theme costs $59 per website for “Use, by you or one client, in a single end product which end users are not charged for. The total price includes the item price and a buyer fee.” which includes 6 months of support, you can upgrade this to 12 months for an extra $17.70

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Conclusion

Honestly, this theme was such a refreshing change for me – a joy to use compared to similar themes in this niche. Everything is handled correctly – general theme options handled by the theme options page with ability to turn each one on or off as required and the fact that all visual options are handled within the customizer so you can see the changes in real-time before applying them is how it should be done.

This theme is now approaching 2 years in development time and it really shows – the theme feels polished and very user-friendly. If you are in the market for a multi-purpose WordPress theme with large amounts of customization options, multiple layouts and styling options I really believe that the Total Theme is currently the best theme on the market to achieve this.

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Author:

Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift and ThemeFurnace, find out more on my Personal Blog. Thanks!

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for all the kind words!!

  2. The Total Theme is by far my favorite theme I’ve ever worked with. Before Total, I was pretty adamant about coding my own themes from scratch because it was hard to find themes with the features and code-standards I wanted to use as a developer.

    If you’re into just configuring themes and not writing code to modify things, it’s a great theme, but if you’re a developer looking for a “Framework” to build off of, it’s an excellent theme.

    The use of hooks and filters is great. The code is clean and the features they’ve included (or not included) make a lot of sense. If I were to create my own “framework” it likely would be very similar to Total. . .but I don’t need to create my own framework, because WPExplorer has done it for me!

    The theme is great and the ability to create custom child-themes quickly and customize so many things so easily is great.

    Also, the way the theme extends Visual Composer is sweet. I’m a fan of Visual Composer, and I’m a fan of how Total makes use of it and customizes/extends it.

    On top of being a great codebase to work from, the support and documentation are also great, and the innovations are always coming, and are always well thought out.

  3. Heather

    I’m going to join in to give props to AJ for a really solid and beautiful theme.

    Even though it’s extremely developer friendly and customizable, it looks very “simple” and user-friendly, so I feel confident handing a site over to clients without them feeling overwhelmed. I also love the code snippets section and the documentation.

    Overall, I think this is the only theme you really need.

  4. Bill Carney

    Not sure how one can use “non bloated” and “Visual Composer” in the same review.

  5. Great review. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Tania

    I’ve been searching for a decent theme. I’m new to using WordPress although gone through tutorials for basic WordPress functions.

    I saw Total theme and looked at it but found it very hard to contact the author prior to buying this theme. It is so difficult to get direct contact as I want some questions answered before I purchase this theme. I need to be up and running with a website asap.

    Oliver I liked your run down of the theme but still need some answers. Is this theme compatible with Thrive content builder? Can I use Amazon SES autoresponder with this theme? Is the Total theme anything like the Elegant DIVI theme which I find mind boggling? I use to use DreamWeaver many years ago. Left it behind way back. What I’m finding with all these themes is they are quite restrictive and have so many instructions that it takes such a long time to pick up what should be essentially easy!

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