spotlight1

Spotlight is a premium WordPress theme designed by Mohsin Naqi of Blogging Bits and, Muhammad Haris. Newspaper themes are a tough genre, so let’s see how well it’s done.

This post was sponsored by Mohsin, but it’s going to be treated exactly like every other design review I write, so hopefully you’ll still learn from it even if you aren’t interested in getting a new theme!

The theme is sold through the newly launched Theme Sphere, and you can see a complete demo here.

What Has Been Done Well?

  • Ample padding. Each element in the site is well spaced from it’s neighbors, which gives the site a very clean, calm look, and makes it far easier to read through.
  • Easy to re-color. The majority of the site is colored in shades of gray, but there is still a very noticeable amount of red. By changing the link colors and footer border in the CSS, and updating just one image, the theme can be made unique instantly.
  • Threaded comments. WordPress 2.7 is still very recent, so the number of places you find embedded comments in isn’t too high yet. It’s good to see the theme is up to date for it.

spotlight-comms

  • Video embedding. If you look in the footer, you’ll find 4 embedded YouTube videos linked to their posts. If you publish a lot of videos on your site, this is a great feature that I haven’t seen before. You probably wouldn’t watch the videos in the small size, but the fact they’re there draws you to the full post.
  • Navigation bars. Roll over both the top (red) navigation bar, and the slightly lower (gray) navigation bar. They both have great, different, rollover effects that could easily be made use of in a lot of theme designs. It could well be worth getting the theme just to get your hands on these.

spotlight-nav

What Could Be Improved?

  • Logo. It’s difficult to create a logo in a template. You don’t know the name of the site that will be using it, or its topic, or anything at all. But still, the text used in the logo’s place here is a little boring. If you buy the theme though, it’s probably the first thing you will change anyway.
  • Search bar. There’s nothing wrong with the current search bar, I’d just have used it a little differently. It fits nicely where it has been positioned, but is a search bar important enough to take up header space? What about an advert or RSS links? And the “Submit” button looks great, but a rollover effect for it would go down nicely as well.

spotlight-search

  • Featured post slider. The slider looks slick, contains an excerpt, has fluid animations, and most of all, the whole thing is a clickable link (Not all sliders are!). But there are no arrows for manually scrolling. It’s not a huge flaw, but it was a bit of an annoyance when you expect them to be there.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that Spotlight is a very well made theme, and definitely worth buying if you’re in the market for a new design. You might want to customize it a little to your liking, but that should be the case with all templates anyway!

It’s clean and well structured, which makes it a great base to build your own theme from. But between the touches of red and the navigation bars in particular, it has enough personality to make it that bit more noticeable than some of the other themes in the newspaper genre.

What do you think of Spotlight? Anything you’d like the authors to do with it?

If you’d like to purchase Spotlight, it can be bought here for just $30.

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