Time flies. Wow.
It has been (almost) 7 years since I have bought my first X-theme license from Themeco. I have built all my website with it ever since. Including this one, of course.
My very first website built on X ended up on a list of WordPress influencers, along with Mercedes Benz, Katy Perry, Bloomberg, NASA and others. Not too bad. :)
The time has come to do a concise but detailed review of the X/Pro theme. There is a need for such review because most of what we can find on the Internet is outdated. Some reviews that can be found are old even if their (automatic) headlines are saying that they are from 2020.
Themeco has no referral program, so there is no affiliate links towards them here. If they start the referral program, I will place those links with a disclaimer, but it won’t change a thing about what I have to say.
For the starters, the word “Theme” in the name of this product makes it sound somehow cheap. Less experienced people immediately think of some template that imposes its own design, and very often the whole layout. That is far from the reality. X and Pro are both powerful site building tools. With them, it is possible to start from the blank canvas and build the website exactly the way we want it.
If you are building a website based on someone’s mockup, you will be able to recreate it 100%. I just hope that the mockup was made by someone who actually knows what they are doing. :) And if you want pre-made templates, sure. They are available in the Themeco’s Design Cloud.
The initial release of the X-theme was on October 24. 2013. We can see the whole update history in the changelog. Soon after that it got the Visual Composer integration. Very quickly it became the fastest-growing theme on the Envato Market.
In May 28th, 2015, X-theme 4.0. came out and introduced its own page builder—Cornerstone.
On April 10th, 2017, Themeco released its second theme called Pro. The main difference at the time was that unlike X, it had the Header and the Footer builder. Also it was not sold on the Envato market, but directly from Themeco.
Throughout the years, Themeco was adding its own plugins called extensions. Not only that, it introduced a whole suite of bundled premium plugins. Some of them are ACF Pro, Ubermenu, Essential Grid, Mailpoet Pro, The Grid, etc…
Themeco is basing the X and Pro themes on design sets called Stacks. This may change in the future, but it is actually not a bad concept at all. There are four stacks: Integrity, Renew, Icon and Ethos. Each one has its own character, and they create a nice starting point for those who want quick ready-made designs. Everything in the theme is customizable, so you could end-up not noticing the stacks at all.
Performance (It is fast. Very fast)
Ember, React, Themeco’s crazy-geek engineers… There are few things that came together that allowed creation of one of the fastest themes on the Internet.
As a digital marketing consultant, I had a chance to work with all major themes on the market, and some less known ones. I can tell you one thing for sure: no theme is fast as X and Pro theme. There are few that are a match on the front end. Oxygen would be one, and there are more. But on the backend… That’s crazy. Let me take a stop watch and measure the time the Homepage of this website becomes editable in the Cornerstone Page builder:
Ready? Set… Go…………………7 seconds!
Dev time is money. If you have to wait extra 10 or 20 seconds for every change to take effect, and to be able to edit a page, that sums up to A LOT of money burned for nothing.
Disclaimer: make sure you have fast Internet speed, and that the site is hosted on a decent Hosting. This one is on Siteground’s GrowBig Plan. Otherwise, the theme is as fast as the narrowest bottleneck.
Cornerstone Page Builder
The real power reveals itself once you fire-up Cornerstone. Also called Content Builder in Pro. Cornerstone is a full front-end Page builder integrated with the X and the Pro theme. It provides the structure based on basic building blocks:
We can nest rows inside columns, which allows more complex layouts. But, that is just the beginning: we can turn-on Flexbox layout on the Columns, and if that is not enough we can activate CSS Grid!
So the layout options are:
- Standard Layout
- Flexbox Layout
- CSS Grid layout
Pro is the first theme on the Market that has CSS Grid Layout integrated, with a native visual editor. It has a native draggable interface like no other.
The power of the CSS Grid is the ability to arrange elements in two dimensions, (unlike one-dimensional Flexbox). By doing that, we can overlap elements if we like, and we can rearrange them by breakpoints. This allows layouts that are beyond the reach of most page-builders.
Some users don’t turn this option ever on. Others cannot live without it. Dynamic Content supports ACF fields, WordPress content or just about anything else. This makes creating Templates easy as a pie. Paired with the Template Manager, it truly has lots of use cases.
Build an element in one place, and drop it anywhere with a shortcode or the Global Block Element. Then update it in one place and voila — updated everywhere.
With X and Pro, you can turn anything into a template. A whole page, a section, a column with all the elements, any element, anything. Once created, it becomes a Preset element. That means that you can simply drag&drop it anywhere and that’s it.
No, this is not another attempt to drag-drop some pre-made elements into preset positions. This is a whole content builder for the Header and the Footer. You can make it look whatever you like. There is hardly any known website that you couldn’t emulate with Pro.
Fear of client ruining the website by clicking what they shouldn’t? No problemos. All individual theme parts, individual elements or user settings can be assigned to specific user roles.
We don’t have to say anything more about this. It works like a charm.
You have found a cool animation library that hooks into HTML with custom attributes? You would like to apply it to the X/Pro elements? No problem. Add as many custom attributes to any element. Zoooom zoooom.
Hate those recurring yearly payments? Me too. X and Pro are not like that. X can be purchased on Envato for $59 one-time payment. But take my advice and don’t buy it. Pro theme license is $79 one-time payment, and it can be bought from the Themeco’s website directly. For the extra $20, you are getting The Header & Footer builder and the CSS Grid element, which are awesome. You are also supporting Themeco directly, and that is important.
The license is valid both for the Production and the Staging website, so there is no need to switch licenses constantly.
From the day one, Themeco devoted lot of time, energy and love to provide support that is best in business. They go over and beyond, and they respond very quickly. Usually withing few hours and sometimes faster.
There was a short period when Themeco was restructuring the support system, and they came out with a huge update that radically changed things. It created a huge pressure to the (new) support team and the quality went down. The theme was actually never, ever unusable or something. But there were several influential individuals wining about it and creating a negative hype. Themeco did that bold move to transfer the theme far into the future, beyond the competition. That move paid off tenfold. So if you find traces of that by searching the historic content on the Internet, that’s it. And it is all long gone.
As I have said, the support is absolutely one of the best in the business, and it is lifetime. No yearly time limit or something. The Support Forum is called “Apex”. It is open, but questions can be asked only by registered users with licenses.
If you are not subscribed to WPScan Vulnerability Database already, you should be. Go ahead and check the popular themes on the market. You will find most of them had security breaches. But not X. And not Pro. They have spotless security record.
The Long-term Sustainability
I am using Themeco’s themes almost from its beginning of . One of the most important aspects of deciding to go with them at the time was the human factor. I have felt the passion and devotion of Kyle Wakefield and his team. I knew those treats will lead to great things, and that they will provide long-term security. That was enough for me. If you want to hear the Themeco story, you can watch this video. (50 min).
This article is an overview of the Theme and its functionalities, so I won’t bore you with too much content. Everything important has been said. Here a list of what we have mentioned already, and few more things:
- Global Colors
- Global or Page-level CSS/JS
- Font Manager
- Template Manager
- Dark/Light Mode
- Dynamic Content
- Header/Footer Builder
- Unlimited Headers and Footers
- Lots of Premium Plugins
- Flexbox and CSS Grid
- Global Elements (Blocks)
- Custom Attributes
- Native Dropdowns, Modals and Fly-ins
- Powered by Ember and super-fast backend/frontend
- Font Awesome Pro V5
- Design Cloud – Offline repository of ready-made elements
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Right-click contextual menu in the builder
- Elements API for developers
- And more
I am obviously biased. But with a good reason. If there was a reason for me to leave Themeco in the last 7 years, I would do it. Instead, they have became an invaluable partner I can count on. They have provided me with an advanced piece of technology that works flawlessly and that doesn’t stay in between my imagination and the final product.
This technology cuts down the development time significantly. There is no need to build a mockup in Photoshop or other Prototyping tools. Cornerstone builder works almost like those tools. The live prototype instantly becomes final product.
So there is really no other rating for it than this:
That’s it for now. I will get back to this article to update it, whenever I feel that I should add more to it, and also when new theme updates will be available. See you soon!