Last week was the premier of #themethursday on Torque and we kicked it off with the first installment of our Premium (but possibly overlooked) WordPress Theme Provider Series. The first theme shop to be reviewed was Theme Furnace, and this week, we’ll be discussing ColorLabs & Company.
To help you better comprehend and assess the merits (or demerits) of each theme provider, I have sub-divided these reviews into sections: Prelude, Theme Features, Pricing, Support, and finally, Verdict.
Of course, this series is not going to be your generic “market advice” or “buying guide”—buying a club membership with any theme provider is more of a personal decision that one should make on the basis of his or her needs. I shall just assess the pros and cons of each theme provider on my list, and leave the decision to you. When it comes to WordPress themes, there exists no “one size fits all” remedy.
The purpose behind this series of reviews is to analyze the performance of smaller theme shops as compared to their bigger counterparts, and also to help spread the word about deserving theme shops that may otherwise be lost in the crowd, but are surely worth a look!
ColorLabs & Company
Make no mistake about it: ColorLabs & Company (henceforth referred to as simply ColorLabs) is not a minnow when it comes to WordPress themes. As we shall soon see, they have a lot to offer, and have been operating well for quite some time.
ColorLabs was founded by Michael Hutagalung in 2008. The current CEO is Kaspito G. Hutagalung. The team includes numerous members, including developers, support specialists, designers, and several others. With most of the staff being based in Indonesia, there are some folks from other countries as well.
There is also an affiliates program that offers you 25% of sales proceeds.
ColorLabs has a rather huge collection of themes on offer, including magazine themes, corporate themes, eCommerce themes, free ones as well as frameworks. There are also several security and SEO plugins available for members.
Almost all the themes are fully responsive and ready for localization and translation. There is not much to talk about in terms of design, as the designs are more generic than unique. You will not find many minimal designs in their collection, but that said, their free themes are powerful enough to give many premium theme makers a run for their money.
ColorLabs offers two distinct pricing models: you can either opt for a Single Theme, which includes one theme with lifetime support. The pricing, in this case, is $59 for regular themes, $69 for frameworks, and $79 for app themes.
Alternatively, you can choose the Theme Bundles. The Framework Bundle, for instance, costs $129 (followed by $69 per annum for renewal) whereas the App Bundle (with eCommerce themes) costs $149, followed by a renewal fee of $79 per year. Regular and Max Bundles offer standard and special themes, respectively.
Very clearly, ColorLabs has a rather unique pricing model. In terms of backbone or frameworks, this model is perfect: you can just opt for the frameworks if you are not keen on the mainstream themes. Similarly, if all you seek is eCommerce themes, you can choose the App Bundle. However, compared to most other theme shops, this pricing model is a pain to comprehend and deal with.
In general, Club Memberships are meant to attract buyers into purchasing multiple themes for a lesser regular free. ColorLabs, on the other hand, has made their “bundling” mechanism so complex that you may end up paying $239, followed by $139 per annum, if you opt for the best bundle out there! Definitely not a cheap membership to have, I suppose.
There is a 30-day money back guarantee as stated on the homepage, but the Terms and Conditions state that any sort of refund policy does not exist—confusing and contradictory claims, so this is be something you may need to consider prior to purchasing. There are also numerous deals, such as weekend specials as well as free hosting for few months.
In terms of support, ColorLabs offers a wide array of options. As a registered customer, you can easily submit a support ticket (the support team is online on most weekdays excluding public holidays in Indonesia). Beyond that, there is also a section for Frequently Asked Questions.
Also, ColorLabs has a really well-planned and impressive set of support documentation. You can access individual themes’ documentation right from their website, even if you are not a registered buyer. Just click on the theme name, and off you go! ColorLabs should simply be given a Gold Medal for this effort.
Furthermore, you also have the Knowledgebase, that offers solutions for common issues, error messages and troubleshooting guides. Not happy yet? How about some video tutorials that help you get the most out of WordPress? Need more? Well, what about detailed advanced-level tutorials about theme customization, WordPress security, hooks and filters, and various other topics? ColorLabs has you covered!
Plus, just in case all else fails, there is always the contact form with pre-sales queries.
All in all, ColorLabs get an absolute A+ in terms of support and documentation.
So, what are the good and bad aspects of ColorLabs?
• Terrific support documentation and tutorials
• Huge number of themes and plugins, including many free ones
• Regular deals and discounts
• In business since 2008 (just in case you dislike betting on the new horse)
• Theme Bundles seem overpriced
• Theme designs, though good, are not mind-blowing
ColorLabs has a rather large portfolio of themes, and they have backed it up well with impressive documentation and support tutorials. That said, their pricing model does leave something to be desired. I am generally not unhappy with pricing being on the steeper side—but the way ColorLabs has laid out their Theme Bundles is confusing at best, incomplete at worst. There might be many folks who will find such pricing model to be handy, especially people looking for only a particular niche of themes and not the entire collection, as mentioned earlier.
Are you a customer or user of ColorLabs? If so, do share your experiences with us in the comments below!
Sufyan bin Uzayr is a freelance writer and Linux enthusiast. He writes for several print magazines as well as technology blogs, and has also authored a book named Sufism: A Brief History. His primary areas of interest include open source, mobile development and web CMS. He is also the Editor of an e-journal named Brave New World. You can visit his website, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.