Now, I’ve not reviewed a WordPress theme but, in particular, I thought it was worth in this instance to do so. I’ve built a number of WordPress sites over the years and have mainly stuck to free themes that I’ve heavily modified myself – this site being a good example of that. However, I’m in a process of creating a new site to help support my WordPress development including, potentially, selling some – for this reason, I want to build a very professional business site with promotion and sales capabilities. Hardly something a free theme offers 1.

So, I’ve been on the search for a theme that will meet my requirements. After lots of searching I settled on the Cygnet theme from RocketTheme. It has all the features I want and the professional look. I purchased it and, with minutes, was regretting the decision.

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Why? Simply put, how poor the provided instructions are from RocketTheme. Virtually all the documentation is how to reproduce the demo, with little or no context as to why what you’re doing does what it’s meant to. Recreating the demo is great but what if you want it different? What do you tweak? There are so many options available – some consist of typing in lines of commands – it’s a jungle and, yet, the documentation attempts to tell you none of that.

Let’s take an example…

For the front page, we used a Page Suffix to load the unique styling for it. You will need to create a Front Page override under Theme Settings. To get to this page, navigate to Admin > Cygnet Settings. Once you have done that, simply select the Gizmos panel (tab) and enter the following in the Page Suffix field: rt-menu-home -rt-cygnet-style.

Once this is done, you will need to assign the Front Page override to the page.

First of all the menu option in admin is NOT named “Cygnet Settings”. Next, we enter that page suffix field. Why? What does that do? I don’t know as they don’t mention it again. You just do it – but that hardly helps if you’re interested in then deviating away from their demo. Finally, they tell you to assign the “Front Page override”. But how? They link to another page – follow this link to see what that is. That’s right. A blurry screenshot and a table. What’s the relevance? I have no idea.

I stumbled my way through their instructions to recreate the front page but got nothing that even slightly resembled it. I posted in their forum but also sent an email to their support. After 4 working days I got a response to the latter which was to look at some videos on YouTube – a one line reply which wasn’t really very useful. Is a video tutorial such a big issue? This recently popular Tweet on the subject would suggest that most people feel like me on the subject…

https://twitter.com/timd/status/703898625898909696

On the forum they directed me to a different part of their site which lists generic WordPress instructions – these are now how to recreate a specific theme but how to configure the “Gantry Framework” they use on their themes. Again, I struggled to make head-nor-tail of how to piece together the specific theme that I’d bought.

Enough was enough – as far as I was concerned the product isn’t up to scratch and, having used PayPal, I decided to open up a dispute and request my money back. However, RocketTheme turned it down, stating that they had a “no refund” policy. I decided not to pursue it any further with PayPal, simply because it was Christmas at the time, which is stressful enough as it is!

I tried their instructions again and realised that they create their home page via a series of widgets, so I set about following that through and setting them up as they documented. But, again, nothing – the home page of my site was as before. I wrote to their forum again asking if anybody could explain what I’d done wrong. An admin asked for my site details to be published privately so that he could log on and take a look. I did this. That was nearly 2 weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing since.

Summary

The theme looks great but the documentation and lack of support means that even someone like me is left floundering. I can’t even get my money back so I’m out of pocket with a broken theme.

Now, if anyone is reading this, doesn’t know my background and thinks this is down to me being not being appropriately technically literate, I’m a WordPress plugin developer, have contracted for Automattic (the company behind WordPress) and am a WordPress Core contributor. I know WordPress and I can tell you, this is rubbish.

If you liked this, you should try The Big Tech Question, which includes articles written by myself.

The Big Tech Question delivers straight answers to the biggest questions in tech. And some questions nobody really wanted the answers to…

RocketTheme Cygnet WordPress Theme

$49
RocketTheme Cygnet WordPress Theme
2

Rating

2.0/10

The Ups

  • Looks great
  • A lot of features
  • Good price compared to many other themes

The Downs

  • Appalling documentation
  • Slow and unhelpful support
  1. and, to be honest, most free themes are just stripped down variations of premium ones with lots of promoting and adverts all over to try and get you to buy it[]
  2. and, to be honest, most free themes are just stripped down variations of premium ones with lots of promoting and adverts all over to try and get you to buy it[]