Ultimatum Theme Review
Update – September 18, 2014
After gaining some more experience with Ultimatum, I’m hesitant to recommend it for a few reasons. Here’s my response to Nathan in the comments below regarding Ultimatum vs Headway:
Like with any theme builder, it’s going to be more on the bloated side. As far as actual code quality of Ultimatum, I’m not really familiar with it. I’ve actually only played around with Ultimatum on a couple test sites and have never used it for client work. Depending on the needs of the client, I almost always prefer Genesis because it’s really the cleanest framework available for WordPress and it’s extremely flexible. If the project requirements warrant a theme-builder (i.e. if the client foresees making a lot of changes to the design on their own), Headway Themes will typically be my #1 choice because I’m more familiar with it, it’s a little more flexible than Ultimatum and it is more reputable. That’s not to say Ultimatum isn’t reputable (although I’ve heard the developer has frequent health issues and misses time for development/support) but in my experience Headway seems to more reliable.
Regarding the compatibility of Ultimatum with other plugins, I never had any issues with other plugins but that’s not to say there couldn’t ever be any. For what it’s worth, I feel I did a good job putting it to the test with plugins like WooCommerce and Visual Composer.
If your clients are looking to change the design of their site without your help and if they aren’t comfortable with CSS and browser tools like Firebug, I’d suggest going with Headway because it’s easier for a beginner/novice to customize and the design interface is better.
A while back, I purchased the Ultimatum theme and spent some considerable time getting familiar with it. I designed a few test sites and even had another project running on it for a while. Overall, I like Ultimatum a lot and I think it’s a very powerful tool for building custom WordPress designs. Among the design frameworks available for WordPress, I’ve also used Headway Themes, Genesis by StudioPress, and a number of other very powerful themes that could be considered frameworks. Having worked pretty extensively with the big three (Genesis, Headway, and Ultimatum), I would give the edge to Headway and Genesis (read why in my comparison, Headway vs. Genesis), depending on needs and skill. Here are some of the things I like the most about Ultimatum.
Ultimatum’s layout builder is very powerful yet very simple and it’s where the real business of your design is handled. If you’re familiar with the WordPress UI, the learning curve is pretty small. To get started, you simply create a template (which you can think of as an entire design). After you select your settings for your template, you create your site’s “layouts”. The great part about this is that you can create both partial layouts (header and footer) and full layouts that can include your partial layouts. Your layouts can be sectioned off into many different column variations like 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 2/3. etc. To fill in your layouts, Ultimatum allows you to easily drag and drop any of the WordPress widgets or any of the Ultimatum widgets into the layout’s sections. To include your posts and pages, you simply include the WordPress Default Loop widget and Ultimatum lets you customize even further. The layout builder of Ultimatum is a post in itself but this is just a brief overview of it’s capabilities.
Anyone with experience using WordPress and WooCommerce for e-commerce knows that not all themes integrate with WooCommerce. If you want to purchase a pre-designed theme from ThemeForest or somewhere, you have to make sure to purchase one that is compatible with WooCommerce. Sometimes, this can be a hassle, especially if you have a particular look you’re aiming for. At first, I was skeptical to see how well Ultimatum worked with WooCommerce but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it did. Just create a layout for your shop pages and you’re good to go.
Front End CSS Editor
I love Ultimatum’s front end CSS editor and, if you enjoy styling your site with custom CSS, you will too. In fact, this is my favorite feature of Ultimatum. Changes display immediately and indentation to keep your code organized is automatic. Between Firefox’s inspect element and Ultimatum’s CSS editor, customizing the CSS of your site can be handled entirely from the front-end of your website.
Image Slider Integration
You’re not limited when it comes to which sliders you can use to display slideshows on your site using Ultimatum. It seamlessly integrates with some of the most popular sliders for WordPress (not to mention its own slideshow generator): Layer Slider, Slider Revolutions and ShowBiz Slider.
The WP Bakery Visual Composer is one of the most popular drag and drop editors for WordPress. It lets users create layouts and add all sorts of elements to their pages and posts. Ultimatum includes the plugin as a standard part of the theme and can even be turned off if you don’t want to use it.
Ultimatum lets you design your site using seven different menus. Regular menus, drop-down, and mega menus are available in both vertical and horizontal layouts. You can also use a Twitter Bootstrap menu. If you’re a big fan of multiple menus in your theme, creating them is very easy. I love working with multiple menus in my designs and Ultimatum makes this very easy. With the help of some other menu related plugins, you can create some advanced navigation for your site.
Custom Post Types
With custom post types, WordPress really upped their game in the content management system market (rather than being just a blogging platform). With Ultimatum, you can easily create your own custom post types to organize your content. Even though I never used this feature of Ultimatum, I’d recommend using a plugin to create your custom post types so your post types aren’t theme-dependent. Custom Post Types UI and WP-Types are both good ones.
Not only does Ultimatum allow you to create highly responsive designs, it also lets you design your own web apps for your site. If you’ve been looking for an easy way to create a mobile theme, Ultimatum may be a good way to go (there are other tools for this as well).
That’s right, updates for life! At least as of now. The only other theme provider I know of with lifetime updates is StudioPress, makes of the Genesis framework.
Updates and Support
Since purchasing Ultimatum, it has been updated a few times to fix bugs and add features so it seems to be properly maintained. Regarding support, I only experienced one issue and the support guys responded to it. However, I’ve heard that the overall support for Ultimatum can be sketchy at times due to health reasons from the developer. This isn’t from my experience so I am not counting this as a weakness for Ultimatum.
Who Should Use Ultimatum
Like with Genesis, I’d say that you need to be pretty comfortable with CSS to really customize your design. There are built-in design features but they’re not as nice as Headway’s. Therefore, I’d consider Ultimatum to be a cross between Genesis and Headway. You can build complex layouts with ease like with Headway but you need to know CSS to customize the entire design, like with Genesis. For this reason, Ultimatum is a great option for either developers or non-coders who are can work some CSS.
I’m happy with my purchase of Ultimatum because it’s a nice tool to have. It makes custom designs much simpler and reduces production time to a fraction of how long it would otherwise take to do the same work all by hand. The value it provides is one of the best value in the WordPress market. It’s a very powerful tool that is worth every penny.