It’s always great to see new developments within the WordPress theme and plugin industry, and Engine Themes are one such newcomer to the market.
Engine Themes is a new WordPress theme company and their first product is the Job Engine theme.
Job Engine is one of those themes that might be referred to as an app-theme. This means that by installing this theme you are essentially changing the whole scope of WordPress to focus on one particular use: that of being a full-featured Job Board.
I am a big fan of such themes, as they are not just an aesthetic variation but bring extended functionality to WordPress, a cross between themes and plugins if you will.
So let’s take a closer look at the Job Engine theme. Job Boards have been covered by other theme companies before, so I’m interested in how the new Engine Themes product compares.
The interface is deliciously slick and user friendly, with a clever usage of Ajax throughout the front end and back end.
For example, in the front end, users can revise the job search criteria without having to reload the page, the changing results are handled via Ajax.
The more I played around with this theme, the more I got the feeling that the developers actually improved the WordPress workflow. It’s not common that I meet a plugin or theme that actually makes things more intuitive than the default WordPress interface.
Within the administration section, Engine Themes are employing their own options panel, something which is normally frowned upon in the WordPress community. There are WordPress UI elements that should usually be used rather than re-inventing the wheel.
However, in this case I am in full agreement with the decision to use a custom administration panel, especially since Job Engine is more than your typical theme, but as we said before, an app-theme, which deserves a specialised options panel. Kudos to the developers for coming up with an administration section that kicks ass and keeps things simple at the same time.
This theme is quite feature-rich, and it shows that the people behind it actually have a deep knowledge about how job sites work.
As a site administrator, you set the pricing options and also what types of jobs people can submit (e.g. part-time and full-time). You can also set the payment gateways to be used. A handy feature is the ability to test the payment gateway, and thus not be charged anything during the testing phase.
As a site user, you’re either there to submit a job or to search for one. In the case of job submissions, you can also choose to be featured (you will get a ribbon next to your listing, making it more attractive). You will also need to choose the contract type and job category. All this is handled by the submission wizard, which makes it easy as pie to submit a new job.
From a job searcher’s perspective, it’s also a joy to use. You can search by job or even by list of companies.
The Job Engine theme includes six pre-installed languages as well as a built-in translator to localize the theme into any other language. That’s great news for those of you who serve multilingual markets.
Don’t take my word about how easy this theme is to use, Engine Themes have provided a handy demo for you to try out before purchasing:
Another handy feature is the mailing functionality. You have eight in built templates you can use, but you can also create your own or customise the existing ones. You can set it up so that whenever a user applies for a listed job, both the user and the advertiser get an email notifying them of the potential match.
I love this theme’s design, it is very much in line with the latest design trends, keeping things simple and focusing on the usability aspect. This is essential when building a job board website, since you’ll be getting users with all kinds of different computer usage skills, and you must therefore keep things as logical and simple as possible.
The fonts and icons used show a high attention to detail, clearly a lot of thought has been put into the design of this theme, with nothing left to chance.
I can’t forget to mention that the theme is responsive and looks absolutely beautiful on mobile devices. Here’s a photo of it loaded on my Samsung S2, I gave it a spin and it’s really easy to use, this is mobile responsive design at its best.
Engine Themes have stated that they design themes with a mobile first approach, and that is probably why Job Engine feels so at home on smartphones and other devices like the iPad.
Documentation & Support
The documentation is complete, you can easily follow the articles in the support section for help in settings thing up. The good thing is that you probably won’t even need to refer to the documentation, as the theme is very intuitive to use.
The fact that many of the actions needed to set up the theme are in wizard form, helps immensely, and any error messages are user friendly and indicative of your mistake.
Support is easy to get hold of. If you don’t find an answer to your question from the support documentation, you can just fire an email to the Engine Themes support staff and they’ll get back to you with their help.
Updates are pushed automatically to your site, so you don’t have to do any manual work yourself. Whenever a new version is released (Engine themes promise to release update every week with further tweaks), you can just hit the update link in your dashboard, and start working with the newest version.
It’s good to see that Engine themes are eager to provide regular updates based on their customers’ feedback, that’s a good way to start gaining customer confidence.
Job listing themes are not a new concept, and there have already been a few takes by other WordPress theme companies before. Here are some of the best alternatives:
While the above themes have been successful, they haven’t been updated recently, and lack the interface polish that I’ve enjoyed whilst trying out Job Engine.
Engine Themes have taken a bold step by pricing their Job Engine theme at $129, which is probably the highest price I’ve seen till now for a WordPress theme. I definitely agree that top quality themes (especially app-themes) are worth this price and even more, but still Engine Themes are differentiating from the rest of the market here.
They are clearly showing a lot of faith in their product, and if the higher price also means better support, it might be a good bet.
Job Engine is a solid theme that is perfect if you want to start a job listing website. You can easily start earning money from your site with the multiple payment solutions available with this theme, and you can also have multiple languages thanks to the theme’s translator.
This is the first theme from Engine Themes, but don’t let that fact hold you back, the guys who created this theme are no amateurs, and the interface and coding quality are top notch. In fact, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Engine Themes come up with next, as they are sure to carve an important niche within the WordPress theme market.
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