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Exploring Dynamik

Imagine that you have the power of Genesis, the simple, yet powerful design capabilities of Thesis and some other goodies thrown into the mix. Sounds good? It does to me. And such a theme does exist – it’s called Dynamik.

This isn’t my normal style of blog post. This post is part review / part interview with Eric Hamm the creator of Catalyst Themes (Cobalt Apps) with contributions from Keith Davis, and Bob Dunn who connected us all together. Catalyst Themes have released the Dynamik child theme that sits nicely with Genesis (a WordPress framework) and extends the functionality in terms of  both design and usability.

Genesis owned by StudioPress have the Prose theme which is superb for beginner bloggers who wish to customise their site and still have a powerful framework behind them. Prose is the theme I start my blog coaching clients on. It helps build their confidence quickly and it’s simple to correct any mistakes they make as you can download the settings options prior to any changes.

If you are a web developer or web designer, of course you can really make Prose come alive in your hands, and it will look even more fabulous than it looks with just a few basic tweaks.

What if you haven’t the time to learn web development skills, yet you want a slicker looking website?

In the past you’ve always had two options

  • Hire in a developer
  • Learn how to do it yourself (yup, you can learn CSS, HTML and anything else that is required along the way).
Developers are an unknown quantity to me.  A recent meeting I had with one was interesting, they told me me it would take 3 developers and a designer to export feeds from one site to another. It took 20 minutes. It’s not that I distrust developers, far from it, I just find them hard work and not always truthful. If you don’t know, say you don’t know…
Learn how to do it yourself. I have to confess this option is of limited appeal to me. I have only so much brain capacity. I tend to go to Babs Saul or Simon Brusche when I am looking for a specific work around. Babs is a brilliant coach, and if learning web design is your thing, then go and book onto one of her courses. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I know more than the normal user, but I’ve reached the point where I say “enough”.

Now you have another option – Use Dynamik.

Dynamik Genesis ThemeDynamik is a child theme that works with the Genesis framework. I refer to it as a “teenager” theme as it’s bigger than a normal child theme. It’s similar to Prose and extends on what Prose has, plus throws a few more features things into the mix.

The options for developing your blog or website are now a whole lot stronger and no longer so complex. There are a lot of theme out there that claim no coding, like Dynamic.

I have to admit one of the things that annoyed me about Thesis was the claim of no-coding, sure no coding but I had to muck around with FTP and files / folders – that really shouldn’t be in the hands of a beginner…

And I always tell my coaching clients that Thesis is cool but not for the faint hearted – there’s a steeper learning curve with Thesis than there is with Prose, and that’s why I use it.

So what are the drawbacks of the Dynamik theme?

Facebook Page Owner: Bloated code.

Sarah: Is the lean, sexy code of Genesis compromised?

Eric: Hey Sarah, regarding the code being “bloated” that’s not the case at all. I think what happens is some WP devs see a bunch of options and assume that means bloated code. The code itself is very clean and efficient while providing you with more no-coding control over Genesis then you’ll find with any other Child Theme. I’ve been developing WP themes for over 3 years now and writing solid code has been an ever increasing priority. I just don’t let that be the only thing I focus on. Providing my community with incredibly powerful and flexible web design tools is priority #2.

Bob Dunn: looks very interesting. Could be a good fit for Genesis users who want that control, or for designers who don’t want to mess much with custom CSS or PHP.

Blogger on Facebook: By it’s not approved by Genesis, so I can’t use it
Eric: With regard to being approved or not being approved by StudioPress, I contacted “the powers that be” several times with regard to having them look at Dynamik and was mostly ignored (I guess they’re just too busy right now), but I honestly had no intention on letting my development on the Dynamik Website Builder hinge on their “approval”. I develop WP software for my end-users, not StudioPress or even WordPress.

I’ve got a long track record of developing useful WP software that addresses areas that others don’t seem to fill, while providing one of the most supportive Theme Support Communities around. So if StudioPress “approves” Dynamik that’s great, but I don’t see where that logically comes into the picture, unless of course I’m seeking to be an “official” StudioPress/Genesis developer, which I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for the guys over at StudioPress, and I’m certainly willing to work with them if that ever helps improve Dynamik or the Genesis/Dynamik user experience, but at this point they’d need to come to me for that as I’ve already extended the gesture myself.

Blogger on Facebook: It comes with a 250 page cheat sheet, wtf?

Sarah: Yeah, I was interested in the answer to this. What theme needs 250 pages to show us how to use it?

Cheat Sheet is not a wholly accurate description. Dave Pritchard (a member of the 4,000 strong Catalyst community) has created the “Dynamik cheat sheet guide” and the first few chapters are around mindset, productivity and internet marketing. He’s added in sections on how to install WordPress for complete beginners and he tackles installing and customising Genesis.

It’s a good strong support to first time users of Dynamik, and Dave is open about his use of affiliate links and what he recommends and why he recommends a tool. If you are totally new to blogging / website development then you will find this guide useful.

New to Dynamik? Yes, this will help you run through the options and how to take advantage of this powerful theme straight from the box. Don’t let 250 pages put your off, I doubt it’s been designed for you to read from cover to cover. Choose what you need.

Keith Davis: Pricing looks very reasonable, does that include Genesis framework?

Sarah: Doesn’t include Genesis Keith, but it’s needed to activate the theme.

Eric: Sarah’s right about Dynamik not including Genesis, but requiring it. But it doesn’t just require it to activate, but it still utilizes all the goodness that comes with the Genesis Framework, just like other Genesis Child Themes, it just adds a bunch of other goodies of its own. :)

Bob Dunn:yes, this is one of the things that attracts me to try Dynamik… the fact that it does run on Genesis… so you get all that Genesis goodness : )

Sounds good so far.

So I’ve loaded Dynamik up on the Arrow Light Haulage website, and I’ve taken a look at the extensive options. So far I’m not alone in liking the Home Page Builder Resource, Keith likes it too – check out his review here. I’m still playing around with it, but it has a really clean feel and I’m starting to customise using the home page options.

What I don’t like – some of my hyperlinks are struck through. I’ll have to see if there is a global default setting for that or why it is happening. It happened on Thesis for a while too, I just don’t recall how to correct it.

One of the most annoying things about any theme is trying to change the layout. Some Child Themes give you instructions like – add this code to the function file and then add this itty bitty of code to this .php file… and it’s an inconvenience and if your blogging client is still learning the basics, this will just freak them out. Dynamik makes the site layout options more flexible and easier to manipulate.

First impressions – wow, how cool is this?

  • Mobile responsive
  • Check box to remove page titles
  • Floating “save” button
  • 49 different options for your homepage
  • 49 different options for your homepage, so good I’ve said it twice :)
  • Sections for Favicons and avatars – one less plugin (or an hour faffing with the .ico generator)
  • Google fonts installed
  • Typography geeks will love this….
  • Beautiful integration with Genesis

I like the clean feel of Dynamik so much that I’ve activated it on a client site and we’re walking through their front page options with ease.  I will be moving to it this site as well (am currently Adorable with no customisation), I’m busy faffing with Arrow right now :)

The options and choices are laid out in an easy to use manner and I think this theme will become a firm favourite with both beginners and web designers through it’s ease of use. You can purchase Dynamik here at $77 it’s a little more expensive than the usual child theme but it’s worth every penny, and a very worthwhile investment.

Thank you Eric, Bob and Keith for your responses.

Over to you – what do you think? Do you use Dynamik already? What are your concerns? What do you like the look of?

Sarah

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Sarah Arrow

Sarah Arrow started blogging to save a business and it worked! She created her first blogging challenge back in 2007. She's been internationally recognised as a top content marketer, Forbes and MSN list her websites as top ones, and she's the author of many quick start marketing guides. You can find her books on Amazon.

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