Like just about every other WordPress user/developer out there, I am always on the hunt for themes and tools that may be exactly what I need at a certain point in time. Sometimes you find a great theme that fits the job, but it lacks some of the functionality you need for the project. Or, you have a plugin that does what you need, but for some reason it creates problems with the current theme. And so on, the list can be really long.
On top of everything, as a developer, there’s always a problem of changing things, doing it your way. Some themes are just so complex you’ll have a hard time customizing things. Plus, of course, the more complex the theme is, the more time it takes to load. And we all know that after a few seconds we’re already moving the mouse towards the Back button, don’t we. We grew up to be very impatient as far as the internet goes.
If you’re in the same business, you probably recognized the theme used on this site – it’s Divi, and I actually love it for many reasons. There are things I really have to improve here (hm…), I know. Let’s not dig into that.
Divi is great; versatile, all-mighty, and so on. There’s little you cannot build with it, there are tons of options, a visual builder, modules, tools… But that’s exactly where the problem lies. Sometimes you just need a theme that puts together a basic framework and is easy to customize should you need it. Divi is no such thing. It can’t be, really, if you want to preserve the built-in functionalities. Imagine Microsoft Word being a program of 2MB in size, like it used to be in the older days? No – has to be gigabytes now, judging by the time it takes to load, in spite of having a machine who-knows-how-many-million times more powerful. The same is with a WordPress theme: the more features it includes, the more time it needs to initialize everything. And the harder it is to really customize it in a simple way.
But there are sites that need to be simple, fast and that you can customize with added code and CSS easily.
So I was looking for such a theme for a long time, trying all kinds of free and also premium themes that promised a lot. It takes time, as you can imagine, and also money; I ended up with 10+ themes I bought just for testing and never used on any website so far. Forget the free themes, although they might be great for a certain job, it’s not the way I want to do it. There’s just too much effort needed to learn a new theme’s specifics for every site you need to build, and they’re usually limited in functionality, because – imagine that! – the developers want you to buy the premium version.
Along came Socrates
Then, one day, I came along an ad – I don’t remember, actually…. – that promised a very fast and easily customizable theme. And I started digging. As there was no free version available, I just bought it like I did so many times before, thinking ah, here we go again…
Dan Nickerson, the developer behind it, advertise it as The Logical WordPress Theme. He promises very fast websites with little to no bloat, built-in shortcodes, page builder compatibility, and so on. Nothing I haven’s seen or heard before, so I continued to be skeptical.
What I did learn though is that Dan is very passionate about his theme. It’s my baby, he says, and he promises to develop it further. What’s more, he has built an entire blog packed with tools and great advice about Socrates Theme, including all his tricks and gimmicks, and he gives full unrestricted access with the purchase. It looked very impressive, so I gave it a try (and $47 in the process) and downloaded the theme.
Along with the theme itself, you also get a Socrates Toolkit plugin. It includes some tools that can be very handy, like monetization options (ads) and pixels for your website. The point being, you don’t need additional third-party plugins for it. A big plus.
Then, I installed it on my test site.
Boy, was I surprised.
Being accustomed to Divi and some other premium themes that do everything, this theme was installed in – well, no time. When I began to dig under the hood and created a test post, I found his shortcodes. I also logged in his portal and checked some videos, some tricks and so on.
Let’s make it clear: I am in no way an expert for Socrates theme yet, I’m in the middle somewhere, as I addressed the issues I needed first. So I’m still learning, but one thing I know: I like it a lot.
First, let’s just say it fully supports WordPress 5+ and the new Gutenberg editor. No problems there.
Well, I could add that I still have problems with Gutenberg – I’m not sure why, but I simply don’t like it as much as it probably deserves. So I’m usually installing the Classic Editor plugin, just to be back to the environment I’m used to.
If you want to try it though and feel uncomfortable, here’s a full training which can help you become a master editor fast.
Everything you need to do is right here, in the Appearance / Customize menu.
You can change the standard things for a WordPress site, like the site identity, of course, but the Socrates Theme settings begin with the Site Layout options.
Here, you get to choose the container width (the main width of the content), header options and sidebar width, along with the header and content padding that you want for your site. Nothing revolutionary, really, but everything you need to customize the overall appearance of your website, quick and easy.
Here you can define individual colors for just about anything the theme includes.
Background, headings (H1 to H6), links, titles, subtitles, navigation text, footer text, you name it, you can customize it. What I particularly like about it is that everything is neatly organized in one place – it helps.
Of course, you can define the header image separately.
Dan gives all the details you might need about creating perfect header images for the theme (dimensions, templates, even advice) on his blog.
The Socrates Theme supports 4 menu locations out of the box: Primary, Top Bar, Footer, and Mobile. While you can’t add new locations (hey, it’s a lightweight theme!), I believe these are the mandatory ones and more than enough for most of the needs.
They are all available straight from the Customize menu.
Widgets became popular very early in the Internet and HTML history, although sometimes known under different names. The point is to have a piece of code that displays exactly one thing, and that you can re-use it as many times as you need on the screen.
The Socrates Theme offers some predefined widget areas, such as:
- Right Sidebar
- Page Left Sidebar
- Member Sidebar
- Top Banner
- Bottom Banner
- Landing Page Footer
While most are present in every theme, you’ll notice the Top Banner and Bottom Banner areas. These can be used to directly insert some content right after the header, of right before the footer areas. Which is very handy – you can use these to display offers of ads, for instance, even Adsense.
The Socrates theme includes Google Fonts support, and it’s all done in the Fonts & Sizes menu in the Customizer.
There’s a huge number of options available, including the specific mobile font settings, so it would really be hard to find something that’s missing. As a WordPress user, I’m sure you know you can change things on the posts separately, you just need a little CSS knowledge. But you don’t need to with Socrates Theme, and that’s another big plus in my book.
Another theme-specific group is called Other; here, you can switch On/Off the date and author line, search form in the header area, featured image display on posts and some other useful things.
You can even define the 404-page title and basic HTML code to display. Very handy, and again, no additional plugin needed.
The important things
Now that we’re through the Customizer, let’s take a look at the important things I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Just quickly, in case you are not familiar with WordPress shortcodes: it is a piece of text you can include anywhere in the post, and depending on the functions that the theme supports, certain functionality is fulfilled, like a special fixed display and so on. It is a great way that relatively complex things can be done via a single word, but the theme has to support it, of course.
The main benefit of shortcodes – apart from being easy to use – is the time they add to the site’s rendering (display) time. Since the code is already loaded when WordPress loads (shortcodes live in the main theme’s file), there is virtually no delay whatsoever, compared to some plugins.
It’s done via a specific syntax like this: [do-this-and-that]. If the shortcode you type in does not exist in the theme, it’s simply ignored and displayed as text. Ah, you have to love WordPress. 🙂
Socrates Theme supports many shortcodes, you can build an entire site with shortcodes only, never needing an additional plugin (yes, I know, depends on the site…). In fact, if you take a look at Dan’s portal, he claims that the complete landing page is built with shortcodes only.
All shortcodes are available from the editor window, where they should be.
You have a wide range of options available: buttons, panels, dividers, columns, and sections, to mention just a few.
As I already said, I did not test each and every single one yet – there’s a lot of them and you need specific content for some. But from what I did test, I can say they work as expected and most importantly, they work fast. And I fully believe Dan has built an entire page only using shortcodes, which gives me (and you) a fair chance of being able to do the same.
As mentioned, one of the main concerns regarding WordPress websites is always the loading speed of the website, that is, the time needed for the website to load fully in your browser. There is no universal recipe for this but in general the less the better.
You’ll find some websites online that load in a second, while others can take 5 seconds or even more. Why is this so important?
First, the user experience. Studies show that an average of 70% of visitors turn away (continue browsing) if the site’s loading time is above 3 seconds. What does this mean to you? A disaster, of course. You want as many visitors as possible to see your entire website, and this way it’s impossible to achieve. So your website has to load really fast, or just the most interested visitors will stay to see it.
It – again – depends on the content and the target audience of your site. If your site is a support site for something, or you have a really great and special offer, it has less effect. But if your site is a blog, monetized by showing Google ads, you’re in trouble.
How is Socrates doing?
Socrates Theme is great at speeds. On my other test site, using one of the free themes, the speed measurements (GTMetrix) showed a result of 78/65 out of 100. I just grabbed the Socrates Theme, installed and activated it, and repeated the test. This time, it showed 94/82, which is a decent 20% less time needed to load the page and close to very good. And all this without any additional optimizations done yet. True, the site did not display completely correctly, because certain things have to be changed with another theme, but that’s hardly the point.
The fact that Socrates Theme uses a relatively small footprint gives it a great speed factor. And it’s probably the most important one when deciding on a theme.
It’s a good idea to start fast, build a website in 15 minutes, start posting content and get the content indexed fast. Later on, when the website draws traffic, you can still go and install one of the fancy themes if you want, but the start is very important.
With the purchase, you also get a plugin called Socrates Toolkit. It enables you to do some things that average free themes need additional plugins for, which adds up to the loading times.
Here, you can define the code that you want displaying in the post top or bottom.
It can be any HTML code or script code, which is very useful for showing ads, for instance. You can just paste in the Adsense code and your posts will begin showing ads pre- or after post content.
CSS and Hooks
You can input any custom CSS code here that you want to activate site-wide, as well as any custom header and footer code needed. This is very handy for Google Analytics or other pixels, as well as the specific code (only HTML) you might need, maybe a popup window or similar.
Again, it is one of the options average themes request an additional plugin for.
This section is all about getting some more speed out of your website.
You can disable certain Socrates and even WordPress functions here, which gives you a little less bloat to load and a little faster loading. Among others, you can disable WordPress Emoji scripts, if you don’t use them, as well as Font Awesome and even Gutenberg libraries. Each and every option you disable here takes microseconds out of the loading time, but you have to be careful what you need and what you don’t. You can easily test that – just disable and check your posts. If they display correctly, you’re good.
Ah, this one surprised me a little as I didn’t expect it here (included in the theme, that is).
Socrates Theme is in no way a full-blown membership site, you must be aware of that. But there is a simple membership functionality included, and it’s actually great.
It supports functions that will enable you to create custom register forms, register new users on the blog, and limit the content availability to these users. You can use it to protect downloads, for instance, or share particular content only with registered users. It does not support multiple user levels, user emails and so on, which are the functions of full-blown membership plugins.
As Dan says, it was done for a reason: to keep it simple, manageable and – before all – fast.
There you have it. I tested it and it works exactly as it advertises, with no quirks and add-ons. Great for basic needs, and again removing the need for an additional plugin.
Support and development
Dan is very active as a developer, and it shows everywhere you look on his site. The documentation is great, short and to the point. If you can’t find something (which happens), all you need is to send him an email. To my question about some specific CSS setting, he responded within hours, so I was more than happy.
His Socrates Theme website is all about showing the Socrates possibilities, so you can easily get ideas about some design points.
The Socrates Theme comes with a full unlimited personal and client rights, along with lifetime updates, for a one-time payment. I don’t think it could get any better.
Socrates Theme is very open and has a small footprint, additionally, it’s very well documented. So creating custom code is a really easy and straightforward process, as long as you know what you’re doing. It’s a good practice to use a child theme, as always. I only tested a very small custom made plugin so far, but have no problems whatsoever finding the needed specs or directions. And I’m totally confident that Dan would be willing to help immediately if something would go wrong in any case.
Who is the Socrates Theme for
Mostly it depends on your needs, of course, and being able to code a little can be helpful.
If you’re a weekend blogger with a very specific niche targeting, chances are that Socrates could improve your overall blogging experience. It’s very easy to start with Socrates, and it’s really important at the start. If you don’t like to think about learning a little CSS and maybe HTML, you’ll be a little limited though. In my experience, Socrates can do anything, but you have to tweak it here and there. Still, a great theme for beginners.
If you intend to make some money with small websites using Adsense, Amazon or other affiliate networks, it’s a great choice. You can put such a website online in a matter of a few hours, literally, customize a few things and start advertising it. Very easy, and very fast.
And finally, if you’re a developer making a living by creating websites for others, you simply must have this theme.
You’ll be able to create so much so fast that you probably didn’t think it was possible. And with just a touch of HTML, CSS and possibly JS knowledge, you’re in for a treat. Priced at $47, this theme includes unlimited installs and full developer license, plus you get access to outstanding support and a very dedicated developer who actively uses what he’s selling. A win-win-win situation. I’ve created two websites with it so far, so the initial investment is more than covered. And I’ve only just begun, as Karen Carpenter would say.
In my humble opinion, you cannot go wrong. At least it’s worth taking a look.
Here at MaxProfitReviews we are in affiliate business with many of the vendors who's products we mention here and write reviews about, which means we will get a certain commission from them should you buy their product via our link. We are however not connected to them in any other way, nor we receive any special commissions for making good reviews. We try to hold our opinion fair and honest, giving you both the ups and downs where we see them. Nevertheless, everything written here is our own opinion and assessment of the possibilities that software provides.