“A fantastic theme”, “easy to use ” and “highly customizable “: based on some feedback from its users, The7 seems to be THE theme to adopt on WordPress right away.
For others, it’s also a “pain in the ass“, especially because it would be “heavy” in terms of handling and performance.
At least that’s what came out of some comments published after the first French version of the article we wrote about it in 2016.
So, is The7 really up to the task? Or is it the worst of the Rube Goldberg machines?
We tested it again to take into account its latest developments (and there are quite a few), and to know what comes out of it. We’ll let you know our conclusions right away.
Initially published in September 2016 by Nicolas, this article was updated in August 2020 and tested with version 22.214.171.124 of The7 theme.
Some of the links you will find in this article are called “affiliates”. It means that WPMarmite will receive a small commission if you buy one of the products presented through these links. It won’t cost you more but it’s a way to help us for publishing more posts like this one.
Your best WordPress projects need the best host!
WPMarmite recommends Bluehost: great performance, great support. All you need for a great start.
What is The7 theme?
The7 is a multi-purpose premium theme that allows you to create any type of website (blog, portfolio, ecommerce etc.) without touching the code. To do so, it relies on an embedded page builder (WPBakery) and ready-to-use site templates.
On its presentation page, it defines itself as “the most customizable theme on the market”. It must be said that it has a lot in store. Pell-mell, it would have:
- More than 1,000 parameter setting options at theme level, as well as 250 options at page level.
- Nearly fifty site templates that can be activated in one click to help you get your foot in the door as quickly as possible.
- An advanced integration to WooCommerce the famous plugin to create an online store (more than 5 million active installations). But also to Elementor, the most popular page builder in the official directory (more than 5 million active installations too).
- A design wizard, etc.
At the time of writing, The7 is the 5th most sold theme (198,000 sales) on the ThemeForest platform, far behind Avada (612,000 sales), but just behind BeTheme (202,000 sales), Enfold (211,000 sales) and the X theme (214,000 sales).
This commercial success has been built since September 2013, when The7 was launched by its creators, the Ukrainian development and webdesign agency Dream Theme.
Composed of 6 members, according to its website, the Dream Theme team works its ass off. In addition to The7, its main achievement, it offers 21 products on its ThemeForest page. There are for example PSDs, but also a dozen of themes such as Armada (2,975 sales), the most sold behind The7.
However, beware: most of them have not been maintained and updated for several years.
Clearly, Dream Theme is now almost exclusively dedicated to supporting and maintaining The7.
With more than 10 years of experience in WP theme development, Dream Theme is a serious and professional agency. The excellent feedback from its users (overall score of 4.75/5 for The7 theme) is a testimony to this.
On paper, The7 seems to be a good match. To begin to make your own idea, let’s first look at its handling.
Getting started with The7
To get a first glimpse of the integration of the theme in your Dashboard, install and activate it.
In the meantime, I recommend you to activate The7 child theme. You will find it in the theme folder, in a subfolder called Developer Tools.
It is in the form of the following zip file: dt-the7-child.zip. Activate this child theme in the same way as your parent theme, and that’s it
Why do this? Well because a child theme (a kind of subtheme) will inherit all the features and style of the main theme, also called parent theme (here, The7).
By using a child theme, you make sure that you don’t lose the changes you made (e.g. CSS changes) in the next updates of the main theme.
Once these technical manipulations have been performed, you will be redirected to the theme’s home page.
We appreciate the clarity of the information: well-felt links allow you to make basic settings (e.g. import a pre-created site, customize your site) and two guides are there to accompany you if you’re lost.
Everything is concise and precise, which again contrasts with the cluttered and impenetrable menus of other competing themes. This makes it easy for the user to get started and helps you not to feel lost.
Finally, note that activating the theme does not – for the moment – trigger the appearance of numerous submenus or custom content types on your administration sidebar.
The7 does it in a sober way with a settings menu composed of 5 submenus:
- My The7, which offers 10 quick settings that can be set up by checking/unchecking a simple box. You can for example choose to activate a mega menu, or display the theme options in your sidebar.
- Pre-made Websites, which contains all site demos that you can import in 1 click.
- Plugins, This menu lists 17 plugins. Some are from the official WordPress directory (e.g. Contact Form 7), others are homemade plugins (e.g. The7 Elements). None of them are installed by default, but you will see later that you will have to activate some of them, necessary for the site templates to work properly.
- Service Information, which gives information about your website environment, your server and the theme. You don’t have to set anything here.
- Icons Manager, which offers you to install the Font Awesome library to have more than 1,500 additional icons. You can also download your own icons.
In short, discovering the theme interface is a nice surprise. The process is suitable for beginners. You feel comfortable when discovering the settings.
Without further ado, see now if the theme customization is the same.
Eclectic and creative designs
When choosing a premium theme, the presence of demos is often one of the first criteria of choice. It must be said that these site templates are very useful for the webmaster, beginner or not.
They allow you not to start from a blank page and to have a site ready to use in a few seconds. Of course, some touch-ups will be necessary to stick to your expectations, but the time saving can be consequent.
The7 offers 61 demos accessible via the menu The7 > Pre-made Websites.
They cover many fields (legal, travel, photography, health, catering, construction, ecommerce, business, events, hospitality, sports, fashion etc.) and will allow you to create a variety of sites: showcase, one-page, ecommerce, landing page, maintenance page.
In short, there’s plenty to do, and it’s worth noting that the number of demos offered is in the middle of what the competition of best-selling themes on ThemeForest offers. For example, Enfold offers about 40, Avada about 60 and Salient about 30.
On the design side, the demos are good and eclectic. You’ll find both minimalist and refined templates, as well as more audacious and creative ones.
We sometimes find similarities in the construction (e.g. presence of square blocks or waves to separate the sections), but overall, we manage to find singularities in each of them. And then afterwards, it’s up to you to play and add your own touch to it.
Here are a few examples to give you a first glimpse:
The import process
In terms of operation, the vast majority of demos can be customized using the WPBakery builder.
But The7 also offers 10 demos that work with Elementor, and 2 with Gutenberg, the default content editor for WordPress.
Each demo requires several plugins (from 2 to 6) to work properly, and you also have control over the import of different elements:
- The content
- The theme options
- The slideshow
Providing a visual menu with all the info visible for each demo is quite handy. On the other hand, you will have to scroll quite a bit in your page to discover the 61 demos, which is still a bit tedious.
A horizontal line display would have allowed you to have a quicker and global view, but it’s just a detail.
It’s also a pity that you can’t, before importing a demo, have its preview in a highlighted window. To get a more precise idea of its rendering without installing it, you’ll have to go to this page.
Once you have made your choices, the import is done automatically. For your info, on my local installation, the import of the WPBakery Main Demo took more than 5 minutes. A relatively long time, let’s note it.
On the other hand, nothing to say about the import process. The display is impeccable and everything was imported correctly, except the photos (that’s normal, they are protected by copyright).
Let’s finish with an important clarification: importing a demo will logically overload your WordPress admin sidebar.
For example, the activation of WPBakery Main Demo adds the settings menus of several plugins (WooCommerce, WPBakery, Slider Revolution, Ultimate etc.), as well as several types of customized contents (Portfolio, Testimonials, Team etc.).
Your Dashboard becomes much less readable and, all of a sudden, you lose readability and ease of use. With all these menus, it’s not easy to find your way around.
The Theme Options
After the demos, let’s go to the theme options. The7 claims to offer you more than 1,000 (!), which is worth a closer look.
They can be found in the top bar of your administration interface:
Note that this theme options settings panel uses the WordPress user interface, which allows you to keep your marks.
You can also display these options in your sidebar on the left side of your administration interface by checking the “Show Theme Options in Sidebar” option, located in the The7 > My The7 menu.
The7’s asset: its design wizard
One of The7’s undeniable assets is its Design Wizard. With it, you let The7 do most of the tuning; “Even a beginner can easily handle The7’s wast array of appearance customization options thanks to the Design Wizard feature,” as its creators put it.
In concrete terms, this wizard helps you customize:
- The general look of your site: whether or not to display in full width, fonts, colors, button style.
- The header: choose its layout, colors and effects.
- The brand image: add a logo, favicon and copyright in your footer.
- The sidebar and the footer by playing with their layout and colors.
You can see the changes you made on the right side of the screen, but not in real time: you must register beforehand for this to work.
This Design Wizard is somewhat similar to the WordPress Customization Tool (Customizer), which The7 does not use.
Note: Accessible from the menu Appearance > Customize, the Customization Tool allows you to visualize in real time the settings made on a theme. Not all WordPress themes use it, it is on a case-by-case basis.
Once you’ve chosen your options, the wizard takes care of creating a design that suits your choices.
The rendering is not perfect, but it does allow you to rough out the work. Beginners will find it useful, especially if they want to start from scratch without using a demo, and others will be able to sink into the 1,000+ remaining options to make their site look like whatever they want.
Join the WPMarmite subscribers
Get the last WPMarmite posts (and also exclusive resources).
Beyond the wizard: a thousand options available!
Once you’ve done this basic setup – if you want to use it – you’ll be able to fine-tune your site with the rest of the theme options.
18 customization menus are available to help you set up your site header, colors, typography, footer, buttons, publication types, widget areas, etc. in detail.
In short, there’s plenty to do. The7 announces more than 1,000 options available. We haven’t done the count but there are at least several hundred different combinations.
Of course, it will take a little time to dissect all this. You don’t necessarily understand immediately what this or that option corresponds to, and some menus are more complex than others.
But by dint of groping around, you get your bearings. And in the end, you find your way around, especially thanks to front-end visualization (the interface visible to your visitors).
If you wish, you can also make your settings in the back-end (your administration interface), without preview, by choosing the “Edit in Back-end” option.
Now that we have gone through the theme options, check out the interface you will use the most: the page builder interface!
A theme that works with WPBakery and Elementor
More than 100 modules with WPBakery
To start, The7 embeds the WPBakery page builder (former Visual Composer). Remember: about fifty demos of sites are built with it.
A page builder is a tool that allows you to create rich and complex page layouts for your content without touching a single line of code, especially through the use of ready-to-use templates. Editing is often done by drag and drop and in real time.
WPBakery is the best-selling page builder on Envato (nearly 400,000 sales) and is installed on more than 2 million sites, partly because it is integrated on many themes, such as The7.
Personally, WPBakery is not my cup of tea. I don’t like its ergonomics, and I find its shortcode system outdated.
Afterwards, the use of a page builder is also based on habits. Maybe you have them with WPBakery?
In that case, it may not seem so unpleasant to you. It’s all a matter of point of view, after all.
In any case, using WPBakery with The7 gives you access to more than 100 modules. That’s a lot. And, inevitably, it creates duplicates.
Either between the default modules of WPBakery, those of Ultimate Addons for WPBakery (an add-on of third party modules), or those created specifically by The7 (The7 Elements, in the tab by Dream-Theme on the screenshot below).
From a technical point of view, WPBakery can be used in two ways: as a back-end (on your administration interface) and/or as a front-end (on the visible interface of the site).
In back-end, you have a page skeleton that you fill as you go, adding rows, columns and modules.
You move each element by drag and drop, but you cannot directly preview your changes, which deteriorates the user experience:
In front-end, the interface is obviously much more visual, that’s the goal. To modify an item, you just have to hover over it with your mouse, then click on the pencil icon, which opens a contextual menu of settings specific to each module:
You get used to it quite quickly. On the other hand, it is not possible to edit the text content online, directly on the page (you have to go through a dedicated settings window).
Elementor allows that. It’s a great transition to talk about it right away.
Elementor also comes into play…
If it embeds WPBakery, The7 also makes more and more room for Elementor, the most used page builder on WordPress (more than 5 million active installations on the official directory).
At the time of writing this article, The7 was offering 10 demos built with Elementor (more should come over time). Unlike its comparator WPBakery, Elementor is only used as a front-end.
Even though I’m used to using Beaver Builder, I find Elementor pretty easy to learn for a beginner. For me, it is much more intuitive and ergonomic than WPBakery.
Elementor, for example, allows you to edit your content online, look:
If The7 offers 7 widgets dedicated to Elementor (the equivalent of the modules at WPBakery), note that you will have access to several features normally contained in the Pro version of Elementor, such as the Pro widgets or the Theme Builder.
In the end, whether you choose an Elementor or WPBakery demo, plan for a learning curve to at least get the basics of each page builder:
- If you want to know more about WPBakery, check out the test we have dedicated to it.
- If you are interested in Elementor, we have dissected it in this article.
Build your website with Elementor
… Just like Gutenberg
I also wanted to mention the Gutenberg case. A little reminder, just in case: we are talking about the default content editor of WordPress, which appeared at the end of 2018 with the launch of version 5.0 of WP.
If Gutenberg is not a page builder, it is expected by the end of 2020 that it will become a site editor allowing to act on the header, the content, the footer, or the sidebars.
In the meantime, and something very rare in other successful ThemeForest themes, you can see that The7 has 2 demos of Gutenberg compatible sites:
- Gutenberg Creative
- Gutenberg Business
On the other hand, you will only be able to modify the content of these demos in the back-end.
Integration with plugins
To finish this part on customizing The7 theme, let’s now briefly mention plugins, which allow you to add features to your site without coding.
When you buy The7, 6 plugins are included:
- WPBakery Page Builder, which we don’t introduce anymore;
- The7 Elements, which contains among others The7’s custom content types (e.g. Portfolio, Testimonials, Team), or modules for WPBakery and Elementor;
- Ultimate Addons, a third party plugin that adds modules to WPBakery;
- Slider Revolution, a premium plugin to create a slider;
- The7 Go Pricing, to add price tables;
- ConvertPlus, to design popup windows to build your email list.
If you plan to use some of them, you will save some money. ConvertPlus, for example, is charged $24.
But if you don’t like them, you’ll have to lug them around! Slider Revolution, for example, can slow down the loading time of your site if misused (we tested it in this comparison with 9 other slider plugins).
You can of course disable it, but in this case, the site demo in which it was integrated will no longer look exactly like its initial appearance.
So far, we have essentially put ourselves in your shoes: those of the webmaster who wants to use the theme for personal or professional purposes, and wants to know if it is easy to use and customize.
And what about your visitors? What kind of experience are you going to give them when they browse your pages created with The7? Answer in the next part.
User experience refers to the quality of the experience lived by Internet users on a website. It can be evaluated by taking into account different criteria. Here we will focus on 3 of them: loading speed, SEO and responsive.
Loading speed of The7
The loading speed of your pages is important for two major reasons:
- This helps you retain your visitors on your pages and limit the bounce rate. With a slow loading site, your users are more likely to go elsewhere. 67% of them require a loading time of less than 5 seconds.
- It plays a role in the ranking of a page on Google. The loading speed is one of the 200 criteria taken into account by the search engine to rank a page in its search results. And even if this criterion is far from being the most important, it is not a reason to neglect it!
In the presentation of its theme, The7 states the following: “Sites correctly created with The7 will have a better loading time and better results in tests conducted with GTMetrix and Pingdom (Editor’s note: 2 tools for measuring loading time) than standard WordPress themes!
Can this statement be trusted? Yes, according to the results of a study conducted on the WP Rocket blog, the famous premium cache plugin.
Speed up your website with WP Rocket
According to its conclusions, The7 obtained solid results, which made it faster than 69% of websites.
That’s for the technical side. In use, I noticed some heaviness with serious slowdowns in the loading of my pages, both front-end and back-end, since I installed several demos of sites on my local installation.
Each demo activates several plugins and adds dozens of pages of content. In the long run, it sucks up resources. But for the user, it’s quite annoying.
Afterwards, if you assume that a user uses one demo – and only one – for his site, you shouldn’t have so many worries. If you use the theme, feel free to give me your point of view about it in the comments.
To take care of performance, The7 offers 4 settings in the Advanced submenu of Theme Options. You’ll see that you can for example enable lazy loading of your images:
Anyway, to speed up the loading speed of your pages, remember to apply the following good practices when using The7 (this applies to any theme):
- Enable caching with a plugin like… WP Rocket.
- Compress your images to reduce their weight, with a plugin like Imagify, a photo retouching tool (Photoshop or Gimp), or an online solution like TinyPNG.
- Opt for a powerful host like BlueHost.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
If you want to have a chance to rank yourself at best on Google (most used in the world), you must therefore work on your SEO.
To do this, you need to get backlinks made by other sites to yours, create excellent content, and take care of the technique.
Regarding the latter aspect, your theme is an integral part of it. It must respect SEO best practices, which is what The7 is saying. Its designers also specify that it is compatible with famous SEO plugins: Yoast SEO and All in One SEO. It will also work seamlessly with others such as SEOPress or Rank Math.
In terms of its settings, The7 has a small option dedicated to SEO in the Advanced submenu of the Theme Options. It is possible to enable Open Graph labels (disable this option if you use it on Yoast, which also offers it).
The Open Graph is a protocol created by Facebook that allows you to define which image social networks will display when users want to share content from your WordPress site.
Finally, note that both Elementor and WPBakery have options to set the title (hn) tags for your content, which is quite handy.
Responsive web design is a technique that allows you to adapt the display of a site on any screen used by your visitor (computer, smartphone, tablet).
Again, your theme plays a role in this and must be responsive. The7 states that “your site will always display impeccably and will use 100% of the screen surface of each device”.
You can have a first clue as to the truth of this statement by resizing your browser window by browsing one of the theme demos (reduce it to the left or right). We did the test, all the elements of the page continued to be displayed correctly.
For even more accurate rendering, use Google’s mobile optimization test. Paste the URL of the page of your choice, and see what it looks like. We tried it out with the demo The7: Online Courses & Education. Result: the page is mobile-friendly.
Another option to make sure that the page you build is responsive: use the 3 display modes proposed by the theme. They are materialized by 3 icons located in the upper toolbar of your WP interface.
Finally, the two page builders that work with the demos each have options to manage the adaptive aspect of your site.
An example? It is possible to show/hide certain modules or widgets depending on the device used:
Documentation and support
When using a theme, there are sometimes moments when you feel stuck and helpless in the face of a bug or problem.
In this kind of situation, it is always good to be able to rely on effective documentation, to try to solve the problem alone.
The7 has several resources to help you. The site on which they are listed is not the world’s most design-oriented, but its content could still be useful to you.
You will find at your disposal:
- A User Guide to help you install and set up the theme.
- 9 videos to better understand some aspects related to the theme (e.g. the use of WPBakery). Proposing video format is a good idea to encourage learning but unfortunately, videos are not up to date. The last one on the DreamThemeVideo channel was made 5 years ago:
If you can’t untangle the crux of the problem by yourself, you can contact the support of the theme.
It consists of a public part (knowledge base), and everything else is done through private tickets, via the Troubleshooter tab.
Nicolas, who had written the first draft of this article, had contacted them a few years ago, and they were reactive.
Given the success of the theme, there is no reason why this has changed in the meantime. 😉
How much does The7 cost?
The WordPress theme The7 is sold for $39 on the ThemeForest platform. There is no free version.
This price is valid for 1 site only. It includes 6 months of support and future updates of the theme.
Compared to the competition, there is one main point of differentiation to note: The7 is one of the cheapest themes, among the 10 most sold on ThemeForest.
On average, its competitors charge $59 (e.g. Enfold, BeTheme, Bridge) or $60 (e.g. Avada, Salient). Only X is more economical ($29). If you have a very tight budget, this is a parameter to take into account.
Our final opinion on The7
The7 could have fallen into the trap of becoming very complex with its 1,000+ options, but it manages to stand out thanks in particular to its ” Design Wizard “.
In the end, it is not so bad but it is still not easy to tame. I also deplore its slowness (is this also the case with you?) in use.
To sum up, I wouldn’t go so far as to qualify it as a Rube Goldberg machine – that would be a bit strong for it, especially when we just talked about Avada or Bridge -, but you’ll have to (really) dig to understand each setting and make a great site.
Among the best-selling themes on ThemeForest, it is far from being the least manageable, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to beginners.
And if you absolutely want to use a page builder, as proposed by The7: no problem. The 4 above mentioned are compatible with the one of your choice.
And you, what do you think of The7? Give us your opinion by posting a comment.
Receive the next posts for free and access exclusive resources. More than 40,000 people have done it, why not you?