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X Theme Update: How the Cornerstone is Changing WordPress Customization

A little more than a month ago, Themeco changed X with one of it’s biggest updates yet. Aside from overall bug fixes, they introduced a brand new interface which they called Cornerstone.

full cornerstone

The new X Theme update

Cornerstone is unique in that it’s a completely front end site builder system enabling you not to look at the WordPress backend anymore. Instead, you see each page how it is in real time.

Cornerstone modules

Cornerstone let’s you see the page at the front end in real time

As an early adopter, I updated my theme as soon as I got the email about the update. Let’s just say I had a few issues at first, and so did much of the X theme community (the poor staff were probably up all night answering the same questions for the first 3 days). After using it for a month, however, I feel like I have a good hand on it allowing me to see some of its main pros and cons.

What You Get Inside the Box

Instant changes

One of my biggest issues with X was that I found their version of Visual Composer much slower than the normal one. Themeco explained that it was because they would automatically save the page every few seconds. Luckily, they’ve completely changed that in the new update.

As someone who spent half of my design time clicking the “Preview” button, this was a godsend. I actually assumed that it would work similar to how the Customizer worked where it usually takes a few seconds until it reloads the page, but it’s actually instantaneous. The same also applies to their on page custom CSS and Javascript.

cornerstone 2

With Cornerstone, you can now easily update a page

It’s really easy to rearrange the layout

This goes hand and hand with instant changes. You can take entire sections and easily move them around. It is very different than the Visual Composer where you have to drag the entire section to where you want it and hope you put it in the right place. With Cornerstone, you can now rearrange a page in a matter of seconds.

cornerstone 3

You will be able to see how the page will appear in different devices

View the page instantly on multiple devices

Getting the design right on every device has always been an issue of mine. I actually felt they made this just for me. Continuing on with the instant page theme, you can now see how your page will appear on a PC, Laptop, Tablet, Mini Tablet and Smartphone. This pretty much takes away having to go to mobile device sites to test out your page. Not to mention, you don’t have to wait until the page is done to test it.

You can save content blocks as oppose to an entire page

This is especially great for large sites that want a certain look and feel to part of their site. You can actually save blocks to be used for later. You can also use blocks and templates created by other designers as well as Themeco templates.

But There are Some Downsides

cornerstone 4

However, you don’t have access to the Visual Composer

You lose the Visual Composer Library

While the built-in library is impressive, you don’t really have access to the Visual Composer or it’s extensions, such as specialized content band effects, overlays, and little arrows. True, you can take the shortcode from another page and embed it into the text box, but who wants to?

Individual blocks can be annoying

I mentioned earlier that moving sections is really easy.  The same, however, can not be said for moving individual blocks. It might be easy to move a block to an adjacent block, but if you want to move one block from the top of a page to the bottom, good luck. In all fairness, Visual Composer wasn’t good with this either, but at least you could take the piece and scroll down with the scroll wheel. With Cornerstone, you can’t do that.

It takes a bit to learn

This might not apply to people just getting the theme but coming from Visual Composer, I found learning how to use it pretty annoying. The basic stuff is pretty easy, since they have great videos on the site. My issues were some of the more technical things, which aren’t so obvious.

For example, I couldn’t figure out how to get a row to full width on a page. Coming from the Visual Composer, it was full width by default. But with Cornerstone it would default to part width. After opening up a ticket, one of the staff informed me that I could easily fix that by going to the “row” section in the sidebar, which can’t be accessed through the sidebar or through the front page interface.

In order to get to the row, you first have to click on the element, then you can to go the sidebar and click on the “row” breadcrumb. Only then will you be able to get to the row.

The Verdict

I have to say, I do like Cornerstone. It was a bold choice by changing to a completely front end system, and Themeco is doing a nice job of it. It does take some getting used to and it still has few kinks to work out. But I trust Themeco to listen to their customers.

In fact, they’ve actually already made a few changes based on issues the community have brought up. For example, a big issue was that the text editor was too small for large pieces of text, after hearing about it, they made a modification to the system that allowed the text editor to stretch. Not exactly the most groundbreaking change, but the fact that they heard what the community wanted and responded is always a good sign.

I’m really excited to see what more they have in store.

If you want to see how the new X theme performs, you can view the demo and purchase the theme here.

About the Author:

Isaac works as a UX/digital strategist for East Insurance Group. He enjoys tennis and helping business owners get the best coverage for their business.

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