I am a keen and long term supporter of both yootheme and RocketTheme, having long ago given up on free templates. The time you save using a professionally designed template means there is simply no comparison.
I also make extensive use of the template addons, like the lightbox effects, sliders, accordians and other tools that are available from these template masters.
My one frustration has always been the limited choice, as both only brings out one template a month, and editing these into unique variations does make life a bore.
It seems there is now a new and credible alternative, in the form of Morph, brought to us by prothemer. Morph is not a template, more a “template engine on steriods”. When installed it replaces your current theme with a theme configurator, which allows you to refine virtually every element of your site design. (Read their blog post here for the real explanation)
To make things a bit simpler they have created pre-defined style combinations called theme-lets. Currently we have two choices but I am eagerly looking forward to seeing more from them in the coming weeks.
I have taken the plunge and have bought a subscription to morph, and will be using it in upcoming site designs. My experience so far has been that though there is a steep learning curve, the interface is intuitive and you can figure everything out yourself in almost no time at all.
There are lots I still need to learn, like how to use the ModuleFX and other cool customization tools, but that’s what documentation is there for. The examples and tutorials available really gives you no excuse not to succeed.
The configurator even tells you when updates are available, which you can apply with relative ease.
Gone is the pain in manually coding sidebar and module overrides for individual pages or components. Gone is the pain in easy menu manipulations. Gone is the pain in having truly flexible page variations, and I have only been using it for one day!
As someone whom regularly runs Joomla training courses, I now have a new must-have item to add to my training content.
Here’s hoping the new flexibility will give me the creative freedom that the other template subscription services are lacking.