You want the very best for your website.
Or will you?
There’s one free WordPress theme that might change your mind about that.
It’s not often that I come across a free WordPress theme that can stand its own against a premium one, but Vantage by SiteOrigin is one that does just that.
Released in 2013 and clocking in at more than one million downloads to date, Vantage is one of SiteOrigin’s earliest, most polished and most popular themes by far—and it’s easy to see why.
While I wasn’t expecting much beyond the basics, I was pleasantly surprised by all the extra features, the huge range of customization options and the high-quality design of the theme.
It’s very clean, minimalist and professional—quite frankly, it looks like a theme you would pay for (check out the demo to see what I mean)—and it would work really well for any sort of business site, e-commerce store, blog or portfolio.
Interested to know more about Vantage? Here comes my full review!
The Advantages of Vantage
There are a few essential features that every WordPress theme needs to offer as standard, whether free or paid, just to perform and compete on the web. Things like mobile responsiveness, plugin integration and basic customization—at the bare minimum—are pretty much expected of any theme these days, so you’ll be glad to know that Vantage ticks all those boxes too.
For me, where Vantage really stands out is in its design and its Page Builder.
The theme is designed intelligently, combining bold and modern parallax sections with classic fonts, clean menus and smooth scrolling that naturally draws the eye down the page.
The parallax sections are a great inclusion, as they let you take advantage of the engaging, striking parallax design without limiting you to the one-page website that parallax is so well known for.
Compared to some of the other big players in the free WordPress theme market, Vantage definitely has the look and feel of a premium theme.
Kadence Theme’s Virtue, for example, is a very popular and highly-rated free theme, but it doesn’t offer the trending parallax design which immediately makes it seem a little dated. In Virtue’s defense, its use of white space is particularly clever and I do like how you can fit more content in a small amount of space without it looking crowded—an area where Vantage, on the other hand, is a bit clunky.
The SiteOrigin Page Builder, which comes built in to Vantage, is another really great addition to the theme, letting you set up and rearrange the layout of every page with ease. The smooth drag-and-drop interface makes even the most complex layouts easy to build, and you can add rows, columns, text blocks, images, widgets and short codes to create custom pages set up exactly the way you want.
This is a particularly handy feature if you don’t want to spend hours messing around with code, but you still want to get a significant level of control over the way your site looks.
Not many free themes offer this depth of customization—even some of the most popular free themes like Sydney and Spacious let you tweak colors, fonts and styles, but not the layout as much, and certainly not to the extent of Vantage.
When you download the Vantage theme, you also get all the plugins and content that you can see in the demo —the homepage, a range of blog layouts, a preconfigured e-commerce store powered by WooCommerce and a contact page. This not only saves you a lot of time getting set up, but also gives you a welcome jump start on your content creation.
Other features of Vantage also worth a mention:
- Visual CSS editor that lets you see any changes you make in real-time
- Multiple header options and over 2,500 icons
- Widgets bundle of visual editors, headlines, grid layouts, testimonials, accordions and more
Add onto all of that the fact that the theme is free—always a bonus!—and you’ve got yourself set up for an amazing website with Vantage.
It’s also worth noting that there’s a premium subscription option starting at $5 a month or $29 a year for a single site, which gives you access to ongoing updates and support if that’s something that you like having to fall back on.
How to Take Advantage of Vantage
The best thing about Vantage is how it so beautifully and seamlessly brings together a range of features and elements that make it perfect for a wide variety of websites.
If you’re predominantly just hosting a business site to advertise your products or services and to stay available to your customers, Vantage is a nice choice of theme.
The theme’s sleek and minimalist design has a very professional look and feel that’s ideal to represent your brand. It’s easy for site visitors to find your contact information here, and you can display both your content details and a full-screen map of your location, together with a contact form to make reaching out simple.
Navigation is intuitive and straightforward, which is good for improving user experience and reducing your bounce rate, and I like the subtle but easy-to-spot search function in the top menu—a great feature to help your customers find their way around, especially as your business and website grow.
For e-commerce stores, Vantage makes your job a whole lot easier with its preconfigured WooCommerce shop.
White space is used especially well in this section, keeping the page clean and uncluttered and making your products the star of the show.
Products are displayed with prices and star ratings, and you can sort by popularity, price, rating or most recently added—a useful feature to make browsing that much easier for shoppers.
Individual product pages keep to the same style: Clean, minimalist and with a focus on highlighting the product.
There’s also the opportunity to upsell with a selection of related products displayed below the product description and reviews. Plus, the shopping cart and checkout process is smooth and easy to follow, with options to create a customer account and apply coupons—both of which are great for encouraging return buyers and customer loyalty.
For Blogs and Portfolios
If you’re using Vantage as a blog, portfolio or similar tool for self-promotion, the theme’s big focus on content will be very beneficial for you.
The homepage emphasizes bold imagery with its full-screen parallax sections, which is a great opportunity for you to promote recent or popular posts—just make sure you’re using high-quality images to back it up!
The actual blog itself comes included with the theme, and there are a range of blog layouts to choose from for both the blog page and individual posts.
Personally, I’m a fan of the grid layout for the blog page and the standard with sidebar layout for individual posts—I like the compactness and the way it fills the screen, without letting your eyes run off the page due to long lines of text. All the layouts really do look great, and it will just come down to your personal preference and the style you’re going for with your website as a whole.
Overall Verdict on Vantage
Vantage is a really well built, versatile theme—especially considering the fact that it’s free.
It’s incredibly easy to use and customize for your particular needs, and has a beautiful design that makes it look like it’s worth a lot more.
It’s safe to say that it’s definitely up there in my top five favorite free WordPress themes, and I bet you’ll enjoy it as well.
Take it for a spin to see for yourself—after all, it’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose!