Today we are taking a look at the Project Theme from SiteMile, a theme which has been created to give you all the tools you need to build a fully functioning freelance marketplace website with WordPress. Popular freelancer websites include Freelancer and Elance and they are sites that allow users to post projects, which other users can then bid on with the aim of being hired to complete the project.
If you’ve ever used one of those sites, to either offer your services as a freelancer, or hire a contractor, you should have a good idea of the features that are need to ensure the site is a success.
So in today’s review we will take a look at the Project Theme from SiteMile and explore the features on offer and see how easy the theme is to use in order to discover whether it is up to the task of building a freelancer website with WordPress.
Features of Project Theme
The Project Theme is certainly a feature packed product that includes all the functionality you would need to create a freelance bidding website. While some freelancer sites are focused on contractors offering online services such as programming or design, with this theme you can build a site where any type of service can be offered.
The types of projects that can be listed on a website built with this theme include:
- Technology based projects such as web design or devolvement
- Remote work such as general virtual assistant roles or bookkeeping
- Local services such as removals, cleaning, or plumbing and maintenance help
As you get total control over how your job bidding site functions when using this theme, you can set it up and market it for any particular sector or type of project you desire. This all helps to make the Project Theme a very flexible solution.
To help you get a better idea of just what you can do with this theme, here are some of its best features:
Custom User Dashboard
Just because you are using WordPress to build your freelancer website, it doesn’t mean your users have to know how to use that software. This is because the theme comes complete with a custom built front end control panel and series of front end forms, where users can login, manage their account, post jobs, or manage their bids, all without ever having to interact with the back end WordPress admin dashboard.
Themed Login and Registration Pages
The inclusion of the front end control panel pages also extends to the login and registration pages on your site. This further helps to give your freelancer bidding site a professional image, and prevents users from having to use the default WordPress login and registration pages.
This approach helps create a consistent user experience on your site, with the user never feeling like they are switching platforms as they use the different parts of the site.
If you want to generate revenue from your freelancer bidding website, then this theme has a selection of options which allow you to monetize your site in different ways. These monetization options include:
- Flat listing fee for projects
- Category level listing fee
- Listing fee for featured projects
- Charge a percentage of project price
The theme also comes complete with a range of advertising opportunities, allowing you to either sell advertising space, or promote products and services, which can generate affiliate commissions.
Project Theme supports the most popular payment gateways such as PayPal and Skrill Moneybookers, making it easy for your users to complete transactions and for you to collect your earnings.
As the purpose of this theme is to let you build a freelance job bidding site where users can submit their own jobs which need completing, or apply to posted jobs, the features related to managing the projects are critical to the theme’s suitability to the task in hand.
Thankfully Project Theme doesn’t disappoint in this department and has many of the key features you will find on professional freelancer websites such as TaskRabbit or Airtasker. The highlights amongst these features include:
- Location based search tools for finding local contractors
- Ability to bid on projects
- Attach files when submitting a proposal
- Attach files when submitting a project
- Configurable user email notifications
- Optional admin approval of all projects
- Admin user can control and oversee all users
With this WordPress theme you get plenty of options for configuring how your site works. So whether you want to build a local community jobs board, or let your visitors market their online services to the world, the Project Theme can help you.
General Theme Features
As well as including the above project focused features, this theme isn’t lacking any of the features you would expect to see in a premium WordPress theme, including:
- Unlimited colour schemes
- Unlimited homepage layouts
- Widgetized homepage areas
- Widgetized footer
- 10 custom sidebar areas
- Custom CSS box
- Blog functionality
- CSV and XML importer
As you can see, the Project Theme contains many of the features you would expect to find present in the best premium WordPress themes.
Using Project Theme
The Project Theme comes with a detailed admin control panel which lets you configure the theme using the features outlined above.
The control panel is well designed and easy to use, despite covering many different screens, each with their own list of settings. These screens are further organised with tabs. It will take you a while to work through all of the settings to ensure your site is configured in the way you want it to be, however that is the price you pay for a feature rich theme such as this and being able to build a website in just the way you want.
Setting up the Homepage
As the homepage is widgetized, creating your own layout for the front end of your project website is very straightforward. You can select from the many widgets included with the theme, and then simply drag and drop them into place in order to arrange how they will be displayed on the homepage.
The included widgets that can be added to the sidebars or homepage areas include:
- Best rated users
- Browse by location
- Browse by category
- Projects ending soon
- Latest projects
- Featured projects
Once the widgets have been added to a widget area, they can then be customized to alter how they work.
The Project Theme uses a custom post type to manage the projects that are added to the site. Although the theme makes use of front end submission forms which allow users to submit their projects without having to navigate the WordPress back end, the projects can all be managed by an admin user, from the back end.
The project custom post type also has its own set of custom taxonomies which work in the same way as the categories and tags for regular posts in WordPress. These custom taxonomies allow you to organize the projects on your site so that they are easy to browse by your visitors.
The project post type also makes use of WordPress custom fields. These fields allow users to add and store additional information about the projects, including price, location details, product ending date, and more.
The custom fields are then used to present the additional data on the front end of the site when users are viewing the open projects. The theme includes a custom field builder which allows you to add these additional fields to your submissions forms, all through a visual interface.
From the products listing screen, you can edit and the projects that have been submitted or delete them from the site if necessary.
Browsing the Projects
From the front end of the website there are many options available to visitors regarding how they go about browsing the projects on offer at your site.
Depending on how you’ve configured the site, these options could include:
- Searching by keyword or location
- View featured projects of the day
- Browse freelancer categories
- By location categories
Once the user has found a project they would like to bid for, they can click through to it and view the full details.
The options open to those interested in submitting a bid for an open project includes:
- Contact project owner
- Access the project message board
- Submit a proposal
Then it’s just a case of waiting for the project owner to respond to the message, or either accept or reject the bid
Support & Documentation
As this is a feature packed theme, it’s important that there is a decent selection of online documentation available to help ensure you get the most from your project and services listings website.
Unfortunately the documentation for the Project Theme was a little on the brief side. There is definitely room for improvement when it comes to the online documentation for the more advanced features of the theme.
Customers who have purchase the theme can also make user of the SiteMile forums, where they can post questions and get answers from the team of support staff manning those forums.
The Project Theme from SiteMile is available on a range of pricing plans, either on its own, or as part of the SiteMile theme membership club.
Prices start from $69 for use on one site, through to $379 for access to all themes, and use on an unlimited number of domains or websites.
The Project Theme from SiteMile is definitely an ambitious product that attempts to give you all the tools you need to create a freelance bidding website with WordPress.
While the user documentation was a bit disappointing, customers do get access to the support forums, which include sub-forums dedicated to the individual themes on offer from SiteMile, including this one. So if you do need any additional support when setting up your site, you should be able to get it.
Overall the theme does a good job of what it sets out to do and does in fact include many of the features you will find on websites of this type, including Freelancer and its rivals. If you take into consideration the costs involved in hiring a developer to build a custom solution for this purpose, the Project Theme certainly represents great value, with huge time saving abilities.
If you have been tasked with building a freelancer website where users can post jobs, and bid on listed projects, then the Project Theme is definitely worth adding to your shortlist.