Ultimatum WordPress Theme Builder. 

When I first started learning how to design websites, I used Adobe Dreamweaver to customize various themes I found on websites such as Templatemo and Template Monster. This method works decently fine, but there’s lack of customization and to make a template from the ground up is very time-consuming. After I discovered WordPress, I created a few websites with themes from Elegant Themes, but found that it is very hard to customize a WordPress template without advanced PHP knowledge. Also, most pre-built WordPress templates are geared towards blogs, so trying to make it work for a static website isn’t a walk in the park.

When I decided that I was finally done using static HTML and CSS files to create websites, I attempted to turn my website into a WordPress child theme of Twenty Eleven… It worked out alright, but it basically looked like Twenty Eleven with a custom header, background, and CSS edits. I pretty much accepted the fact that it was going to look like that until I saw an article about a theme building framework on Inspired Mag. The framework is called Ultimatum Theme and was on sale for $57, which is 54% off. After checking out the Ultimatum Demo Site and reading about some of its features, I went ahead and purchased it.

My first 24 hours with Ultimatum were quite rocky… The program installs like a theme inside of WordPress, but after it’s installed, displays nothing but a blank screen. After reviewing the support forums, this is called a “blank canvas” and is there to inspire creativity. I kind-of wish that they would at least include a starter theme to get beginners started, but it was no big deal. I started porting my HTML website over to WordPress using Ultimatum and got the homepage finished in about an hour. I was impressed with how easy it was to use, but I felt like they made it out to be easier than it actually is. As a web designer I found it simple, but you still need to know some web design terminology such as container, wrapper, padding, etc. It would also be helpful to have a semi-firm grasp of HTML and CSS before diving into Ultimatum, but for the most part, I didn’t write any PHP code, it was quick, and my website looked perfect.

The next morning when I went to work on my Ultimatum website, I was greeted by some flying cows telling me that my website had been suspended by FatCow (full story here). I posted a thread in the Ultimatum support forums and one of the developers replied quickly and worked with me to fix the problem. As it turned out, an image resizing plugin called TimThumb was causing the troubles and Xenous, the developer, promised to fix the problem and send out an update for everyone to install. As promised, an update arrived just a couple of days later that completely fixed the problems with TimThumb. I was really surprised that the developers were not only so active in the support forums, but quick to help Ultimatum users out with all of their problems.

After I got my website back online, it took me about 14 hours to finalize my website.   I tried at least three different designs, but I wasn’t happy with any of them. As it turns out, when you have full control over what the website looks, feels, and performs like, it makes you want to make it perfect. After modeling my website after the Ultimatum Demo Site and adding a subtle background texture, I was happy. My website is now fully customized, exactly how I want it, and all done without writing more than 10 lines of code.

Even though my website turned out great, Ultimatum still can’t do everything. I would love to be able to export my themes as standard WordPress themes, but from a software standpoint, you would still need Ultimatum running on the back-end to ensure everything worked. I was also disappointed with the amount of documentation that they provided. I’m okay with the “blank canvas” method, but I feel that they should include some strong documentation on how to fully utilize the program. I found some instructional videos in the support forums, but they were too specific and didn’t give a broad lesson of how to use Ultimatum. If they could create an online manual that could teach users with no web design skills at all how to use the framework, it would be perfect.

All in all, Ultimatum is one of the best investments I have ever made. Not only does it make my websites look beautiful, but it saves me a lot of time creating and maintaining them. I will definitely be convincing my new web design clients to purchase their own copy of Ultimatum so I can make their sites look spectacular as well.  If you are planning on purchasing the Ultimatum WordPress theme, please use my affiliate link below to help support OmegaWeb.com.  Thanks for reading.

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71 Responses to Review: Ultimatum WordPress Theme Builder

  • Nice review… Will be doing some tutorials quite soon from ground up to help the user experience a bit more.

    Regards,

    Ciaran

  • As for the export : here is a work around that could be very useful in a lot of cases, where you just need to be able to customize and move around WordPress sites easily and fast
    > set up WordPress in InstantWordpress
    > set up the Ultimatum theme inside that install
    > create the custom theme with Ultimatum
    > package the site and upload to any hosting service with the InstantWorpress Power User Guide

    But to develop a theme that you can sell or distribute independently, as far as I understand, you will have to create a Child Theme from that Ultimatum install (see above). I did not attempt that yet, so I have no advice at this point.

    Hope this helps.
    Regards.
    Francesco

  • I don’t understand your comment in the last paragraph “I will definitely be convincing my new web design clients to purchase their own copy of Ultimatum so I can make their sites look spectacular as well.”
    The Developer Edition allows you to build unlimited sites, why does your client have to have a copy of the framework?

  • See I never understood this. You buy a license that states you are allowed to build unlimited sites but you need to buy a license for every site you build if you want support for it. Weird. You might as well just buy a single license for yourself and a single license for each of your clients sites. No real need for a developer license the exporting and importing setting seems to break every time anyways.

  • I am looking at this program. As far as the license you only need to buy others for your clients themselves to be able to go to Ulitimatum for support right? If that is the case could you not have your client come to you if they are having a problem (as I would guess they most likely would anyway as you are the one that built their site) and then you go to Ulitimatum for support after all if you have a license and you built the site then you should be able to get support for it. I know this makes the customer have to wait a little longer for a fix but would this way not work?

    • Yes, you could do this if you want. If your client doesn’t want the official Ultimatum support (aka the support forums), then you can use your license and they can come to you for help. I only give the WordPress login to some clients, others I tell to ask me to make changes, just in case they mess something up on the backend.

    • You are also missing one very important point. You can rename the Theme Framework, add your own Logo and upload it to as many sites as you wish with the developers license. The point Xenous makes is valid in that situation. Any support must go through YOU and not directed to the Ultimatum Forum. You can find out via the forum on behalf of a client if you don’t have an answer. With an upgrade to the Developers License you may sell your Layouts to other owners of Ultimatum as Exports via the soon to be released Store. They can then use those layouts and if you have the developers License you can on-sell to clients as well with permission of the owner. Having said that I agree with you Ian that the Theme does need more documentation and Tutorial Support. So if you want to distribute the Framework as your own then it’s up to us to provide the tutorial support for our clients.

      • That’s really cool! I had no idea that you could rename the framework to use on your client sites… I think I will do this for the next client site I build. Thanks!

        • Need to clear up a point here. You cannot upload your own edition of Ultimatum to a clients site but you could purchase it on their behalf before you upload it to their server if you get my point. YouTube has a video on how to change the files to suit it but style.css is where you change the name and I’m sure you could find the image used for the brand in the files and change that before you upload it. Just thought I better make the point so I am not taken out of context.

  • Hi Ian,

    Great review, thanks! I’m thinking about giving this a go but I have my concerns about documentation.

    Regarding Developer Licence, my understanding is that you can create themes once-off for client sites under the Dev licence. If not, it’s a misnomer and contrary to every other Dev licence in existence :)

    AFAIK the Designer Licence (next step up) gives you resale rights to your child themes on marketplaces etc.

    Cheers,
    Alastair.

  • Hi. I’m a clueless Ultimatum user who just bought the theme from the AppSumo site and uploaded it and was eager to get started and then… stared blankly at the blank screen and scratched my head and wondered where to get started…

  • Hey Ian, thanks for sharing the review, also got the link from here for MightDeals which had the dev license for $57, I was gonna buy it from Appsumo which is $60. Saved me 3 bucks, lol.

    Anyways gonna play around with it, you gave me the little push i needed to make the purchase, thanks.

  • thanks for the info as i was looking for a good document, which alas i still haven’t found.
    your video sound was very low so i couldn’t completely get into it, perhaps i will try with some headpnones/ speakers.
    other videos out there on you tube are frankly the worst but with good intentions, but that doesn’t help much eithe, and actually makes it even more frustrating..
    perhaps you could redo the video and turn up the volume a bit?
    with ultimatum i don’t have an oerview – such as can you save off different layouts for different pages for other themes? can you have posts with different layouts? can you build an application with it – if so what would that be?
    would these different layouts appear in the page template dropdown for different pages you want to create?
    i beliee i saw a second product from them allowing you to retail themes you build…

    • I’m sorry that my audio was low on the video. I didn’t realize this because I have fairly loud speakers on my computer. And with Ultimatum you can have posts with different layouts, have different layouts for different pages, and everything. You don’t necessarily make a design that is dubbed the “Page” layout and every page looks like that. You make a layout called “About Us” and only the About Us page looks that way. Then if you want to create a “Contact Us” page, you can start from scratch or clone the About Us layout and make changes to make it what you need. And the thing about retailing themes that you build with them isn’t actually live yet… But it’ll be like ThemeForest.net, but only for Ultimatum themes.

  • …thanks for the info on Ultimatum! I’ve been looking at this for a while and have been sitting on the fence as I’m new to WordPress! I’ve been trying to research the best WordPress Theme builder and from what I can tell, this seems like the best one out there? (especially with the current deal!) My question is, do I need to download XAMPP in order to create the site and test before I upload to a server? I don’t currently have a hosting account that I could upload and test the site! I’ve been kicking the ties with some WordPress themes and it seems like a great way to create sites that the customer could also update, providing that it’s not too technical for them? All the best! Rich

  • …i meant kicking the “tires!”

  • Is Ultimatum a one-time payment deal? You buy the license and that’s it? No renovation after one year?
    Thank you for this evaluation.

  • Thanks for the reply. I am about to get involved with wordpress and Ultimatum but first I would like to confirm that I understood. Ultimatum, once installed, will be just another theme (but a very awesome one) that I can choose from my available themes and use it with every domain and website I design.
    Thanks once more.

    • Ultimatum installs in WordPress like a theme, but think of it more as a design suite. When you first install it you will see a blank screen. Then you can use their drag-and-drop options to say you want a 800px wide website that uses bg_pattern.jpg as a background. Then you can drag the WordPress Loop into the website and say it will take up 50%. This means that your blog posts will appear on the home page and be 400px wide. Basically you design your entire theme from scratch just like you would if you were to custom code your theme, but it doesn’t actually require any code. You just drop things in place and say “I want this here, I want the header to display this image with a blue background, etc.” It’s a drag and drop theme builder, not actually a theme itself… I hope that makes sense.

  • I saw your first video. You use ftp to add the Ultimatum theme but do you know if Filemanager in the cPanel could be used too. Using the upload option?
    Thanks.

  • Ian,

    I appreciate all the good information you have provided on Ultimatum, but I am still curious about documentation for this software. It seems that this issue of a manual for the Ultimatum is not being answered by Xenous. Judging from your review there is not much available from Ultimatum if anything at all. Ultimatum is presenting itself as an easy to use theme builder almost to the point of “no experience necessary” but what is the actual experience one has to have? How frustrating is getting to know this software without documentation? How effective are the forums? How is Ultimatum’s customer support on less dramatic issues than bad code that gets users sites suspended by web hosting companies?

    Cheers,

    Sava

    • Okay… Let me try to answer your questions the best I can. There are some how-to videos that the Ultimatum developers created to show you how to get started. These videos are not great, but if you watch them you will learn enough to be able to get started. Other than that, there’s no manual or guide on how to use the software as of now. As far as the support forum goes, it’s awesome. If you get stumped at any point, you can hop on the forum and somebody will have an answer for you within an hour or two. When they say “no experience necessary”, they are talking about experience with CSS, HTML, and PHP code. With Ultimatum, you can literally create WordPress sites without any coding knowledge in just a couple of hours. The software is fairly easy to learn, but I’m a self-learner. If you are the type of person who needs a teacher for everything, you might have some difficulty with the framework. I hope I answered your questions…

  • I bought ULTIMATUM one week ago and I already duplicate two of my websites. I watch 5 videos (about 20min long each) on duplicating website and they explained a lot. They have it on the member area.

  • Hi,

    I share your views on Ultimatum, one of the 2 that convinced me the more in the wordpress drag&drop frameworks. That being said, the other, one, Headway is, from my point of view, even more impressive.

  • Yes, as exposed by Headway : “Visual Layout Editor gives you the power to rearrange your site layout without touching a line of code. Even if you’re comfortable with HTML/CSS/PHP, the Visual Layout Editor saves you time. You can sculpt your design into anything you want.”

    Headway Themes provides a true drag-and-drop editor, based on an adjustable grid layout. You can start with a default layout of header area, navigation area, content and sidebar area, and footer area.

    For an overall idea, i invite you to read this review : http://www.wilwebs.com/2012/10/headway-drag-and-drop-theme-builder-for-wordpress/

  • Genesis and catalyst are the well know “leaders” in the point & click frameworks with full of parameters : it looks like a 3d raytracer parameter panel to me :).

    So you’re leaving the drag&drop wordpress framework camp. What are your reasons ? To use an existing theme you like genesis ?

  • Around Genesis, i think it’s the best move. What were not enough with Ultimatum ?

  • A thing i’m curious about : is there really some support in ultimatum ? They didn’t answer my presale questions for days, not a good sign…

    • Not particularly. I wrote a comment about it before seeing your question. It’s been 21 days and counting since the lead dev has answered any support requests on the forums. To be fair, that may mean that he’s responding to support requests by PM, but I’d find it unusual if that were the case since the forum posts are good documentation. I also want to note that I asked a question, received a response, and had the question marked ‘answered’ even though the provided solution did NOT work, which I stated in a follow-up. The lead dev did not respond to my follow-up.

  • Hi Ian,
    Good to see you again, am one of the follower of your posts. And the above post is very useful to all word press lovers am also one of that. We are expecting like this type of useful posts from you. Thanks to share this informative post.

  • I’d really like to point out that the Ultimatum do not provide adequate support for their product. The next release–2.4–has been pushed back several times. The next release date for 2.4 is November 22nd; however, since the lead dev has stopped commenting on questions or support requests on the forum, it remains to be seen whether this deadline will be met or pushed back further (without prior notification for Ultimatum users).

    I’d strongly caution against picking up this theme builder. Ultimatum does not allow for refunds, so unless you’re sure that this theme will meet your needs, I’d recommend purchasing something with much better support, better documentation, and more flexibility.

    I am an Ultimatum customer and I am just tired of the constant excuses. I will be purchasing PageLines Pro since they, at least, seem to communicate with their members.

    • Lately, I have completely ditched Ultimatum on all of my sites. I ran a giveaway in August for this framework here on my blog and they never made accounts for the winners, so it basically looked like I was lying about the giveaway just to get people to join, which is terrible for my blog’s reputation. I will admit that their support is lacking a lot recently!

      I actually moved all of my sites off of Ultimatum and onto a framework called Dynamik which is a child theme for Genesis. It’s really nice and that’s actually the framework this blog is running.

      Check it out – http://www.omegaweb.com/uses-dynamik/

      • Hi Ian, I bought Ultimatum and haven’t really had time to go through all the forums, support and tutorial videos but after reading this post I’m slightly concerned? As I have only recently bought the program, I will at least give it a go and hope that I don’t have any issues? Other than the last post, I assume that you liked the program? With Dynamik, you also have to buy the Genesis software program? I don’t want to really buy another program yet, until I give the Ultimatum a fair shot and see what happens! On the surface, it seems weird to me that there is no real in depth documentation and video tutorials? (Even though it seems quite easy to learn) It also seems weird that you were promoting there software and they refused to give the software as a giveaway? In your opinion, would you say that the Dynamik software is one of the other top Worrdpress theme builders out there? Cheers!

        • As software, Ultimatum is pretty nice and you can do great things with it. However on a support level they are lacking.

          Also, one nice thing about Dynamik + Genesis is that you have all the features of Genesis as well as most of the customization Ultimatum has.

          • That were what i suspected (these support problems) and the reason why i talked about Headway. they’re not good at presales contact either :) but better at support of real customers :)

  • Sadly, when a single developer creates a great theme like this, support and technical problems can weigh them down, while they’re reaping the financial rewards. As such, you often find that, without them bringing in a few devs and virtual assistants, you end up with a lame duck. This is why you should always look at the company or team as well as the actual theme. Orman Clark has had amazing success on themeforest and now has a team working with him – the right way to go.
    Problem with all these drag n drop builders is also the white fright that hits a buyer for the first time. You really do need to be a designer with some css and html, otherwise just stick to a theme. PS i’ve seen some awesome designs built on the FREE twenty ten theme.

    • Ultimatum is actually developed by a couple of people, but none of them even live in the same country (I believe), so it probably makes communication a little bit spotty when compared to working in an office with other developers. One thing I notice too many times with developers is that they get too wrapped up in the code and neglect customer service. This is why hiring dedicated customer service or “business” people who know how to deal with people would be worth the extra money instead of trying to code the software, handle customer support, and balance finances by yourself.

      And I agree – I have seen some great themes built with Twenty Eleven and Twenty Ten. These are both responsive themes made by WordPress themselves, so you know the coding is 100% solid and correct. All you have to do is customize it to look pretty and you have a functional blog!

  • Hello, Ian,

    It sounds like you’ve pretty much given up on Ultimatum then. I’m a complete novice to building web sites, but I like the concept and it sounds like a fun thing to do, so I’d like to give it a try. I looked at Dynamik and they seem to provide good tutorials and help, so, since you seem to like them, would you say a complete beginner like me (who doesn’t know CSS from PHP or the nearest hole in the ground!) would be able to make good use of that combined with the Genesis theme? I’d like to build my own sites and also offer site development as a service to local businesses.

    Thanks,
    Ray

    • With Dynamik, anyone can create a website quite honestly, even without the documentation. The settings are a bit much at first, but overall it’s really easy to learn and basically what it is is settings you can change to customize your site any way you want. I highly recommend it, especially if you have no coding knowledge whatsoever.

  • I have not been able to receive any replies about membership plugins. I have read in the ultimatum forums that someone had an issue with fastmember not protecting their pages, but was not able to find any definitive answers about what will work. Can anyone confirm they have used a membership plugin with the Ultimatum framework that does indeed work?

    • I honestly have no clue. The only thing that worries me is that the Ultimatum content is not actually stored IN the WordPress pages, it’s in separate database tables. This may cause issues, but I’m not 100% sure how it would all work.

      I would try contacting Ultimatum’s support on the forum. However, they have been pretty slow lately…

      • Thanks for the reply Ian. This is not my area of expertise so sorry if this is a simple question. It was my understanding that all WP sites and blogs were database driven, if this is correct is there something different about how ultimatum handles our pages and data?

        • WP sites are database driven and Ultimatum does store info in the database. However, most WP themes store the page data in a table called wp_tables or something similar. All of the Ultimatum data is stored in a database table ultimatum_page or something. So if you switch to a basic WordPress theme or Genesis or something different, your Ultimatum site will not port.

  • Don’t bother with this tool. It is overly complex and difficult to use, not to mention not having a proper user manual or help pages… I was never able to complete a full site with this tool, even though I have been able to achieve complete sites without it. I asked for a refund and never heard from them.

  • I agree with Amy!
    Don’t you hated when you try to pay for the most expensive theme hope it work without bug.
    Then the installation fail… Then you have to go FTP.
    FTP skip 12 files, don’t know where, why or how.
    Activate the them……. no error, but it give the blank screen on main page.
    Not a problem you go to the forum search for solution, find 1 article about 12 page, with 4 different scenario to go thru……….

    Common… I bought the drag and drop theme, because I could not read/write code in the first place.

  • love to read this blog.Very good information by this blog..

  • Ultimatum may be a great builder but why should I pay for it when I can get a lot of themes in free or in lesser pricing option.

  • nice article, keep posting, really a theme builder can be a shortcut way to create your desired theme.

  • Ultimatum looks like a great WordPress theme builder, thanks for all the helpful comments here..

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