Recently we were looking for building a knowledge base website in WordPress. After searching for many themes available in themeforest, we have chosen to buy Manual theme. It was looking attractive and offers the features what we needed. We have used Manual theme to setup a knowledge base website. So, here is a genuine review of Manual theme based on our experience. This will be useful if you are searching for creating a knowledge base website.
Frequently Asked Questions on Manual Theme
Before we go to detailed review, here are some of the frequently asked questions:
No, Manual theme does not have any free version. It is a premium theme only available on themeforest.
Other than, default posts, pages and attachment, the theme offers custom post types for FAQ, knowledge base, documentation, portfolio, testimonials, etc. The theme is ideal for creating help desk and product documentation websites along with forum and store.
The theme does not have page builder on its own. However, it offers WPBakery Page Builder with Ultimate Add-ons for building beautiful page layouts.
Developer offers 6 months of free support from the date of purchase with the life time update of the theme.
It depends on the number of plugins you choose to install. By default, it needs multiple plugins and increase in PHP execution time. With server side caching, the default installation on demo import shows 70/90 score in Google PageSpeed for mobile/desktop.
Manual WordPress Knowledge Base Theme
First, Manual is a premium theme that you need to purchase from themeforest marketplace. There is no free version of the theme available in WordPress repository. WpSmartApps is the developer of Manual theme who also offers few other themes and plugins for WordPress.
The name of the theme in themeforest is very long – “Manual – Multi-Purpose Online Documentation, Knowledge Base & Creative WordPress Theme”. That says all!!! Manual theme has more than 2600 sales with 4.33/5 average rating from customers. It will cost you $59 with lifetime free updates and 6 months support.
Overall Features of Manual Theme
The main objective of Manual theme is to create a help desk for companies and product owners. However, you can use the theme for creating different types of websites.
- Custom post types for FAQ, Knowledge base, Documentation, Portfolio and Testimonials.
- Customized bbPress forum and WooCommerce store.
- Reader feedback for knowledge base with printing option.
- Built-in related articles.
- Custom headers with AJAX live search box.
- You can control visibility as Private for article and categories.
- Include attachments for public as well as logged in users.
- Custom slug name and change breadcrumb structure.
- Supports page builder and LMS plugins.
As you can all these features are focused on creating help desk and documentation, you will miss some basic blogging features. For example, you can’t disable featured image or author bio box on the blog post settings.
Prerequisite for the Theme
Before purchasing the theme make sure your hosting company allows the following changes:
- max_execution_time 600
- memory_limit 256M
- post_max_size 32M
- upload_max_filesize 32M
- PHP 5.6 or later
This is required for installing the theme, importing demo content and updating theme options.
Downloading and Installing Manual Theme
After purchasing the theme, go to “Downloads” section of your user account and download all files.
Extract the downloaded zip file and locate “manual.zip” archive. This is the main theme file you have to upload on your WordPress site. Go to “Appearance > Themes” section of your WordPress admin panel. Click on the “Add New” button and upload the “manual.zip” archive file.
The installation file is more than 23MB in size. Many web hosting companies does not allow uploading this much big file from the admin panel. If you face problem in uploading the file, follow the below trick:
- Extract “manual.zip” file and delete “js_composer”, “revslider” and “Ultimate_VC_Addons” files.
- Now archive the content without the above files.
- It should be around 8MB in size.
- Upload it through your WordPress admin panel
- After that login through FTP and upload the deleted files under “install” folder of “/wp-content/themes/manual/”.
After successful installation, activate the theme to use it on your site.
Installing Required Plugins
Manual is a bundled theme that needs handful of plugins for it to work. One of the biggest problems we have noticed in themeforest is that the authors do not disclose the bundled plugins required for the theme to work. Manual theme needs the following plugins:
|CMB2||Required||Metaboxes and custom fields|
|Manual Framework (Post Type)||Required||Support plugin for theme|
|One Click Demo Import||Required||Importing demo content|
|Print-O-Matic||Required||Add printing option for articles|
|Redux Framework||Required||Options framework|
|Ultimate Addons for WPBakery Page Builder||Required||Add-on for WPBakery plugin|
|WPBakery Page Builder||Required||Page builder plugin|
|Contact Form 7||Optional||Add contact forms|
|Import any XML or CSV File to WordPress||Optional||Importing XML or CSV files|
|Slider Revolution||Optional||Create sliders|
|Taxonomy Terms Order||Optional||Order categories and custom taxonomies|
Now, you have to think twice whether your hosting will support all these plugins for creating website that looks like a demo. It is not recommended to install Revolution Slider, WPBakery Page Builder, WooCommerce and bbPress themes in single WordPress site. In addition, you may need SEO and other plugins to have a complete site. This will violate many of the shared hosting company terms. Therefore, make sure you have powerful server to use Manual theme.
You will see a big banner forcing you to install these plugins. However, we do not understand the purpose of the banner forcing to install “One Click Demo Import” plugin after importing and uninstalling it.
Importing Demo Content
Manual theme offers different good looking demos. Those demos are the main reason for users to get attracted to create similar help desk website. There two ways to import the demo content – using one click demo import and uploading XML files supplied with the theme.
Go to “Manual > Demo Import” section to view all available demos. You can preview the demo and import the content. Good part is that importing demo will not delete the existing content. So, you can switch the look of your site anytime when you need later.
You can click on “Switch to manual import” link to upload XML demo files.
Manual Theme Options
You can view all available options under “Manual > Theme Options” menu. The theme will also create “Manual Options” menu that will show all subitems. Unfortunately, this will make the entire admin panel looking cluttered with all custom post type menus.
You can customize labels, logo, colors, typography and layout settings that changes the site’s look.
In addition, each custom post type has its own options to customize for title bar, search box, breadcrumb, etc. You can import and export the settings in case of reinstalling demo or changing the domain.
Custom Post Types
Manual theme is built with bundled plugins and custom post types. Below are the custom post types that need Manual theme to look like a demo:
- Knowledge Base
- Home Help Blocks
- Home Org Blocks
In addition, bbPress forum and WooCommerce layouts will look elegant with custom Manual theme layouts.
WPBakery and Add-on Elements
You can create content under each custom post types and create pages with WPBakery Page Builder to showcase them. WPBakery is a bundled plugin without full license, hence you will not have option to import templates. However, you create beautiful layouts on your own with the available elements and with the help of ultimate add-ons.
Documentation and Support
The theme does not come with any documentation along with the purchase. The documentation file supplied with themeforest download will redirect you to the developer website. You have multiple support options like raising a ticket, checking documentation and forum – all on the developer’s website.
You have to register an account and raise a private ticket on developer’s website. The response from the developer is good as we have raised an issue regarding the breadcrumb and blog post settings.
The documentation available on developer site is not updated for years and is of no use for the latest theme version. With hundreds of available options, you have to spend lots of time in finding the feature without proper documentation.
Problems with Manual Theme
Manual theme though looking attractive had lots of problems when we try to use it.
After installing the theme, you will see the welcome screen upselling other products from the developers. Unfortunately, this is permanently available in “Manual” menu under “Welcome” and “Customization” sections.
Just imagine, you want to setup this theme for your client upselling the services of the theme author. This is kind of ridiculous to show advertisements in the admin panel and sell customization services for a premium theme.
No License Validation
After installing, Manual theme does not need any validation to activate it. You can simply activate and start using without entering license key like any other free themes.
Updating Manual Theme
There is no auto update function available. Hence, you need to manually upload using FTP or rename the theme to upload through admin panel. After we purchased the theme, developer released three updates in few weeks of time. Each time uploading the large theme files through FTP or uploading in admin panel is a pain task.
Similarly, the bundled plugins like WPBakery can’t be updated from the admin panel. The only option is that the author needs to update his theme. If the author updates, you have to upload the entire theme as explained above.
Breadcrumb Issue for Other Custom Post Types
Breadcrumb is a schema that Google uses on search. You can see pages using breadcrumbs in Google Search Console. However, Manual theme uses fixed page (index page) in the breadcrumb for KB, FAQ and Doc. If you have any other custom post type, it will not work with theme’s breadcrumb. In addition, the theme also will not process custom taxonomies properly.
Here is an overall pros and cons of Manual theme.
- Decent theme for creating help desk website with documentation and knowledge base articles.
- One click demo import and beautiful page builder.
- Lot of bundled plugins required for the theme.
- No good documentation.