Marvel Theme

Marvel Theme | Nick Cates | $59.00

This new theme from long-time Rapidweaver developer Nick Cates has the distinctive chunky look-and-feel we’ve come to associate with his most recent work (indeed, it shares many of its visual characteristics with the Royale theme). Marvel is lightweight, fast and has enough options to make it suitable for creating websites to showcase a wide range of business and service types – as well as providing a great platform for a personal site or for serious blogging.

Unusually these days, Marvel includes 12 ‘styles’ where the colour scheme, fonts, item dimensions and element positioning is already decided for you; this makes it very easy for beginners who can sometimes feel a bit paralysed by all the various options on offer with a typical Rapidweaver theme.

In any case, each style option includes the same basic elements – a buttery-smooth slide-out vertical navigation panel (with optional accompanying horizontal menu) space for a large central image, slideshow or video, social icons, an angled section and then whatever content you decide to add underneath. As your visitors scroll down the page, the menu button hovers on top of the content, making it always accessible, and users of the Cartloom e-commerce system can add a shopping basket item to the top right of their site pages with a single click (and the addition of a simple code snippet).

Marvel comes with six fonts for content, headers and headings in a variety of weights and sizes; you can also adjust the line height and – in the case of the horizontal navigation, the letter spacing. There’s deep, sophisticated control over the colour of individual elements – including the subtle background colours and gradients, radial start and finish – as well as the natty progress bar that displays while the optional horizontal menu loads. This menu is one of our favourite parts of the theme. Activated by adding a bit of code in front of the page name, this produces a superbly elegant top menu that sprinkles your page with an extra scattering of fairy dust.

Looking at the banner area, you can use Rapidweaver’s Banner input field in Settings/General to add the same image to every page, or add individual images, via the Banner Override option. You can embed videos from YouTube or Vimeo or if you prefer to host your own, the banner also supports HTML5 video, using a small snippet of code. If you already own Cates’ Velvet Video or Superflex 3 slideshow stacks, these can be added with a couple of mouse clicks. As a personal preference, when we find a developer who provides both themes and stacks, we’re always inclined to combine them if possible, rather than use stacks from elsewhere. The results are usually excellent and it cuts down on any troubleshooting time.

There’s also an extra goodie included with Marvel – the Marvel Split stack – which allows you to create edge-to-edge containers which span the page and can include a background image to create a really simple parallax-style effect, where a small amount of content is scrolled over a much larger image. It’s an excellent and unlooked-for addition to the theme.

Many of the features that make Marvel sing are covered in the online manual on the developer’s website and checking this out will save time and perspiration.

Marvel is an excellent theme. It’s expensive, but the included options mean that no Marvel site need look like any other, and we believe the top class of them will more than repay your investment.

Rob Beattie

Rob Beattie is a freelance copywriter who designs sites using Rapidweaver. He's been reviewing computer hardware, software and web services since 1981. Yes...that long. And he's also the author of 101 Things to Do in a Shed, Fishing: A Very Peculiar History, and The Bluffer's Guide to Fishing.