Should I Build A Public Release WordPress Theme?

In the weeks since I released my new theme, people have been asking me whether or not this would be up for a public release. My answer to that was a simple no for so many reasons. One of which is the fact this theme is supposed to be a unique one of a kind theme that was built around what my blog is and can do. It’s unique in a way that I’m unique and to have many people use the same theme, well, that certainly won’t do.

But it did give me something to think about. Since I already have the framework of a theme, couldn’t I just build myself a WordPress theme for public release? As if there already isn’t enough WordPress themes out there, but still, it’s worth something to think about. Though there are issues pertaining to designing a WordPress theme. The quantity of it floating around the net is one thing, my skills as a web designer is another.

See, the secret to designing a good theme isn’t as much on how it looks, but rather whether you design something that stands out from the rest and then keep it updated. I went through a whole lot of trouble designing this theme because my ability to code isn’t what you call praise worthy. That and the fact it took me a while to compile all that I need to figure out what my readers were interested in this blog.

For a public release theme to stand out, I got to know just what people want before I can design something generic in that direction. To top that off, I have to work on coding something that can work with everyone for the minimal amount of trouble. It’s easier to work with an individual person’s preference. It’s harder to work on a larger scale’s choice pickings. Then to top it off, I have to contend with the possibility of technical support should anyone have problems working with my theme. That alone is enough to discourage me.

But I want to know what you think. If you think there is enough room for one more WordPress theme that’s “different”, drop a line here with your reason for it. I mean, I do have an idea on how to scale down my theme and mod it again so it’ll look completely different from what I have, but it’s not without a few weeks of work on my part and I want to know that it’s worth doing given my limited time spent on it.

Nobody said a web designers life was pretty and I think I’m finally starting to see why.

14 thoughts on “Should I Build A Public Release WordPress Theme?

  1. The world will be always happy with more wordpress themes. That said, I’d rather see a beautiful wireframe/framework. The theme doesn’t need to be beautiful in a sense that any experienced WordPress adopter of your theme would be smart to know how to modify and add their own touches to your theme. That said, I’ve been working on my theme for almost a year and it’s still not done. Pfft.

  2. OK, at the risk of offending you, here’s my opinion:

    Although your themes look nice, and I mean that sincerely, I find the coding could be improved a lot. Improper uses of tags to serve functions that it was not meant to be used for; example would be your use of <fieldset> to hold your Related Links section.

    I’d try to get my themes to validate before even considering to release them publicly.

    Yeah, a lot of people would call this an “elitist” approach to something as simple as a theme. But honestly, if more people were to care about web standards, we would have a better WWW.

    Just my RM0.02.

  3. Hinching: There is just too many to choose from. I was going through some of them for a friend and realised that even if it was compiled at one place, there are just too many out there to pick out from.

    Azmeen: That’s the thing. This theme will never be released for public, if anything I’m building up from where I left off here. Besides, being a validation Nazi doesn’t do much good too if it gives you a headache and your site still breaks on some browsers. Plenty of the best sites and even WordPress themes don’t validate. The whole purpose of validating is to make sure that it runs well on all browsers. If the layout works on all browsers (inclusive of IE), it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t validate does it?

  4. The whole purpose of validating is to make sure that it runs well on all browsers. If the layout works on all browsers (inclusive of IE), it doesnโ€™t matter if it doesnโ€™t validate does it?

    At its current stage, IE7 better accomodates web standards than it previous predecessors.

    If a semantically coded breaks on a particular browser, obviously its the browser’s fault. Standards are there for a reason, and the reason is simple. It provides guidelines on the “whats” and the “whens”. Many are against following W3C guidelines because they misunderstood the standards as being a “hows” guide.

    It is especially painful for those who are graphically inclined. That’s why designers are especially anti-W3C standards. They love the design aspect but get intimidated when it comes to the implementation part.

    Being a W3 advocate is about being a validation-nazi. It’s advocating why writing proper code matters. By stating that if your code gives you headaches and still break some browsers, are you implying that it’s the fault of trying to write valid XHTML/CSS?

    Is valid XHTML/CSS the reason for layouts breaking on certain browsers? Or is it because those certain browsers didn’t follow XHTML/CSS standards?

    Standards were put in place for good reasons. Personally, I think that the W3C deserves more respect for its efforts, especially from the “web design” community.

    Hhmm… after writing all this, I feel that I’m somehow threadjacking your post. I apologise, and this will be my final comment on this issue.

    Now let’s get back to the theme release thingy ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Actually, personal experience-wise. This theme worked the least in IE7 compared to it’s predecessor which was why I had to code a seperate stylesheet specifically for it. We can’t dismiss a browser simply because of its limitations especially with that of IE due to the amount of users that use it. Well, I certainly can’t and when designing a theme, neither can I ignore that as well given many people around the world still use IE. I’ll talk about this more later on in which you can comment there if you still want to. It’s a good topic to talk about given the amount of themes and websites out there that do not validate at all.

  6. Oh I think it’s a good idea. I personally think simpler designs are better for blogs because the main purpose (imo anyway) of the theme is to let the blogger’s posts take the spotlight. Too often you see blogs that are overly cluttered with things that aren’t necessary.

  7. Bugger web standards. Even though I do try do code accordingly to web standards, the world will not notice another WordPress theme which doesn’t work uniformly across all browsers. That said, most importantly, at least get it to work on Firefox. If the theme breaks in IE, then perhaps whatever which is causing the problem shouldn’t be implemented in the first place. Or perhaps there’s always a way around it.

    Yes. Web standards should be appreciated more. But if there’s interest in your theme, release it. You never know another person on the side of the world might just love it. More or less if there’s a demand, then supply. Cheers. And have a good weekend.

  8. Perhaps you could tweak it a bit so that any others will not look like yours. Is it easily customized? It is a good way to get links to your site, and a good thing to add to your resume…

  9. I think you did a great job with this design. I would say to go for it, if you have the time, and would like to get more attention to your site. People always check out the site of the person that does their theme. Include links in the footer, and get even more praise. What’s next, are you making plugins? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I myself would like to build a theme from scratch, but I so need a skeleton to work from. Not easy, even from the most basic of themes I can find. (Maybe I haven’t seen enough. Help?) The CSS files are a pain to scan through… I would personally do one far more efficient and readable! I’m talking about the class/id naming conventions too. It’s discouraging + I’m lazy, so I’ve gotten nowhere yet. It’d be great if you release a theme skeleton of your design, Ed — might give me something else to learn from.

  11. Sharina: Simple yet practical. That’s a hard act to follow. I’ll see what I can do though I make no promises.

    Hinching: If it breaks then the code is probably wrong because more often than not, other people can do it as well. The thing is, those broken codes validate so yeah, validation isn’t exactly perfect.

    PixelHead: That’s the plan. A toned down, reworked version of this theme. Not that I’m putting it on my resume. I’m in a totally different career to begin with. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Alex: Noooo, definitely not making plugins. Though I do have a plugin that I modified and updated because it wasn’t supported anymore. I don’t know if you can call that mine or not.

    Lionel: Do what I do. Pick a theme that’s close to your ideal theme without fancy images to support it. Then strip the CSS down and rebuild it up. That’s what I did with this theme, though I did rework the index.php to create the effect I want, but other than the major rework of the stylesheet, that’s how this came about. It’s about breaking things down and putting it together again. Starting is the hardest. After that things get progressively easier.

  12. You have a point when you said “as if there already isn’t enough WordPress themes out there”. We all know how MANY there are, but I’m sure there are bloggers who are still looking for “the one” that best suits their blogs (just like how I’ve recently found mine, which I will stick to for as long as possible). So maybe you’d design one that you yourself will like, instead of designing one that will just add to the dozens of themes? Who knows, I’m sure there are bloggers who will love your theme (just like how I do) ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Be prepared to be inundated with lots of questions and expectations of support. It’s been almost a year since I released a theme to the public, and I still get emails about it. I don’t even know if it works well with the latest versions of WordPress, but people expect it to and expect support, even when you say it is an “as is” release. Just a thought… I mean, it’s flattering and all, but people expect a lot. It’s unfortunately not just an “I’ve released a theme” thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *