The other day I was asked over dinner what I thought WordPress themes were going to look like in 2012. The big themes and ideas — the future! — that sort of thing. It’s something I love talking about and sharing (obviously). I see two big trends making their way through the WordPress community. Here’s what I said.
Man, WordPress theme options. People love arguing about them don’t they? This is the year we start to say goodbye to them. Or some of them, rather. Theme options (and in many cases what is certainly theme bloat) will start to be pruned away this year. That doesn’t mean NO OPTIONS EVER! — though sometimes pruning away needless options leaves you with none for sure — but instead, just enough options. Sometimes it’s no settings. Sometimes it’s two. Or twelve. Whatever the number the big trend will be not too many, not too few, and just enough.
But lighter themes will also mean smaller themes. Themes that meet more particular needs and “just work.” Not niche themes (A pony theme! A badger theme!) always particularly — though sometimes this will look more like more niche themes — but more problem-solving themes. You have a publishing problem (I like to publish big images! I like to write long posts without any images!) and this theme fixes it.
Better Designed Themes
In a way this goes hand in hand with the idea of lighter themes. Like millions of other geeks I received the Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs bio for Christmas. And like many other people I read it (it’s huge!) and was inspired by Steve Jobs’ lifelong passion for product design — both inside and out. I’m guessing we’ll start to see that same passion brought to WordPress themes this year. Sure, there have been beautiful themes in the past but I feel like there’s an extra gust of wind at our backs this year. And it’s not like technology is working against us. The acceptance of CSS3 and web fonts make it even easier to bring an Apple-like level of refinement to the work that we do. Likewise with the backside of the fence. The core WordPress default theme project that brings us a new default theme every year along with the many framework and starter theme projects in the larger community mean every project gets what I’ll call a 1000-hour head start. That’s the time frame of development and iteration that stands behind your WordPress theme projects now. Development and iteration that you don’t have to do.
It’s a great time to be making WordPress themes and shaping the web. I’m looking forward to it being a beautiful one.
What Do You Think?
Do you agree? Do these two predictions sound like baloney? There’s a comments form below. Bring it.