WordPress Themes and User Experience

Good user experience in WordPress themes can make the difference between frustrated or happy users. Yet, it’s often overlooked. A solid user experience can feel just right, creating sound expectations and delight. If you’re looking to boost your theming skills and learn more about themes and user experience, we recommend these three recent talks by members of the Automattic Theme Team:

Kirk Wight, A Call for Simplicity: As WordPress blazes into its second decade, theming, plugin development, and WordPress core itself are reaching troublesome levels of complexity and confusion, challenging the very essence of what has gotten WordPress to where it is in the first place. Pulling from diverse areas of culture and tech, we’ll tie together our need for simplicity, and issue a call to arms for the next ten years of WordPress.

Tammie Lister, Theme, Don’t Be My Everything: It’s time to stop putting everything including the kitchen sink into themes. A theme shouldn’t be a bloated monster with an options panel that stretches out the horizon. This talk is a call to action to stop making themes that do everything and start making themes that focus.

David Kennedy, Themes are for Users: In this talk, we’ll explore user research, theme setup, theme options and more. By the end, you’ll know what makes up a theme’s user experience, and how to set your users up for success.

And if you’re still getting started with theming, or even WordPress, wondering how you could ever contribute to WordPress and add value – you’re not alone. Check out Kathryn Presner’s The Techie Continuum, and start contributing to WordPress today!

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding

I had the chance to speak at WordCamp San Francisco this year and, this time, I tried to do something different. Instead of doing a talk with lots of code examples and howto info that could be read in a blog post I decided to put my heart on my sleeve and shoot for inspiration. Of course, I still talked about WordPress themes. No one wants to hear a rousing talk from me on how much I love cooking at home. I tried with this talk to share why I love working with WordPress themes. Because I really do. I got the impression that people liked the talk. Maybe you will too. Check out (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Themes, Love, and Understanding on WordPress.tv. Or just watch it here on ThemeShaper!

P.S. Someone remind me the next time I speak to not wear a shirt that gets wrinkled so easily.🙂

Photo adapted from a banksy shot by Thomas Hawk.

Five Minutes with Philip Arthur Moore

Did you know we have a Premium Theme Team at WordPress.com? They’re the folks who audit all of the premium themes available on WordPress.com — that’s not just the themes we make but also the ones made by other shops too — and make sure we have a consistently amazing experience with them. Philip Arthur Moore leads that team and there’s a great interview with him on the WordPress.com news blog.

The majority of my waking hours are spent feverishly obsessing over making premium themes a world-class experience for all WordPress users. This means a lot of different things: ensuring that customers are well-supported in our premium themes forum; auditing every single line of code in every premium theme; educating the WordPress theming community on proper approaches to WordPress theme development; and with my colleagues coming up with strong, robust guidelines for developing themes the WordPress.com way.

Philip also spends a ton of time working on _s. I love everything about this quote.

It’s hard to understand the power of _s unless you see what’s built with it. Further, Ryu, A Simpler Time, and Untitled were all created using _s, but you’d never know it without being told and that’s what makes the starter theme so powerful. To date, Underscores has around 34 total contributors and it’s always open to more. I’ll continue to work on it because it provides a solid benchmark on which to grade other themes and it also gives me a chance to interact with the theming community.

Anyway, quit reading this post and check out the interview with Philip.

An interview with Lance Willett on WordPress.com Premium Themes

Our very own Lance Willett recently discussed premium themes on WordPress.com with Ryan Imel of WPCandy. This interview comes one year after premium themes launched on WordPress.com. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can give it a listen on WPCandy.

As a bonus, WPCandy posted a second recording called “Aftertaste” that starts after the formal interview concluded. In “Aftertaste”, Lance and Ryan discuss the pronunciation of names, upcoming WordCamps, and how to talk about WordPress themes with users. Be sure to check this one out as well.

We’re Presenting at WordCamp San Francisco 2011

Three Theme Wranglers will be involved with theme-related sessions at this year’s WordCamp San Francisco (Aug 12–14, 2011).

Themes, themes, and more themes! If you’re in town for WordCamp please say hello, we’d love to meet you.

Update: Videos of WCSF 2011 presentations are now live on wordpress.tv.

Ian Stewart Speaking at FOWD London 2011

I’m super excited to announce that our very own Theme Wrangler Ian Stewart will be speaking next week at FOWD London 2011. He’ll be presenting on WordPress and themes in a talk titled “Power Your Design With WordPress” — read more about it on the FOWD London schedule page.

If you’re attending FOWD London be sure to come to Ian’s talk and learn how to kick-start your theme design and development. It’s going to be an action-packed, information-filled 40 minutes.

(And come say “Howdy” to the entire Theme Team, we’ll be there with bells on.)