The Future of Premium WordPress themes

It’s prediction time: The Premium WordPress Theme phenomenon has approximately one year left before collapsing entirely, leaving a rather large hole between completely free WordPress themes and custom themes $1500 and up. If you’ve got a “Premium” WordPress theme waiting in the wings I advise releasing it sooner rather than later. As in, now.

Before I explain myself let’s get one term straight: Premium. I’d rather use the compound “pay-for-use” because more often than not “Premium”, when it comes to WordPress themes, simply means “it costs money” and not “of superior quality”. This isn’t true for everyone of course. But it is certainly true of some (and will increasingly become true of more as the market becomes saturated).

Alright, that out of the way let’s get on with the doomsday WordPress theme market scenario. This week theme designer Justin Tadlock released a jam-packed WordPress-as-CMS style theme called “Options“. The download package is just a mess—in the best way possible; Justin’s got extra widgets, sub menus, javascript tabs, page templates and integration with popular plugins and web services, all wrapped up in a fairly clean design ready for customization. Way to go Justin.

Oh, and Options has one more feature. It signals the end of the Premium WordPress theme market.

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MNML, A TumbleLog Style WordPress Theme

A Preview of The WordPress Theme MNML
Automattic, the folks behind WordPress.com have a great quote on their company site, “Blogging is too hard.” I totally agree.

Why did you start your personal blog anyway? You wanted a place online to share things you found interesting and occasionally write a longer article, maybe even a rant. Right? Did you want to start a magazine site with 40 categories carefully arranged on a complicated home page? Or did you want a blindingly shiny site that looked like it had been attacked by a pack of floor buffers? Probably not. Did you want something simple and cool looking? Something easy to post to? Something that looked and worked like the tumblelog-style WordPress theme MNML? (What’s a tumblelog?)

Maybe. Let’s take a closer look at it.

View the live Demo or Download MNML.

Continue reading “MNML, A TumbleLog Style WordPress Theme”

A Tumblelog Theme for WordPress, a Preview and Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about my next theme (now available), reviewing the themes in progress and looking over my list of plans. I think I’ve come to a conclusion about what the next ThemeShaper theme will be. Oh wait, you’ve already read the title so you know. Yeah, it’ll be a Tumblelog theme.

First things first, what’s a Tumblelog theme? Well in my mind it’s a theme that lets you tumble with the now. A theme that lets you post, post, post—consequences be damned. A Facebook where you’re in control. A tumbling rolling current of links and thoughts that doesn’t try and pass itself off as a community hub, premium news magazine, or anything anti-blog. It’s the bloggiest of all blogs really. Especially in this current phase of WordPress. Continue reading “A Tumblelog Theme for WordPress, a Preview and Thoughts”

Developing Themes: Drupal Compared With WordPress, First Impressions

I love WordPress, let me get that out of the way at the beginning. But Drupal is really powerful. And terribly exciting—you can do so much with it! But I only like Drupal. Bit of a difference.

I’ll let that serve as introduction to letting you know that I have two projects that will require Drupal as a CMS and I don’t think that WordPress will cut it. WordPress, like I’ve said before, makes a great little CMS. But it’s not for everything. One project is a site for a complex and growing organization that will need finely grained user permissions and the other, a hobby site, is something like a Digg-clone for rating and sorting user-generated content. Sort of the standard “you need Drupal” projects. Continue reading “Developing Themes: Drupal Compared With WordPress, First Impressions”

How To Set Line Endings in Smultron for your WordPress Themes

About 5 minutes after releasing my first WordPress theme, Theseus, upon the world, I had my first support ticket to deal with: A Parse Error. The problem is, I work on a Mac and Macs handle line endings differently than everyone else. Different as in, make Unix computers explode. Unfortunately for me, a lot of web servers are UNIX computers. That explode.

About 5 minutes after releasing my first WordPress theme, Theseus, upon the world, I had my first support ticket to deal with. Check it out:

Thank you for this awesome theme, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me.

This is what it says after installing and testing it.

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_VARIABLE in /home/javitsin/public_html/wp-content/themes/theseus/index.php on line 1

Now a Parse Error happens when, essentially (I say essentially, not exactly, because I’m a designer not a programmer), you make a typing mistake in a PHP file. Thing is, I hadn’t made any typing mistakes—that I could see.

The problem is, I work on a Mac and Macs handle line endings, you know, where you press return, differently than everyone else. Different as in, make Unix computers explode. Unfortunately for me, a lot of web servers are UNIX computers. That explode. Continue reading “How To Set Line Endings in Smultron for your WordPress Themes”

Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Conquering a Maze of Content

A preview of Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Your Maze of Content

Theseus is the legendary Greek hero famous, amongst other feats, for defeating the Minotaur at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth and finding his way out again, thanks to a ball of string. This theme hopes to do the same, leading your readers through a maze of content, taking them carefully through what they need to see without getting lost.

The WordPress theme, Theseus, does this in two ways; by prominently featuring the latest post in a “feature” category of your choice (conveniently set on the theme options page) and moving all non-essential stuff (you know, widgets) to the page footer. Continue reading “Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Conquering a Maze of Content”

WordPress Theme Preview: Theseus

Theseus, A WordPress Theme

Clicking on the image above will take you to a demo of my WordPress theme-in-progress, Theseus. Of course, depending on when you read this, it might lead to the finished theme. Then again, you may be reading this farther in the future than I’m anticipating and the link will instead lead to a page extolling the virtues of our new Martian overlords. In that case, all hail Theseus, Emperor of Mars! Continue reading “WordPress Theme Preview: Theseus”

Increase RSS Subscribers With WordPress Conditional Tags

This is the scenario: a new visitor, or a visitor returning after some absence, reads through the main page of your blog and clicks a “previous entries” or “older posts” link. Who is this visitor? What do we know about them? Well, 1. they want to read more content (congratulations!) and 2. (in the case of the returning visitor) they’re not subscribing to your blog.

How can we remind them of the benefits of subscribing at just the right moment, when the benefits are clearly apparent? Easy. Use a WordPress conditional template tag.

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The Ultimate WordPress Theme Test

Bear with me, this one is going to hurt. Load up your blog with your favorite WordPress theme on it. Ready? Scroll down.

Yep, scroll your theme down, down past the header and menu, down past the post titles. Scroll down to a page full of text and links and no distractions. This is where The Ultimate WordPress Theme Test will take place. This is where the best themes shine. Because this is where your readers will spend the bulk of their time and this is where your theme does the real work. Columns too wide or narrow? Font too big or small? Typography lame? Remember, content is there to be read. Don’t let your theme get in the way of that. Continue reading “The Ultimate WordPress Theme Test”

3 Google Code Projects That Will Save Your WordPress Theme

Google Code LogoGoogle Code is Google’s hosting repository for open source projects. Got an open source project? Google Code will host it for free. Want to make a killer WordPress theme that just plain works? Then Google Code is your best friend. Three projects on Google Code will help you get your WordPress theme done right. A trinity of open-source WordPress theme development tools: Sandbox, Blueprint and IE7.js.

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