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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    What makes a Good Wordpress Theme?

    In the summer I launched my Blog, and to be honest I have made a bit of a hash of it over the last few months. I don't like my theme, which I will always build them myself as for favorite part is the whole design into CSS part. I need help, what makes a good Wordpress theme?

    I would also be grateful if anybody has any blogging tips that they would mind posting here.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  2. #2
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    Hello dgroves,

    Personally I believe that a good looking theme is based on the following characteristics :

    - Easy To Navigate
    - Good Color Combination
    - Smooth & Load Fasts

    Personally I have an entrepreneur blog at olgizenullari.com and many readers have really loved my design as it looks smooth and everything is in order

    Good Luck with your blog

    Olgi Zenullari

  3. #3
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Functionality, the ability to enhance it without touching the code too much, and ease of use - not only for you, but also the people who will be using it.

    I also consider documentation to be a critical component of a good WordPress Theme as well. If people need help, the first place they're going to turn to is the documentation - if it's not there, then they'll either send you a nasty email, or just find another Theme to use.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz View Post
    Functionality, the ability to enhance it without touching the code too much, and ease of use - not only for you, but also the people who will be using it.

    I also consider documentation to be a critical component of a good WordPress Theme as well. If people need help, the first place they're going to turn to is the documentation - if it's not there, then they'll either send you a nasty email, or just find another Theme to use.

    When I come to release my first wordpress theme what sort of information do you suggest that I put in the documentation?

  5. #5
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    At the very least, contact information, an overview, instructions for standard use, and a few tips for customizing the theme for personal use.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Thanks for your help Dan!

  7. #7
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    The best themes are the easiest to customize.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    The answer to your question depends on what you are looking for. Many people are looking for easily customisable themes as pointed out above. However others are looking for particular or original features.

    The Prologue and Monotone themes are good examples of original themes IMO. They use little/no inspiration from what has come before them in the WordPress theme market.

    Shifter is an interesting example of an original type of theme which is designed to cater for those who want easy customisation of their blog.

  9. #9
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    I'm one of those Wordpress users that always looks for Themes ready made (some day I'll learn not to mess them up when I try to do it myself :P ) so here's what I look for in picking a theme and in using it ...

    if you're talking about what others would want in a theme:

    1. Customizable: I always customize the ready made themes. Its essential that I can change the theme to personalize it. This includes having all the proper pages.. grr I hate when I don't have say a "Page" template in the theme I just fell in love with

    2. Documentation and availability to contact the author. I'm very thankful folks give freely to the community..and even better if I can contact them for assistance with their theme (I've even been known to "donate" to them because I can get ahold of them)

    3. This goes sort a with Customize, but the theme has to be ready for my use with widgets and plugins. EX: If it's for a business blog, Its really nice to have it SEO and/or Ad ready..

    If you're just looking for what would make a good set up for your visitors:
    I agree with 0lgi and Dan. Attractive to view, Great and easy Navigation (Uber important- I hate getting lost!), Fast loading (I just close the page if it takes more than a couple of seconds to load or scroll), Easy to use/and update for you!

  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast ArtDeco's Avatar
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    I like a theme that handles categories and static pages as well as it handles normal posts, as about half my content is evergreen stuff. Many themes only allow room for two or three pages at the top.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Interesting thoughts, keep 'em coming!
    @ArtDeco: Interesting, never really though about that one before
    @Befuzled: Sounds like i need a donate link
    @ryanhellyer: I had a look at shifter... and wow is all I can say. Would never know where to start with that one!

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast ArtDeco's Avatar
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    And I like a theme that allows individual pages to have different features in the header or sidebar - the "if pg_id = 1 use header1 else use header0" type of code. I don't know how to post code in the forum so I won't try. You people know what I mean.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Evangelist rhysboy84's Avatar
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    An interesting slight aside here. What do you think of wordpress themes that have pre installed plugins in the functions.php? Do you think they are useful or stifling?
    I'm Rhys Wynne & I blog at Winwar Media
    WP Email Capture: Free Email/Ebook Marketing Wordpress Plugin
    UK Based SEO? Tweet Your Location to #ukseohere!
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhysboy84 View Post
    An interesting slight aside here. What do you think of wordpress themes that have pre installed plugins in the functions.php? Do you think they are useful or stifling?
    It depends upon what exactly the plug-ins are what what the theme is used for by the user, sometimes they are pointless and get in the way, and other times they are very usefull.

  15. #15
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    Personally I don't like having lots of template files as it makes altering the theme annoying My own themes usually only have one file, index.php.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by digitaldesperad View Post
    Personally I don't like having lots of template files as it makes altering the theme annoying My own themes usually only have one file, index.php.
    Me too. I've learned recently that others don't like themes made like that though so have started adding a bunch of extra pointless files when I provide themes to others.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Evangelist rhysboy84's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanhellyer View Post
    Me too. I've learned recently that others don't like themes made like that though so have started adding a bunch of extra pointless files when I provide themes to others.
    I'm half and half.

    My template for my Retro Garden blog is HUGE. The reason being is that each page has a slightly different layout. Sure I could do it with fancy PHP, but it keeps the server load down.

    However, that's for my own stuff, any templates that I release, I generally keep manageable.
    I'm Rhys Wynne & I blog at Winwar Media
    WP Email Capture: Free Email/Ebook Marketing Wordpress Plugin
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhysboy84 View Post
    An interesting slight aside here. What do you think of wordpress themes that have pre installed plugins in the functions.php? Do you think they are useful or stifling?
    Depends on the funtionality.

    I'm considering adding a script to correct the code spew used to markup the built in gallery feature.

    I suspect many people find a built in Google Adsense feature quite useful.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast ArtDeco's Avatar
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    Some people will find any built in feature useful. That's why Microsoft word is so big.
    Last edited by ArtDeco; Nov 3, 2008 at 17:50.
    I believe in free speech, free markets, and free software.

  20. #20
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhysboy84 View Post
    An interesting slight aside here. What do you think of wordpress themes that have pre installed plugins in the functions.php? Do you think they are useful or stifling?
    It really depends. If they go overboard and have a dozen plugins in the template than its bad. However if they add a small plugin for breadcrumbs and another for related posts then its fine.

    My pet peeve is that when template authors build their templates around specific plugins and do not include them with the code. They make you run around the internet hunting down these plugins so their stuff works corrrectly. Quite frankly the delete key is closer and easier to use. If you do include a plugin, give us an option to turn it off.

    Which brings me to my biggest complaint about themes is the ones with the options where they make you open up files and fill in variables instead of making an options panel within the Wordpress Admin Center. Its really not hard to do and there are a dozen tutorials scattered across the web to do it with. I shouldn't have to go through 15 files looking for every reference of WP_Query() because the designer has decided that a secret category needs to be used to fill a block in the sidebar with content.

    They need to make their themes right and charge people to edit them and provide support. Everyone will be much better off in the long run.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  21. #21
    SitePoint Enthusiast ArtDeco's Avatar
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    "my biggest complaint about themes is the ones with the options where they make you open up files and fill in variables instead of making an options panel within the Wordpress Admin Center."
    Agreed.
    I believe in free speech, free markets, and free software.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Addict dgroves's Avatar
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    Very Interesting...

    I'm Liking all of this, and some very interesting points & ideas.


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