I published one WordPress theme per day for 32 consecutive days to complete my ridiculously mind-numbing WordPress self-challenge. The last record, held by WP Diva in August 2006, was 31. Check out my themes.
Stepping into the challenge, I knew I could create a theme from scratch within one day; I’ve done it before. But multiple themes, consecutively? I had to find out.
With WordPress themes, once you’ve created a template and gotten familiar with skinning designs for it, you’re good to go. Even WP Diva suggested to work off of one basic template. So I thought, how hard could copy and paste be? Let me tell you, I got my butt kicked.
The challenge was nothing short of its name. I was exhausted, mainly because I didn’t follow a basic template. My designs were structurally far different from each other. The 32 themes range from one to four column themes. One of them was named Exhausted.
Tools I Used
- Each theme started with a design, all of them originated from Photoshop 7.0.
- Thanks to Geeks Are Sexy, I was able to test the themes from a WordPress installation on my computer instead of having to upload them online. It’s much faster when you don’t have to keep overwriting your files through FTP to see changes you’ve made to your theme.
- After completing each theme, I validated my codes: xhtml and CSS.
- Let’s not forget the blue Stick Pens with medium point and super smooth ink used to sketch the basic concept of each theme.
Tips for WordPress Designers
- Pick a topic – After that, It’s much easier to come up with ideas. For example: movies, favorite band, fruits, gadgets, etc.
- Sketch it first – On paper, you can scribble and throw away basic concepts faster than you can write. Keeping your topic in mind, layout where you want your main content, sidebar, title, description, and etc. to be.
- Steal from the best – There are really advance WordPress designers and coders out there that you can learn from. Download their themes. Read their source codes. Learn from it and incorporate it into your own theme.
- No hard coding – WordPress has a template function for almost everything. Try to stay away from using text and links in your themes that bloggers can’t modify without editing the actual template files. For example – don’t hard link to the default About page. Not every blogger uses customized permalinks.
- Horizontal menus – When your theme involves a horizontal menu that uses the wp_list_pages() function, remember to add depth=”1″ to prevent your menu from breaking the layout.
- Quality not quantity – If you want your theme downloaded, remember that one high quality theme equals ten average themes. My top themes recorded thousands and thousands of downloads. On the other hand, my average themes are all under five-hundred downloads. If you’re theme is really well made and designed, you’ll also get mentioned on WordPress design blogs that will send you loads of traffic.
- Validate, Validate, Validate – I have mild OCD so I validate my themes usually three times each. With each validation, there are multiple pages, including the style.css file.
- Keep it simple – After all, bloggers want their theme to be unique, if we can’t modify your theme then we’ll find another one.
- Expect and prepare for requests – Decide in the beginning whether you want to take on custom projects. With traffic and new readers come bloggers that are interested in hiring you for their blog’s theme. Ask questions until you clearly understand what your client is trying to do. And don’t forget to set your prices.
Big thanks to:
- everyone that have been following and mentioning my challenge on your own blog for the support.
- Lorelle for mentioning my challenge on BlogHerald’s WordPress Wednesday.
- Mark and Ajay of WeblogToolsCollection for featuring my crappy themes over and over again. I know their readers are tired of me.
- John of JohnTP for de-marking my comment as spam when I kept submitting long list of theme links to his list of WordPress Themes.