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Steps to Becoming a Quality WordPress Theme Developer


Have you ever found asking: how do Premium WordPress theme authors achieve million dollar milestones? How do they come up with such amazing designs and create such huge following? 

This article intends to follow through the journey of brainstorming a great looking, high-quality theme and some of the important things one should observe on his or her journey in order to achieve similar success.

Drawing Inspiration

It can really be hard to come up with a new idea that you really want the rest of the world to embrace. Regardless of what you come up with, it often feels like someone else has already implemented a similar idea.

But here's the thing: That’s where the secret lies. It’s the creativity and tweaking of this idea that brings forth a theme that will solve problems for many clients.

If you read most of the interviews or blogs with some of the most successful theme designers, you will notice that theme authors almost always have a rough idea of a particular problem they want to solve.  A good theme is not only inspired by just creativity, but the need to solve a particular problem that the marketplace is facing.

It’s during the sketching phase of coming up with a theme one comes up with possible designs that a theme will implement. Don't underestimate this phase, either. Sketching is so important: It points out design flaws that should be avoided long before you even start the actual work. 

Giving yourself time to think through a design on a piece of paper can assist you in identifying some of the most important elements that should be included in your design. 

At this point, it's also when you get to look at designs done by others and see how to incorporate the different elements in your theme. For this, one of the websites that I can recommend is awwwards as they showcase websites that have won various awards, not only based on their design, but also on their usability. 

Checking out some of the top theme marketplaces will also help you get an idea what clients are seeking out for in a design. 

Practicability of Your Theme

After sketching on a piece of paper, it’s time to take your design to computer software to see how practical it is both to implement and from a usability standpoint. At this point, many often think it's time to jump into Photoshop or another editor to begin creating design comps, but that's not the case. 

At least, not yet.

Before doing that, it's worth spending time creating a few rough mockups to help expose certain usability flaws that may exist within the design. Tools such as Balsamiq mock-up provide rapid wire framing features that are perfect for exactly this. 

Mock-up software will also aid you in getting a slightly clearer view of the general typography of your website. Additionally, white space will also easily seen within the context of mock up software long before you even start working on the design itself.

I know - it may look like we are repeating the sketching phase, but using mockup software will help factor in things like the accurate measurements of the web page. This will help you determine exact measurements each element included on your design will require. In turn, these elements are what you will use when transferring the your design and your mockup to graphic software like Photoshop.


In this part one of the series, we've just begun to look at the steps necessary to build quality WordPress theme designs. On top of that, we've only dealt with the critical need of looking at our design from the sketching phase and how best to draw your inspiration for your next project. It's also important to look at what other successful authors have designed and see how to improve on our sketch from similar designs.

We have also highlighted the need to use a mock-up software to transfer your sketch on paper to a computer to see how it looks, and to aid you on the general usability of your theme before to going graphic software to design the actual product.

What's Up Next?

In the next part this series, we will dive deeper into to some of the critical factors one should observe and respect when designing the actual theme in software such as Photoshop. We'll also look at some of the things one should consider when converting the design to code.

In the meantime, feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

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