This article highlights some of the factors one should consider when designing and implementing an actual WordPress theme. The tips are handy primarily for people who are new to WordPress theme development and who plan to work on pore WordPress themes.
In the previous article, we covered two of the most important steps in designing WordPress themes (and, really, any other web design theme):
- Drawing the right inspiration for your theme
- Coming up with a good mock p for the design in a prototyping application
In this article, we're going to focus more on some of the factors one should consider when designing and implementing the actual theme.
Tools of the Trade
Before moving moving forward, it is important to note the two tools that I recommend may come handy when designing and coding the actual theme.
1. Adobe Photoshop
Obviously, this one needs no introduction. It's one of the most popular design tools used by most web designers.
Of course, there are other tools from which to choose, but having a grasp at some of the things this software can deliver will be really be advantageous in the design world.
Photoshop will help give life to your mock up that you did on the previous article.
2. Sublime Text 2
They say a programmer is just as good as the software he or she uses to write their code. When it comes to writing code, Sublime Text 2 is one of my personal favorites (as it is with a number of other developers, as well). Jeffrey extensively covers some of the amazing things that you can do with this tool - take a look.
Of course, there are so many other tools available, it would take an entire serious to detail them so it's important to find what what's best for you and your workflow and incorporate it into your day-to-day tasks.
Now that we know some of the tools we can use to design and build WordPress themes, let’s look at some design factors one should put into consideration when designing WordPress themes
Design Tailored to Client Taste
Unlike designing a custom theme that is user-specific to a particular client, designing a premium WordPress theme requires that you cater to different needs and tastes.
What if I only design for a specific niche on the market? Yes, even users in a specific industry such as these for boutiques, will vary on the layout, color scheme, and typography of the site.
When designing a theme, it's important you do adequate research to ensure that you have at least incorporated several layout options and if possible have them as pre made templates making it easier for theme buyers to customize as per their preferences.
Typography, as defined in Wikipedia, is:
...the art and technique of arranging type in order to make the language it forms the most appealing and to transparent learning and recognition.
Choosing the right type face, font size, and general arrangement of elements on your design is key to in order for your theme to appeal to many clients.
Too much white space can put off potential customers. Many people look at how the demo data has been arranged and how it looks in the design. Arranging various elements correctly can greatly boost your theme sales.
You can use the demo data to showcase how clients can have their data on the website once they purchase the theme.
A theme is just as good as the framework and the various functionality that comes with the it. Providing easy customization options for your theme is key to boosting theme sales.
Most theme buyers are people who want easy and fast ways of implementing a design using as few resources as possible. To that end, they expect a design that not only looks great on the front end, but may also offer shortcodes and page builder options to help guide their content structure.
Well-Structured and Documented Code
Just as I mentioned in the first point (that is, design tailored to various client taste), developers are also among the group of people who purchase themes.
Any developer out there will want to purchase a theme that s/he can easily understand the code. Well-structured and commented code will help your clients extended theme functionality. Give as much power to your theme clients as possible by having well-structured code and the the ability to modify and improve on the code as much as they want.
This will not only reduce support tickets but also boost your following of theme buyers.
Theme Documentation and Support
When you purchase an electronic device, such as a cell phone, it comes with a manual. In the case that this does not happen, you may feel lost as you attempt to get started with the new device.
The same goes for premium WordPress themes: When users purchase a premium theme, they expect to have at least guide that will help them through the set up process. Your theme documentation should be organized in a strategic order that will make it easier for your clients to set up.
At the same time, setting up a good support system is important as most clients want to feel as if they have a place to go to ask questions, give feedback, and interact with the support team. Thus, setting up a theme support system is key.
Unlike some designers who set up open ticket forums, I propose having FAQs for common queries and let your clients have a specific way of reporting special theme related problems.
In this part of the series, we've covered some of the key factors one should consider when designing a premium WordPress theme, and a few tools one can use to achieve said objective.
In the last part of this series, we will cover how to choose the right marketplace for your theme and how to package your theme for the public (such as the right pricing model and support model).
In the mean time, share any questions or comments in the article!