Over the last few years, there has been a growing debate about what should and shouldn’t be included in a WordPress theme.
Generally-speaking, the conversations have always circled around features: There are those that believe every feature you could ever imagine should be included like text color, font selector, and more. On the flip-side, there are those that feel WordPress themes should be finite and extra features should only be added when it’s niche specific.
I don’t want to necessarily re-hash those major arguments but I do want to look at it from another slightly-different angle (namely the marketplace and public) for a moment and ask anew the question: Which side do you lean towards?
The biggest problem in packaging too many features in a WordPress theme is making it too heavy. When you’re developing a website, you want to sculpt WordPress as perfectly as possible.
Want to change the font? The most basic web designer is going to find themselves going straight for the CSS file to make these changes, not the WordPress Admin!
With these kind of features baked in the theme, forget about removing it. It’s there to stay. Add a few other “nifty” features and you’ll end up with an over-bloated theme that is full of unused functionality that could be done more efficiently via plugins or hard code.
So shouldn’t all WordPress Theme Wranglers try to keep their themes efficient?
Developing efficient WordPress themes is something I admire. The idea of adding a font selector in a WordPress theme makes me cringe, but as someone who sells a premium WordPress theme, these are the types of requests I get all the time.
Can you make your theme easier to customize?
But then it would be bloated, right?
The marketplace has put WordPress Theme Wranglers between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, you want to code the best WordPress theme possible.
After all, you know the “other guys” are going to be looking under the hood. But on the other hand, you’re in the business of selling themes and the marketplace is demanding it.
So what do you do?
The General Public
The general public is asking for font selectors and color wheels. It’s those that have found an amazingly easy to use CMS, who have never experienced web design.
When I look back at when I first came upon WordPress, the first thing that drew me to it was its easy learning curve. The same goes for the general public. No other web platform makes it this easy to setup your own website and look good! Think about it.
You can grab some cheap hosting, run a one-click install, grab a good looking theme, and you’re all set! Why wouldn’t the end-user expect an easy way to “design” their new website?
Where’s the money at?
Show me the money! Is it found by developing tight themes that are admired by those few awesome WordPress Theme Wranglers, or offering features that will easily sell to the general public?
It’s a no brainer.
However, as someone who respects good code and following WordPress’ best practices, I would feel like I was selling my soul. There are a few solutions I’ve kicked around (or currently use) that would be the best of both worlds:
- Offer a Support License purchase option that allows users to follow tutorials for their own customization.
- Offer free downloadable plugins that work exclusively with your premium theme that adds easy functionality.
- Offer tiered theme versions–beginner, advanced and developer.
What solutions would you consider?
I think about WordPress themes like automobiles. There are all sorts of different makes and models for all the different kinds of people. But there are those few car manufacturers that find a way to manufacture quality automobiles, whether it be an economy car, SUV or sports car (of course, not all options are available for every make). That’s what I want to strive for.
The balancing act between options and efficiency will always face WordPress Theme Wranglers, but it’s how you deal with that tension that really counts.
What do you think?