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Archive for the ‘WordPress Themes’ Category

Kubrick Retire? Never!

Recently, there has been a re-opening of the discussion on if Kubrick should be replaced as the default WordPress theme. While I am not a fan of the Kubrick theme itself, I find the creator, Michael Heilemann an interesting guy, and his work in Kubrick deserves continued support from the WordPress users of the world.

I think it is the original, classic theme that should be replaced, and Kubrick should become the new “classic” theme being replaced, but not displaced by a new default theme for WordPress.

I think WordPress users could still learn a lot from Kubrick, and be inspired by it. Also, it has the right amount of design for someone starting blogging.

Here are some thoughts from Jeff Chandler about the whole issue:

The way I see it, if you attack the root of the problem and replace Kubrick with a base theme that contains everything DD32 mentioned, this could do nothing but positive things for the WordPress community. First time theme developers would have an excellent base to start from and learn a thing or two in the process with documentation included within the theme.

I disagree with Jeff, and think that too many WordPress “gurus” expect early WordPress users to understand how to change a theme, but if that were the case, I think far more people would use the built-in header change tool that comes with Kubrick by default, rather than sticking with the stock settings.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress Theme Trends and Implementation Instructions

For the Lose has a great post up about WordPress Theme trends and how you can implement some of those features in your blog today.

What are blog posts? Blog posts, when you really look at them, are nothing but walls of text. So what separates them from a page from a high school textbook? Blog posts have personality. You gain readers by being able to implement your personality into your posts. You have to make them feel comfortable, reassure them that they’re reading your posts for pleasure, not because they have to.

Things like tabs, post thumbnails, and theme options pages are mentioned, and instructions are given regarding each one. If you have ever wanted to “pimp your WordPress theme”, this post might help you do that in a way you might not have thought possible, if you aren’t a programmer by nature.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress Theme: WPUnlimited

I have been trying out various WordPress themes for a long time now. I have commissioned some custom ones for myself, used both free and paid WordPress themes, and even released a few of my own. Today, I am releasing a new theme that solves many of my personal issues with WordPress themes, and plugins.

So yesterday, I finally officially launched WPUnlimited, a WordPress theme system that does many interesting things.

It takes things that people find normally complex, and tries to find a way to simplify them.

First off, I made sure uploading and displaying headers, and backgrounds was easy. Also WPUnlimited comes with various SEO options built-in.


WP Unlimited “Design” Tutorial from WPUnlimited on Vimeo.

Another important thing with this theme was to make sure that the main features that people normally require plugins for were no longer plugins.

Why would I do this? Well, because I wanted to put the onus on me to make sure features on your blog always worked. Plugins are usually delayed a while as WordPress versions come out, and I have always been frustrated by this. WPUnlimited includes many features, usually delegated to plugins like showing social media promotion buttons for Digg, StumbleUpon and more.

How much is WPUnlimited? Being that this is a theme that will constantly be developed, upgraded, modified, and supported, WPUnlimited is a paid WordPress theme. For a personal license you will be looking at only $59, which will allow you to install the theme on one blog, not including anything hosted locally on your computer for testing, get access to upgrades forever, and support. A developer license, which gives you access to using the theme on any number of blogs, including projects you develop is only $150, or less than three personal licenses.

Why should you care? If you are looking for a strong, easy to customize theme, that doesn’t leave you with WordPress theme files that don’t make any sense, then you’ll want to buy WPUnlimited.

If you want to make some money, I have set up an affiliate program that should entice some of you to help. I only want you to sign up if you think WPUnlimited is a good product because you shouldn’t sell what you don’t believe in. You can earn 40% on any and all sales you make, and 10% on all sales done by people you get to join the affiliate program under you.

If you want to learn more about WPUnlimited, please check out the site relating to the theme, and let me know what you think.

If you would like to see someone that has already started to use the WPUnlimited theme, check out Jim Kukral’s blog as he has begun to customize his own installation of WPUnlimited.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Psychology of a WordPress Theme

I have been giving tons of time to thinking about WordPress themes lately, as I gear up to release my own. Much of what I have done regarding my theme was more about what I want in a theme, but I am not sure if that is what the general WordPress using masses need.

What makes a good WordPress theme? What makes people choose one theme over another? Is the front end (the part that visitors see) more or less important than the features in the back end (the configuration and control panel for the theme)?

Why are simple theme frameworks so successful? Is that something that the average user is really interested in, or do they want the front end design to be beautiful right out of the box?

There must be, like all products, a way of influencing people through psychology. Is it the colours used in the theme, the theme’s name, or some special marketing text that really changes a theme from being ignored into being popular? With all of the competition in WordPress themes today, it seems like understanding the various factors that go into creating a popular theme is only getting harder, not easier, despite the growing amount of data. Are we such a mish-mash group of users that there will never be one theme that will be good enough for 99% of us?

In the end, I am sure someone with both a marketing and psychology degree could break this down for me and tell me how simple words, colours and systems provide a path of popularity, and how businesses have been using these techniques for hundreds of years. If you have been thinking about getting an accredited online psychology degree, you’ll want to check out the work I am doing on College Crunch.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress Theme: Compositio

Elena, the designer of this and many great blogs in the Splashpress Media blog network has released another free WordPress theme called Compositio.

compositio

Compositio is a two column theme, made to for those who want to put their content at the front with a unique light blue design. Random square shapes are the defining graphics of this theme. They are used throughout the background, bringing a special rhythm to the theme.

A special feature of this theme is the logo changer. ( Thanks to Munzir Rosdi ). You can use the default WordPress setting (“blog name”) or you can use your own logo. Upload your logo in the root folder of Compositio theme and name it logo.png. You can also use the PSD Logo Template in the source folder of Compositio Theme.

I am very excited to see how people use the theme, and its new logo feature. Kudos to Elena and the Design Disease team.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Speed Up Your WordPress Theme

NetTUTS have put up a great post on speeding up a website, but you could easily translate that into speeding up your WordPress blog. While these might not increase your speed like caching or anything else like that, it is still a very useful guide for compressing images, CSS, and finding errors.

If perfomance is paramount for your website, I strongly suggest that you consider compressing your CSS and Javascript files just before deployment. Don’t bother doing it at the beginning of your development. It’ll only cause more frustration than help. However, once the bow has been tied, compress those babies up.

We’ve talked about compressing CSS before on Blogging Pro in a post entitled, CSS Optimization: Make Your Sites Load Faster for Free.

I am really interested in the the section on using libraries and frameworks as I’ve been hearing more and more about people using them to speed up their development time, or require less code, through use of libraries written by other people.

If you are interested in speeding up your blog, or the theme you are going to release, I’d recommend checking out the post on NetTuts.

Categories: Blog Design, WordPress Themes

Plugin and Theme Licensing Wars

Since the inception of WordPress there have been fights over licensing plugins and themes. Some people believe that WordPress themes and plugins automatically inherit the GPL license, and others contest this, but does the licensing really matter?

I believe two things matter: what is in it for the developer, and is the community served?

I don’t believe that the GPL is providing for the developers nor truly living up to what the community needs.

Consider this:

You’ve just created an amazing plugin, it took you over a dozen hours, and you’ve given it out to the community for free.

Now they come to you for support, and you try your best to provide them with the answers they need, adding another two hours per week to your “work”. WordPress then changes in some major way, and you have to recode your plugin to work under the new “rules” of WordPress, adding another two hours of development time to your plugin.

All of this time spent is from the goodness of your heart, but it becomes tiring. One day, you decide to start charging for support. Each request is only two dollars, and you go from needing to spend two hours a week to only spending two hours a month on support related inquiries.

The problems didn’t disappear though, instead the WordPress community forums are littered with people asking for help with your plugin, and they are getting answers, thus bypassing your new business enterprise completely.

You feel frustrated that the hours you originally and continue to put have been rewarded in such a way, and in the end you never make back in community currency, links or actual money the investment that you had put into the project.

Where is the benefit to continue? You either end up discontinuing your work or finding ways to try to drive business to yourself, only to have your plugin removed from the WordPress Plugins repository for not being “GPL enough”. Someone else forks your work and continues on, paying no homage to the original idea creator, you.

Sound like fiction? I have no doubt that this has been the case for at least a few WordPress theme and plugin developers as the GPL creates a number of limitations with no business model set up to reward those that spend the time adding to the community.

Flip that around and remove the GPL, and the plugin author could have built a business around the plugin, while still remaining in the forefront of the community. The monetary benefit would have hopefully changed the market in two ways.

The first way would be that the plugin developer would have been more likely to spend time developing their plugin continually. The second change would be that popular plugins would have to compete in the market in both price and features.

I don’t believe that GPL is the great equalizer and protector, and I also believe that within five years, WordPress will see much of their current plugin and theme development rock stars move onto other platforms that don’t have such restrictive licensing.

iThemes now has a Movable Type store. How long will it be until more theme developers follow suit? Habari’s license allows the creators to manage and sell their work under any license they like, allowing for true business to be built around their platform.

Categories: Opinion, WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes

WordPress Theme: What Would Make You Pay for a Theme?

I am currently working on a paid WordPress theme system, and I was wondering what it would take for people to spend money on a WordPress theme? Does it come down to constant development and updates, support, or some killer feature?

In about a week or so, I’ll be releasing a theme that I think will surprise people, but I am already looking at future versions, and want to offer the best product possible to the WordPress community.

Why is it going to be a paid theme?
The simple fact is that if I want to provide support, continuously develop the theme, and develop a real marketing plan, the theme had to be a paid theme rather than a free one.

That doesn’t mean that I take this lightly though, as the theme will blur the line between themes and plugins. I think you’ll all be very excited.

If there is a feature your favourite theme is missing, now is the time to speak up. If it doesn’t get integrated into the one I am working on, I am sure the Blogging Pro audience is listening and some of them are amazing WordPress theme developers as well.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WP Review Site Theme/Plugin Set

WP Review Site turns WordPress into a powerful review site engine. It allows you to easily create niche review sites about anything and everything you want, be it products, computers, gadgets, music, movies, services, websites, restaurants, hotels, credit cards or even beer.

WP Review Site combines has these features:

Add a star rating system to your comment forms – This enables visitors to your WP blog do more than just leave comments: they can write a review and rate it via mousing over star icons. You define the categories, and your visitors can rate between 1 to 5 stars. And WP Review Site is completely customizable to fit your blog’s design; you can display rankings as you see fit, whether you use tables or CSS.

And WP Review Site lets you sort reviews by weighted average rating: you can set it to display reviews by the highest/lowest-rated, and not in chronological order. You can even choose to not show the rating system in some parts of your site. WP Review Site even has various sidebar widgets for you to add a list of top rated items to your site’s sidebar, or a list of recent reviews with the average rating that user left.

And what makes WP Review Site even better for me is that it already comes with seven themes preconfigured to work with the plugin:

  • WP Review Site
  • WPRS: Aqua Featured
  • WPRS: Award Winning Hosts
  • WPRS: Bonus Black
  • WPRS: Double Silver
  • WPRS: Green Featured
  • WPRS: Ocean

And even better, WP Review Site has already got its own affiliate link management system that will let you configure your links easier. Instead of inserting the URL for the same anchor text over and over, you can set your review blog to automatically insert affiliate links.

What I don’t care for, however, is the fact that the customization features of WP Review Site is spread over two options pages. I’d like to have everything in one configuration page.

For $97 dollars, you’d get free upgrades for life along with all the features mentioned above.

Pros:

  • WP Review Site does the work of many different plugins to make WordPress work as a powerful affiliate review site.
  • It comes with seven preconfigured themes
  • Affiliate link management system is powerful

Cons:

  • Too many separate options pages
  • Switching themes would clear the sidebar of widgets

Categories: WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes

Comments features for WordPress 2.7 from Otto

If you’re a WordPress theme developer you may want to keep your themes technically aligned to new commenting features that will most probably make it to WordPress version 2.7. Otto, who is a well-known and respected WordPress community member has published this article regarding his commenting features. Check it out! There is a preview to the new 2.7 commenting system at that page too.

Here are some of the enhancements that Otto covers:
â–ª Creating a 2.7 compatible comments.php file
â–ª Password protection check
â–ª The comments loop
â–ª The power of Ajax
â–ª Styling

We all know that commenting is one of the great features that WordPress is known for. Apparently the development team is taking this feature a step further by offering important feature upgrades like threading, paging and javascript enhancements.

I bet ‘ya this will result in better blogs as people can now interact intuitively from one comment to another.

Categories: Interesting, WordPress Themes

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