PDA

View Full Version : What features would you like to see implemented in WP themes?



jamestl2
01-07-2011, 02:18 AM
Just wanted to get a feel for features you might feel are lacking in the WP themes you've found and / or used.

What options do you wish themes had, but don't? What ticks you off about WP?

Spider
01-07-2011, 07:29 AM
I have only ever used the hosted .com version of Wordpress. Sorry if that makes me some kind of leper, but that's how it is. Maybe you're not asking what ticks off a .com user, but here are some items that may help you. Also, I have only ever used one theme, although I looked through the available themes fairly thoroughly to find one that suited me. No problem with any of that.

1. I didn't like having no choice of fonts, nor any choice of font size. I overcame that by using the 'html' input window and coding my desired font, as opposed to using the WYSIWYG window.

2. I don't like it when editing the content in the input window, the window returns to the top after every edit, even without hitting 'enter'. I have to keep scrolling down the text looking for where I edited. The Return to Top seems to occur every few seconds.

3. When setting up my WP page, I didn't find it very intuitive. It took a lot of stumbling around, trial and error and much frustration. The theme was clearly written by a knowledgeable designer but one who was not able to consider well how his target market would use it. I suggest any themes you design, you have the completed version thoroughly tested by someone who doesn't know how these things work.

4. Once the page is set up, the WP application seems to work well.

I hope this helps.

Harold Mansfield
01-07-2011, 11:49 AM
I can answer some of those:

1. I didn't like having no choice of fonts, nor any choice of font size. I overcame that by using the 'html' input window and coding my desired font, as opposed to using the WYSIWYG window.
You probably aren't going to get a choice of fonts much past the basic browser friendly options on any Wordpress.com theme because it is Wordpress in it's most basic configuration. Custom fonts and functions are all things that have developed for the self hosted version of Wordrpess (which is the same software). Many are 3rd party developments and not from Wordpress themselves. Think of it like apps for your phone...anyone can make one, as long as they are compatible with the platform and follow the T.O.S.

Premium themes (for self hosted Wordpress) frequently come with a choice of preinstalled fonts that you can choose in the theme options when you set it up. There is no across the board font choice embedded even in the self hosted version. Most users change their fonts by editing the CSS file, or installing 3rd party software to give them more options and it is done purposely like that so that you can make it what you want it to be, instead of being chained to what they think you want it to be.

Right now the way you are doing it, is the only option likely to be available for now, on Wordpress.com


2. I don't like it when editing the content in the input window, the window returns to the top after every edit, even without hitting 'enter'. I have to keep scrolling down the text looking for where I edited. The Return to Top seems to occur every few seconds.
I heard you mention that before and I don't know why you are having that problem. Wordpress has a default automatic "save" that acts every few seconds to prevent any loss to do outside circumstances but I have never noticed that it immediately returns to the top. What you are experiencing sounds like some kind of conflict between your computer or browser settings and that embedded function of Wordpress.

I don't know if there is a way to turn that off on Wordpress.com


3. When setting up my WP page, I didn't find it very intuitive. It took a lot of stumbling around, trial and error and much frustration. The theme was clearly written by a knowledgeable designer but one who was not able to consider well how his target market would use it. I suggest any themes you design, you have the completed version thoroughly tested by someone who doesn't know how these things work.

Unfortunately there is no universal theme design , in regards to administration and settings, no matter what configuration you use. It's an open source software. Some themes are very user friendly with a ton of user options in the settings, and some are not and could never be set up by someone who is not familiar with the software, or at least HTML and some PHP. Each is a different as whomever designed it.
Many times when I am editing someone's theme or changing something on the site I have to stop and think and remember how that particular design functions or is coded before I open the files.

There are frameworks like Thesis and Woo that have the same admin options across all of their themes and skins and there was some talk of Wordpress.com integrating the Woo framework into it's network.
You will also see that themes by the same designer have the same admin functions.

Anyone can design a Wordpress theme and put it on the market. But very few themes will ever be accepted to be used on Wordpress.com.
I don't think James is talking about designing for Wordpress.com. That's a completely different animal.

I think the mission of Wordpress.com is to provide as much variety as possible and keep the the admin of themes as close as possible. It's going to be middle of the road because it has to be convenient for everyone and work across the entire network without needing add ins or plug ins that are only needed for that one theme. As it is now, all themes are equally accessible. You can switch one for another and get the same layout of your content, and all plug ins can be used on and look the same on all themes . When you are servicing a few million bloggers, everything needs to be interchangeable and generic.

When you set up your own, you can make it as custom as you want because you only have to worry about one design and one website. When I set up a network, I use the same themes as Wordpress.com, plus few more like them, because they are interchangeable.

But they do change things frequently from suggestions and feedback from it's users and they have added a lot more themes than were available since the last time I used it.

vangogh
01-07-2011, 11:57 AM
James one think you may want to do to get answers to your questions is set up some searches on Twitter around WordPress, WP themes, etc. Try a few different combinations. You can also try searching for the names of specific themes you know. If you save the searches and scan through them daily or every few days you'll likely discover all sorts of things people like and don't like about WordPress.

Unfortunately I think most of the people here who use WP well enough to answer your questions (at least those likely to respond to this thread) are those of us who work with WordPress on a regular basis.

I have a few searches set up in Twitter and scanning what people say even occasionally has provided a lot of good information.

Harold Mansfield
01-07-2011, 12:09 PM
Just wanted to get a feel for features you might feel are lacking in the WP themes you've found and / or used.

What options do you wish themes had, but don't? What ticks you off about WP?

There have been times where I have needed a specific theme style, but I can't really say over all that I am disappointed with what's available out there. Personally I think when it comes to WP themes, anything that you could even imagine is out there.
Now where I see some opportunity where there aren't may options is Buddypress compatible themes. Currently there is only one truly reliable source for well coded themes and the demand for them is growing.

jamestl2
01-07-2011, 04:37 PM
Basically I wanted to know what options people would like to see, maybe even standardized, then I could include those features in Future Themes I create. I know I have the theme developments skills, I just don't know what I want to design.


James one think you may want to do to get answers to your questions is set up some searches on Twitter around WordPress, WP themes, etc. Try a few different combinations. You can also try searching for the names of specific themes you know. If you save the searches and scan through them daily or every few days you'll likely discover all sorts of things people like and don't like about WordPress.



One of the searches I did was with Kvetch:
WordPress › Extend Kvetch! (http://wordpress.org/extend/kvetch/)

It was OK, but the complaints were random, and only one at a time, and some were several years old.

Harold Mansfield
01-07-2011, 04:59 PM
Basically I wanted to know what options people would like to see, maybe even standardized, then I could include those features in Future Themes I create. I know I have the theme developments skills, I just don't know what I want to design..

Assuming your market is consumers and not so much developers...people like pretty. People like Wordpress themes that don't look like blogs but rather like static websites. Static front pages are huge.
What I hear all of the time is, "I like what Wordpress does and that it's user friendly, I just don't want it to look like a blog, but I still want the blog function."

Some of the basic features that are popular are:
1. The ability easily add your own logo or header.
2. Options in the theme settings to change colors or change layouts.
3 Social Networking integration...basically well placed and attractive icon links to their profiles
4. A nice presentation of their product or company information.
5. Flashy stuff. I know "traditionalist" frown on it, but my clients like that sort of thing. Featured image sliders, CU3ER, introduction videos and so on.

More and more people are using Wordpress for business websites, so I think that is were you should focus. Personal blog themes are everywhere. Business themes are where it's at.
At least from my perspective.

jamestl2
01-07-2011, 05:58 PM
That's been one of my main focuses (not having themes look like "blogs"). Some could be geared towards businesses, but also anyone who wants a non-blog theme as well.


Static front pages are huge.

What do you think people like to see / have featured on their front pages?



Some of the basic features that are popular are:
1. The ability easily add your own logo or header.
2. Options in the theme settings to change colors or change layouts.
3 Social Networking integration...basically well placed and attractive icon links to their profiles
4. A nice presentation of their product or company information.
5. Flashy stuff. I know "traditionalist" frown on it, but my clients like that sort of thing. Featured image sliders, CU3ER, introduction videos and so on.


I was thinking about creating specific widget ares for interchangeable files that you add there (like header images), I'm not sure if widgets are the best to use in those instances though.


One of the other things I've noticed severely lacking in most WP themes from a development standpoint (including something I've been working on over the past few months) is Object Oriented Programming.

Specifically what I've done is create several options pages through an "optionpage" class, then saved and displayed those particular options through the Settings API. And because the pages are created through OOP, it makes it real easy to add new pages where needed.

Not sure how "big" of a marketing aspect this could be though, since you have to know a bit of PHP to work with OOP, and it's a backend, theme code aspect.

vangogh
01-07-2011, 06:05 PM
James try a more popular search like WordPress themes or wp themes If you choose a specific theme you have to name one of the well known ones like Genesis from Studio Press. Also follow some of the theme developers. You won't find out everything overnight, but if you keep checking you will discover what people like and don't like.

If you're look to know what the average person wants it's a design that wows them. That's pretty much it. Give people some options to make a few easy changes like adding a new header image or change some colors. I've sent clients out to look for themes from time to time. In every case they chose the theme who's look they liked the most. Not one picked a theme because it feature x or feature y. After people have bought your theme they might then recommend it to others because it is easy to change the header image or because you offered features x and y, but when most people are buying or downloading a free theme they're making their decision based mainly on how it looks.

People want a theme that looks good and provides a way to change a few simple things.

Harold Mansfield
01-07-2011, 06:53 PM
I'd say look at themeforest and look at the popular themes there by the number of downloads each one has. That's a good way to see what attracts people, and you can also browse the comments for each theme and see what the major complaints are.
And it's different developers, not just one company's support forum on a limited number of themes.

jamestl2
01-08-2011, 03:00 PM
So basically themes that have a ton of advanced, customizable features aren't really that big with average people then? (At least not as much as a pretty design?)

I had checked out a few other places as well (like Theme Forest), a bunch of those themes look the same though (or at least similar enough), but I wanted to do something a bit more unique and attractive with the themes I develop.

Harold Mansfield
01-08-2011, 03:13 PM
So basically themes that have a ton of advanced, customizable features aren't really that big with average people then? (At least not as much as a pretty design?)

I had checked out a few other places as well (like Theme Forest), a bunch of those themes look the same though (or at least similar enough), but I wanted to do something a bit more unique and attractive with the themes I develop.

No just the opposite. Of course they are. It's a combination of both. Design and features on the front end, and ease of use setting them up on the back end. I can't stress how important easy to use theme options are. Some themes are just completely easy to work with and let you configure tons of layout and customization options (Solostream, WPMUDEV, and Woo come to mind), and some are a nightmare and I'll never buy for that developer ever again. There have been may times I purchased something and the settings were so ridiculous that I just cracked open the files and by passed everything in the back end.

I am in both categories. I like new designs for my own sites, and don't want to take the time develop my own. I'd rather take an existing design and change what I want and I'll spend what it costs if I really like it. For myself I can adjust to, edit or use pretty much anything but some developers are completely redundant and over bloat the code more than it needs to be. I enjoy the technical configuration of Wordpress and all of it's possibilities more than I enjoy front end design. How it looks is great, but how it functions is the meat and potatoes.

But, do it yourself clients, want something that they can change when the mood hits them. They don't want to have to learn to open up files to change colors, fonts, backgrounds and so on. They don't have the time. And they want the implementation of any special functions to be easy. For them, it doesn't matter how nice it is or advanced if they can't use it.

If you have a vision of a style or specific design you should go for it. Both users, and service providers are always looking for something fresh and unique to use or offer clients.
There's 1000 designs out there, but there is always room for something truly original.

Let's face it. a lot of websites look the same. Just different colors and graphics. I haven't seen one website yet that I can't name another one with the same basic layout. It's like picking out audio samples from Hip Hop songs. I can usually pin point the sample in a few notes, but younger listeners think it's all new stuff.

vangogh
01-08-2011, 06:35 PM
I wouldn't say people don't want features either. However keep in mind that your non-developer customer probably doesn't know why some features will make their life easier until after they've used it. Where I think features will help is word of mouth after some have begun using your theme.

Keep in mind that features are generally added to WordPress via plugins and if you put too much into a theme it means a customer buying your theme is now tied to it. The basic development model of WordPress is to keep the core as light as possible and then let people add the features they want. WordPress tends to only add features that the overwhelming majority of the community has made clear it wants. WordPress is able to know what these are based on the stats of plugins downloaded and they also test things in WordPress.com.

I think a theme with too many feature is ultimately a bloated theme. Most people aren't going to need, want, or use every feature and so the theme itself is really a lot of useless code to most people. I think a better approach is to pick a specific market or industry and add features specific to that market and industry. For example photographers. Naturally a photographer's site will be image heavy. You'd come up with a design that places the focus on the images, build up useful gallery functionality, make it as easy as possible to upload images and move them about the site.

Still I think when it comes time to make a choice about what theme to buy people will make that choice based on your design. If you create a theme and I create a theme and we both market them as being great and easy for photographers to use, the reality is no one will know which of our themes is truly better unless they purchase both and try them. That's not likely to happen. People are going to look at both and whichever one looks better to them is the one they'll buy.

jamestl2
01-13-2011, 07:23 PM
So where do we draw the line between what constitutes as a "theme feature" and what should be used as a "plugin feature"?

Take my Advanced Forum Commenting System I use on this theme for example:
Your Theme Demo Here is an example post >> Comment 3 (http://engipress.com/demo/?p=4&themedemo=dark-mystery#comment-3)

Is this something that would be better served in the theme, because it contains a similar structured layout, colors, etc.? Or would it fit nicer as a plugin, because it only applies to the comments, and it could potentially be used across other themes?

How many of these types of questions should you ask yourself? I also ask because I haven't tried developing "premium plugins" before. The few that I have created were simple and downloadable for free on my site.

I know there's lots of other features out there as well, in both themes and plugins, I thought I'd just reference something I developed personally...

Harold Mansfield
01-13-2011, 07:28 PM
I don't think you will ever be able to completely narrow it all down. Foremost people want themes that will display their content well, and that is going to be as different as what ever their niche is.

jamestl2
01-13-2011, 07:40 PM
My initial comparison assumption was that any option HTML / CSS / Javascript based should a Theme Feature, and anything that relies heavily on PHP should be a plugin.

However I can picture quite a bunch of dynamically structured, jquery-intensive features I'd like to include in my themes (where users could set those specific options in the Admin CP).

vangogh
01-13-2011, 10:53 PM
There's no right answer about whether something belongs in a theme or a plugin. The WordPress community has been debating this for years. Some people look at it like you're doing, the html. css, javascript goes in theme and everything else goes in a plugin. Some people think as long as the code is reusable for multiple sites it should be a plugin. There really isn't a right or wrong answer from the development side.

What it should come down to is the people who will use your theme. Who is your theme for and which will they prefer? And also which will ultimately make life easier for them over the life of their theme.

For example with your comment system what happens if someone later decides to change themes? Will their comments work fine on the new theme? They may not look the same, but will they still work? If things are too tied to the theme it might limit people from switching to another one later. On the other hand if everything is in a plugin there shouldn't be any issues.

Don't stress too much about this. If you have this in the theme now you can keep it there and see how people respond. You can always move the code to a plugin later. Some people will also bundle plugins with their themes, which could be another option for you.

jamestl2
01-14-2011, 02:56 PM
OK, let me try asking the question in a different way...

Which options do you think should be included under something like a "theme options" page? (I mean basic things like header and background image selections, etc.) Which options shouldn't you have to think twice about?




For example with your comment system what happens if someone later decides to change themes? Will their comments work fine on the new theme? They may not look the same, but will they still work? If things are too tied to the theme it might limit people from switching to another one later. On the other hand if everything is in a plugin there shouldn't be any issues.


Well, in this example, no, it doesn't "break the theme" if someone were to switch, all the quoting does is generate the appropriate HTML to comment on the person they're referencing, and inserts it into the comment field, which would display perfectly fine in other themes.


Also, for a few of the ones I'm developing, I think I may package those themes as more than just "themes", but rather as a whole new way to use Wordpress (for example compared to the packages like directorypress, or classipress, etc...).

vangogh
01-17-2011, 11:14 AM
Which options do you think should be included under something like a "theme options" page?

Unless you're marketing your theme specifically to me (and others like me), what I think should be included in a themes option page is irrelevant. I say that not to avoid your question, but to help you understand that should be identifying who this theme is for before trying to decide what options to include in an options panel.

If it's me I don't need any options in an options panel, because it's easier for me to go directly to the code and change the code. If it's me your marketing to I'd rather see your theme coded in a way that makes it easier for me to find and change different parts of the code. Of course I'm probably not your market as I would sooner develop my own theme than buy yours. Developing a theme is not a difficult thing for me and most of the time I'll save time and money developing it from scratch than customizing your theme.

That's also why I say set up searches on Twitter around the topic of WordPress and WordPress themes. Listen to what people are saying over time. You won't necessarily hear it on day one, but in time you'll hear people talking about how they like theme x because it includes y and you'll hear them saying they're frustrated with most themes because they don't make z easy.

Then you know you could include y in your theme and figure out a way to make z easier for people and be able to market your theme to those people who were making those comments.

I don't know that there's a specific feature set or specific set of options that the majority of people want or care about. I'd even guess that the majority of people aren't going to even look at your theme's options unless the theme doesn't work by default. Most people will leave the default until they discover something your theme doesn't do that they think it's supposed to do.


I think I may package those themes as more than just "themes", but rather as a whole new way to use Wordpress

Why? Are people having a problem using WordPress now? That sounds more like marketing language to me than an actual solution to a problem people are having.

I think the best way to enter the theme market today is to choose a market, say a specific industry like real estate. Think about how that specific industry will need to use WordPress. Real estate sites will have a lot of things in common. They need images of the property for sale or rent and standard descriptions of the property. They'll need to show the price of the property, etc. I think most real estate agents get that information from one of a few central sources. So a theme that easily connects to those sources and is designed in a way to show the images and information required has a good chance of doing well with people looking to build a site selling real estate. That's where your features come in.

If you're looking to build a general theme that appeals to anyone then I would focus on the design and particular the aesthetics of the theme. If you feel you need some options in an options panel buy a few themes that sell well and include some of the options most of those themes include. Then set up a way for your customers to tell you what they'd like in your theme and look there for where to add new options.

Harold Mansfield
01-17-2011, 11:29 AM
I just saw a guy on another forum post up a new theme that he created. Most new themes that people create and think they are the "bee's knee's" suck, and are just recreations of things that already exist. Nothing spectacular about them.

This one is a product review type thing that allows for reader contribution, ratings, and as a really nice display for images and such.
This is the type of thing that people used to continually ask for, but there were no all in one solutions. You have to combine a series of plug ins and find or build the right theme to present it all properly.

This guy did it all in one theme and he's selling it for $119. Kind of steep, but it is the all on one solution that people have been looking for.
I was actually pretty impressed and it was truly the first original thing I have seen in a while.

I think that is the way to make a splash in the theme market.
Like Dyson say's, "Solve the obvious problems that others seem to ignore".

vangogh
01-17-2011, 10:24 PM
Perfect example. This guy saw a market with a problem and he built them a solution. His theme isn't going to appeal to everyone and it's probably not going to appeal to people who have no interest in creating a review based site. On the other hand he'll dominate the market for review themes and in the process make a name for himself as a theme developer. And he's probably working on his next theme that solves a problem for a different market.

jamestl2
01-26-2011, 06:16 PM
Why? Are people having a problem using WordPress now? That sounds more like marketing language to me than an actual solution to a problem people are having.

I think the best way to enter the theme market today is to choose a market, say a specific industry like real estate. Think about how that specific industry will need to use WordPress. Real estate sites will have a lot of things in common. They need images of the property for sale or rent and standard descriptions of the property. They'll need to show the price of the property, etc. I think most real estate agents get that information from one of a few central sources. So a theme that easily connects to those sources and is designed in a way to show the images and information required has a good chance of doing well with people looking to build a site selling real estate. That's where your features come in.


That's pretty much what I mean.

What if, for example, some customers want to use WP as a discussion board? Or what if they want to use the system as a photo gallery? My "Themes" I develop would allow them to use WP as much more than just a simple static-like blog publishing system. In those examples, maybe I'd create an easier to manage commenting system, or add some nifty javascript effects to the photos people want published.

Basically features that aren't found in the average theme is what I mean by packaging them differently.

vangogh
01-26-2011, 11:08 PM
Forgive me if I'm mistaken about this, but it's been sounding like your thought is to build a theme that both the discussion board and the photo gallery sites want. What I'm suggesting is you pick one and build that theme. Then build a different theme for the other group. If you try to be everything to everyone you end up being nothing to anyone.

I think WordPress has long since moved past the simple static-like blog publishing system and there are already plenty of themes and plugins offering better commenting and photo effects. I realize those were more examples for this post than what you're specifically planning. There's already a ton of features readily available to add on to WordPress. I wouldn't think of it in terms of features. Think of it in terms of the specific market.

For example take the photography angle. First are you targeting the average user or are you specifically targeting photographers who might want to display their portfolio and sell their images. Two different groups with different needs. The first group is probably sharing their images on Facebook. If they choose WordPress my guess is they want to be able to upload images easily and have the images work nice inside the theme without them having to do anything. In the end I still think this group will buy the theme they think looks the best. They'll search until they find a theme that shows image displayed nicely. They might also be looking for some good tutorials on using the theme.

The second group probably also wants the images to be easy to upload, but they might also want more control over how the images appear in a post or page, They may want it to be easy to find an image again so they can add it to another post. They might want multiple ways to show off groups of images. It's possible they'll want a way to sell their images. These people are more likely to hire someone to customize their theme so they may forgive parts of the design they don't like. They'll probably still shop based on the design, but maybe with ore of an understanding that the design can be changed.

With both groups I'm still mostly guessing. The only ones who can answer are the people in either group and quite honestly neither group will probably be able to tell you exactly what they want. That's why it's important to find a way to listen to them wherever they are. It's why I suggested saving some Twitter searches and keep checking on them. If you keep checking you'll start to see photographers tweeting how they wish theme x would do y or they'll ask if someone can help them set up z on their sites. When you start hearing the same common wants that's what you build into your theme.