After working with WordPress for over five years now, I have seen a lot of changes both front-end and backend – both for developers and for users. I work for the most part on WordPress themes for a few hours a day and have been doing so for the last 3+ years full time. As I wrap up the final changes for my company’s commercial WordPress theme Lucidity – I wanted to take a few minutes and point out some of the changes over the years and also talk about where I think themes are going.
I remember back in the day being excited about Alex King’s Theme Competition and wishing I had some spare time (I was working full time and doing consulting every other moment) to also participate. These early themes were generally simple and were something people would use on their simple blogs -using a hand full of WordPress functions. During this time, the functions.php was unheard of and there were not too many custom functions that were used (for most themes). The big difference between them were mostly in how the sites were laid out with HTML and CSS. Even though these themes were simple – they were great because it allowed you to easily modify the look and feel of your site by editing a few template files and modifying the CSS.
These themes were more about look and less about function.
If you think about themes then and themes now – the difference is often huge. Most themes now are packed with custom functions, have advanced admin options, and give the users greater control of their content, the site’s look and feel, and general options – all without having to modify any template files or know any CSS. Themes are more complex, are generally made up of more template files, and are much more flexible.
These themes are more about providing both users and other developers with a framework and tools to easily manage content.
Recently Alex King/Crowd Favorite released Carrington Build which is a perfect example of where themes are going. This theme offers an unbelievable amount of flexibility and customization and will make both users and developers eager to use this theme.
So as I wrap up development on Lucidity – I am trying to bridge the old (simple) with the new (framework/tools). I look forward to getting this out to the public so they can enjoy the ease of use, flexibility, and further control over their content.
All in all – WordPress themes have come a long way and will not only continue to improve user’s front end experience, but also improve the backend experience when using WordPress. Look for even greater things to come!