WordPress Wizards Week: Day 2

After the astounding success of the Why WordPress series which ran last year, this week I’ll be asking five WordPress Wizards about what’s next for themes, WordPress and frameworks in what is a slightly more focused discussion than last time! The series continues today with Nathan Rice, developer at StudioPress and largely responsible for the recent release of Genesis.

Recently commercial ‘frameworks’ have been increasing in number. Is the way forward a single all powerful theme that has pretty child themes?

I think so, yes. To me, this is the way WordPress themes have been moving for the last couple of years. There’s simply no way to accomplish the things that theme frameworks + child themes can accomplish with a traditional theme.

Often there will be a single feature that over a couple of months everyone adopts; what do you think it’ll be this year?

I think everyone will explore the idea of a central framework. Some won’t have the stomach for it … it’s not an easy thing to take on. I think many people are looking to StudioPress and Genesis to see what happens there with the Child Theme Marketplace. If it does well (and it has so far), then I think you’ll see more people explore the concept in their own companies.

“I think everyone will explore the idea of a central framework.”

Also, I think more and more you will see themes integrating with core WordPress features rather than building out their own. This may also be the year that many theme developers really start to contribute back to WordPress core, with WooThemes taking the lead on that front with the integration of their Navigation system into WordPress 3.0.

The commercial and free theme markets are filled with brilliant developers and designers. They’ve all got their own little corner and are turning out progressively better themes. Surely the WordPress community as a whole would benefit more from everyone joining forces? Can you ever see this happening?

No, and I don’t really think there would be any benefit from all the theme developers joining forces. Perhaps on little projects here and there, but not as a whole.

Creativity and competition are soulmates.

The theme market is getting increasingly filled with new themes. What makes individual themes stand out?

I’m not crazy about this, but designs do sell themes. I wish that more people would focus on the important stuff, but at the end of the day, pretty colors make people drool.

Aside from that, support sells the theme. If a customer is confident that they have a force of helpful individuals to help them get their theme running correctly, it takes the much of the risk out of the purchase.

“At the end of the day, pretty colors make people drool”

Finally, I think a theme developer (or development company) has to prove themselves. There’s no such thing as an overnight success in this business. It takes months (maybe years) to prove that you’re here for the long haul, and that you’ll deliver on your promises. Earning trust for your brand is a slow process, but it’s necessary for the success of your business.

What in 3.0 are you looking forward to working with?

Menu management is something I can’t wait to play with. It’s long overdue, but I’ve been watching the progress in WordPress trunk and I can safely say that the implementation is going very well. It’s going to be one of the 3.0 killer features, for sure.