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WordPress Wizards Week: Day 4

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]

Today Cory Miller from iThemes joins in the conversation.

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

No, I think it’s a blend of single “typical” themes and all-powerful ones that do cool things and of course everything in between for different niches and functionality needs. WordPress is too diverse and expansive and the needs too great and varied to think there will be one theme or framework that can do everything. Thinking otherwise is arrogance, in my opinion.

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

The biggest one on our roadmap right now is a Style Manager where people can make quick and easy changes to their theme design that personalizes it for their unique brand. Talking with other theme devs and knowing our own community, customization requests are by far the biggest request we get.

The needs [of WordPress are] too great and varied to think there will be one theme or framework that can do everything

Generally though I would say … anything that makes it easier on the end user, which is almost endless. The menu issue was critical and on our roadmap as well but I’m thankful it’s being solved by, I might add, a premium theme developer in WooThemes. (Score one for commercial enterprises assisting the community!)

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?

I could only see that if WordPress.org hosted an actual commercial theme store, but even then we’re way past that point now with established communities and independent sites, directions and priorities. The primary reason I don’t think it’ll ever happen is a combination of ego and control. We all believe we have the best product and all want all the control — if we’re being honest, that’s why we became entrepreneurs. But I will say … competition is great for theme innovation and for the community. The other theme devs force us to be and do better for our customer communities, and vice versa.

The other theme devs force us to be and do better for our customer communities, and vice versa.

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

Design (beautiful, attractive design sells a theme), functionality (does it help you do something better or easier), followed by support. People come for the first two and stay for the third … good support is a non-negotiable.

What in 3.0 are you looking forward to working with?

The WordPress MU merge (I think it’s called MS) and custom menu navigation. I’m also interested to see how the image editing/resizing features work.

Alex Denning

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