For those of you who do not know me, I’m Trent Lapinski the CEO and co-founder of CyberChimps WordPress Themes. I founded CyberChimps a few years ago originally as a web design company, and we launched our first WordPress Theme iFeature and iFeature Pro about 15 months ago. Things have clearly changed a lot for us since then, and this company has grown beyond my wildest expectations.
We are actively working on making our products better, and are doing everything we can to get more involved in the WordPress community. I personally do theme reviews on WordPress.org, and we are hoping to eventually contribute some ideas to WordPress itself.
I recently attended WordCamp San Francisco 2012, and wanted to share some of the things I learned at WordCamp San Francisco.
The Future for WordPress Themes
Theme options have become highly debated over the last several years, as theme option panels continue to become more complicated. WordPress is looking to curtail these excessive, and often confusing theme option panels by focusing theme developers on using the Theme Customizer which was introduced in WordPress 3.4 to control theme options (even we’re guilty of overdoing it with the theme options at times). Based on a several conversations I had with key people working on WordPress 3.5 it became very apparent that the Theme Customizer that launched with WordPress 3.4 is going to have a much bigger role in the future as well as possibly have the ability to customize pages on a per-page real-time basis.
It is an ambitious project, and it will be interesting to see if it actually takes. In the meantime, we are in the process of redeveloping our theme option panel to be easier to use, as well as building Customizer support into our next generation of themes to have the best of both worlds.
“Themes are just styles.”
Everyone I spoke to from other theme designers (WooThemes, Elegant Themes, StudioPress), to Theme Wranglers from Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) expressed the sentiment that themes should just be themes.
At WordCamp San Francisco 2011, I asked WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg during his Q&A if themes should include functionality and he said,”No,” and stated it would probably best to move that functionality into a plugin. To be honest, at the time I did not agree with him, and CyberChimps probably would not exist as it does today had we pulled all the functionality out of our themes and turned them into plugins instead. We’ve been very successful doing what was best for our customers this past year, and I have heard from thousands of customers over the past year that they like the fact we include functionality in our themes. However, there is no denying the logic behind keeping design and functionality separate, especially with what is happening with future versions of WordPress.
I even spoke to a WordPress.org Admin who told me the theme repo on WordPress.org is at least a year behind the plugin repo in terms of features, and may never catchup. What this also told me, along with what everyone else kept telling me was that themes just really aren’t that important at least in the grand scheme of things to the future success of WordPress. Themes were barely even mentioned this year during Mullenweg’s State of WordPress keynote.
Considering there would be no WordPress powered websites if it was not for themes, it is odd to me that themes do not seem to have the same emphasis as plugins, especially considering the ever growing theme market.
What do you think? Are themes just styles?
Plugins, plugins, plugins.
WordCamp San Francisco 2012 was highly focused on plugin developers, and a majority of the people in attendance this year were developers. With that said, we are in the process of building in support for some of the most popular WordPress plugins, and are even partnering with a few to provide better integration with our themes.
A big focus of this years WordCamp San Francisco was contributing back to WordPress itself. Learn how you can get involved.
We had a lot of fun attending WordCamp San Francisco, and cannot wait to attend next year.
CyberChimps hopes to attend WordCamp LA this September.
P.S. We are still hard at work on our new theme framework, and still intend to release iFeature Pro 5 by the end of this month. :-)
CEO of CyberChimps WordPress Themes