Raising Personal Standard for Paid WordPress Themes

Keep in mind that the information below is a personal list. I didn’t put it together to say what everyone else should do.


Recently, I’ve been reading quite a few articles about what makes a premium theme… premium.

First, let me say that the word “premium” bothers me. Mainly, it’s misleading because other theme authors use it liberally to label non-free themes. Like someone said in one of the discussions that I read, premium at this point is simply a marketing term. There’s no higher level of quality to back it up across the board for all themes and all theme authors.

Second, from now on for every paid theme, I’ll aim for the following features:

(For the beginners, the following will look like mumbo-jumbo. If you’re a theme developer, you’re welcome to improve this list through the comments.)

Multiple Custom Templates

  • Default Templates: index, archive, category, page, 404, stickied w/ excerpts and asides index, tag, author
  • Magazine/Portal: Allows room for growth or in case you want to turn your start-up blog into a multi-author or user-generated magazine.
  • Gallery Template: For all the photos and portfolios.
  • Custom Archives: Crucial for old blogs with tons of archive links.
  • Custom Links Page: For the promiscuous linkers 🙂
  • About Template: Very important, but often neglected
  • Advertising Template: Should include a table for advertising options and pricing
  • Multimedia Template: This is top secret.
  • Contact Template: Contact page with integrated contact plugins and other options.
  • Subscription Template: Just in case you want to guide new readers through subscribing and using RSS or email subscription.

Multiple Skins – Simply multiple color schemes and styles.

Unique Design – I’m still learning and trying to stay away from using too many gradients. It’s too bad top designers have better things to do. Really top notch designs are what the WordPress themes market is missing. Here’s my new list of elements to keep in mind while laying out a new theme…

  • Header: logo/title, search form, horizontal navigation, subscription link
  • Post: date button, post title, categories, comments link, author link
  • Entry-content: paragraphs, headings (h2, h3, h4…etc.), custom text styles, blockquote, blockquote within blockquote, code, image aligned left, image aligned right, image aligned center, unordered lists, custom variations of unordered lists
  • Next and Previous links
  • Stickied posts
  • Asides
  • Sidebar: regular and widgets
  • Plugin styles for integrated plugins
  • Alternating post backgrounds
  • Alternating comment backgrounds

Efficient Codes – Of course, it’s not all about design. I always try to code everything with the least amount of codes, not because I’m trying to become a good coder and programmer, but because I’m lazy hehehe.

Thorough Documentation – This is another very important area I think we should focus on. A good readme file can go a long way. Not only does it reduce stress for the users, it also helps reduce theme support time 🙂 .

Flexibility – It’s a little bit harder to design for potentially… everyone. I try to keep the designs and codes as flexible as possible because I never know what you’ll use it for.

Plugin Integrations – This area should be easy if you have the last step down to a science. Flexibility and plugin integrations go hand in hand. For myself, I’m trying to take it a step further and pre-style the plugins. In my own themes, you’ll typically find the following integrated plugins:

  • WP-Sticky
  • WP-PostRatings
  • WP-PageNavi
  • Comment License (more important people realize)
  • FlicKrRss
  • Share This
  • Author Highlight
  • Contact Form

Other Features

  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Banner switcher and other theme options
  • Print Stylesheet
  • Dynamic Tabs
  • Social Bookmark Integration
  • Slideshow
  • Multimedia Integration
  • Translatable

To all loyal small potatoes: Sorry for the recent silence on this blog. I’m working hard on the themes club so I can take a break and make it in time for the Thailand water festival in April. Then, hopefully, I’d be able to hop from Thailand to Korea by May.

That’s it. I’ll be back with some new stuff for the themes club next time. Peace out small potatoes!

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