Making a WordPress Theme Install More User-Friendly

Building WordPress themes (especially as complex as ClassiPress) requires a lot of attention to organization and details. It doesn’t take much to write a bunch of messy code with no comments just as long as it works, right? That’s usually fine if you’re building a theme just for your website but if you plan on selling or giving a theme away for free, it’s very important to write clean code with lots of comments. This is one of the reasons it’s taking me longer than expected to release v3.0.

So great, you write clean code with comments but how do you create a theme and what are the proper standards you should abide by? With WordPress being as popular as it is, you would think there would be hard and fast guidelines on how to develop and release a theme but surprisingly there isn’t much.  Yes, you can find lots of blog posts from people claiming their way is correct but for me, I’ve taken advice and ideas from all sorts of sites. Another great way is to reverse engineer an existing theme by some of the best themers out there today like WooThemes or StudioPress.

The WordPress Codex also provides a theme development article and now even a designing themes for public release article which indeed helps but it’s still the wild west when you are looking for a step-by-step guide to proper theming concepts.

As I continue to rewrite and rebuild ClassiPress, I try and not only improve the product but also decrease the steps it takes to install the theme. Currently there are several steps involved like creating a new page, assigning it a page template, then getting the page id and pasting it somewhere else to exclude it from showing in the nav. Lots of steps and it can lead to customer mistakes.

Not only will this new automation make it easier for new customers, but it will also cut down on support issues. You’d be surprised with the number of people who don’t read the installation guide and then wonder why their dashboard page gives them a 404 page not found.

New in v3.0, there will be a lot of install automation happening in the background when you click the “activate” theme link. Not only will new database tables get created, but pages and your blog will be setup and then the ClassiPress templates automatically associated to them. In addition, those new pages will be excluded from your navigation without having to manually track down the page id and paste it into a field.

Doing minor things behind the scenes on install might not seem like a huge deal but it dramatically helps those who aren’t good at reading instructions (or have the patience to read through it all) and it also improves customer satisfaction. Customers will be up and running much faster with less problems.

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 Comments (8)

  • kumar

    rightly said, writing detailed comments for each code that your writing is very important for theme authors those who sell themes.

  • Per Jespersen

    Sounds very good! does this mean we can count on using Woothemes perfectly integrated with Classipress?

    • David

      @Per Jesperson, WooThemes and ClassiPress are both WordPress themes so you can’t use them both at the same time. That means there’s nothing to integrate.

      • Per Jespersen

        ahh, i see, My bad! 🙂 Well im looking forward to the time when u will release it, when will it be approx? ive got some projects on hold and im simply just waiting for the script 🙂

  • Ryan

    Thanks for the input. Frustrating as it may be, I am still hopeful CP will work. You always hear about how WP is easy to install, but if you don’t know the lingo, its not. And as rapid as web sites change and grow, its easy to get behind.

  • David

    It will of course work Ryan. The framework of 3.0 is much tigher with WordPress. For example, the ad images and thumbnails are no longer using a separate script. They are using the WP core media functions and the wp-content/uploads/2010/02 dynamic style upload directory. The images will appear in the media library vs the hardcoded wp-content/uploads/classipress/ directory. It’s going to be 10x better and easier to manage your ads.

  • David

    @Per Jesperson – beta should be out by the end of Feb. Look for it available to everyone in March.

  • pooya

    Hi David,

    I’m waiting for ver 3 and it’s a long time waiting now, I think if it takes longer you might loose some customers.

    hope to here good news soon

Discussion is closed.