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How to design wordpress themes

So you’ve found a beautiful WordPress theme. It has a fantastic style, and it seems just right for your project. But how do you know if it’s just as good under the hood?

In this video from my course, WordPress Themes: Things to Check Before You Buy, you’ll learn about nine key questions to ask when evaluating a theme.

How to Evaluate a WordPress Theme

How to design wordpress themes

Let’s start by talking about the overall way that you should look at evaluating a theme when you’re looking for something to go with a specific project, i.e. a website that you’re setting up for a specific type of application.

We’re going to go through nine different areas that you should check out for each one of your themes that you consider buying. Here’s the checklist to use:

  1. Is the theme responsive and mobile-friendly?
  2. Is it cross-browser compatible?
  3. Does it have well-crafted typography?
  4. Is it ready for the eventuality that a person is not using JavaScript in their browser?
  5. Does it have full support for WordPress templates and formatting?
  6. Is it using structured data?
  7. Does it support the plugins you’re going to need?
  8. Does it have good performance?
  9. Is it accessible?

Now, the first thing that you should be aware of is that the the likelihood of finding a theme that is perfect in every one of these categories is extremely low. So far, I have not found a single theme that is perfect across the board, but that’s okay.

What’s most important is that you have a really solid understanding of what your specific project is going to need, and then you can weight each one of these nine categories depending on how important they’re gonna be for your project.

So if you know that there’s one specific area that you really, really need your theme to be perfect in, you can evaluate the theme for that specific area. And then you can say, okay, well, it’s not as strong in this other area, but because it’s still going to fit what my project needs, this is overall the best theme for what I’m trying to achieve.

So don’t worry when you do start looking at themes and you find one that’s weak in this area or that area. Don’t throw your hands up in frustration because you can’t find the perfect theme. What it’s really about is finding the right theme for what you want to do.

How to design wordpress themesHow to design wordpress themesHow to design wordpress themes

Watch the Full Course

In the full course, WordPress Themes: Things to Check Before You Buy, we’ll go through each of these nine areas in a lot more detail. It doesn’t matter if you have no experience at all in web design; by the end of this course, you’ll know exactly what to look for before you buy your next WordPress theme.

You can take this course straight away with a subscription to Envato Elements. For a single low monthly fee, you get access not only to this course, but also to our growing library of over 1,000 video courses and industry-leading eBooks on Envato Tuts+.

Plus you now get unlimited downloads from the huge Envato Elements library of 580,000+ creative assets. Create with unique fonts, photos, graphics and templates, and deliver better projects faster.

So you’ve found a beautiful WordPress theme. It has a fantastic style, and it seems just right for your project. But how do you know if it’s just as good under the hood?

In this video from my course, WordPress Themes: Things to Check Before You Buy, you’ll learn about nine key questions to ask when evaluating a theme.

How to Evaluate a WordPress Theme

How to design wordpress themes

Let’s start by talking about the overall way that you should look at evaluating a theme when you’re looking for something to go with a specific project, i.e. a website that you’re setting up for a specific type of application.

We’re going to go through nine different areas that you should check out for each one of your themes that you consider buying. Here’s the checklist to use:

  1. Is the theme responsive and mobile-friendly?
  2. Is it cross-browser compatible?
  3. Does it have well-crafted typography?
  4. Is it ready for the eventuality that a person is not using JavaScript in their browser?
  5. Does it have full support for WordPress templates and formatting?
  6. Is it using structured data?
  7. Does it support the plugins you’re going to need?
  8. Does it have good performance?
  9. Is it accessible?

Now, the first thing that you should be aware of is that the the likelihood of finding a theme that is perfect in every one of these categories is extremely low. So far, I have not found a single theme that is perfect across the board, but that’s okay.

What’s most important is that you have a really solid understanding of what your specific project is going to need, and then you can weight each one of these nine categories depending on how important they’re gonna be for your project.

So if you know that there’s one specific area that you really, really need your theme to be perfect in, you can evaluate the theme for that specific area. And then you can say, okay, well, it’s not as strong in this other area, but because it’s still going to fit what my project needs, this is overall the best theme for what I’m trying to achieve.

So don’t worry when you do start looking at themes and you find one that’s weak in this area or that area. Don’t throw your hands up in frustration because you can’t find the perfect theme. What it’s really about is finding the right theme for what you want to do.

How to design wordpress themesHow to design wordpress themesHow to design wordpress themes

Watch the Full Course

In the full course, WordPress Themes: Things to Check Before You Buy, we’ll go through each of these nine areas in a lot more detail. It doesn’t matter if you have no experience at all in web design; by the end of this course, you’ll know exactly what to look for before you buy your next WordPress theme.

You can take this course straight away with a subscription to Envato Elements. For a single low monthly fee, you get access not only to this course, but also to our growing library of over 1,000 video courses and industry-leading eBooks on Envato Tuts+.

Plus you now get unlimited downloads from the huge Envato Elements library of 580,000+ creative assets. Create with unique fonts, photos, graphics and templates, and deliver better projects faster.

So I want to start developing WordPress themes, but I don’t know PHP. How much knowledge should I have of PHP before I begin WordPress development? Can anyone recommend any PHP books?

3 Answers 3

If you know some scripting, then it really isn’t necessary to know much PHP to get started at all. I did my first wordpress theme without knowing any PHP, and it wasn’t particular hard to figure out what goes where. The only time when I found that I needed someone who really knew PHP was when there were problems that I had to debug, but even then just a little bit of research got me through things.

As for books, I can highly recommend Head First PHP and MySQL.

In addition to the WordPress book that teaches you how to do it, it will be greatly to your advantage to edit your files in an editor such as Aptana Studio or NetBeans that show PHP Syntax errors while you’re typing.

That way, you’ll be able to just undo to wherever you caused the problem, rather than having to rely on loading the file through wordpress to tell when you broke something. I know wordpress and PHP well, and this still makes my life tremendously easier.

You don’t need to know any code to produce a wordpress theme. A great deal of it does come with how you will utilize it and what you expect it to accomplish. For example, if you are making a theme for small businesses, then you will have to configure sidebars and other things so that the user doesn’t have to do any work.

If for yourself, the best way to learn is to “copy” someone else’s them without looking at any code. Go through the codex, look at some examples, use the wp tutorials on the net, and talk to others about some little known codex functions that are helpful or cool to use.

I think sometime along the way, take some time to learn bits of php. If you take 3 hours a day learning WP, and 1 learning php, you will have good standing in web development by around 400-600 hours.