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Over the span of the next few months, I will be working on creating a WordPress theme built for creative types who have little to no experience with coding websites. I will be writing a blog post for each phase of this project in hopes to provide a step-by-step documentation of creating a WordPress theme.

The goal of this project is to develop a portfolio theme. The theme will allow creatives to customize and extend their own branding to provide a more personal experience. Third party trusted plugins such as Yoast SEO, Advanced Custom Fields, and W3 Total Cache will be included to help provide a great website experience.

WP Theme Development Process

The first phase of this project covers discovery, which the remaining of this post will cover, but first here is a list of each phase I will be covering in-depth with blog post:

  • Discovery
  • Strategy
  • Design
  • Development

The Discovery

Believe it or not there is plenty of reading to do before you embark on creating a WordPress theme. WordPress holds it’s theme developers to a high standard of design and coding to ensure its users with a safe and functional theme. I quickly learned the best place to be to understand what requirements and standards you will need to follow is at the Codex theme development page. This covers topics such as why you should create a WordPress theme, theme development standards, theme testing process, as well a ton of terrific links to extra resources.

An article I stumbled upon while doing research was on Smashing Magazine written by Sawyer Hollenshead called Building WordPress Themes you can sell. Now the intent for this specific project and blog post is not meant to sell WordPress themes. This article provides wonderful informations on the authors personal experiences of developing a theme and what it takes to gain a solid user base for your themes.

What I learned

Making a WordPress theme is not something you can crack out overnight. It is well thought out, and provides solutions for all different types of use cases. It’s important to decide early which features your theme will provide, and is just as important to decide what to leave out.

Next Steps

Now that I have a better understanding of what it takes to build a WordPress theme, it’s time to devise a strategy. Over the next few weeks, I will construct a game-plan. This will include an estimation of how long this project will take, theme features, and detailed information about what I will need to do in each phase to be successful.

Other WordPress Theme Development Resources

Site Design and Layout Guidelines
Theme Review
Theme Unit Test

Chris Allen

Chris is a front-end developer based in Seattle, WA where he works at Fresh Consulting. He use his knowledge and skills of various programming languages and web standards in hopes to help provide a user-friendly web experience.