Don’t Steal my Theme Options

Don’t Steal my Theme Options is a great article by Andy Adams, a developer at The Theme Foundry. Andy writes about the decisions they have to take when dealing with flexibility versus simplicity. Here’s an important quote:

Instead of making a theme either fully-customizable or configuration-free, I’ve realized that the ultimate goal is to add “just the right options” to make the user experience more pleasant.

The comments at the end of the article are worth reading too. What are your thoughts on “the perfect number” of theme options? Do you think premium WordPress themes should come with more “customization” options, than free themes? Thanks for your comments and don’t forget to share this post!

6 thoughts on “Don’t Steal my Theme Options

  1. Thanks for the mention @kovshenin. I love the blog idea – it seems to be a hot topic amongst theme developers :).

    I don’t think more = better = premium when it comes to options. I’ve installed some premium themes and been completely overwhelmed by the amount of options I was given, and I’m a developer familiar with WordPress. I can’t imagine what it would look like to a non-developer.

    We design our themes with the non-developer in mind. We figure developers will be able to sort out what they need pretty easily, so our options screens don’t need to cover every possibility. Instead, we target just the options that most users would like to change to give the theme a uniqueness for their site. I’m sure there are pros to adding more options, but we just don’t like the extra weight they add.

    • Hey there Andy! Thanks for stopping by to comment, and thanks for the blog idea props, I really appreciate it :) I love your article and I think a lot of theme developers and companies can benefit just from reading it.

      I haven’t used much themes from The Theme Foundry but the ones I have (React and Linen) didn’t seem to have any redundant or useless options, and I was so glad they both just worked right out of the box, unlike many premium themes these days, that require hours of configuration, before you can get anything you can show to the public. So props on that!

      However, as a WordPress developer what I really care about is good semantic markup, well thought out CSS class names and IDs, a good template files breakdown, and well-commented code. Having these four, I can customize the hell out of a theme, make it look and behave however I need it to, and much faster than one could get through a thousand-options screen. But that’s off-topic, sorry.

      I wonder if any theme company has ever tried to actually measure their theme options usage, and how many of those options were remained untouched. It would be quite easy with services like WordPress.com and Page.ly, more difficult on self-hosted blogs.

      Anyways, thanks again for your comment and have a great day!

  2. I kind of think themes should have modular options. Not sure if I can explain that properly, but for example, first tab in options page could have several checkboxes (Portfolio, Slider etc.) and depending on which of those you click, you get extra tabs, with more settings.

    Alternatively, theme authors could bundle plugins with the their themes, so activating and deactivating them would toggle certain options. Something like “Portfolio module for Theme XYZ”. This way, people who buy your theme should be able to keep using those extra features with other themes, definitely more difficult to develop, but undoubtedly best for users.

    I haven’t seen this in a theme yet (pretty sure it does exist, like anything else anyone can think of :) ), but will probably try to create one such theme in near future.

    • Hi there Slobodan! I agree, bundle plugins with themes, sort of how Jetpack bundles Sharedaddy, After the Deadline, etc., and now Grunion Forms. I think there are some theme companies trying to take a similar approach (like WooThemes with WooCommerce) and it has its pros and cons. One disadvantage I can think of is managing two separate products with backwards compatibility. I’m sure there are others.

      I’d really like to see somebody release a “portfolio module” not for any specific theme or set of themes, but a generic one. One that will suit all themes, one that will get theme developers to work with this module/plugin. Sort of how many free and commercial themes add styling for popular plugins like Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms and so on. Though in an ideal world, they would need no styling ;)

      Thanks for your comment!

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