Responsive Theme Options

Responsive Theme Options

Responsive Theme Options

Emil Uzelac launched Responsive last month, and it gained a whole bunch of good responses from the WordPress community. It even surpassed Twenty Eleven in weekly download numbers! The theme looks great, but our blog is not about themes, right? It’s about Theme Options!

The first thing that caught my eye was that the Home Page, which is your (main) content, had to be set up in Theme Options, where I’m used to set up the look and feel of the site. This means that if I switch to a different theme, everything I entered there will probably vanish away. It is also not clear why it’s displaying that home page, even though my Reading options are set to display my latest posts. Confusing? Maybe.

I (personally) would also just scrap the whole Theme Elements block, because breadcrumbs should be a decision, not an option, while the call to action button, well.. Let’s just say that PHP is smart enough to check for an empty field and figure out whether to render the button or not ;)

Now, my least favorite block is the Webmaster Tools, which is clearly plugin territory. The first problem is that it will break all my site verification and analytics code as soon as I switch to a different theme. The second problem is that if I’m not a tech geek with crazy programming skills, I’ll probably still paste my Google Analytics code there, even if I’m already running a plugin that does that. Result — duplicate tracking code, now who needs that?

The Logo Upload block doesn’t make too much sense to me either, it can be a much smaller note at the top of the options page or hidden in the contextual help. So finally, we’re left with a single block for Social Icons. Isn’t that great? I love to kill theme options, sorry Emil! :)

Anyway, the verdict — the theme is great, with good support for child theming too, so you should definitely give it a spin. The Theme Options screen needs a little bit more work in my opinion (also Settings API for the win!) What about you, dear readers? How do you like this theme options screen? Anything you’d add to, or remove from the page? What about these drop-down blocks versus native tabs (on top), which do you prefer? Thanks for all your comments, likes, shares and most importantly, rates!

Note: the reason this “review” is so thorough is because Emil is my friend, and his work deserves my full attention.

15 thoughts on “Responsive Theme Options

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Decisions vs. Options thing — and I don’t see anything wrong with including an option to disable breadcrumbs. In fact, the theme options I like the most are for toggling on and off features.

    If Average User is browsing for themes, but she for example doesn’t use tags or a byline, she shouldn’t have to ignore every available theme that shows them (99%) or risk diving into PHP. It seems like having features like these set by default, but including a settings page where they can be deactivated, makes a lot of sense for a lot (probably the majority) of users.

    I say that especially because those components usually aren’t exactly integral to the theme design. Theme options that let you specifically mess with the design (“Enter desired link hover color hexidecimal code here” – ugh) — *that’s* where the Decisions vs. Options rule should come in.

    • Hi Michael, I like toggling on and off features as well, but if breadcrumbs is such an option, why can’t I hide tags, or categories, or the author, or the date? One such option can easily be turned into a dozen similar ones, and that’s were Theme Options start growing like crazy, because if I provide an option to change the headings color, why don’t I provide one to change the text color? And then one to change the sidebar headings color, and another one for the background? Eventually people are going to ask for something I don’t have, and the possibilities are endless. All those options (plus a billion more) can easily be managed with one or two lines of basic CSS, you don’t need to study PHP.

      I’m just thinking out loud here, on a long journey to still find out what makes the perfect Theme Options page :) Thanks so much for your comment!

      • There’s no perfect Theme Options and it will never be one. Responsive Theme Options are made this way because my users made numerous request in previously released Theme called “Shell Lite”. I honestly don’t care what should be there or not as long as this is what users asked for. They’re my only and #1 priority!

        Theme Options are tailored by what folks want as I said and so far none of the 50,000 downloads (in 40+ days just to throw that out there) did not complain. Well no, scratch that my buddy Kov did ;) just kidding.

        Theme Options are using recommended settings and they work well, will there be few individuals who will not like them? most definitely and there’s nothing we can do about that.

        You said:
        ” This means that if I switch to a different theme, everything I entered there will probably vanish away.”

        You’re right, anything you enter in any Theme Option will vanish once you switch the Theme nothing will stay, including the front page content. Theme Options are Theme specific, if they’re not than this very site would not even exist. If Theme has different layouts right, they will be lost once the Theme is switched and everything else in it, that would be even worse. And that is why things such as Theme Option is strictly users responsibility!

        This is good thing you’re doing here and I might do some changes when/if time allows.

        Thanks for featuring this, I appreciate!
        Emil

      • I totally agree that if you’re not careful, a well-thought-out theme options plan can turn into a mess of dozens of requested options. I guess it comes back to that elusive “perfect balance.” Which I guess is what this blog is all about ;)

        I do find it interesting that the WordPress dev team itself seems torn about this. On the one hand you have the Decisions not Options philosophy, and on the other hand…Twenty Eleven has a theme options page. Where you can change link colors.

  2. Hey there Emil, thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate your comment! I like your “this is what users asked for” approach, and I also think it could be quite risky sometimes. If the Core team accepted and implemented every feature request on Trac, WordPress would be doomed, and we all know that :)

    Anyway, looking forward to see where you can take Responsive with updates. Perhaps the Customizer in 3.4 can help reorganize some of the options. Thanks again and best of luck!

  3. I liked Emil theme so much I used it for one of my first theme projects. I wanted to to integrate the Bootstrap toolkit into a theme, so I decided to use the Responsive theme and add some features and extra functionality. The first version I made used Emil theme options, but after wanting to add even more panels (which I am rethinking after reading this post…) I am working on swapping the theme options with WP Theming (http://wptheming.com/options-framework-theme/).. Adding selects to the current theme options panel of the Responsive theme did some weirdness in Chrome and some other browsers.

    Just thought I would share. Thanks Konstantin and Emil!

  4. Hey Michael Dance! I published the Twenty Eleven Theme Options too, and I think that it’s a great options page, though maybe not the options themselves. I have rarely seen people put the sidebar on their left instead of their right, mainly sites with RTL languages, which will do that by default. I have seen quite a lot of single-column websites. Reddle for example does that without an option — if your sidebar is empty, it’ll display in single-column.

    Since it’s a default theme, I guess that Twenty Eleven is also meant to showcase how theme options pages can and should be done. How Farbtastic (the colorpicker) can be used, and how all of these options are actually applied via body_class and wp_head hooks, which is also very important. Version 1.3 also showcases the Settings API.

    It’s also worth noting, that unlike the Responsive theme, Twenty Eleven works out of the box without any configuration, while in Responsive, you have to at least give your home page some content, otherwise you’ll end up with dummy-text.

    Thanks for your comment :)

    • >> while in Responsive, you have to at least give your home page some content, otherwise you’ll end up with dummy-text.

      I would venture that that was done to meet requirement for themes submitted to WP Theme Repo:
      screenshot should be a “reasonable facsimile” of the theme after it is initially activated with default options http://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Review

      Cheers.

  5. Pingback: “Responsive” WordPress Theme « WordPress Winnipeg

  6. WordPress should still be WordPress, no matter how you develop your theme. Any theme maybe build as a “Business Theme” which have a common web 2.0 page with a LARGE image and HUGE logo in it. But then again, WordPress should be WordPress, themes should be showing the default BLOG INDEX when activated and user can have a different layout for the front page, either by template or theme options, and don’t forget the ‘Show on Front’ setting …

    • How much was this accepted as non-Blog Theme you can see at http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/browse/popular/. People love what was done here. In just 3 months there’s over 100,000 downloads that’s good enough sign for me. If my users are happy and they are, nothing needs to be changed from this point (as far as default layout that is).

      But again you can have “Blog” with few clicks too ;) Also see http://wpmu.org/how-responsive-became-the-most-popular-free-wordpress-theme-in-just-3-months/ if you have time.

      As always thanks for the comments and Konstantin for making this possible here.

      P.S. @Konstantin, I made few revisions in Theme Options as well. One was about the Webmaster stuff, with the note “Leave blank if plugin handles your webmaster tools” and I will remove logo link as well. Just need to grab more time that’s all, more improvement on its way!

      Emil

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