Lately I’ve stayed away from the theme review only because it can be such a negative feeling and a negative space. It’s not the people I interact with but rather those who feel like they have a solution for all the things.

I’m not saying I do and I don’t try to but what I do have is a feeling that things can only get worse.

Theme reviews have been great for my learning about WordPress as well as PHP. The last couple of weeks have been great in that we did manage to reduce the queue down by a lot and I mean a lot. We went from about 600 themes to 400. There were rules set in place and of course there will always be some sort of backlash whether it be from reviewers or authors. This time authors.

Okay, a lot of the time it’s authors.

I get it. I do. You want to share your creation with the world and the community. The thing many really forget is that you don’t have to have your listed in the repo for it to be shared.

Incentives

I’m for them but when it comes to certain things. I volunteer my time to conduct reviews and I don’t actually expect anything in return. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie because there is one thing I expect.

Gratitude.

The thing to remember is that I take time out of my day to look at code and pass on some knowledge when I can.

And it’s not a great feeling when you get back a slew of negativity and comments like it’s taking too long.

I’ll give an example.

Retail on Holidays

When I worked at Starbucks it would get crazy. We were one of the few places open. My last store we were open 24/7. You read that right. Rain, shine, local shoot-out, fire-next-door, gas line on fire down the street, we would be open. Okay a bit of an exaggeration but fairly true.

I recall one day we had not only a line in our lobby that was almost five feet out the door but we also had our drive-thru creating a circle around the building so as one new car would enter one would be leaving. This was Thanksgiving. This was Christmas week.

Every so often we would get one car that would chime-in with a solution:

You should limit to only one drink order per car.

Yes! Brilliant! This makes it so we only focus on one drink at a time. The thing is Starbucks standard is one drink at a time when you are on bar. Granted not always followed to the T but there is a great reason for that. Just ask any 5 year old partner and they will share knowledge with you.

Those holiday orders were always insane because a lot of the time it was 6 drinks for one car, 8 drinks for the next and the occasional food order with 4 sandwiches, a cake pop, and all the croissants in the store.  This of course creates a new set of obstacles if you weren’t used to that but seeing how as a barista you only should be focusing on making one drink at a time it can take a lot of time for one.

Setting a standard workflow does make it easier because you can then crank things out in an expected amount of time per drink or even per order.

The one drink at a time standard is so that every single cup of coffee, frappuccino, tea, or latte is not only to your needs but a quality drink as well.

Comparison

Okay. That’s great but what relevance does it have, right? See in the example above the barista is the theme author. You are the creator.

What happens when you start skipping steps, start making drinks out of order, or even forget to make them? The customer gets upset, you start holding up the queue of drinks and possible others along the way. Your customers suffer from this. So really your users suffer from this.

Much like baby steps: One at a time.

This needs to be your focus.

If you are a theme author, a theme shop, or just wanting to create for the sake of creating themes, you should have a workflow in place if you don’t already – specially if you are going to submit a theme to the WordPress.org repo.

One I suggest:

  • Design the theme
  • Design review of the theme
  • Begin coding the theme
  • Code review
    • Stress Cases
    • Who are you really coding for?
    • Testing Environment
  • Testing of the theme
    • Asking friends
    • Asking family
    • Reach out to community

Honestly, even having something in place is truly better than not. Asking for help is not a big deal in particular the testing of the theme. Reach out to your peers, reach out to companies, individuals. You would be amazed how much information you can actually get.

Don’t let your user suffer because you want to speed things up. I mean after all you don’t want to be giving out half empty cups of Gingerbread Lattes to an angry mother who is shopping for the last gaming console on one of the busiest weeks of the year, right?

Today I ran into a bit of an internal debate. This is something that has driven me crazy for the longest time and this time I’m speaking about it.

Having an “upsell” theme in the WordPress theme repository. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. Not only is it more code to look over but an inconvenience to the user. A commonality is the phrase:

This option available in PRO Version.

It does get linked to the site where they can purchase the theme. I don’t like it. Often times it is because that’s all the setting/control has. If I wanted to look at dummy controls I’d go to the toy store and just play with the toys and never purchase a thing. It is like window shopping for themes only with a banner over the window.
pro-versionAs you can see from the image, it is pointless to even have a pro version with nothing to control. I will never understand that. It is like having a car radio button that does nothing.

Yes, I made that comparison. It really is pointless.

I know there are some out there that may already be wanting to ask how to upsell the theme instead then. Simple. The theme’s about page.

Yes, themes can have them and should have them. What I don’t like is that there are several that link to just a demo site. What’s the point? Yes, I understand you want to demonstrate what the theme can do but what I’m more interested in is what the differences are between the free version and the premium/pro/ultra/supreme/deluxe version you are offering.

When I look to purchase a new camera I look for the information about the camera; I’ve already seen what it can do, I want to know more. What size sensor, what type of sensor, pixel density, lowest ISO, highest ISO, what accessories I can purchase for it, just to name a few.

So, if you are a theme shop in the WordPress theme repository, I urge you to drop all your upsell things that do nothing. You are hurting your users by subjecting them to unusable options.

My lack of creativity

This is a sore subject in the dot org world currently and it makes me laugh as I read all the comments. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it was a decision to use the customizer as the basis of all theme options that are hosted in WordPress.org‘s free repo. The reason I…

Read more My lack of creativity