Creating a New WordPress Theme

Every year or two I create a new “base” WordPress theme — i.e., a framework with which to build new WordPress sites for my clients. In the past, my base themes have always been bare-bones, but this year, inspired by Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s class on WordPress development using Underscores, I’m in the later stages of building a full-featured theme that will be easy to strip down.

Actually I’m using this new theme right here, right now (albeit temporarily) as I work out the kinks and, more importantly, because I’m itching to say thanks to two people who made this possible. I suppose I could just tweet them, but a hands-on product is worth so much more than 140 characters.

The first, of course is Morten. His class was just right for me — extremely thorough, never boring, plus with steps broken out on GitHub. I’m grateful that has advanced WordPress development classes and that this one was fairly current. But more than that, I love Morten’s affect. He’s cheerful, smiling, and brisk, and his accent (Norwegian if I’m not mistaken) only adds to the appeal.

The second person is Bryan Jones — creator of the fantastic Mac app, CodeKit. CodeKit makes doing Sass a breeze. I just split my CSS into dozens of small modules — a bit like Legos where I can snap in what I need when I need it — and it spits out super-lean CSS. In an instant, about a zillion lines of CSS slim down into just a few KB. Moreover, CodeKit has a browser refresh capability that works beautifully — and I can even call up my localhost versions on other devices in the same wireless network. It’s a thing of wonder.

The theme itself is nothing special. Rather, my emphasis is on the familiar. Most of my clients are Boomers (like me) and Boomers just don’t do leading edge Web. Actually I suspect most people don’t do leading edge, but with Boomers it’s a super-majority. They do better with sites where menus are menus and not hamburger icons, where content is in-your-face and not buried under gorgeous images, and where accessibility is baked-in from the ground up.

And you know what? Familiar, not-special is nothing bad. To the contrary. As long as it’s done with some polish — attention to fonts, color palettes, white space, etc. — it lets the content shine.

But speaking of polish, I’m still honing this theme. So if you notice anything that needs work, I’d love to hear from you. Just drop me a line.