4 reasons you should create a WordPress theme

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by Aurelio De Rosa

WordPress is one of the most talked publishing platforms on the internet. It has caught the interest of a lot of users and developers, and not just because it has been around for a long time (it was first released in 2003). One of the reasons WordPress has become so popular is the wide range of themes offered for just about any kind of site you might want to create. In this article I’ll explain why, in my opinion, you should consider creating a WordPress theme.

WordPress by the numbers

Before starting, it is worth looking at some data about the WordPress platform (data updated to 26th March 2013 – Source WordPress.com)

  • There are 63,041,234 WordPress Sites in the World.

  • Over 382 million people view more than 3.6 billion WordPress pages each month.

  • WordPress.com users produce about 39.3 million new posts and 41.4 million new comments each month.

Additionally, WordPress is used by 17.5% of all websites, which, if considered as a content management system, would give it a market share of 54.8% (data updated to 26th March 2013 – Source W3techs.com). WordPress is used as a CMS by 64.96% of the top million sites and the 54.47% of the top 100,000 sites on the Internet (data updated to 22th March 2013 – Source BuiltWith.com). Clearly, WordPress is the most used CMS in the world. Given those numbers, the potential audience for your work is huge!

Make money

Once you have developed a theme, you have several ways to earn money from it. The first and more obvious is to sell your themes. On the web there are a plethora of websites offering all you need, including a large amount of visitors and potential buyers, to sell your themes in exchange of a percentage of your earnings. A few of these websites are ThemeForest.net, BuyStockDesign.com and Mojo-Themes.com. Developing a theme can practically guarantee you a good number of sales because, due to WordPress’s popularity (as you’ve seen in previous statistics), the demand for themes is high. Another good thing is that once you’ve finished the theme, while it continues to make money for you, it doesn’t typically require a lot of time and effort to maintain.

Another way to earn money is offering the theme for free and then offering support for a fee. This is a well-known method used by a lot of companies and associations. However, you should keep in mind a couple of facts. Since this practice is not new, you should be aware of there are many competitors that have already created a bunch of top selling themes. Moreover, creating a top selling theme is not so easy because you have to pay attention to a lot of high quality standards, not least the codex QA guidelines.

Be famous

Well, maybe famous is exaggerated, but creating a WordPress theme can give you a lot of exposure. Every theme in the WordPress Themes Directory on average has been downloaded about 39,000 times (data updated to March 29, 2013). Not bad! If you’re a beginner or an intermediate web designer or developer chances there are that you want and need to improve your resume, and this offers you a great opportunity to do so. Besides, developing a WordPress theme allows you to get in touch with companies and other programmers that may be interested in your skills – meaning a good possibility of finding new partnerships and perhaps your dream job.

Learn new technologies

Developing a theme can be beneficial for your skills as, in doing so, you have the potential to learn new technologies or to improve your knowledge if you already know them. A WordPress theme is mainly written using HTML, CSS and PHP. However, in addition you can use JavaScript and several frameworks included in WordPress, like jQuery and jQuery UI, or others like MooTools and Prototype.

Creating a theme is  fun. The learning curve can be steep but you’ll have an easier time if you take advantage of one of the WordPress Theme Frameworks. This is a great time to be a web designer or web developer. Now more than ever, thanks to the introduction of the new, shiny HTML5 and CSS3 features, you’re able to write a clean and semantic-rich markup with a lot of great effects which you can incorporate into your theme. You can also refine your code taking advantage of other features to improve your markup semantics using microdata and microformats.

Last but not least, if you want to create a really cutting-edge theme, you can utilize responsive web design to make your design work across multiple screen – from desktops to tablets to smartphones. Using this approach an additional bunch of downloads is almost guaranteed.

Learn from the experts

If you’re like me, you try your best to always keep learning. The best thing you can do is to learn from those whose skills above yours. As you know, there is a famous quote by Bernard of Chartres that tals about stand on the shoulders of giants (Yes, I thought it was by Isaac Newton too). The point is that by learning from and understanding the inner workings of WordPress, you could learn the best practices of the many experts who helped create it and, hopefully, improve your skills. Remember that anything you can learn while building your theme could be the knowledge that could save you precious time in your current job or even lead your career to the next level.

Conclusion

Throughout this article I’ve offered you several reasons to consider getting involved with building WordPress themes. Hopefully it has been enough to convince you. to reiterate, these are the key points to persuade you to create a WordPress theme:

  • It can be beneficial for your finances.

  • It’s a great way to learn and practice.

  • It’s an interesting way to learn from other programmers.

  • It’s simple and fun.

  • It can offer you a lot of exposure and give you satisfaction.

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