Ever since WordPress came into existence, there have been continuous discussions regarding WordPress theme development and the varied options available to developers for building eye-catchy and fully-functional WordPress themes. Well, there’s actually no “one-size-fits-all answer” for the best methods that can be employed to build an outstanding WordPress theme. Through this post, I’ll be allowing you to gather an in-depth insight into the basic understanding of WordPress theme development standards that are being followed by both novice as well as proficient WordPress designers. Hope by the end of this post, you’d be all geared up for designing your all-exclusive WordPress theme that would fit the varied needs of your client.
What’s the need for designing WordPress themes?
Although, WordPress.org serves as a brilliant hub for fine-quality themes that can suit a wide range of websites, designers often opt for designing a unique theme. Well, there are a number of reasons backing the development of new WordPress themes. While some WordPress experts do it for showcasing their creativity, other release it to the public so as to play their individual role in contributing to the widespread WordPress community. There are other WordPress designers who build new themes in the wake of learning more about the popular web technologies including HTML, CSS and PHP.
And now, let me take you on a journey of exploring WordPress Theme Development Standards
1. Picking up a suitable theme development option is vital
Prior to proceeding ahead with the development of a WordPress theme, it is crucial to pick up a suitable option/approach for the same. You can opt for any one of the following WordPress theme development approaches:
- Building a WP theme from scratch
- Editing/hacking an existing WordPress theme
- Using a child theme for making changes to an existing WP theme
- Create a new parent theme and related child themes
- Using a WordPress theme development framework
- Using a theme customizer for moderating an existing WP theme
2. Use of well-structured, error-free PHP and HTML can’t be ignored
One of the most crucial parameters in ensuring flawless WordPress theme development is the use of bug-free PHP and a valid HTML. As a WordPress theme developer, you need to follow all the coding standards that have been defined by the WordPress community. Doing this would allow you to avoid common coding issues, simplify code modification and enhance the readability of code. All in all, following coding standards will ensure that your project files appear as if they have been worked by a single person.
3. Use of clean, valid CSS is unavoidable
Although CSS style-sheets tend to contain certain inconsistencies, it is important to address to the same on an immediate basis. You need to ensure that the CSS code is readable, meaningful and consistent. It’s also beneficial to fill in all the loopholes and commits that have interfered with the originality of the code.
4. Pay attention to proper commending of code
For making other developers understand how you build your theme, it is important to make the theme’s code clear and readable. This can be achieved by commenting the code in an appropriate way. If you’re working with PHP, then I recommend you using PHPDoc- a phpDocumentor that offers a clean, bug-free documentation style for the PHP Code. While on the other hand, if you’re working with CSS, then do visit the WordPress CSS standards page which will offer you brilliant insights on using CSS code the same way as you do it for PHP using the PHPDoc.
5. Don’t forget the localization and internationalization of your WordPress theme
Making your WordPress theme translation-ready is something that can fetch you several applauds from the WordPress community. The WordPress Codex comprises of an elaborate introduction about the coding that needs to be performed for the localization and internationalization of WordPress themes. You can visit the Files and Tools page available in the Core Contributor Handbook for gathering handy tips and tricks on developing a multilingual WordPress theme.
6. Adherence to WordPress theme design guidelines is beneficial
If you want your WordPress theme to stand out from the crowd, its necessary for you to follow all the design guidelines that have been laid down by the WordPress community. Whether its about adding a navigation menu, developing a color scheme, formatting data and time, designing headlines, wrapping text around images, dynamic menu highlighting or playing with fonts; you must be well acquainted with everything that needs to be done on the theme’s designing part.
7. Testing the theme is something you can’t afford to miss
Before releasing your WordPress theme for the public, its important to test the same for any kind of un-attented bugs. You can visit the WordPress Theme Review Guidelines page where you can find the best practices of testing WordPress themes for high performance.
WordPress Theme Development isn’t that complicated as it seems to be. With a proper understanding of all the ins and outs regarding WordPress theme design and development, you can definitely come up with a theme that’s both eye-catchy as well as loaded with user-friendly functionality.
Ben Wilson is a WordPress developer and senior editor at WordPrax Ltd., PSD to WordPress conversion service company. He has shared many articles on WordPress related things.