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The future of WordPress themes

a very shiny version of the WordPress logoA couple of weeks ago there was quite a lot of talk within the WordPress themes community about the future of WordPress. Ian Stewart started it, and then it spread around the blogosphere… so I thought I’d offer my rather late tuppence worth.

First a quick round up of the current posts:

My thoughts

The current argument is revolving around theme frameworks. Many people think this is where things are heading – and there are a few who disagree.

As I said in a comment on Adiis blog (and others seem to agree), I think people are approaching this from different angles. Adii looks at things purely from his perspective, his end users are the people he sells themes to, and most people who buy themes are unlikely to want to edit them.

Ian and the people he questioned are coming at things from a different perspective. Their audience are developers and they want to make theme development easier. Some would argue that this approach is more complex but that’s not the issue.

I think both groups are missing the point. Whether we use theme frameworks or not the future of WordPress will be dictated by the way people use the software.

The future

Personally I think WordPress is going to move away from simply being a blogging tool.

Earlier this week I mentioned how I think blogging is evolving, and I see WordPress evolving to match. With version 2.7 of WordPress pages were demoted in the navigational hierarchy but I think that will be changing (If not in the core then through plugins). More and more people are using WordPress for cms style sites.

I think people will stop using WordPress solely for blogging and use it for many more things. We’ve already seen examples of this with themes for Estate Agents and the like. I also think more complex plugins will be released that will continue the trend of turning WordPress into a complete website solution, in fact I hope to make one or two of these myself.

From a development point of view theme frameworks will continue to grow in importance and popularity but I really think that the technology comes second to how it’s used, and it’s this that will drive the future of WordPress themes.

I think these are fantastic times for both WordPress and blogging and I am looking forward to seeing how the two of them continue to evolve.

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Join me, Jeffro, Simon @ Leadership Expert, Chris Berry. They're all chatting about "The future of WordPress themes" below ›

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10 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the link and sharing your thoughts. While I and many others have hopped on the theme frameworks bandwagon, you are entirely correct in that if the majority of end users don’t use the software to develop on top of these frameworks, than in way, the framework idea is somewhat pointless. While the WordPress project is lead by a team and ultimately a leader (Matt Mullenweg) I still believe that the majority rules the minority rights.

    But, WordPress has been classified by some as a framework itself or, a platform. It’s still at a stage of development where it can be used to create things WordPress was not meant for, such as sites that are outside of the realm of blogging. Having WordPress as a platform enables the team to see just how the software is being used. I wouldn’t want to see them move the entire project down a road that only caters to the majority of users though. I don’t think WordPress should be built for a specific audience. Instead, I hope they continue to keep that audience in mind and build the tools necessary to turn WordPress into whatever it is you want to use it for.

    • Jeff – I agree entirely. They seem to be trying to force it down the blogging route (reducing the position of pages etc), but I think that’s wrong. It should be opened up more. Loads can be done with plugins and the more people are encouraged to use it in creative ways the more people will use it.

  2. I think BuddyPress is really going to add alot of juice to the wordpress experience, it’s going to almost add a whole layer of interactivity with the users of wordpress blogs, and for that reason I’m very much looking forward to what the future has to bring!

    • Agreed – Buddypress is looking fantastic. I am looking forward to doing something with it – I just need to come up with a killer idea :)

  3. I was very disappointed when most of the older themes were removed from the WP Themes Directory. As a user who prefers to begin with an existing theme as a starting point for my customizations, many of the newer themes are far too complicated to be of much use. Fortunately I’ve got a pretty good stash of old themes filed away for future use.

  4. I completely agree that WordPress is moving towards becoming a not blog only CMS. It already is a CMS, it’s just built towards a great love of blogging.

    But honestly, what is a blog? A blog is just a continuous, paginated stream of reverse chronologically sorted posts. Sometimes you can comment on such posts. One can argue that categories, links, tags, widgets and themes aren’t really necessary for blogging. That’s why you’re right in saying WordPress is what its users are using it for.

  5. I agree, it’s evolving to be much more of a powerhouse for those wanting to build a website. The community base is supportive and in great numbers to secure WordPress’s success at least for this year and next. I look forward to watching it grow and change.

  6. Hi, I was wondering what you mean by “With version 2.7 of WordPress pages were demoted in the navigational hierarchy” as I haven’t noticed anything different?

    • All I meant by the pages being demoted comment, was that in the navigation, media and links are currently above pages. To me this seems that they are trying to demote/ hide pages.

  7. Interesting comment. I have actually started to use WordPress for exactly what you are talking about here. It is an excellent tool to allow clients to manage the content of the website that you design for them. it gives excellent flexibility and capability for growth, and using the pages and categories capaiblities.

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