11 Principles to Design a Great Wordpress Theme

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[View FULL Article] After a couple weeks of reviewing Wordpress themes (and countless weeks prior judging designs in general) I have established the following guidelines for creating an awesome Wordpress theme. At the very least, following these guidelines will get a stamp of approval from picky designers.

At the same time, pay attention to these things when choosing a theme. If the author went through the trouble to follow certain standards, I’ll bet it is quality work.

1. Validate your code

I can’t emphasize this enough. Honestly, for how easy it is to validate your work, the lack of proper validation is evidence of a lazy theme author that doesn’t bother to run a couple checks. Validate your HTML. Then validate your CSS. Think of it as using good grammar. Everyone will appreciate it.

2. Make it work across browsers

Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera…the big boys are important. According to Jakob Nielsen in Prioritizing Web Usability, best practice is to wait six years after the release of a new browser before ignoring an old one. Thankfully we can forget about IE5. But IE6 is still out there. Prepare for all browsers, and if you can’t make it work, add in fixes so your theme degrades gracefully. A very useful tool for this purpose is Browsershots.org.

3. Comment your code

For some themes this is not a big problem. If you don’t modify much from the default WP theme, it probably isn’t a big deal. Use this principle: if you won’t be able to follow your code in two years, no one else will be able to tomorrow. Comment more than you think you should.

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