happytables, formerly known as Theme Force, has exited public beta and relaunched with new branding. Noel Tock and his partners, Tom and Joe of Human Made Limited, decided the Theme Force name was more appropriate for selling WordPress themes, and as they’re not doing that any more, the change was due.
I’ve had an opportunity to discuss many of the changes with Tock as they’ve transitioned the new site and I’ve even beta tested the new interface of happytables. Having used both the beta interface and the new one, it’s obvious the guys have been busy improving much more than the name and public facing website.
During the early stages of running a business, you learn a lot. If you’re new to the market, there’s even more to learn. What you do with that information determines the direction you’ll head. Over the last few months, Theme Force, the service for helping restaurants build better websites on top of WordPress, has worked hard to make sure they’re going in the right direction.
To start their journey in the right direction, Theme Force has created a website to share what they’ve learned about restaurant websites with the people who need it most, the restaurants. Their new website, Better Restaurant Websites, is a chronicle of their newly gained knowledge (and, handily, also a clever marketing tool). They cover accessibility and mobile features, business features, search engines and social media.
If you’re a restaurant owner that wants something better for your customers, or just someone that’s curious, head over to the site and dig into the feast of helpful information.
Which restaurant in your town do you think has the best website? What makes it stand out?
Not too terribly long ago, Noel Tock shared his views on the WordPress admin experience. He discusses the importance of the user experience on the admin side as well as the front end. Tock also shares his customizations to the admin that he’s using for his Theme Force restaurant framework to cater his users’ experience. I liked it. Maybe you will too.
Noel Tock was interviewed at WordCamp Portsmouth by Siobhan McKeown and discussed Theme Force, his hosted restaurant website service and commercial theme shop.
I’m reminded of Mike Little’s thoughts regarding vertical uses of WordPress.
Theme Force has really made a name for itself as a theme shop just for restaurant WordPress themes. Noel Tock and his team must really want restaurants to have better websites, since they have released their framework for free on Github.
Don’t expect to grab the download and be up and running with a theme right away. The Theme Force framework is built as a modular feature set for connecting to various sites like Yelp and Foursquare, intended to be used as a tool for building a complete restaurant site. It’s not necessarily like some of the theme frameworks you’ve come to know.
Have you ever built or woked on a site for a restaurant before? Based on my own experience using restaurant websites, I can only assume that every single restaurant website is broken and terrible. In other words, there is much to be improved out there. What do you think?
I recently had an opportunity to chat with Noel Tock, the creator of Theme Force. Theme Force has a singular focus – websites for restaurants. Noel and his development partners, Tom and Joe of Humanmade, are targeting restaurants across the globe with fully hosted, WordPress based, website solutions.
Theme Force has been selling WordPress themes for restaurants since mid 2010. However, the end goal for Tock is “to sell an end-to-end solution where a customer can log in and manage everything from there.” Thus, the end goal is not building products for WordPress, but building a web application on top of it.
Theme Force doesn’t consider other WordPress theme shops as competition, but rather other non-WordPress based restaurant website providers like Culini and Let’sEat. They have created a framework for their themes so end users can manage theme options, event management, and menu management.
Menus and Events utilize custom post types to help users easily accomplish previously difficult (PDF anybody?) features for restaurant websites. Theme Force also has features to integrate easily with popular social media sites like Yelp and Foursquare.
Starting July 1st, Theme Force’s fully hosted version will be available for $49 per month. Furthermore, Tock shared with me that they were transitioning from a split-GPL license to 100% GPL. He said the philosophy fit with his practice of writing WordPress tutorials and releasing free themes, whereas Humanmade have been contributing their share to the open source community through a series of github repositories (including WP Remote and WP Thumb).
If you’d like to view a video runthrough of the Theme Force backend and their newest theme, Fineforce, take a peak after the jump. I’d also love to hear what you think about their plan, which is certainly a bit out of the current mold of WordPress business models.