It’s hard to beat fourteen files and an image folder

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Sometimes I think theme frameworks just aren’t a good thing for the end user.

When it comes to the experience with the least friction, the most welcoming to a new user, and the least technically complex, I just don’t see anything beating a simple theme folder with a handful of template files and an image folder. Whether you’re adding something to the theme or just poking around a bit to see what your site’s theme is doing in there, it’s awesome to be able to open up a file called header.php that is, you know, actually representative of your theme’s header.

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The true value of a WordPress theme: Hermes Themes and a $200 price tag

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dumitru-brinzan-photo

Photo courtesy of Dumitru BrinzanDumitru Brinzan, founder of Hermes Themes, rowing during a vacation in Romania.

$35, $75, $40, and $200. One of these doesn’t sound like the others.

Dumitru Brinzan, who has a long history in WordPress themes at WPZOOM, has started a new theme project called Hermes Themes. The shop offers strictly hotel themes, in contrast to WPZOOM’s more varied selection.

Interestingly, Brinzan is pricing his hotel themes at $200, well above the average cost of themes at the moment. It’s a bold decision, and not one that you see many theme shops making at the moment. I sat down with him to talk a bit about what motivated him to start Hermes Themes, and in particular to price his themes that high.

The pricing is very deliberate on Brinzan’s part. “To be honest, I thought about pricing for a very long time,” he told WPCandy. “I considered making it cheaper, or even more expensive.” His decision to sell themes for $200 wasn’t a simple one, and took his entire history selling WordPress themes into account.

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Theme Show #12: “The Compliment Sandwich”

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Theme Show #12

In our second Theme Show episode of the new year, “The Compliment Sandwich”, we stick to our new format and dish over four new themes and pick one to rule them all. Well, for another seven days that is.

As a reminder, each episode of The Theme Show we tear apart four different themes — one for each of us to spend time with and properly review — and at the end of the show decide which one deserves the highest regard. Some weeks that might mean the best of the worst, and others it might be a really, really tough decision.

This week we review and discuss the Bloggit theme by WPExplorer, BlueBird by Just Good Themes, Identify by ThemeBros, and Soundstage by Mint Themes. Of course only one theme could be the supreme winner this time around — and you’ll just have to listen in to find out which one did it.

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Reader theme review: Minimal, but not in a lazy way

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Reader theme post graphic

Reader is a theme by new theme shop WP Minima, a brand which sells entirely on ThemeForest at the moment. They’ve released two themes so far, one free and one paid. This is the paid theme, which costs $35.

Reader, being both new and minimalistic, caught my eye last week. A lot of the time, theme designers will put something together and call it minimal, almost as an excuse to not put much thought into what’s designed. Or to leave things kind of plain. At least that’s the impression I get when looking at some WordPress themes that get released.

In this case, I think it’s clear that WP Minima put time into Reader and made real decisions. I don’t agree with all of them, but there’s a consistent, strong design aesthetic here that doesn’t come across as what I’ll call “lazy minimal”. It’s minimal, in a good way.

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The Story of WonderThemes: Why starting a WordPress theme marketplace isn’t easy

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The Story of WonderThemes and building a WordPress theme marketplace

Photo and graphic: Michael Kimb Jones

Michael Kimb Jones — or Kimb, as he prefers people call him – sat waiting for his time to stand up and speak. There he sat, on the ground floor of Surgeons Hall at the Royal College of Surgeons, running over the things he was about to talk about. His presentation was for WordCamp Edinburgh in 2012, the largest WordPress unconference event in the UK.

The slide sitting behind him on the projector, waiting for him to start, read “How I Made WonderThemes.” His pitch on the WordCamp Edinburgh wiki said that his presentation included the initial concept for WonderThemes, cost breakdowns, development struggles and how he sometimes felt like he was “punching [himself] in the face.”

Because this presentation wasn’t all positive. In it Kimb would tell his WonderThemes story, as well as the various elements that contributed to him closing his WordPress theme marketplace down and moving on.

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Theme Show #11: “A New Year and a New Sound”

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Theme Show #11 graphic with Fort Wayne background

I’m very happy, and very excited to announce the newly refined Theme Show. For our eleventh episode, and first episode of 2013, we bring a new format, introduce a new member to the show (hi Ray!) and also introduce a brand new theme song courtesy of Chad Deutsch.

This year on The Theme Show we’re taking on a new format entirely. Each week, the four of us will bring a new WordPress theme to the table — something from the previous couple of weeks, something released this year. We’ll review it a bit on the show, and then each week we’ll choose which one of the themes is best. Each week we’ll be awarding a best theme of the week, and we’ll pit them all against each other at the end of the year. Got it? Cool.

This week we talk about the Reader theme by WP Minima, Response by Organic Themes, Gallery by UpThemes, and Velo by The Open Dept. Which theme will reign supreme? Well you have to listen to find out.

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The Short List: WordPress themes you should check out this week

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The Short List of WordPress themes

In just a couple of weeks (since the last time we looked at The Short List) another crazy amount of themes are out. But who has time to dig through every single last one? That’s why we have The Short List, which lists off only the themes worth a serious look.

There are a surprising number of really unique themes this time around. I’m pleasantly surprised to see themes created for a very specific niche, actually. Things like food bloggers, fitness professionals, or event legal and medical firms. I’d rather see those than another slew of boring business and portfolio themes any day.

Let’s dig right in.

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WPCandy Podcast 35, with special guest Jake Caputo

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WPCandy Podcast #35

Jake Caputo started up quite a discussion this week centered on his being prohibited from speaking at WordCamps due to listing split licensed themes on the ThemeForest marketplace. Jake was kind enough to join me on The WPCandy Podcast to chat about his editorial and the state of the community on this divisive issue.

He also stuck around to discuss other WordPress news this week, and offer a couple of WordPress tips. It’s a fun episode, have a listen below!

You can follow Jake on Twitter, see his work and read his blog at Design Crumbs, and listen to his podcast Please Advise.

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Jake Caputo prohibited from speaking at WordCamps, sparks guideline discussions

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jake-caputo-blackballed

Jake Caputo is the developer behind DesignCrumbs, and you might also remember him from a ThemeThrift feature we posted last year. Caputo makes and sells WordPress themes, and does so via the ThemeForest marketplace. Last week he received notice that he was no longer allowed to speak or to volunteer at WordCamps.

Caputo wrote up a post in response to the news, which as of this writing has drawn in over 120 comments — including thoughts from a number of smart, experience developers and Matt Mullenweg himself.

The bit of the guidelines that Caputo ended up butted heads with is on the “Representing WordPress” page and reads:

If distributing WordPress-derivative works (themes, plugins, WP distros), any person or business should give their users the same freedoms that WordPress itself provides. Note: this is one step above simple compliance, which requires PHP code to be GPL/compatible but allows proprietary licenses for JavaScript, CSS, and images. 100% GPL or compatible is required for promotion at WordCamps when WordPress-derivative works are involved, the same guidelines we follow on WordPress.org.

Sellers on ThemeForest are not allowed to list their themes as 100% GPL, and Caputo said the Foundation told him that even if he found a way to do so, any participation at all on that network prohibits him from WordCamp speaking and volunteering.

Note that this is not about license compliance in a legal sense. Envato would argue that their stance is entirely legal, and the WordPress Foundation seems to agree. It’s not as simple as legal compliance — it’s about a special rule set for WordCamp speakers and volunteers by the WordPress Foundation.

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The Short List: WordPress themes you should check out this week

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The Short List of WordPress themes

Many WordPress themes come out every week. So many, in fact, that few could hope to sort through all of them for any stretch of time. At the same time, not every WordPress theme released is worth much time. There are a lot of copycats out there, and a lot of folks pumping out quick work to try and turn an easy dollar.

Instead of sorting through hundreds of WordPress themes every week or so, trust The Short List to offer up the themes that are actually worth your time to look over.

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