Automattic Theme Team launches Underscores.me site to promote their framework

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You might remember when the Automattic Theme Team announced their _s theme on ThemeShaper back in February. This week the team announced Underscores.me, a new home for the framework theme and those who build websites with it.

The personified theme (which is always fun, of course) says this on the home page (emphasis mine):

Hi, I’m a starter theme called _s, or underscores, if you like. I’m a theme meant for hacking so don’t use me as a Parent Theme. Instead try turning me into the next, most awesome, WordPress theme out there. That’s what I’m here for.

I find this interesting in a theme climate where everyone is promoting the use of theme frameworks – almost exclusively – as parent themes. Automattic’s team here, though, sees the theme’s goal differently. Ian Stewart, Michael Fields, and Lance Willett were the primary authors of _s, though twelve other folks receive credit for tweaks to the theme via Github on their site.

Have you used _s for a project? Do you think it stands up against other theme frameworks – particularly any of the paid ones?

Aftertaste #2: After the Interview with Lance Willett

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After recording the Community Interview with Lance Willett, Lance stuck around and we chatted further about pronunciations, upcoming WordCamps, and how to talk about themes with users. This clip runs about ten minutes.

Remember, we’re chatting about WordPress and recording awesome stuff live over on the WPCandy Stream pretty much every day. That’s where this clip was recorded, in fact. If you’re looking for some solid background noise while working on that next WordPress project, do check it out.

See the various listening options below, or have a listen right now:

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Subscribe to the show on iTunes (coming soon), or directly to the RSS feed.  If you would like to download the podcast in MP3 format directly, you can do so here.

Community Interview with Lance Willett about commercial themes on WordPress.com

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February makes 12 months since commercial (or “premium”) themes were introduced on WordPress.com. I spoke with Lance Willett last year about the announcement, and thought it only proper to sit down and speak with him about it again.

This interview was included, edited for time, in the second half of WPCandy Podcast #31. The full interview is just under an hour long.

See the various listening options below, or have a listen right now:

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You can subscribe to WPCandy Interviews on iTunes (coming soon), or directly via the RSS feed. Or you can download the MP3 file directly.

WPCandy Podcast 31: Moar commercial themes edition

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In this week’s episode of the WPCandy Podcast I chat with both Startbox’s Brian Richards and Automattic’s Lance Willett. Brian and I discussed the WordPress news of the last week, and Lance recapped the last year of commercial themes on WordPress.com with me.

See the various listening options below, or have a listen right now:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This week’s episode went a little on the long side, and clocks in at 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you’d like to jump ahead:

The interview with Lance Willett was edited for time, but keep an eye on the blog for the full, unedited interview to be posted soon.

Subscribe to the show on iTunes, or directly to the RSS feed. As always you can send any emails you would like to have included on the show to [email protected]. The download link is just after the jump.

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Lance Willett live on the WPCandy Stream at 18 UTC today

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I’ll be sitting down with Automattician and Theme Wrangler Lance Willett this afternoon to discuss the growth of commercial themes on WordPress.com in the last year. We’ll be recording at 18 UTC on the Stream, so feel free to join in the (newly revamped) stream and chat room if you can.

It was around this time last year that Automattic announced they would introduce commercial themes on WordPress.com. Around that time I also spoke with Lance then about the news, so it will be fun to touch base with him again about it.

If you have any questions about paid themes on WordPress.com, or anything that would fall under the purview of a Wrangler1, drop a note in the comments and I’ll be sure to ask him.

  1. Purview of a Wrangler, as it turns out, would be an awesome indie band name. Or a book. Or a blog. Dang, someone really needs to use that name for something.

ThemeShaper sees a redesign, refocus as the Automattic Theme Team blog

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ThemeShaper saw a redesign this week, which is always fun. But more interesting is the new vision for ThemeShaper, as it is now the blogging home of the Automattic Theme Team. ThemeShaper was previously the WordPress blogging home of Ian Stewart, who brought ThemeShaper to Automattic when he was hired in March of 2010.

The new design has retooled the site for the purpose of sharing tips and tricks from the Theme Team back to the community in a more organized way. Most recently Matt Mullenweg shared the backstory of premium themes on WordPress.com. Currently featured on the new ThemeShaper are also Custom Menu Code Samples, A Sample WordPress Theme Options Page, and Using TextMate for WordPress Code Cleanup. So you can get an idea for where the Theme Team will be taking ThemeShaper in the future.

The design itself is based on Duster, a theme released on WordPress.com this week as well. Duster will be made available to WordPress.org users in a week or so. Watch last week’s interview with Lance Willett where we discussed, in part, the new ThemeShaper.

What do you think of the changeover, and the new design? Raise your hand if you’re excited to see Ian Stewart come back to WordPress blogging, at least in some capacity? Mine’s up.

Automattic plans to release their own paid themes to WordPress.com

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We interviewed Lance Willett yesterday, one of three Theme Wranglers at Automattic. During the interview he shared that along with the initial release of paid themes from WooThemes and Theme Foundry, Automattic itself plans to release paid WordPress themes to their WordPress.com community eventually. Well, technically I asked him for the odds that one of the next hundred or so premium themes added to WordPress.com might be from Automattic, and he technically said “The odds are very good.” Technically.

In full he said “The odds are very good. We love launching our own themes. It’s something we’re going to do more, both paid and free.” Automattic has already released over one hundred free themes for WordPress.com users, with versions made available to WordPress.org users as well via the theme directory. Whether Automattic’s paid themes will be available for purchase outside of the WordPress.com ecosystem is yet to be seen. Regarding adding paid themes to WordPress.com, Lance also said:

I think it’s the same thing for the theme authors themselves. One of the pieces to the puzzle for them is saying, is this going to be a big part of their business, do we focus on this, do we release themes that are maybe exclusive to WordPress.com? That opens up a whole new range of possibilities. We could offer, for a certain price level, only so many blogs can install this theme. Or if it’s a high enough price maybe you’re the only person who can install this theme. There are a lot of possibilities.

Lance also pointed out that despite the attention given to paid themes, they aren’t abandoning free themes on WordPress.com. He said that the paid themes could actually help drive free theme development: as revenue from sales goes up, more theme developers can be hired.

If you’d like, and why wouldn’t you, check out the full interview with Willett for this discussion. We get into this stuff around minute twelve.

Interview with Lance Willett of Automattic on WordPress.com premium themes

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Last week saw a pretty huge announcement: WordPress.com is now offering premium themes, one from WooThemes and the other from The Theme Foundry. And by all accounts the Automattic Theme Team plans on adding quite a few more paid themes to WordPress.com yet this year. We dug into the announcement and background information last week, but still had a few questions. So we sat down for a few minutes with Lance Willett, of Automattic, to see if he could share a bit more with us about the latest addition to WordPress.com.

Lance Willett is a Theme Wrangler at Automattic. The Theme Wranglers, also referred to as the Theme Team, spend their days and nights thinking about how to improve WordPress themes. In the interview, posted below, we discuss the response they’ve seen to the themes on WordPress.com, theme pricing, and even Automattic’s plans to throw their hat into the paid theme market.

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WordPress.com introduces paid themes to their community

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Lance Willett brought some big news to the WordPress.com community this morning: premium themes are now available to dot com users. WooThemes and The Theme Foundry are first to the table with one theme each, but the announcement post promises a number of additional paid themes coming later this year.

WooThemes’ Headlines theme and Theme Foundry’s Shelf are the first to join the running as paid themes on WordPress.com, at $45 and $68, respectively. Each theme will now be supported by the theme shops themselves, using a forum at WordPress.com accessible only to those who purchase the theme.

Mark Forrester described their excitement at WooThemes:

We were contacted by the theme wranglers at Automattic and asked if we would like to offer one of the first two premium themes on WordPress.com. Naturally we said yes and decided Headlines would be a good theme to trial, given it’s magazine layout, neat slider, and slick color schemes.

And Theme Foundry’s Drew Strojny is excited as well. “Needless to say, we are honored and humbled to be chosen to help launch this service,” Strojny said. The Theme Team at Automattic helped bring the paid themes into the system, with each only taking about a week. Both themes feature their own brand’s theme options pages, and appear to be, for the most part, unchanged from their dot org counterparts.

A theme marketplace at WordPress.com is not a new idea. The discussion started at least as early as 2007 with a proposition by Matt Mullenweg on his blog. Now, a few years later, we see it begin to take shape on WordPress.com. Theme Wrangler Lance Willett tells us that, eventually, they would like to have an equal number of free and paid themes on WordPress.com.

The revenue split on sold themes will be 50/50 between the developers and WordPress.com, same as what was planned back in 2007.

So is it safe to say everyone will be clamoring to get access to the WordPress.com community? The real question is why wouldn’t a theme developer want their work showcased on WordPress.com? And for all of those lovers of predictions out there: which theme shop will be next?

Roundup of thoughts on what 2011 should hold for WordPress

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Jane Wells started a thread on the WordPress.org forum called “What should 2011 hold for WordPress?“. The purpose of the thread is to collect ideas for the upcoming core leadership meetup this month. The thread is being closed on January 4th (that’s today) so you should head over to that thread if you have your own thoughts to share.

Below we’ve collected a few of the more intriguing thoughts. Do you agree with their thoughts? And don’t be shy to share your thoughts with us too: What do you want to see for WordPress in 2011?

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