Obox Themes attempts to solve complex theme setup process with color-coded widgets


Commercial themes are sometimes a bit on the complex side. WordPress theme shop Obox is attempting to improve their own theme setup process, or what David Perel calls “a nightmare“. Perel says Obox is working on a number of different ideas now, but their first is just recently out the door: color-coded widgets.

He explains:

Since our theme home pages use widgets for flexibility we have decided that that is where we should focus our attention. The result is color coding our widgets. […]

This way we can explain items in their simplest form. No longer do we have to come up with documentation to fix a fundamental problem in theme design. We can now say, “Put blue in the blue box.”

Perel and his team hope that color-coding their widgets (pictured above, larger version at Obox) will help reduce the documentation and steps needed to set up their themes. Right now they are available in their selecta, Casual, Handmade, and Handmade eCommerce themes.

Personally I’m not sold on the usefulness of this yet, but I’m intrigued by the idea. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Obox Themes attempts to solve complex theme setup process with color-coded widgets

  1. Having a really easy way for users to know which widgets are optimized for which widget areas is a great idea.

    It would definitely help users pick their widgets. In fact i really think it could be something WordPress could consider integrating into core in some way.

  2. For me it seems like a pretty neat feature but it’s kind of a gimmic. I’m not too sure if it’d be a great idea to integrate such a feature into the core of WP.

  3. Great idea, yes!
    But then again, every theme author/shop etc. has their own color set so users still get lost in the dark….?

    WordPress core team needs to put a little more thought into the whole widget admin page and the whole widget management process. After that is done we should discuss some color sets or so…

  4. I appreciate Perel’s and Obox’s grander intentions to make WordPress easier. I’m not sure how color-coding widget areas will help.

    First, I don’t think it will have much of an effect for users, especially new ones. WordPress might be “easy” compared to other open source systems like Joomla! or Drupal. Some of my close friends run basic blogs on blogspot (*gasp*) because WordPress is too hard to use. I don’t blame them.

    Having said that, I think color-coding widgets would help me as a site administrator who knows and loves WordPress. Now I spend time to stop and think about which widget title goes with which widget area. If a color can clue me that “this box is for the top left widget,” I’m all for giving it a shot.

    I’m eager to see what else the Obox team comes up with.

  5. Hi Everyone

    We are aware that this is a bolt on, and trust me it’s a MISSION to implement, but so far it’s proved to be the best solution. Especially when it comes to explaining this to a layman.

    It may seem that the color method is a bit over the top, or too distracting, but it was tested on users to see how they did with and without color coding.

    Color coding won everytime. So even though the opinion is “it looks like a Christmas tree” the results were plain to see.

    We are very busy with a different solution which may solve these problems by guiding the user through a process. This too has been user tested and so far the results are super encouraging, not perfect but getting close to that. Just yesterday we were at a coffee shop and a person who doesn’t even know WordPress went through our demo and managed to setup a site without a hitch.

    It was cool to see 🙂

  6. When i commented that something like this would be good in core i was thinking along the lines of an api that allows developers to associate widgets with widget areas.

    Then when the widgets are outputted in the admin custom classes are automatically applied to them relating to widget areas. Then you have the option to pass though some custom css and style them up if you want to. I think it would be very useful.

    Of course it might have the downside of lots of developers all choosing different ways to signify which widgets should go where. But they can do that now anyway as obox have proven (with alot of work 🙂 )

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