Elegant Themes Shortcodes: Now Responsive!

With the advent of mobile platforms, WordPress themes have to adapt to the demands of this steadily growing user base. It can really be quite frustrating to read articles from any major newspaper’s website on iPhone or Android and get all the content mish mashed. Theme developers and web designers need to move more and more toward this emerging trend towards responsive themes.

It is a welcome development that Elegant Themes recently released its responsive shortcodes. While Elegant Themes has been churning out responsive themes for quite a while, the shortcodes were left out. It took 10 responsive themes before mobile friendly shortcodes were released. Great news, indeed!

So how do these new shortcodes, improve mobile browsing experience? Elegant Themes’ blog cites two examples of their improvement strategy. Tabs have always been an issue when websites typically viewed on a 960px wide screen to a 320px width. No matter what you do, having 10 tabs will alway come out cramped. Solution: Tabs turn into a slider when switching to mobile mode. It just makes sense to have sliders rather than have unreadable tab labels. Another example cited was the case of columns. As the content width gets narrower, text in columns become a bunch of flying letters. Solution: the new shortcodes convert columns into boxes when switching to mobile screens. Brilliant isn’t it? Regarding the new shortcodes, Elegant Themes has declared them to be fluid width giving them the capacity to shrink and expand according to screen size.

Web design and the emerging technology innovation and trends are accelerating even faster. More and more mobile users prefer to access the web through their devices and WordPress Themes providers need to step up their game. For loyal subscribers of Elegant Themes, these concrete steps towards updating and upgrading all Elegant Themes products is always welcome and appreciated.

Congratulations to Elegant Themes for taking WordPress theme development one step further and fully embracing the future of WordPress.

See Elegant Themes’ Responsive Shortcodes

How To Make Your First WordPress Theme

With WordPress being one of the most popular content management systems available today, many WordPress users, developers or not, are beginning to realize that there is a market out there seeking for new and innovative themes for their WordPress powered sites. So how do you start make your very own WordPress theme? Let’s look at a few resources available on the web to help us do that.

Our first stop is the WordPress Codex. This compendium of WordPress resources is rich with “how to’s” from installing your WordPress theme to playing around with code. If you go to the Codex’s Theme Development section, you will find all the useful information from the structure of a WP theme, to template files to practically everything you want to know about WordPress. It has links to sections on theme design, teaching about the proper layout and other design aspects of the theme. Studying the Codex is essential to serious players in the WordPress community.

When you’re ready to try our information you learned from the codex, siteground.com has an interesting tutorial to build a simple wordpress theme. The site helps you go through the process of creating simple code to generate a simple WordPress theme. You can play around with the code to make more complicated themes if you wish. This would be a great place to help you take your baby steps a little further as you work towards being a more experienced theme developer.

If you’re really in a hurry to build your theme because of an opportunity you just can’t miss, you can probably start off your first few themes with Artisteer. This is a WYSIWYG theme builder software which enables you to make professional looking WordPress themes in minutes. You can create a theme in Artisteer then export it to WordPress in the form of a folder containing the normal WordPress files. Studying the files and your Artisteer rendition will give you a lot of information about building themes. The Artisteer’s home edition is available for download at artisteer.com at a price of $49.95.

A lot of folks who want to develop themes are more designers rather than code geeks. If you feel more comfortable with photoshop than messing around in notepad to tweak code, then you might fancy psd2cssonline.com. This utility enables you to convert your photoshop design into the equivalent wordpress files in a few minutes. Now you can spend more time working on the aesthetic aspects of your theme and worry about the code later. Check out this video to get an idea of how easy it is to use psd2cssonline.

You can also check out an excellent article on Lifehacker entitled “How to Create a Custom Theme for Your WordPress Blog with Minimal Coding Required.” What’s great about this article is its simple approach on what you can expect as you go through the process of creating your own theme. It also has valuable resources like links to creating photoshop files for your theme as well as basic html/css knowledge for you to complete your task. The article also explains the structure and files of a typical WordPress theme.

Other Resources You can Check Out

These resources will definitely whet your appetite for theme building skills. There’s a ton of other resources available out there for your to refine your WordPress coding skills. As the WordPress mantra goes, “Code is Poetry.” Start writing your WordPress poems today.


When Is The Best Time To Sell WordPress Themes?

Like any other product, the demand for WordPress themes does have seasonality. In our observation, theme sales do well from January to March then slows down from April to May. Summer months are usually slow while sales pick up in the fall with a dip around Christmas time.

Seasonality in any product or service is determined mainly by socio-cultural factors in the marketplace. In most markets around the world, economic activity is dependent on holidays or the absence or presence of school. There is also the aspect of climate, where people tend to stay indoors more during the cold months.

In the case of theme sales, it can be said that this phenomenon is mainly driven by the level of activity a person has during a season. Great sales during the first quarter of the year may be attributed to more free time for buyers to stay online as the kids are still in school and most folks prefer to stay indoors during winter. This means people have more time to tinker with their websites during this time and spotting opportunities for improvement or change could mean upgrading to a newer WordPress theme or buying and installing a new plugin. The spring slowdown correlates to the physical activities associated with this season: spring cleaning, gardening, putting away winter stuff, etc. Sometimes the lure of the outdoors is greater than staying inside the house, what with the weather becoming more pleasant and warmer. When summer kicks in and as the kids are out of school, that’s when all the vacations, trips and out of town activities happen. People tend to relax a bit more and work on websites take a back burner during this time. As kids go back to school in the fall, sales gradually picks up as people find more time to focus on work before the next big holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, roll in. Spending patterns during Thanksgiving and Christmas usually turn towards gifts, gadgets, and other stuff to buy online unless WordPress authors take their cue from the season and create enticing special prices for WordPress theme packages or bundles.

Knowing these patterns, how do you align development and marketing activities for your themes? It would be wise to have your development activities lie heavily during the spring and summer months. That way, your resources do not have to compete with the demands of development and marketing at the same time. The best time to strengthen core technology, respond to emerging design trends, is during these lean months. As fall comes, resources can be shifted to marketing and after sales support as sales starts picking up. This is the right time to introduce new products and manage customer satisfaction as they adapt to your new themes.

Recognizing these consumer patterns may help you plan your annual business cycle as you make those critical decisions to save time, effort and money in your WordPress business.


Best WordPress Theme of All Time?

Have you ever stopped to consider what makes a theme the best WordPress theme of all time? Taking a look at some of the best themes of 2012 we have compiled, which one would be your choice? What qualities should a theme have in order for it to be ranked as the best WordPress theme ever? Here are a few attributes you can use to rate your theme choices:

  1. Flexible – A theme must have the ability to meet the needs of various users. You must be able to customize a theme for various applications. Ideally, the theme you use for your portfolio site, should work excellently on your wife’s personal blog site, your client’s e-commerce site, or any other website requirement you need. A multifunctional theme begets more users.
  2. Timeless – The best theme of all time should be ageless. It should demonstrate resilience in the midst of technology trends that come and go. The key to this is for code and other technical stuff under the hood to be easily upgradable and to be supported by a development team to keep it alive and updated. The theme’s aesthetic features should classic/timeless while being highly customizable to reflect emerging artistic theme movements or trends.
  3. Accessible – The theme has to be easily accessible to as many as possible. The pricing must be reasonable not only for 1st world countries but also in the emerging tech hubs of the developing world. Usage must be easy for persons of varied physical/mental abilities, age or educational background. How would the technically challenged or non-coders find using the theme? Is the theme available in many languages? Will the theme be accessible in varied devices of choice?
  4. Responsive – The theme has to should be responsive in every way. Mobile and handheld devices are changing the way we access information and creating websites that look good not only in traditional desktop computers but also on smartphones and tablets is the way of the future. If you want to create a website that responds to the needs of your clients, anywhere they are and everywhere they go – then being responsive is the way to go.
  5. Customer Support – The theme should have adequate support and provision for any WordPress updates. This is differentiates a good theme from a great theme. Customer support is paramount to any service oriented business and it will spell long-term success to anyone who puts that extra effort in.

There are many more attributes that can be added to this list. Feel free to share your thoughts and your choices. We’d really love to know which WordPress Theme you think is THE BEST WordPress Theme of ALL time.


Freemium: Is This The Best Model For Selling WordPress Themes?

In a previous article we discussed the merits and disadvantages of free vs. premium WordPress themes. Which themes are better? The answer really lies on what type of user you are. Are you a newbie or are you maintaining a professional website? We have to admit though, that if you’re after great looks and superb functionality, nothing usually beats Premium themes. You’ll probably relate to the experience spending hours scouring the web for free alternatives to Premiums. We usually strike gold when we find freemium themes.

We often encounter freemium products/services in our daily lives. When you open your mailbox, you might find a 30-day trial disc of the latest creative software mailed to you. Think of all the free apps (full or lite versions) you download, test and enjoy everyday. Free versions of expense management applications are available for download on Google Play or App Store with limited capabilities enough to get you started. Gamers also encounter Freemiums often. Big name services like Skype, Dropbox and Gmail have freemium services that open the door to paid subscriptions later on.

What exactly are freemiums? These are limited versions of premium products or services offered at no cost. What makes the Freemium model unique is that it gives users a sufficient functional experience to acquire their loyalty to that particular product/service. In offering these products, developers make it easier for users to convert to premium versions as the need arises. In some cases, developers give away a service for free so it becomes a standard creating a demand for premium service among business clients later on.

The advantage of freemium themes is that it gives users the chance to test drive themes with real content. This helps them decide if the theme they try is really appropriate for their website. As you get more familiar with the theme, you can easily convert to a premium theme via upgrade buttons in the admin panel. The upgrade can be sold easier to an otherwise pre-converted user.

From a marketing standpoint, freemium themes gives a win-win solution for both users and developer. Even if users don’t upgrade a trial/lite theme, future products will be better and easier to sell because of the experience users gain from these specific developers.


Twenty Twelve WordPress Theme – Get It Here!

Twenty Twelve WordPress Theme

If you haven’t already heard, Automattic is set to release the Twenty Twelve WordPress Theme with their 3.5 update. There has been some anticipation for a while as to when the fine folks at WordPress would release their Theme for 2012 since the year is quickly ending. Well…while it’s not “officially” released yet, we are pleased to present you with a download of the Twenty Twelve Theme.

Twenty Twelve Theme

There are a lot of really slick features, and if you are a fan of clean and minimal lines — we think you’ll really enjoy this Theme. More details are sure to be coming soon from WordPress. If you’d like to start messing with the Theme, we’ve made it available here. Keep in mind that WordPress may change one or two things before their official release of Twenty Twelve, but for those of you who simply can’t wait you can download it here – all 78K of it :)

 


What Will Be The Biggest WordPress Theme Trend in 2013?

Web design is not a stand alone activity. It is affected by several factors like technology trends, business trends, market trends, and consumer behaviour. It takes a studied effort in order to intelligently and accurately “predict” what the market wants in the future. No one can claim to make 100% accurate predictions but by taking stock of what goes on not just in the web design industry but in the related industries that affect it as well we can somehow make calculated “guesses” as to what trends may happen in the near future.

Here are some of our predictions on what’s currently hot and what will continue to be hot up to the early portion of 2013:

  1. Mobile Driven – WordPress themes will continue to be responsive, adaptive, fluid. Older but still popular themes will come out with mobile-friendly versions.
  2. HTML5 and CSS3 – Stricter adherence to W3C Valid code and significant decrease if not obsolescence of Flash.
  3. Simplified and uncluttered call to action buttons per page – Simple, minimal and uncluttered themes with lesser number of buttons to click.
  4. Big Typography – Big, bold and readable fonts.
  5. Single Web Page Design – Infinite scrolling (parallax style).
  6. Authentically Digital – Windows 8 style graphics (less shiny, more flat).
  7. Simplified front end customization – Backend customizations will move to the front making it easier to preview specific customization choices.
  8. Social Media Management – Integrating social media into the WordPress design template (Instagram, Pinterest, Dribble streams etc).
  9. Modular Template Layouts – More drag and drop options with less coding required for customization.
  10. Adaptive to new SEO trends – WordPress Themes will be adaptive to new SEO trends like Voice search, mobile search, humanized ranking, social media factors, etc.

If you a WordPress professional or developer, what emerging trends do you foresee in 2013? Share your thoughts. We want to know what you think.


CSSIgniter Goes After Elegant Themes

In September 2010, CSSIgniter started churning out Premium WordPress themes for the WordPress community. What was intended to be a side project to augment the founders’ day jobs didn’t bring in the cash they were hoping for.

Early this year, CSSIgniter put some focus and resources to keep its creative engines running consistently. In the last 7 months, this developer has released 16 new themes, half of its existing inventory of 29. A closer look at their last 7 releases show how they have significantly up their game by joining the responsive bandwagon and now this dynamic development team of 4 is now cooking up their 2nd responsive e-commerce theme.

CSSIgniter offers members a year’s access to its catalogue of themes for the price of $39. This brings them in direct competition with Elegant Themes who offers similar access to its members at the same price. What differentiates CSSIgniter is its willingness to give out PSD files to all its members. Elegant Themes gives out these files to its Developer members who pay $89 annually. While Elegant Themes continues to create stunning, highly functional, easy to use themes, CSSIgniter isn’t far behind. Considering the bold shifts in pace and design the Greek quartet have taken in the last few months, it would not be surprising to find their products standing toe to toe with Elegant Themes in the very near future. Their Aegean Resort Theme now offers visuals which can be developed to generate the stunning effect of Elegant’s Gleam.

CSSIgniter still has to master how to showcase their work on their website. A casual visitor, would probably find their Theme descriptions too concise in comparison the level of detail one finds on Elegant Theme’s website. To offset this, CSSIgniter may consider including video introductions as part of the live demo similar to the video introduction on their blog post to introduce Femme.

CSSIgniter appears to be beyond the stage of ignition and is now beginning to burn up really bright. We looking forward to the next releases of this rising star among the current WordPress premium theme providers community.

Check Out CSSIgniter

What Should WordPress Themes Sell For (Individually)?

Product Pricing

Product pricing is one of the trickiest things to determine as far as market positioning goes. Why? There are several market forces that need to be carefully considered, on top of the actual cost of producing or creating the product to be sold, before you can actually arrive at a Selling Price that is equitable to both buyer and seller. Intellectual/intangible/Service products or Works of Art are even harder to price because their value is greatly hinged not only on the actual skills and experience of the creator but on his perceived market persona as well. Premium or Custom WordPress themes are intangible products whose pricing has often been debated and discussed. One recent hot topic on this was ThemeForest’s price increase on WordPress themes sold in their marketplace.

WordPress Themes – Commodity or Work of Art?

There has been a long-standing debate on how much a WordPress Theme should actually sell for. The WordPress Themes market has evolved greatly in a span of two to three years and a lot of discussions about fair pricing, competitiveness, costs, man hours, economies of scale, quality, fair market value, after-sales support etc. have gone on and on because this market has yet to reach its full maturity. The deluge of new premium themes flooding the market regularly from new but not necessarily seasoned web authors taking their designs to the marketplace has its pros and cons. D more themes equal more choices for buyers, which makes more income for authors? Maybe or maybe not.

The influx of these new premium WordPress themes in the market place definitely has a major impact on every theme’s individual pricing. Premium themes are slowly becoming “commoditized,” with very little differentiation from one theme to the next, turning into “common” products with common features and common functionalities. The market recognizes this “common-ness” and, without getting into too much detail about the law of supply and demand, this characteristic influences and eventually dictates their fair market value and eventually, the success of these themes. Often, the not-so “common” ones stand out and do better sales-wise.

It boils down to how much a buyer is willing to pay and how much the seller is willing to sell. This is not to devalue or diminish the efforts and man hours invested to create such themes but if the author decides to place his product in a marketplace where there are other similar products offering the same features and benefits then he is virtually agreeing to subject his product to the conditions (price control included) existing in that marketplace. It makes no difference how much time and effort he’s invested in creating the theme. It’s like a choice between selling in your own stand-alone boutique or selling in the mall. Different market forces. Different pricing strategies.

As a seller, you have to decide not only which distribution channel works best for your products, your business and your brand. You also need to come up with a marketing strategy that will help you achieve your business goals. Taking your products to a marketplace has its pros and cons and opening up your own store has its own benefits too. Some authors do both to ensure that their products get maximum exposure in the marketplace and in their own storefront.

How Much is Your Time Worth?

Cheap is relative. The Internet has made the global economy a tangible reality and prices do matter depending which side of the globe you are. Placing a dollar sign, a euro symbol, a peso sign, or whatever currency symbol in front of a number will have different values depending on where you are in the world. A cup of coffee in the USA is probably worth a week’s wages in Bangladesh. Because the currency scales are not equal what is cheap in one country may be exorbitant in another.

That’s why pricing is really tricky. It creates the market you want or eliminates the market you don’t want. But regardless whether your target market can afford you or not, your pricing strategy will attract the market you want to service. Those who can afford to buy will simply buy regardless of the price while those who can’t will scrimp and save just to afford what you have to offer especially if you are selling what they are looking for. These customers might not necessarily buy in bulk but definitely they will turn into loyal customers as long as they keep getting the kind of quality product they need. The question now is how much is your time worth and at what price are you willing to sell your product.

From the WordPress author’s perspective, there are many elements involved in computing how much a WordPress theme is worth. No it’s not about the selling price but the worth of each theme according to what was invested in it. Every author’s investment in each theme he creates includes actual man-hours worked on the theme, software bought and used, training, demo files, documentation files, psd files, support system setup, and so much more. Quite a lot actually.

How the author intends to get back a return on his investment (ROI) depends now on his pricing strategy, how much he is willing to sell his theme for (the actual selling price) to get an ROI and earn a decent profit as well. Low Price + High Volume? or High Price + Low Volume? Whatever he/she decides on will determine the distribution channels he chooses.

To Support or Not to Support?

People buy stuff expecting things to work. Whether they follow the instruction manual or not, they expect the product to function the way it was advertised. And if it doesn’t, they expect and demand some sort of support to help fix it or else they simply return the product, if they can. Major businesses and companies always include some type of support or warranty on items sold. They recognize that this is still part of the company’s marketing efforts for these specific products. WordPress authors need to think the same. Support is part of the marketing strategy of any successful business. Even if the customer is wrong. Of course, that doesn’t mean that abusive customers can just have their way. One sure fire way of decreasing the probability of customer complaints and the need for extensive support is to make sure that every theme released is as much as possible thoroughly tested and meets standard WordPress requirements.

In the end, the power of choice belongs to the consumer and it is he who determines whether a product is worth buying or not, affordable or not. No matter what the cost – if they need it, they will buy it. And they will keep on buying if they feel that they get the support from these WordPress authors about the product issues and questions no matter how trivial they are.