A better system for WordPress themes?

Looking around the Web yesterday in a few minutes of free time between July 4th events, I found two sites that claim to have made a better theme/template system for WordPress:

http://wangenweb.com/wordpreciousss/
and
http://themeshaper.com/

I’m not the most tech-savvy dude in the world when it comes to php and css and all (witness my recent software crash), so I can’t say anything useful about what makes these theme systems actually work. But on the other hand, not being very able in the world of coding and web design, the potential these things have to do a lot of really slick things for a website — without requiring lots of arcane coding — makes me salivate.

As a sidenote, I think it’s interesting that WordPress’s tagline is “Code is poetry.” The word and the concept of poetry come from the ancient Greek poiein, “to make,” thence poiesis, a making (or a thing made). They’re thinkers, these WordPress folks. Very appropriate. 

Also very unfortunate.

As a newcomer to the world of WordPress, I feel a bit like a college freshman might have felt if, fresh from high school honors English and all excited about the chance to talk literature, he were thrust into my favorite graduate seminar on the day I gave my presentation on the sociocultural implications, historical basis, and autobiographical elements of Lord Byron’s orientalist poem The Giaour. (A damn fine poem, by the way; you should read it.)

To put it another way, sometimes the WordPress people remind me of some of those authors whose writing is highly praised, but is either unpleasant or almost impossible to read (Joyce and Kafka come to mind). Fair enough, I suppose — there’s something to be said for poets/makers/writers/coders who refuse to be taken on any terms but their own — but if I’m not mistaken, the point of Web 2.0 (another tech coinage I hate…but that’s another blog post) is that it’s socially driven AND accessible to the masses.

WordPress’s proprietary hosting is fine and easy to use, but their product, despite its vaunted flexibility, leaves a lot to be desired if you’re not already a code-poet.  (Speaking of which, am I the only one who has noticed how crappy most of the WordPress themes out there are? It either looks snazzy and is distinctly unfriendly to readers, or just looks clunky…or both. Another way WordPress is analogous to poetry, I guess.)

ANYWAY, to get back to where I started…

What wangenweb.com’s Wordpreciousss (love that name; somebody’s been reading Tolkien) and themeshaper.com’s Thematic products do is provide not just a WordPress theme, but a theme framework. You’ve still got to know a little bit of CSS and be savvy enough to create a new file or two on your server…but the key here is “a little bit.” That’s what has me excited. 

If these things work as advertised, they could be the step that FINALLY turns WordPress into Web publishing platform that’s not only flexible and powerful, but accessible enough for nontechnical morons like me to make our own bit of poetry sing on the web. No more being locked into someone else’s bizarre color choice, pointless artiness, or clunky layout. (I might finally be able to invent my own bizarre, clunky look!)

If you haven’t taken a look at these, do it now. (You might be looking at Blog Ing through one of these theme frameworks soon anyway.)

And of course, tell me what you think.

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7 Responses to A better system for WordPress themes?

  1. Susan says:

    If you are looking for a new wordpress theme (there are many sites out there..and it can be overwhelming if you’re new)…there’s a good site called New WordPress Themes dot net.

  2. Ing says:

    Sweet! I took a look…not too bad. Most of the themes I saw there looked pretty good. I’m going to have to look around there some more.

  3. Ben says:

    Well, Ing, those two sites sound like they could be pretty dang cool. I just wish I had more time. I also wish that Sandbox theme had more documentation. I downloaded it, but haven’t had time to figure out how it actually works.

  4. Ing says:

    From what I read, the Wordpreciousss theme is based on Sandbox, but I don’t know how different they are from each other functionally. The Wangenweb site looked like it had a reasonable amount of documentation on Wordpreciousss.

  5. Kristin says:

    WordPreciousss is only inspired by the Sandbox theme + I’ve borrowed some codes for CSS classes.

    There will be more docs on the plugin after summer is over. But I hope people check it out, if they need a theme framework on their site.

  6. Ing says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Kristin. I appreciate the info.

    Like Ben, time is my biggest problem. Aside from my ignorance, that is (though come to think of it, that’s part of the time problem; ignorance takes time to fix).

    I’m kind of excited about the potential of these theme frameworks, but I don’t know how soon I’ll actually be using one. Gotta do some reading up first — if I’m going to try one, I better make sure I can implement it right.

  7. Kristin says:

    I think WordPreciousss is good for newbies as well, as you have a lot of files you can just copy to your theme’s directory and make the changes you want. – And if it turns out strange you can just delete the file again and nothing breaks.