In this session, Ryan Imel of WPCandy talks briefly about how WordPress themes have changed over the past several years, including free themes, premium themes, default themes, theme frameworks and of course, theme options!
As you might know I’m obsessed with theme options, and I even started a blog about them, which was supposed to showcase both great and “not so great” theme options panels. I had quite a hard time finding great theme options pages, as opposed to ones I didn’t like, so as Ryan mentioned in his talk, people often refer to that blog as the “Theme Options Porn” blog.
However, I have a feeling that the Theme Customizer introduced in WordPress 3.4, might totally change things, and render my blog useless (which I don’t mind!) I’m stumbling across more and more themes that “squeeze” their options into the customizer, which is great. And there’s a great tutorial by Otto showing you how to do that. Thanks Otto!
Obviously most of the themes are still doing both, Theme Options and Customizer Options, but I don’t think that’ll last for long and here’s why. There’s never been an easier API to create powerful, core-like and future-proof controls, such as color pickers, image uploaders, ond others. Once you figure it out, you’ll see that it’s easier (and much less code) to write options for the Customizer, and you’ll never want to go back.
I must admit I’m scared of a theme like Weaver, putting all of its options into the Customizer, but then again, the Customizer has already got most of the controls you’d ever use for theme options, as well as options sectioning out of the box! It’ll be much more difficult to create a non-WordPress (or what Ryan calls the “Russian Doll Syndrome”) experience. Having said that, one might think that the Customizer is restricting WordPress theme developers, by setting rules to what you can do, and what you can’t do, as well as a pre-defined user interface, which you can’t really change (not supposed to at least).
I’d say that the Customizer is not only guiding theme developers to create better, usable theme settings, but also empowering them to do so. Besides, you can always extend a Customizer control and customize the hell out of it, though you probably shouldn’t :)
Anyway, that’s just my thinking about the
state future of WordPress themes. Let’s hope Ryan gives a similar talk next year, and see how things change. What do you think about theme options pages? What do you think will change over the next year? Do you see huge potential in the Theme Customizer like I do? Please, share your thoughts by posting a comment. Thanks!