Justin Tadlock

Is Options another "cookie-cutter" magazine theme?

One of the things I’ve wanted to address is whether the Options theme is just another magazine theme. This theme isn’t meant to be only a magazine theme but a theme for anyone.

Did I promote it as a magazine theme? Certainly, at least on the demo page. Magazine-styled themes are “hot” right now. Why not take advantage of that?

Have I called this a magazine theme? No. It’s only meant to have the capability of being a magazine theme.

What I mean by “options”

On the surface, it’s just another theme floating around in the WordPress-o-sphere, but it’s meant to be so much more than that. The ultimate goal of this theme is to allow any user to have the features he or she wants without touching the code at all, except to design stylesheets or custom sections, which the theme is already flexible enough to allow for. Of course, I don’t want load times to slow any either.

This means that the theme will allow for a normal blog or something closer to a CMS.

The major problem with adding lots of bells and whistles, as pointed out by Small Potato is that “the user doesn’t know when to stop.”

I packed a lot of options into this theme because I want users to have options but not overdo it by filling five home page layout sections with tabs or videos. Some users will definitely take that route, and there’s not much I can do for them because they’d find a way to do it with or without my theme. You have seen those MySpace profiles, right?

So, “options” isn’t meant to say that you have different options for your magazine-type site but to say that you have options on what you want to display and where.

Should a theme have so many options? Maybe not. The idea may be flawed and essentially not workable, but I’m going to try anyway. I simply wanted to create a theme where I’d only have to add new styles and maybe some nifty upgrades and build a community around that.

Take note that the Options theme is still in beta

I wanted to point out that this is only a beta release, which means that everything isn’t complete. Basically, this is a test run to see what users ultimately want or need, what’s easy for them, and how to improve upon the original idea.

From software release cycle on Answers.com:

A beta version is the first version released outside the organization or community that develops the software, for the purpose of evaluation or real-world black/grey-box testing. The process of delivering a beta version to the users is called beta release. Beta level software generally includes all features, but may also include known issues and bugs of a less serious variety.

The users of a beta version are called beta testers.

So, you are my guinea pigs. Let me know what needs improving.

Final thoughts

I think most people only want to look at the magazine-type features. You can already run a normal, full-posts blog with this theme, an option I’ve seen a few users take advantage of. It’s one of the first files I put together for it. I’ll definitely have a few different demos running once the theme’s out of beta, so you can see some of the different options and how I’d use them.

Future releases will move more toward usability, new styles and optimizing the code, not more bells and whistles. Of course, there’ll probably be a few enhancements along the line too.

Do you think one theme can be “one-size-fits-all”? Or, am I trying too much?