Erik Spiekermann on Unreadable Typography

While the above video is named “Erik Spiekermann on iOS 7″, it goes far further than that.

Erik Spiekermann uses this opportunity to address the lack of readability in contemporary screen design. I consider his remarks to be spot on, I’ve seen the “unreadable carpet of text” all too often.

The video is in German, but you can use the subtitles to get the English translation.

Fundamentals of Theme Development

As a theme developer, you are building upon the tools that WordPress Core provides you. These tools are things like the Template Hierarchy, Template Tags and The Loop.

Knowing how to use these tools in an effective manner is great. But knowing how these tools work is even better.

In his presentation Fundamentals of Theme Development, Kirk Wight gives you an insight into “What happens behind the scenes in core to make themes do what they do”.

A must watch for any WordPress developer.

Simplicity is Key

As a Theme Wrangler, I spend a lot of time creating and maintaining themes for WordPress.com. Code and usability reviews of themes created by Premium Partners are also a significant part of the job.

The Wranglers are supported by Happiness Engineers. They interact daily with users that have difficulties setting up or customizing themes. If there’s a problem with a theme, they will detect it while providing support.

Their feedback, along with the sales numbers and refunds rate provide a good picture of what makes for a successful theme.

The key is simplicity.

Don’t confuse your users by relying on Post Meta, custom Widgets, Shortcodes, Custom Post Types, option panels or page builders to achieve a desired layout.

Keep the code simple and efficient. Don’t introduce unnecessary complexity and abstraction. Use the WordPress Template Hierarchy and account for the user’s Reading Settings.

Stay away from theme frameworks, CSS frameworks and options frameworks. Don’t use a CSS preprocessor, instead keep your CSS selectors simple and easy to override.

Spend a lot of time on fine-tuning your theme’s typography and use of white space. Keep it elegant, and don’t go overboard with the animations. Also, nobody really needs five different sliders.

Make use of WordPress’ built-in customization options like Custom HeadersCustom Backgrounds and Widget areas if appropriate. Your theme should need minimal set up and it should be easy to customize with Custom CSS or via Child Theme.

Test it with a variety of content and also edge cases. Make it translation-ready and make sure to include styles for right-to-left languages.

So focus on the basics, but do them really well. This will make your theme more popular as well as easier to maintain and support.

Launch Your Themes on WordPress.com

If you are a theme developer, then I recommend that you launch your themes on WordPress.com.

Unless other marketplaces, WordPress.com does not require exclusivity. And you get half of the revenue from every sale.

Additionally, this is a huge opportunity for every theme developer to improve his craft.

I’m not only talking about the thorough code review that every theme goes through.

Getting your theme in front of millions of users will teach you a lot about theme user experience and what a great theme is.