On this week’s WPwatercooler show, our core cast of Chris Lema, Jason Tucker, Steve Zehngut, Sé Reed, and myself, Suzette Franck, were joined by Greg Taylor, a developer from MarketingPress, as we discussed the perfect theme for non-programmers.
The need to keep functionality separate (plugins) from the theme was discussed, as well as why frameworks are not ideal and provide a false sense of ease for the end user. The learning curve is steep for drag-and-drop themes such as Pagelines and Headway and the themes tend to run slow and are difficult for developers to customize.
Sé recommended a theme named Foxy from Elegant Themes for $39 or just to use the default Twenty Twelve theme to get started on content, and Chris recommended themes by Okay Themes. In the past Steve has recommended WooThemes, but says that there is too much training required when turning over the site to a non-programmer. I mentioned Graph Paper Press, who makes beautiful minimal themes that are well-documented, but no one had seen the backend of what the code looked like, so I may look into them. The is a growing movement of theme authors at Themeforest who are very particular about clean code, and the push to this as a priority is a welcome sigh of relief for developers. If you are ok with the out-of-the-box functionality of a theme framework, awesome, but modifications are usually difficult and customizations by developers are expensive. Also, by using the special features of a framework, you have now made the client now dependent on the theme being always used to access those special features, and therefore, cannot change themes without losing that functionality.