What makes a WordPress theme great?

Ok so this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Why is it that some themes take off like a rocket and others which on paper look great never hit the big time? I’m not just talking about premium WordPress themes here either. I’m just talking about themes in general.

With so many theme designers churning out themes every day I’m sure they would like to know the “secret sauce” that some theme designers seem to have when it comes to hitting a home run every time.

Of the premium theme designers, it’s clear there are a few designers who have exceptional design skills and resources aplenty at their disposal which is certainly a major factor.

But I think it’s more than just that.

I think a big reason for the success of some themes is that they just plain and simple work without minimal fuss when they are installed. We in the theme design community often spend weeks creating really flexible themes with lots of theme options thinking it’s gonna be the best thing since sliced bread only to discover that end users find our themes too complicated and bloated. What’s more, I think theme designers don’t spend enough time actually loading sample content into their themes and stretching them before releasing them to the public.

I’ve often installed premium themes and spent hours trying to get the bloody things to match the look they have when looking at them in a shiny demo store – and I’m a developer! This is simply not good enough for the majority of WordPress users. I think it’s time to return to innocence as the song once said and bring back simple theme options. Complexity can easily be wrapped in optional modules. Let’s ensure that themes look kickass right out of the box without any messing with config files, theme option boxes and photoshop.

That’s my rant for today!

So what do you think? Are WordPress themes getting too complex to easily configure?

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