I’ve been noticing a trend as of late with some of my fellow WordPress developers. Many of them have all but abandoned the idea of releasing free WordPress themes to the community.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, sometimes money can make you forget about innovation. I think it also makes you forget that WordPress is, at its core, a community program … driven by the community … supported by the community … and sustained by the community.
So how is it that we sometimes forget to give back to the community?
There are Exceptions
There are many designers out there who really are 100% altruistic in their involvement in the WordPress community. For instance, with the exception of his Showcase theme, Small Potato has released every one of his themes free of charge. Not only that, but he’s all but guaranteed his readers that he won’t release any more premium themes for a price. They’ll all be free.
Likewise, Chris Pearson recently release a new theme, and instead of placing a link back to his site, he gave that link away to a good cause. Cool huh?
We can’t be completely selfless
Now, I’m not suggesting everyone take this position. In fact, most WordPress theme designers have families that require much more time than they can afford to give to releasing a slew of free WordPress themes.
But as time progresses, and more money is being thrown around, I think it’s good to reflect on the community that is making you all that money, and give a little back to them.
In my case, that means free WordPress themes.
Releasing Free Themes
I actually believe that in order to be considered a true “star” in the WordPress community, you HAVE to give back … no charge and no strings. Just giving for the sake of giving. Running around the blogosphere attributing notoriety to yourself doesn’t impress me much … and I don’t think it impresses very many other people either.
What impresses me is the quality and quantity of your free themes. Are you giving back? Are you throwing scraps, or are you giving your best?
So what am I going to do?
I believe in this principle with all my heart. If that means staying up half the night to work on free themes, then so be it.
And that’s what I did last night. I’ve been mulling over a concept for a minimalistic theme for the last 3 weeks or so, and last night I began work on the theme itself. I really like what I have so far! Here is a list of planned features…
- An almost monochromatic color scheme. I want this to be really simple!
- Obligatory Feedburner integration via theme options.
- A really cool Title/Meta combination, inspired in part by Hemingway.
- A nice header/title/menu combination, inspired by BryanCulver.com
- 3 Sidebars at the bottom, fully widgetized.
- Comment styles that mirror the same style as the post title/meta.
- The theme is tentatively named “Stripped” :-)
I may also do something that I haven’t tried before. I may offer multiple color schemes via the theme options available in a $5-10 upgrade pack. We’ll see. I think that by doing this, I can both give a quality, top-notch product to the public, while at the same time offering a low-cost “customization” service. It also helps me make a little more holiday spending money.
I really want to encourage the WordPress designers out there to release more free themes … especially those of you who are in the “top level” of the design community. The community is lacking quality themes of late, and I think we can all help solve that problem.