WordPress Theme Competition

So Monsieur Alex King has begun his second annual WordPress Theme design competition. Interesting. Now I remember a few people got really annoyed with the last one of these, and while I really am with Alex on the reason behind the competition I can see where the apprehension can come from.

Will I be entering the competition? Highly unlikely. There is several reasons for this:
  1. The first being that I’ve got loads of other projects on my plate that take much higher preference.
  2. The second and in my opinion much more important is the fact that a good template takes a hell of a lot of time and effort. I mean that. It can take months of proper preparation and hours of testing, for all the bugs and kinks to be ironed out. What you think Manji was the way it is the first time it came out? No it wasn’t. That’s why we’re on version 1.1, and gearing up to version 1.11 (hopefully I’ll have some cool news to report on this very soon).

The point I’m trying to make is a template competition can be a good thing, but the judges will have to be able to discard the themes have got some obvious fundamental flaws. Some people might take short cuts, and might not really care about what the CSS looks like or is structured. It took me something like a week to get the structure of the Manji CSS correct and cleaned up in the way it’s presented. I had the luxury of time on my hand. Will the people entering this competition have the same luxury?

Oh don’t get me wrong I don’t claim Manji is perfect for a second, but I think anyone who’s contacted me with regards to a problem I’ve tried to solve it for them straight away, even though I’m not a coder, and generally speaking they’ve not been serious.

Which brings the next point up, what happens to the forums when people start asking questions left right and centre? Are the creators of the themes going to offer support or are they going to be lumped on the poor support forums? When Manji came out I had a forum that killed my site for a day and a half. Sorry that’s not happening again. Until I find a forum system I can trust and update easily I’m not putting another Manji forum up.

So good luck to all those entering the competition, I hope it’s a success, but if you’re thinking about entering be prepared for a lot of work ahead, unless you’re a coding guru _.


  1. One of the things that worries me is that the last contest was partly decided by the number of downloads each stylesheet had, even though some had been available for much longer than others. Nobody’s saying whether they’ll do the same thing this time, so the pressure’s going to be on to send your entry in ASAP to get more people downloading it. And it’s been made clear that the more complex your theme is, the more chance you have of winning. Fair enough; but that’s not exactly compatible with getting it done quickly.

    But… I’m still feeling under pressure to enter because once that collection’s complete it’s bound to be the first place that people looking for themes get sent to. If your work’s not there it’ll be ignored, unless you’ve already built up a following.

    1 the absent student
  2. See I wasn’t sure what the criteria for winning the last one was. I think I started using WP around the time when it had just finished or was about to finish and the forum backlash started.

    The more complex it is the more chance it has of winning? That the most retarded thing I’ve heard. When people go to get these templates, to a certain degreee they’re going to learn, you learn not by things being complex but by being simple and complete.

    There should be several criteria, design, code, simplicity of code, this is after all a template, how easy is it to modify and understand what the hell it is you’re doing.

    I don’t think Alex’s thread will be the place to visit. I think it will be an additional place, but the main place is the codex page on themes.

    2 Khaled
  3. hi khaled

    3 ylek
  4. Previous contest and current rules aside, the competition will serve an important purpose — it will get people started. It’s not a perfect solution, and it certainly will inundate the support forums with questions. Given the wide range of skills of the WordPress users, I’m not sure that even the most carefully crafted template will not be the source of many questions. Podz’s upgrade guides are a quality resource, and though they were tested thoroughly, people still manage to screw things up. Then they also post on the support forums, essentially “blaming” Podz’s guide as being the problem.

    Myself, I’ve not spent much time with the 1.5 template system. I have looked through the Kubrick CSS, and the way it is laid out doesn’t suit my particular workflow. It is perfectly understandable to some, and nothing but a foreign language and incomplete road map to others.

    With any blogging system, there are going to be high-quality templates alongside absolute crap. It will be tough for people to know which is which until they raise the level of their CSS and other skills to realise how screwed a template may be.

    Given the fact that this is the first go at a template system in WP, I’m confident that we will see future improvements. Thankfully, there will be folks who are capable of creating quality templates that are also easy to use and implement. Root, NTU, Khaled, Chris J. Davis and many others will continue to set a high standard. I believe that the time and energy spent on debating on the relative value of Alex’s contest, or any other contest for that matter, is better spent developing quality products. I can’t support Kubrick in the forums, and I’m not likely to do so. The whole field of site design and development is equally as big as WordPress itself.

    I’m looking forward to seeing some great things from the WP design community, and most especially being able to learn more about CSS and design principles in general.

    Thanks for the soapbox!

    4 craig
  5. For you Craig any time. Like I said I can see why do it, it’s good to get people doing things, and the more you do the more you learn, that’s a fact. My only issue with the competition I guess is the fact that if every single entry is going to be accepted then, well that makes things really pretty hairy in the quality department.

    I go on the support forums every once in a while. I wouldn’t consider myself a complete regular question answerer (not a word I know ) but I don’t even want to think what the regulars will have to do.

    The thing is that not getting your question answered is going to frustrate a lot of potentially new users.

    5 Khaled
  6. Its got to be a sad state of affairs though when the serious designers are unlikely to enter. That can’t be good for WP.

    6 Root
  7. Khaled,

    I totally agree with your point about the questions on the forums. There will be lots of them regarding themes/templates. “Long ago” there were nothing but questions like “where can I get themes for WordPress?” and now that there are a lot of them around, the questions are now “how do I make this 3-column theme into a 2-column theme?” It’s the old catch-22 situation.

    Until the structure of the forums change, this will be a gong show. What’s a person to do? I know that I am growing weary of supporting people who are too lazy to search for a simple answer themselves. Those people overburden the forum and others who are legitimately trying to get an answer to a problem are getting lost in the noise.

    I’m also weary of the WordPress detractors who spend so much of their time and energy pointing at the issues WordPress has and laughing. It’s mean-spirited and is contrary to the sense of community ordinary users are trying to build and maintain. I value honest and pointed opinions, as they make all of us aware of things that perhaps we have wrongly come to accept without question. However, mockery undermines the foundations of the community by sapping the spirit of goodwill that exists.

    7 craig