There is a lot of excitement over the new trend in WordPress Themes which allows some form of customization by the user. This is enhanced by the new WordPress Widgets, the ability to accessorize and change your sidebar in some WordPress Themes on WordPress.com and with a WordPress Plugin for full version WordPress blogs.
This growing freedom for the WordPress blogger to manipulate and change a WordPress Theme got me thinking. It led in two directions. One, how exciting and wonderful this is for the user, to be able to have some creative control over the look, navigation, graphics, and content elements of their Themes. Two, how tough it will be for many WordPress Theme designers to give up control of their designs, and how willing they will be to see their Themes changed.
Those thrilled with whizzbang gimmicks will thrive on making their WordPress Themes embrace the new customization features. They will play around to make sure the Theme’s design will still hold up even if you change the header art, add too few or too many links and feeds in the sidebar, and be able to handle link lists, search, and other core elements added to the header or removed from the header. For them, it will be all about the challenge of the gimmicks, with the design elements coming in second or third to functionality.
Those who fuss and fidget with every design element in a WordPress Theme might have some problems with this. For them, designing a WordPress Theme is personal. It is not only a reflection of their expertise in web design, it is a reflection of themselves, their personality, their thoughts, their creativity, their personal expression. These are the folks who may have a hard time giving up control of their artwork in exchange for the user’s self expression.
As a freelance web designer, the amount the client could change the design and layout of the site without consultation (and compensation) with me was controlled. After all, it is my design, and I wanted to continue making money from changes and maintenance of the design. Standard business procedure.
WordPress Themes are available to you are free. For the most part, they are released under a license which may give you permission to make changes. Still, they are designed by amateurs and semi-professionals. Commercial website designers aren’t in the business of handing out web designs for free, except as a marketing ploy. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the hundreds of WordPress Theme designs available. It’s just a fact.
Still, the amount of work some people put into their web designs for WordPress is amazing. They examine every detail, they push and pull at the layout, testing it thoroughly through the different browsers, validators, and computers, learning as they go and testing the knowledge they had before they started. The development of a WordPress Theme is treated much like professional web designer efforts.
If you are one of these WordPress Theme designers, how willing are you to give up your artistic expression to embrace the new customization features of WordPress? How will you feel when you see your Theme changed? Yes, I know that most WordPress Themes are released under the the license that they are free to use and free to change right now, so how does it make you feel when you recognize your Theme but see people have changed it?
How will this new technology for easy customization change your design efforts or thought process? Will it change how you design web pages? What do you think about it? How much control do you think the user should have over changing your WordPress Theme?
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