The Curious Case of Specialty WordPress Themes
Have you ever needed a website that should be built with WordPress Themes, but also should push the boundaries of this beautiful content management system? Ever needed to create a WordPress Themeswebsite to share code snippets, or set up an online course to sell your knowledge, or build a support system for your agency?
Sometimes, a theme and a bunch of plugins won’t work for our project. Sometimes, we need a complete system with a decent design and solid functionality. That’s where specialty themes come into play.
What Is a Specialty WordPress Themes?
A WordPress theme must be developed to change the look of a website and avoid offering functionality embedded in its core. That’s called “invading the plugin territory” and considered as a bad practice since you basically chain the user to your theme with the functionality you offer. Luckily, there is a solution: You can provide functionality through plugins that you require your users to install. To do so, you can use a PHP library like TGM Plugin Activation.
But sometimes, a project requires that design and functionality work together. In this case, we have an exception, and the exception’s name, used throughout the WordPress market, is “specialty themes.”
How Should We Make Specialty WordPress Themes?
If you decide to make a specialty theme for WordPress, you might want to consider a few things:
Have a Very Specific Purpose
You must offer a unique approach in order to present your theme as a “specialty theme”. Go bananas if you like (if you’re certain that somebody will make use of your theme) and make the most eccentric theme the community has ever seen. Seriously, the community could use some variety in themes.
Utilize Actions and Filters to Make Your Theme Extendable
Actions and filters are part of the WordPress Plugin API, but that doesn’t necessarily mean themes can’t benefit from them. In fact, all of the most popular WordPress theme frameworks utilize actions and filters (mainly actions) so other developers can extend the frameworks. Follow their lead and make your theme extendable with WordPress action and filter hooks.
Make Your Theme Ready for Child WordPress Themes
Here’s your “A-ha!” moment if you want to make more of your theme by diversifying design options—make your theme ready for child themes! Build your base theme (like a theme framework) and create child themes to offer different designs.
You Can Use TGM Plugin Activation
If you feel that other themes can benefit from a part of your functionality, go ahead and offer it as a plugin and require it by using the TGM Plugin Activation library. But in most cases, specialty themes’ functionalities can’t be used with other themes; so it would seem like a vain effort to convert the functionality.
But keep in mind that developers might create themes after you release your specialty theme, so it’s still a good idea to separate functionality from design.
Ideas to Create Specialty WordPress Themes
There are so many types of specialty themes which can be made that it would be pointless to try to list all of them. But to get the idea, let’s write a few:
- a job board
- a question and answer system
- a help desk
- a learning management system
- a crowdfunding website
- a domain sale page
- a “coming soon” page
- a simple online wedding invitation
- a knowledge base
- a directory website
- a contact manager
- …and more
As I said earlier, any good idea could be—and should be—turned into a specialty theme. If you think you have a good idea to make an original specialty theme, go for it.
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