It’s true. I used to design themes for WordPress, in fact back in 2006, I created a theme called Benevolence, which went on to be used by hundreds of thousands of blogs and to this day is the 69th most popular theme in the WordPress.com theme showcase. Of course, by todays standards that theme is a piece of shit. The design is horrible, it has no admin panel to make updates to, it has no widgets, it’s in no way “responsive” and probably not even XHTML compliant, but hey, it’s got grass near the top! People saw that grass and the rest didn’t matter. That’s right, all it took was some pretty grass and I got hundreds of thousands of downloads. I wouldn’t put that theme on my worst enemy’s website.
After the success of Benevolence, I started creating a bunch of other themes. I even partnered with Matthew Good, the musician (yes that Matthew Good) to build some pretty cool themes that had neat ajax features and nice artistic designs, courtesy of Matt’s artistic eye. Neither of us ever made a dime off any of our themes, we just loved to design and build stuff.
So why is it that I USED to design themes but don’t anymore? The truth is that I fell out of it a while back in favor of writing Ruby on Rails code and once I got back into the WordPress game, I was much more interested in writing PHP code than I was in designing sites in Photoshop and breaking up PSDs into HTML5 code. Not only that, just about every conceivable idea for a WordPress theme has already been realized. So, it’s truly much easier to go out and find something you love and modify it than it is to come up with something from scratch.
There are tons of beautiful themes out there, my favorite three sites for theme shopping are themeforest.com, elegantthemes.com and woothemes.com. Between those three sites and all the free themes out there, it’s almost impossible to not find something you love.
When it comes to WordPress websites, I have much more fun tinkering with the engine than I do spraying on the paint.