A few years ago Mike Smith from Made By Guerrilla did a fantastic redesign for me for Blogging Tips. I recently caught up with him again so I thought it would be an opportunity to ask hom some questions about how he works. I hope you enjoy the interview :)
Q. How did you get started in WordPress design?
A. I’ve been working with websites and designing since I was about 13 (~14 years now) and as I progressed from the beginnings of just messing around in Photoshop to make myself forum signature images, I realized that blogging was a way to easily build websites – all I’d need to do is design to fit themes. I started out editing and adjusting pre-existing themes and once I got comfortable enough to do things on my own, I started coding my own layouts out. Over the past 5 years things have really progressed and I’ve been a full time WordPress designer/developer for about 5 years now.
Q. Can you describe the main stages of designing a new WordPress theme?
A. For me I always start by brainstorming. I jot down ideas and thoughts I have about the project and then I open up Photoshop. I design a sample for the client and send it over for review and we work on changes until they’re happy with the design. Once that’s done, I code right into WordPress. I know a lot of people code xhtml/css layouts first but I find an extra hour or two of time in my day if I skip that step :)
Q. There have been a lot of new features added to WordPress over the last year such as the wp nav menu, post thumbnails and post types. Do you always try and integrate new features into your themes?
A. Yes, if they’re big new features, they’re worked into my daily workflow for new projects. The same goes for CSS3 and (soon) HTML5 as well. Things only progress so far if people aren’t pushing the envelope, so I always make sure things are as up to date and progressive as possible. Plus, the newer WordPress options make it much easier for clients to work with their blogs (menus, post types, etc) so it’s a win/win for myself and the client.
Q. Have you ever considered selling themes directly through your own theme store or through a marketplace like ThemeForest?
A. I actually built up a theme company last year, Giant Themes. I released two free themes and one paid theme but closed the doors on January 1st of 2011. It was a fun process and was a great way to learn some new things but it just wasn’t stable enough moving forward. I do have some plans on releasing more commercial themes in the future, but it won’t be in a full blown format like my own theme site or through a theme marketplace.
Q. What three features would you love to see added to WordPress in the future?
A. Personally, I don’t see anything missing at this point. There’s all of the ease-of-use features like the new menus, background & header images, etc and then there’s the other great features like custom post types which allow anyone who has the time and energy to look into it to be able to create a website in any niche all built on WordPress.
A huge thank you to Mike Smith for taking part in this interview. You can find out more about his work at Made By Guerrilla