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.
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. »
If you decide to make a specialty theme for WordPress, you might want to consider a few things:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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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