WordPress Theme Development Workflow

WordPress Theme is perhaps one of the biggest money maker in wordpress development world. There are millions of people using wordpress as their blogging / website platform. This means, there is a market for just about any themes a developer can come out with.

While most themes are mediocre, there are a lot of great themes out there. One company that keeps producing great themes is WooThemes. There is an excellent workflow sample followed by WooThemes that I am sure we can follow to ensure that the themes are top quality.

Whether you work in a large theme shop or are a lone designer, you can learn plenty from another designer or developer’s workflow.

  1. A theme at WooThemes starts life on the ideas board, through specifications provided by the community or based on a concept that’s emerged from customer research. It is designed either in house or by an industry-leading designer who is hired on contract.

  2. The theme is then meticulously designed in Photoshop. All of the major elements are styled and the pages constructed before any code is touched. Mark recommends Photoshop Etiquette for guidelines on structuring your design file. He says, “The better the Photoshop file, the easier the theme build.”

  3. Once the design is approved, it’s assigned to a developer, who works from WooThemes’ base theme. This includes the templates that come with every WooTheme, along with basic styling. The base theme has a responsive layout, and the CSS is managed using LESS, which Mark strongly recommends.

  4. Theme development is managed with Trello, and milestones are set with TeamGantt.

  5. Once the theme is finalized, the developer creates a demo for the website that is populated with dummy content and that tests almost every element of the design.

  6. The team sets about beta testing the theme. A list of bugs, tweaks and solutions is compiled, a hackathon is scheduled, and everything is completed by the developer.

  7. For WooThemes’ own redesign (which is awesome — congrats, guys!), the team started to use BugHerd, which helped them gather user feedback and track it directly in the pages.

  8. All revisions are included in the change log for easy reference. A strict numbering convention distinguishes between bug fixes and new features.

Source: Smashing Magazine

While the steps are numerous and there are a lot of additional software involved, I am sure we can incorporate the steps into our own routine. It served well as a workflow template.