Issue 245 – next generation themes

This is an archived edition of MasterWP from January 12, 2022, written by Alex and Ben.

website surrounded by construction equipment

This is an archived edition of MasterWP from January 12, 2022, written by Alex and Ben.


The next generation of WordPress Theme Authors will Design from the Site Editor

Making it Simple

An interesting post looking at the future of theme creation in WordPress. Justin Tadlock, from the WPTavern, digs into what is possible now and what might be possible in the future.

It’s been fairly obvious that this is the direction the site editor is heading for a while now. Currently there are still things that need to be edited through theme.json, and that will likely remain the case for quite some time, but you can do a lot with the editor only, and that’s going to improve continuously.

Initially I was hesitant about the direction of the editor, I had lots of questions. Any time there’s a new technology people look at how it will change their own situations. Machines are increasingly removing the need for skilled labour, and I am waiting for the day that web designers are put out of a job. But I don’t think this is that day.

The new editor will make building a WordPress theme (or website) much quicker than it is currently, and it will remove the need to know CSS, JS and PHP. Instead the focus will be on design; on colours, layout, Information Architecture, flow, balance, beauty.

It will open up a world of design to everyone, includes those that haven’t learnt the technical aspects.

Of course this will mean that non-designers can build the site of their dreams too – and that’s fine. They can do that already on Weebly/ Wix/ Whatever, but companies with budgets will still need professional designers to design their sites for them.

There will also continue to be the need for more custom projects. Those things that WordPress doesn’t do out of the box, and there’s bound to be loads of those, especially since block plugins are still relatively new.

Designers who code will be able to contribute to the block plugins and functionality, hopefully creating experiences we have yet to imagine.

You can tell from the comments on the article that not everyone is happy with the approach WordPress is taking, but I am increasingly coming around to it and think that the people it will open design up to could help bring in new talent that might otherwise be missed. It’s one example of WordPress getting easier to use – going against the current web development trend of making things more complex. – Ben.


My first impressions of web3

Centralised and decentralised

This is a great primer on web3. The term came into wider consciousness last year and is certainly a trending topic. I have a basic understanding of web3 stuff but I’ve not dabbled in seriously. My response to a lot of the web3 stuff I’ve seen, including on WordPress, is that’s cool but why does it need to be decentralised.

This post is a nice first look at some of the technology, and limitations. Specifically, the extent to which web3 apps rely on unverified APIs (the verification being important as trust is a key promise of web3) is quite surprising. This post is a good follow-up, and the author more of less says “those specific apps are bad but the tech/idea is good”. Those links are a good pair for going deeper on the topic. – Alex.


2021 year in review

What I’ve been up to

Humans are nosey, and I’ve enjoyed reading other peoples’ year in review posts over the last couple of weeks. This is mine. The post is mostly framed through the lens of finite and infinite games, which I find increasingly useful for understanding projects and what to work on. 2021 was, for the most part, about infinite games.

2021 was busy: Ellipsis is bigger and better than ever, and my day-to-day work is running the agency. I found myself going deep down an AI rabbit hole, and I go into how and why that happened. I also talk about launching FlipWP, and dancing with burnout over the summer. The two were probably related. I spent a couple of weeks pulling this together, and found it a really useful exercise. – Alex


Theme JSON Schema

Making it simple

With theme.json becoming the new standard for building WordPress themes, there is a need to make the development process simpler. Writing JSON in itself isn’t that hard but it’s very easy to get line endings wrong, miss a comma, use the wrong punctuation, just format something wrong.

This extension helps with the process of catching and correcting these issues. It it can be used in most popular text editors (VS Code being my preference), simply by including the schema line in the json file. The editor then looks at the schema url and loads the correct formatting rules.

So it’s easy to add, and will hopefully make the new theme development process even easier than it is. – Ben.


Acquisitions & Exits: How Much Is Your WordPress Business Worth?

Alex on Freemius

A busy week for me! This was published yesterday: the Freemius team asked if I’d do a post on valuing WordPress businesses. The long answer is “it depends” but the short answer is 2-3x the annual recurring revenue is a great starting point for a valuation. The post goes into a lot of detail. We see a lot of valuations with Flip, so I’m pretty tuned-in to the specific movements in the market. – Alex.

Quick links

“Every programmer is an author.”

– Sercan Leylek

Author Profile Image

Rob is the CEO of HDC and the Publisher of MasterWP.

Subscribe & Share

If you liked this article, join the conversation on Twitter and subscribe to our free weekly newsletter for more 🙂

MasterWP contains no affiliate links. We’re entirely funded by the sponsors highlighted on each article. In addition to MasterWP, we own EveryAlt, WP Wallet, Understrap and Howard Development & Consulting.

Latest Posts