Building a Better WordPress Theme: NeoBox

I’m working on a WordPress theme called NeoBox which you are welcome to download via my Freebies page; it’s nowhere near completion, and stylistically it’s still just like the theme I’m using here — Neoclassical. The download page tells more about it.

However, I’m posting this in the hopes of getting any useful feedback for making NeoBox as good as possible. So, a few questions that I want as many people to answer as possible; it doesn’t matter when you post, I’ll keep monitoring the comments on this page for as long as NeoBox is being maintained, which will be quite a while, I hope!

  • What complaints do you have about most WordPress themes? What is missing that should be added or is there that has no use?
  • What plugins do you use which output into the theme? In an effort to make NeoBox as easy as possible, I’m going to go all out with plugin integration provided that it doesn’t become a performance bottleneck.
  • What else can be done to make NeoBox — which will, as previously said, look a lot like Neoclassical, the theme in use here — stand heads & shoulders above other available themes?

I very much want NeoBox to be something special. It isn’t anywhere near that point yet as I’ve not been able to devote a great deal of time to its development, but I do have big hopes for it. If you run a WordPress blog, check out NeoBox, and let me know what else it should have, do, or be!

2 thoughts on “Building a Better WordPress Theme: NeoBox”

  1. Here are some of the initial thoughts I have, off the top of my head, having just done a theme change myself.

    -ability to add/change header images easily
    -easily change sidebar location and amount (2-3 sidebars, both on one side or on either side of content)
    -too many blogs leave the content squished in middle when side bars are added; content still needs to be king

    I’m also tired of themes each having their own sidebar widget systems and the lack of consistency in themes in general. It would be nice to change themes without having to redo the header image, sidebar widgets, etc.

    Just a few thoughts. Might come back with more later as I continue to tweak the theme I just started using.

  2. Chris: Thanks for your comments! Looks like you’re kinda running into the same things I have in the past, mainly the vast inconsistencies which exist between themes. Posts styled to look nice in one theme may use irrelevant classes and styling once another style is activated.

    I don’t anticipate NeoBox leaping any great hurdles for standardization, but I am trying to keep common elements in mind so that the theme will largely *just work.*

    My current plan for header images is similar to Neoclassical’s: random images chosen from a folder. However, I’m going to implement in such a way that to add or remove images, you just have to add or remove them from a headers directory. Editing PHP files or messing with an options panel will be unnecessary.

    I’ve thought about sidebar customization as well. As it stands now, NeoBox limits the content area to 425px wide. I’m liking it so far — the width adds to the readability of the content (think narrow newsprint) and it even looks good when viewed on television via the Wii. The only thing I may add is the ability to reposition sidebars — or just move them both to the right. As you said, content is king. If I knew how, I could adjust dynamically based on languages; right-to-left languages would have the sidebars after the content on the left side. Left-to-right blogs would have sidebars which appear on the right side. That could be an interesting challenge!

    I may implement a few additional widgets in addition to the default, but I have no intentions of replacing the current widgets system (like, for instance, K2 does with Sidebar Modules). That’s reaching much further than I care to, and I want people to be able to use widgets they are familiar with. Besides, that allows WordPress to bear any bugs or problems for widgets; if I came up with my own system, that’s yet another point of failure I’d have to support.

    I look forward to any other thoughts you come up with while working with your theme.

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