When I left Automattic I really wanted to make WordPress products in a whole new way. The thing I was most excited about was taking all the experience I have in small business and applying it to theme development. I think most people involved in the creation of themes don’t really understand small businesses. I basically took what I felt were the core essence of what small businesses want from a website and created a theme around it. I wanted to create something that could literally be set up in less than 5 minutes. It would only contain things small business owners know off the top of their head and wouldn’t require the use of all sorts of images and other media that regular folks don’t have access to.
This theme is pretty experimental and I’m sure people will disagree with some of the decisions I made. I basically wanted it to be simple, radically simple. Every aspect of the theme is controlled by the customizer. Not only that but we turned the customizer into a wizard where once they get through all six steps their theme will be 100% set up.
This section is pretty straightforward. We ask for their business name/slogan. We then take this information and set it as the WordPress title/tagline.
I wanted to try and ask questions instead of using terms like site title or tagline as I didn’t want to use terms that people might not know.
It really bothers me when themes that support Google Maps want you to generate the embed code yourself. I think that’s just lazy and leaves all sorts of room for error.
With Now I knew I wanted to display the business address so I thought if they are giving me their address anyway why not use that to generate the Google Maps embed code automatically.
For the address input we are using the Google Places API to ensure that the address is in a standard format that we can use to automatically generate the embed code. We also link the address on mobile so it will automatically open up their phone’s map program so they can easily get driving directions.
I also wanted the phone number to be validated as I would hate for the click to call feature of the theme (on mobile if you click the phone number is automatically dials the number) to not work just because someone inputted the phone number in the incorrect format. Joey integrated a phone number library validation script from Stripe to accomplish this. I tried to think of everywhere something could go wrong and fix it ahead of time.
The displaying of the store’s hours is really important. To me the main purpose of small business site is basically to answer the question are you open and where can I find you. I didn’t want to just have a widget area where I say put in your hours.
I wanted to make a system and standardized the way hours were inputted so they could be displayed in a smart way on the front end. The system Joey came up with is quite clever and it works really well
I also wanted customers to be able to find out if the business was open right now without having to even look at the current time and compare it to the open hours (a feature I love on the Lowes website). So at the very top of the site it uses the current time and the hours you inputted to let the user know if you are still open today and if so until when.
This is probably the most opened ended section. I wanted to give the store owner a chance to tell people a little bit about their business. It could be about what services they offer, their history, basically anything they think their customers would want to know.
It features a TinyMCE editor to allow users to format the text in whatever way they want. This feature was probably a bit more open ended than I would have liked but there is too much variability in what people would want here to put here to make it any different.
Social media has become almost essential for small businesses so I wanted to have a little section for adding links to social media profiles.
The list of supported services is quite small and while I realize there are many more social networks I really feel that these three make up the bulk of the ones that small businesses care about so that is all I included.
I wanted there to be minimal customization options but I recognize that whatever color scheme I picked some people would always want something different. The design we came up with basically uses one color, so the theme includes one color option. It is amazing how different the sites looks depending on which color option you choose.
Also you’ll probably notice by now that the “Site Icon” feature of WordPress is missing. That was done on purpose. I didn’t include a way to upload custom logos as I don’t think it’s necessary as most small business don’t have access to logo files that are formatted in a way that make it easy to add them to their site.
Similarly creating a good looking favicon is hard and it is something I don’t think most people have the time/patience for so I decided that I would generate the favicon for them, using the accent color they selected in the last step. This way it’s still custom to them but doesn’t require them to do anything.
That’s it. Once you run through all six steps your theme is completely set up. If you want to see the theme in action you can find a live demo of it here.
Also I’m looking for someone to help me distribute this theme. I don’t need the money so I’ll let someone have it for free if they can help me get widespread usage. I’m really hoping for a host or something similar instead of a theme company. If you know of anyone who has access to a lot of users who want a really great business site send them my way.