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DevPress: Long Live the Quality Themes

DevPress

Next WordPress theme shop interview is from Devin Price who runs DevPress. Devin also writes excellent articles about themes and development in WP Theming site.

DevPress has long history with couple of different ownership but quality has stayed super high. In this interview Devin talks about his journey and DevPress. I really liked the Gather theme inspiration part for example.

Who is behind DevPress and what is the history about DevPress?

It’s just me (Devin Price) at DevPress. The site was originally started in 2010 by a team of great WordPress developers, and then operated by Tung Do who was one of the original founders. I purchased the site in 2014 from Tung and have updated a lot of the older themes and released a few new ones.

What kind of themes you build? Is there a target audience for your themes?

The themes are general purpose blog and portfolio themes. All of the themes are all well-coded and just have basic customization options through the Customizer, so DevPress is just targeting people that want something quick and easy to set up that looks good out of the box.

Showcase 2-3 of your themes that you are most proud of. Why they are cool themes?

Cascade Theme Screenshot

Gather is the best selling theme on the site and also one of the my favorites. If you look close, DevPress itself uses a modified version of Gather. I also use it as a general blog theme on WP Theming. But it’s designed to be a portfolio type theme, and it’s been really neat to see the work people showcase with it.

Cascade is a general blog theme original designed and developed by Tung Do. I refreshed the codebase and added some new features when I took over DevPress. Minimalist designs are really difficult to do well, even though they appear simple when done right. I think Tung made a lot of great typography, spacing, and subtle color palette choices with this theme and it really presents content well.

Luminate is intended for a basic brochure or business site. This is a layout that is on at least a million sites: menu, main feature block, 3-4 secondary feature blocks, footer. However, I was developing a site for a former client and couldn’t find any themes that had this layout and were also well-coded and easy to customize. Since I’ve built Luminate I’ve used it as a base for at least five other client sites- it saves a ton of time to have solid theme to build on.

Where do you get inspiration for design and code?

Gather Theme Screenshot

Gather started with a bit of inspiration from branding I saw of the ’68 Olympics in Mexico City. I really wanted to do something with brighter colors, and was looking at color palettes in Mexico when I across the work of Lance Wyman. I loved the use of geometric lines in the Olympics and eventually used a similar font for the large branding text. I also like to browse Site Inspire to see what’s popular with new sites.

In terms of code, I follow a lot of great people on Twitter and also keep up with developments in Core. That allows me to take advantage of new features as soon as they are released in WordPress and also share them with others.

What is your business and marketing strategy?

After working on DevPress for a year, I realized marketing was something I needed more experience with. That’s partially why I took a full-time job as a growth engineer with Cratejoy. It’s not enough to just release a great product, you also need to help people to find it. Selling themes for $49 also doesn’t really give you a lot of margin if you need to pay out affiliates, do paid advertising, or hire someone to write content.

At the moment I sell one theme on WordPress.com and the rest directly through DevPress. I’m also planning to release some of the themes for free on wordpress.org. But marketing is something I definitely need to improve for the site.

How is your theme business doing and do you have other business? Any numbers to give?

DevPress brought in about $15k of revenue last year. It’s not enough to revenue to be full time, but I enjoy working on it as a side project. I also work with Cratejoy, a small startup in Austin, as a growth engineer.

Any specific workflow how you build themes? What kind of development tools you use?

The newer themes have all been forked off Underscores. I use Grunt for the build tools and styles are written is sass. I generally start with a design concept and then build it out directly in the browser.

What are your future plans? Do you see themes changing in some direction?

I’ve been experimenting with React some, but it’s probably too early for building commercial projects with it as plugin support would be really difficult. I’ve also been thinking more about the idea of niche themes which provide an entire solution for specific industries and moving to a monthly fee model- but don’t have any immediate plans to move in that direction.

Any other tips and tricks you want to share for users and for other theme developers?

I’d encourage theme developers to get involved with the theme review team on wordpress.org. It is a great way to learn good coding standards and contribute back to the community. I think it’s also really valuable to share what you learn- no matter what level you’re at. I’ve been posting about theme development on WP Theming for years and it’s been a terrific way to engage with other developers and get feedback for ideas I’ve been working on.