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Designing Themes – Clients vs. Marketplaces (Series 1 of 3)

by christos on December 2, 2016 No comments

This article is an excerpt from a recent speech “Designing Themes – Clients vs. Marketplaces” at the WordCamp Athens 2016 WordPress meet-up.

Oxygenna is a small group of people with a passion for the Web Design field. Most of us live and work in a very small town of Greece – Sitia – away from the big technology centers and the fact that we can create things that people use from all over the world is something that does not stop surprising us.


I. About Us

The company was founded in 2006 and almost a year later we had created our first WordPress theme and we had started having small companies as our first customers, mostly Hotels and Real Estate Agencies in the area.During that time, people in Greece were generally much happier and it was easier to operate a company of this nature (just a couple years before the economic crisis hit).

“We had this obsession to do things over and over again in an effort to make them even better.”

Therefore we too were able to afford spending much more time working on projects than the client’s budget allowed, mainly because we had this obsession to do things over and over again in an effort to make them even better. Most of our clients were small, others were bigger, some were huge, we didn’t care much, we were a bunch of workaholics – and we still are by the way – who just loved their jobs and were trying their best for their clients’ well being and success.

At the end of 2011 things were getting worse by the day and we, after all these years we were able to be in the incredible point .. of not having gained any real profit

We had to make a big decision, whether to shut down the company or try something new. And to be honest, for a long time we wanted to try and sell our work in a marketplace. Before we had no time, now we had no choice.  In September 2012 we had our first theme accepted in Themeforest.

Today, almost four years later we have nearly 20,000 sales and our team has more people and talent than ever.


II. Clients vs. Marketplaces

Having the experience of working with clients almost as many years as with a marketplace, today we are going to talk about more interesting things.
How to do our job better.

What is the job of a designer? It’s always somewhat difficult to describe the work of a designer to someone outside the field.
Everyone can answer that and certainly there are a bunch of definitions that we could find, but mostly importantly we must think about how we see our work for ourselves.
How do we determine, what is it that, which you love to do?

We like to think our work like this:

Our job is to tell a story with the best possible way. To narrate the visitor within that story and try to elicit some reactions out of him.

If for example we are called to create a website for someone who makes and sells handcrafted jewellery, we have to explain some major questions for the user.
Why these ? How are they better? Why they are so unique? How were they made? What we expect from a user’s reaction, is to see and buy one, just one, only then our job has been successful.


III. Designer tools

So if this “narrative” is our business, what tools do we have in order to do it?

  • Typography
  • Colors
  • Layout
  • Images
  • Animation
  • Feedback from the user etc.

Thus, having clarified how could anyone see their work as a designer, let’s now see how can we do better at each stage during the development of a WordPress theme but also how is that process differentiated if what we do is for a customer versus to be sold in a marketplace.


IV. Design Process

To analyze more will we follow this process of six phases of development of a WordPress theme.

  • Research
  • Plan Definition
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing & Delivery
  • Maintenance and Updates


Join us in the next article of this series where we dive in the first 3 phases of a WordPress theme development for Clients vs. Marketplaces!

christosDesigning Themes – Clients vs. Marketplaces (Series 1 of 3)

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