I have had my eyes on a lot of WordPress theme designers over the last few years, But with few exceptions Small Potato stands out among the rest. You may ask why I hold him in such regards. It simple! He is a top notch designer that gives back to the WordPress community.
It’s not that other designers don’t do the same with their themes. But Small Potato takes it to another level by aiding designers with his tutorials. His group of articles takes you step by step through the design of a WordPress theme. If you haven’t read these articles you owe it to yourself to take a look.
Small Potato uploaded his first theme ( Neo-Sapien ) to WordPress viewer on June 19th 2006. That theme has had almost 10,000 downloads to date.
Here is a quick review of just a few of his themes:
Mr.BlogIt: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Small Potato: I love fried chicken, fried shrimp, and fried fish. And… people call me Small Potato or just SP.
Mr.BlogIt: Tell us what it was like to do your first WordPress theme?
Small Potato:I wouldn’t say easy, but it wasn’t hard. I remember taking apart the Orange Sky theme to experiment and going through the WordPress codex to learn template structures and WordPress functions. I started looking into WordPress themes because I was already using WordPress for blogging, but I couldn’t find a theme that would let me better integrate my website ads, especially Adsense. So, I had to design my own theme that would yield a better click through rate percentage; I was averaging 5% CTR and wanted to aim for 8 to 10%. After redesigning my blog, CTR jumped to 8 to 8.5 percent.
Mr.BlogIt: Do you primarily develop your own designs or port others to WordPress?
Small Potato:So far, everything under my name is original. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing to port designs. It’s just that I’ve been more interested in doing my own thing. If there’s a really beautiful design out there that’s not available to WordPress users, then sure, I’ll port it.
Mr.BlogIt: What software do you use to develop your WordPress themes?
Small Potato:I use Photoshop for design and Notepad for coding. Also, I have several local installs of WordPress on my computer. I’m running versions: 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2.
Mr.BlogIt: How much time do you take with each theme?
Small Potato:Typically, it takes me around one day from start to finish; I don’t keep track by hours. If it’s a complicated design with a lot of details then I might take three days. However, it really depends on how much I procrastinate.
Mr.BlogIt: What is your favorite WordPress theme you designed, and why?
Small Potato:Braintied is my favorite. It’s minimalistic… very minimalistic. I was lazy on it, but some people really loved it. If only that was the case for every release, I’d be a much happier WordPress designer :).
Mr.BlogIt: With all the WordPress themes on the net today What Theme is your favorite?
Small Potato: I don’t have a favorite. But if I had to start a blog with a theme by another theme creator, I would go with any theme by Brian Gardner, NDesign-Studio, or iLeMoNeD. There’s a lot more great theme developers out there, but those are the guys that I trust to put out high quality themes at this point.
Mr.BlogIt: What advice would you give a new WordPress theme designer?
Small Potato:If you’re designing free themes for public use then take the time to learn about licenses regarding themes, photos, and images.
Keep your theme designs generic so bloggers will be able to easily modify your themes, unless you’re designing for a client.
One great WP theme = 10 average ones.
Don’t sell sponsored links on your themes for $40-60 each. You’ll sell yourself short. If you’re going after the sponsored links business model then aim for $500 per link on a really great theme. And, don’t forget to allow users to remove that link. Don’t make it a requirement by license to keep the sponsored link.
Mr.BlogIt: If you were not developing WordPress themes, what would you spend your time on?
Small Potato:I’ve always been into web design and building websites from the ground up. Developing WordPress themes is just a recent hobby. Right now, I’m going after this 1 million dollar challenge that I volunteered for back in March, 2007. Basically, I have to accumulate 1 million dollars by December 23, 2009.
Mr.BlogIt: What kinds of things do you do with your free time?
Small Potato:Read stuff, watch MMA fights, spend some time with my girlfriend, exercise, and sleep.
To learn more about Small Potato and his themes visit his website http://www.wpdesigner.com/