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WordPress theme – lessons learned

I always wanted to start and finish mine personal web project. Up until 9 months I still wasn’t. No, I’m not pregnant nor I gave birth recently. I started a WordPress theme project with a friend of mine and now, finally, we launched it. I feel awesome and uplifted – to start something, to put a lot of work and a lot of sleepless nights in it … it is something to live for. I guess you might say it something like having a baby … shits are still there, only the smell is gone.

Now I more excited to go on with that project than ever. Why? Not because I’m hopping to earn big money or something like that. I want to learn. Having a personal project, a project that has future, a project that somebody wants to use it, and pay for it, is something to look forward to. But you can’t except just to find a designer, write down some code and everything to be in the right place. No, you have to put a lot of work on, you have to plan it properly, you have to manage your day job so the job is now suffering from your sleepiness or that you are tired. So … you learn how to do all of this.

Github
One of the best things I learned is how to use Github and its features. I can honestly say: I love labels. So simple, and yet so powerful. Mark something as bug, or as a question to your team mate, or that something will be done in the future, is a customer request, a note to yourself or even a story. Small things matters.

Github of course is not just a label maker. It is a powerful tool. You can manage your project, write down documentation, keep track on where your teammates are, synchronise your work and more. I never had a good project management system so far – nor for my personal projects neither in my previous jobs. In my current one we are using JIRA but of course this is an overkill for small project like a WordPress theme. After pocking around in GIthub I realise that project management is nothing more than notes and keeping tracks of them. So we are back to the label making.

Verbal communications.
Since we are using so much of Skype and emails these days we started working mainly with them to communicate and keep the project going on. Wrong! Just wrong. It is far better way to understand each other if you call each other a couple of times a week, give each other a quick summary of where everybody is, and where everybody is going to. Just like in a daily. I don’t have metrics to show them to you but it was a real boost to my productivity as soon as we started doing these calls. I realise that I can’t call my friend and say: “Oh, I haven’t done anything for the past few days.”  It is just now me. It is easy to write it in an email – it is casual, there is no fear of the non verbal response. You can always make up an excuse of why you did nothing.  In order to overcome this small fear of mine … I just sat on my ass and worked.

The power of giving back.
I use a lot of open-source projects. A lot! But I never contribute to one. I want but it seams that the projects I’m using are either managed by far smart guys than me and I have nothing to give them or I don’t want to just because. Sure I pushed some bug fixes here and there but I’m not sure if someone even gave a fuck about that.

With that project I had an idea which helped me to fulfil that dream. After we submitted the team to the guys at Envanto we were soft rejected. One of the reasons for that was that we don’t use placeholders for our images. We used actual images which we bought from some stock site but we don’t have the right to resell them. So we had to replace all of the demo content images with images from placehold.it. A task that is not that easy. I don’t really know how the other guys in  Themeforest are doing this but replacing dozens of images in an XML file is not my dream job. So I decided to create a small piece of code that will automate our job. And so I did.  And this is how https://github.com/denchev/Wordpress-to-placehold.it was born. And the best part of it is that 2 or 3 guys forked it. I know it is not a major thing but I’m happy about it.

There are many technical stuff I learned about WordPress and WordPress themes during the last 9 months which I’m not going to share right now. Most of them are well known to someone who works with WP for long time, the others are complicated to some extend. I’m not going to share these knowledge not that I want to keep it to myself but because I want to be sure I’ll give back something that means something and not just another WordPress theme tutorial.

Well that was something that I wanted to “say” for quite sometime but I wanted to be a released author before making any conclusions.
If you want you can do a quick look at our theme Estetico Premium Real Estate WP Theme please do it and I’ll be happy if you drop some comment how to improve the theme … because as I said … I want to learn.

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