What’s missing when it comes to WordPress Themes

February 21, 2017| Mike

It’s almost the end of February. That means that my fourth WordPress Theme in the ’12 Themes in 12 Months’ challenge is due out in less than a week. The truth is I’ve not even started on this yet. Instead I’ve taken things back to the drawing board and been doing some thinking. What’s missing.

Wait, you’ve only got a week to go and you’ve not even started yet? Yep. That’s right. Remember when I started the project back in October? This is what I promised

I’ll be writing every step of the way. What works. What doesn’t.

Well what I’ve learned so far is something is missing. In fact there’s a couple of things missing.

  1. Marketing. I’ve been pretty cr*p at this. But I’ve written a post on this here and wheels are in motion
  2. The ‘Product’ in general. Releasing another theme in February which is put together in a week isn’t epic

It also doesn’t fit my needs. It doesn’t fit what I think is missing. Does this mean I’m giving up on 12 themes in 12 months? No. It doesn’t. What it does mean though is I’m pivoting (slightly).

Pivot, Pivot, PIVOTTT!

No, not the memorable scene with the Sofa in Friends… but changing direction slightly while still focusing on what your goal is

A pivot is a “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth.” A notable example of a company employing the pivot is Groupon; when the company first started, it was an online activism platform called The Point. – Wiki – Lean Startup

When I wrote my first post about what I wanted to achieve from the project it was this (keep reading, I’m getting to the good bit further down).

  • I want to release a theme on WordPress.org (free theme)
  • I want to have each theme build on the previous theme (i.e. re-use the code)
  • I want to have a theme on themeforest.net
  • I want to develop a WooCommerce theme
  • I want to develop a BuddyPress theme
  • I want to develop a bbPress (forum) theme

But why, why did I want to do that? Let’s cover this:-

  • I want to release a theme on WordPress.org (free theme) – to get EXPOSURE from WP.org
  • I want to have each theme build on the previous theme (i.e. re-use the code) – i.e. to be EXTENDABLE by developers
  • I want to have a theme on themeforest.net – i.e. to have MORE EXPOSURE 
  • I want to develop a WooCommerce theme – because WooCommerce just p*sses me of.
  • I want to develop a BuddyPress theme – Coz, community, <3 and all that. 
  • I want to develop a bbPress (forum) theme – Forums rock

But something was missing…

Something was still missing. I think this is down to WordPress itself and what’s available in the market. Why did I want to cover those areas in the list above? There’s LOTS OF THEMES already out there. Finding one which is just right is really hard.

Will me developing another 9 standalone WordPress Themes really help that problem?

What’s missing? What problem is there that I can solve. What’s already out there that’s changed the game in the past.

I got 99 Problems, and my Theme is one..

Do any of these problems sound familiar to you? They do to me. Heck, I’ve been asked a number of times about my own themes from customers wanting the theme, but not willing to give up their existing theme…

I’ve found a great theme for my blog, but the WooCommerce store is BAD


Wow, this theme has a kick ass WooCommerce layout for products, but the Account Pages are shocking


OMG. What an amazing theme, the blog is ace, the store is ace, but the Forum when using bbPress is sooo ugly

or even…

Wow. I love the Epic Timeline theme but I would love to only use it for a single category of posts.

You’re sh*t outta luck dude..

Do you get where I’m going with this yet?  Here’s where it really stuck for me.   I’ve been building out the guides section of this website. It’s really coming along nicely. I’ve been writing it as a plugin but let’s take a look…

  • It has it’s own post type (guides)
  • It has it’s own archive and single layout templates
    • It has it’s own css
    • It does not have it’s own js (but it could)

It’s practically a theme. Isn’t it? It’s also some pretty cool functionality if you’re wanting to extend your own theme..

Enter Page Builders

So I sat back and did a review, what’s out there to scratch this itch and give me customisable areas of my website.

What products exist already that can do what I’m getting at. Page Builders and even full themes are out there making it super easy to design your own themes. Here’s some of the ones which spring to mind

  • Layers WP – billed as the Worlds Most User Friendly Theme, no coding, build it using the modules (or extensions to modules)
  • Visual Composer
  • Our very own Landrr – which is my pre-amble into this new product..  (it’s coming….)

These are nice. They work well.

BUT they still don’t quite work. What if I’m using a theme like Avada on a client site but want to extend this to have a different blog layout, or a documentation section or even have a forum (and not use the built in styles).

Do I have to switch to a Layers WP theme and lose everything I already love with the site built with Avada?  thanks but no thanks.

What about if I wanted to add a different category layout here on the Epic Themes Blog, to cover my ‘start up journey’ from $0 in monthly theme sales to my target of $10,000 in month sales.. using the Epic Timeline Theme..   I couldn’t, without losing my currently layout and store pages etc.

I’d have to setup a new WordPress install, with that theme installed and specifically blog there.  That gives me extra headaches like:-

  • Another WP install to manage
  • Database bloat
  • User Accounts that aren’t transferrable (e.g. sign up to forum and sign up to docs site etc.)
  • It’s just painful.

So here’s the problem I’ve been building up to…

PROBLEM: How do I extend a Theme to have a Theme within a Theme? 

That’s exactly what I think is missing. The ability to choose your “theme” for a specific area of your website. Whether this be just a single page because you’re running a marketing funnel and want to try something which isn’t easy to do with a page builder OR, you’re wanting to extend your website to have a community forum but your theme’s forum styles suck.


Introducing the Theme Pax Framework. What I really think I was heading towards with my 12-in-12 project. It’s modularised theme components. Want just a simple blog style, cool, activate the (free) Epic Blog component.  Want a TimeLine? Activate it, and choose which categories to apply it to..

Entering the Theme Pax Framework…


First Cut of Theme Pax Framework Logo


My proposed Theme Pax Framework Features are:-

  • It’s a WordPress Plugin / Theme Hybrid. Activated as a WordPress Plugin
  • Theme Packs – are modularised templates that you can purchase (Themes within Themes)
    • Specific Themes for Pages or Areas of your site
      • Landing Page Theme Packs
      • Specialised Packs (such as the Timeline Pack, or the Guides Pack)
      • Specialised Areas (such as bbPress, WooCommerce, BuddyPress)
    • Main Theme Styles can be deactivated (improving page speed by not loading a full style.css which isn’t needed)
    • Keep as light or as complex as you like, install just the packs you need
    • Familiar Theme Pack browser
    • Use the Theme Pax Framework
  • Theme Pax are conditionally activated either on a page by page basis or globally in a specific section

The Theme Pax Frame is my solution. Its what I’m going to spend the next week of solid development time building out including the first of the Pax, but only if you tell me you think it’s a good idea.

Tweet: @mikemayhem3030 I think #themepaxframework is a great idea. Let me know when it’s ready: https://ctt.ec/9ZC0G+

But how do you know if it works without a demo? without the product being built?

Here’s my proof of concepts. As mentioned I’m building the new Guides Section of this website into a “Theme Pack”, but the central core module will need refinement before launch, I think it’s a really cool concept and would love to build this.

Theme Pax Framework Concepts

How will it look? Sorta like this:-

Although I’ll build out the UI/UX from feedback from users, lending from WordPress’ tried and tested UI is often a good thing.

Are you Digging the plant scene…  #epicpun

Think this looks cool? Let me know, send me an email, leave a comment, share this post…  but MOST IMPORTANTLY sign up using the form below to be kept up to date on the Theme Pax Framework project and when it’s ready for launch.

Calling developers….

I also wanted to make Theme Pax easy for developers and effectively turn this into a Wrap Bootstrap type repository for WordPress. Want to download a particular Landing Page. Sure, they’re listed in the Theme Pax browser and purchasable from the store.

These “Pax” can be developed by anyone, with a “share-a-sale” setup.

If you want to get involved with the project as a developer please do let me know via email (mike@epicplugins.com)




Categories: Musings

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