Reviewing the WordPress atmosphere in last few years and looking at the road ahead made me conclude the following suggestions as the characteristics of an advance WordPress theme in 2014.
In my opinion the term advanced WordPress theme means a WP theme that is compatible with latest technology trends such as usability on mobile devices, Microformats, UX etc.
Here are the Characteristics of a WordPress Theme in 2014:
– Child Theme Included
Child Theme is a must for any WordPress install, regular updates and constant changes make it impossible to have a customized design without using child themes, yet many WordPress users are not familiar and don’t use child themes. It is really not difficult for a theme designer to include a child theme to its theme packages along with a simple tutorial for non-experienced users.
– Right to Left (RTL) StyleSheet Included
RTL StyleSheet is another feature that make a theme more usable. The trend for localization is very high, and it’s impossible to translate and use a WordPress theme in three languages: Persian, Arabic and Hebrew without RTL StyleSheet. When users want to use a theme they need to keep in mind that in order to have a full localizations they need to have RTL Stylesheet and the theme must also have Language Folder to contain .PO and .MO translation files.
– Custom Post Type Friendly
Usage of custom post-types is growing day by day while WordPress is being used to build various CMS and new Applications. in many cases a WordPress install needs to have Custom Taxonomies, Custom Fields and Custom Post Types.
An Advanced WordPress Theme must be prepared for showcasing Custom Taxonomies , Custom Post Types Archive Pages and Single Post Pages.
It will be greater if a user can choose different sets of Sidebar Widgets for different types of posts, different taxonomies and custom posts and taxonomies archive pages.
– Responsiveness is Necessary but not Enough
There is no doubt that any WordPress Theme must be responsive unless there is a solid reason for not using responsiveness on a particular case.
But even though responsiveness makes the site viewable on different devices through a web browser, it’s not necessarily makes the site usable.
A responsive design is usable for laptop and desktop devices, and in most cases the site is still usable on tablets with screen size of 7 inches and higher, but for smaller screens on mobile phones for example a responsive site is viewable but it might be difficult to use.
The final solution is to create Native Mobile Apps for Android, iOS and Windows Mobiles, yet it’s costly and not feasible for many scenarios.
Yet Adding a Mobile Child Theme seems a better solution for majority of the users. A mobile Child Theme that allows users to adjust Menus, sidebars and other web-elements for Mobile Screens.
Schema.org Tags and Microformats:
If a WordPress theme includes options for Ratings, Maps and other elements that have been defined among the special entities in Schema.org to be defined with microformats, then the Theme must add the necessary tags. If I can add the rating to my posts the theme must add the related tags, or if I can add map to a post the them must add Geo tags to the post as well.
– SEO Ready or SEO disaster?
“SEO Ready” is a term that many theme designers use to list the advantages of their themes. The SEO ready theme usually provides ready fields for inserting meta tags and tracking codes from the “theme options” in WordPress dashboard and in the post editor page.
Yet before adding features to enhance SEO, a designer must avoid the actions that might harm SEO.
Some of the SEO mistakes are very common, An example of SEO mistakes is to add Social Icons at the Header and Footer of the themes without adding rel=”nofollow” to social profiles’ links.