Friday, March 20, 2009

Professional Web designer debate

Need a  professional looking website? We can help!

WordPress themes have become a major discussion topic recently, where the main threads have been sponsored links (and sponsored themes), credit link requirements, licensing options and usage rights. I have been tempted to write several long posts about this, but as you may have seen I haven't got much work done in the last couple of weeks. I'm back in good health again now, and will return to work next week. But for now I only want to make a few things clear about my own themes.

Free to modify, no limitations or obligations!

I have not defined any license for my themes since they are completely free in all senses. If I would have to put a license, the themes would go under the GPL. But I have never seen any need for that.

Just as with my free website templates, my WordPress themes are completely free to use without any kind of limitation or obligation. I kindly ask you to keep the footer credits, since it is a good way of giving something back to me for the work i have done. But it is completely voluntary, you are free to make any changes you may want to including removing the credits – or replacing it with your own.

No sponsorship slot sales

I get 20-30 offers for theme sponsorships every week. It is usually advertising companies or SEO agencies that want to place sponsored links in my themes, in exchange for a good amount of money. But I keep on turning these offers down, every single one of them, since WordPress founder and developer Matt Mullenweg has asked me to. I am not providing any advertising space in my themes, and I don't have any "sponsored link slot" that I sell to the highest bidder.

However, I do have regular credits placed in the footer.php of each theme. While I kindly ask theme users to keep the design credits, it is no demand or obligation. As said, theme users are free to edit and modify the themes in any way they may want to. That is why I don't get too mad when someone rips off my themes and posts lightly modified versions with altered footer credits. As long as the themes can help someone, I'm happy about it.

The "making money" part

While the theme sponsorship offers are very good and honestly painful to turn down sometimes, I am still happy as long as I have the option of having regular design credits in the themes I design for WordPress. Most theme users keep the credits, which sends visitors to this site. Since I have the commercial templates store (through and the 8 text link ads in the sidebar of my front page, I make money out of the work anyway. I will never get rich from giving away my work for free, but I am able to keep this site online and hopefully soon give the site a proper update and a very much needed re-design.

I am also accepting donations over PayPal (click here for donation link), and thanks to your generous support I can spend a few hours every day on helping template and theme users for free. I am also able to work for free with customization and implementation of templates for different charity projects, and for non-profit organisations – something that has given me a lot of inspiration in return. With the new design, I will launch a "Thank you!"-section in the sidebar and on a separate page of this site, where I post the names and links of the people who support my work with donations. You are a great help, and of course I appreciate it a lot!

The focus

Depending on the outcome of the WordPress theme debate, I may possibly step back from the theme world and put the main focus on the website templates again. I will still continue to build WordPress themes (I have three new themes ready for release right now!), but I may not be able to provide the same amount of time to support theme users. But I don't know about that yet, it depends on the outcome of the discussions and the expected new rules and boycotts of themes that have "improper" links in them. I am not going to sit around if people see me as a bad-guy, because I hate that feeling. But if common sense wins over the angry demands, I will be happy to continue to build public themes that I give away (and support) for free. More about that later…

For now, this site is the main priority. I have built more than 30 WordPress-based websites in the last 6 months, including, but I still haven't implemented sidebar widgets into my own site! I'm still stuck with the same hardcoded menus and boring design that I've had for almost a year now. But that will change. I know I've said it before, and I know you don't believe me when I say it again. But I'll do my best to surprise you. I'm back from a period of stress and bad health, and the summer is soon here. I hope it will help me get the work done…

Final words and shorties

We lost a loved one two days ago. It is not fair at all. It never is…

Huge blog post coming up: "The fifth Lagoona album". I've been writing on that post for two months now, it will be fun to publish once it is ready for it!

Current number of templates that are ready for release on this site: 7. All new designs, not modifications of old templates.

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