Woohoo! Just got word this past week that I won a premium WordPress theme from ithemes.com. Many thanks to Ian Stewart over at themeshaper.com for the contest. All you had to do was…

Just let the community know what you think the next WordPress default theme should be like. All you have to do is leave a comment here with your great idea or ideas. Any idea is fine. You don’t need to be a theme developer, all you need is an opinion. Not enough room? Write a post on your own blog outlining your ideas (and to make sure I find it, leave a comment here with a link to your post). The three best ideas/proposals, as judged by iThemes and ThemeShaper, will be awarded the prizes. If we think they’re good ideas, you win! Simple.

A couple of thoughts about this process…

  1. Commenting on blogs is important. For reasons that I’ve listed before, I prefer having interaction with readers and authors. There are only a couple of blogs that I read that disallow commenting. The authors’ reasons for doing this (for the specific two I refer to) are to enable them to focus on quality content. My contention, however, is that content is augmented and enhanced by the comments of others. It also allows readers to feel more ownership and to feel like they’re contributing to that particular blog’s community.
  2. If I hadn’t commented, I wouldn’t have won.
  3. There is network value in blog participation. Readers who see my/your comment on someone else’s blog – if it is an insightful or significant one – will often swing by your site to see who you are/what you’ve written. Every now and then, one of those will become a regular reader of your own site.

Here was my contribution to the contest:

I think the next theme should be able to teach beginning users of WordPress more about the basics of WordPress. Rather than simply clicking on the theme, I think it would be awesome if the next them contained a mini database of WordPress how-to’s that the user could peruse at his own leisure.I also think the header should be more customizable. I’d vote for something like Derek Punsalan’s Grid Focus.

I threw it out as a kind of pie-in-the-sky idea. Anything that could be built into WordPress to facilitate an easier blogging experience for beginners is better for all of us. I’ve been blogging for more than two years – regularly – and although my blog hasn’t ever hit the “big time,” I do consistently hear from friends, colleagues, former classmates, church members and others that I wouldn’t hear from otherwise.

I began on Typepad, fell in love with the discipline of writing and the generation of a network that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Blogging has enabled me to begin several online friendships, build a better business network and meet some really sharp pastors and Christian leaders from across the globe as a result of blogging.

My idea about making the next default theme of WordPress a built-in tutorial for bloggers would make an immense contribution to the blog world. It would make it easier for others jump into the global conversation. Some of you out there who have always been readers to this point have wonderful things in your head. You might not ever be a daily blogger, but perhaps your weekly or monthly contribution to your own blog would generate its own following.

So WordPress gurus out there, please give this idea some thought. The WordPress Codex is a great contribution and resource, but it’s generally difficult to navigate unless you know what you’re looking for. At present, you need to be able to speak “WordPress” or php in order to find what you need. A more user-friendly introduction and walk-through would be a wonderful help for us all.

Thanks to those over at themeshaper.com who left encouraging and kind comments about my idea as well. Digg it. Who knows? It might catch on.

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