how-to

The Tools Behind A WordPress Theme Shop

When I started to build the Array site, I knew from the get-go that I was going to start from scratch. The only way to achieve the simplicity I wanted on the front-end, was to match it on the back-end. So I started with a blank style.scss file and it grew from there.

Keeping with that mindset, I knew that I wanted the inner workings of the site to be very lean and easily maintainable yet dangerously powerful and scalable. Having experimented with so many different WordPress products, tools and coding practices over the years, I was excited to pool all of these resources together and laser-beam-focus them onto Array. I knew which tools and plugins didn’t work, and I knew which ones worked incredibly well. This is a level you can only achieve by installing an astounding amount of poorly-crafted plugins. I’m still waiting on some sort of acknowledgement of this achievement, by the way.

So today, I thought I’d share with you some of the tools I used to build this new WordPress theme shop, Array.

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Free Notebook Photo Set

Several months ago, I ran into a Kickstarter page for Baron Fig notebooks. I was immediately struck by the aesthetic and simplicity that the notebook promised. Although I foolishly didn’t back Baron Fig at the time, I was delighted to see they recently started shipping.

Fast forward to today, when I finally received a few of these notebooks in the mail. The build quality and paper are top-notch, and provide a great writing experience. I couldn’t help but take a few photos of these beautiful notebooks.

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introducing-array

Introducing Array

I’m Mike McAlister. I’ve been involved with WordPress since 2009. For the past five years, I’ve been designing and developing quality WordPress themes under the moniker Okay Themes. With Okay, I was able to experiment with design and development as a theme provider on a massive scale at ThemeForest. I’m humbled to say I’ve since shared my WordPress theme collection with over 20,000 awesomely creative and supportive people.

Okay Themes has been a great vehicle to learn the ins-and-outs of the commercial theme space, as well as a great way to learn about my clientele and where I fit into the equation. Being a small-scale operation has provided me with the opportunity to connect with people who share the same ethos as myself and strive for simplicity.

Rather than focusing on the quantity of themes over the years, I’ve stayed fiercely dedicated to the quality of each and every theme in my collection. Spending hours nudging pixels around, reworking code to be as efficient and clean as possible, listening to feedback from users, keeping up with standards and adopting new technologies when they emerge. Details that can ultimately make a good product great.

While I’ve been hard at work on said details, the WordPress theme marketplace has gone and complicated itself a great deal, getting further and further away from WordPress’s core philosophy.

Great software should work with little configuration and setup. WordPress is designed to get you up and running and fully functional in no longer than five minutes. You shouldn’t have to battle to use the standard functionality of WordPress.

Sign me up! I’m ready to get back to this simpler way of doing things. Care to join me?

Introducing Array

Okay Themes will now be known simply as Array. We (still) specialize in beautifully crafted, high quality WordPress goods. New name, new website, new logo, same way of doing business.

Why the new name? What happens to Okay Themes?

Over the years, Okay Themes has always done as well as I had hoped, even exceeding my expectations on many accounts. I’m thrilled to have grown it into a trustworthy brand, ultimately allowing Okay Themes to evolve and become something even better — Array.

Why Array?

As you might imagine, rebranding is quite the task. Simply coming to the decision of going through with a rebrand is a whole decision in itself, let alone the endless subsequent decisions. I knew all of this going into it, but it just felt like the right time to rebrand and relaunch the theme shop.

ar·ray (n)
1. an impressive display or collection of a particular object.
2. an ordered arrangement, in particular.

The day before I was set to leave for a few weeks to Thailand in October, I was doing some last-minute cleanup on a bug fix to clear my to-do list. As I double-checked my work and skimmed through the code, it hit me. array(). It was something I had written probably six billion times but never thought anything of it. It’s a very familiar word, we all know it means a kind of unique collection. WordPress folks are familiar with it because of its vast use in themes and plugins. It looks nice typed out, it sounds friendly, it conveys a sense of order and structure. So I named this new WordPress adventure Array, and I hope you like it. (Please like it, rebranding is hard. See above.)

Who is behind Array?

Many of you probably already know myself, Mike McAlister, but there are a few more lads responsible for some of the quality work around here. John Parris joined me earlier this year to help wrangle code and work out some great UX features for Array and the theme collection. George Gecewicz is a support heavyweight, helping us clear support tickets while the new site was being built. Read more about us and our philosophy on the About page.

New WordPress theme shops launch every day. Why is Array any different?

Unlike many of these new theme shops that pop up, I’ve been doing this since 2009. I’ve been through the ups and downs of the WordPress ecosystem. I’ve carved a niche in a bloated, saturated marketplace. I’ve earned the trust of my peers and customers by creating honest, well-made WordPress goods that enable users instead of hinder them.

What does this mean for existing customers?

If you’re already a customer, all of your purchases, downloads, support tickets and account info have been safely and securely migrated from Okay Themes to Array. Simply sign in with the same username and password you’ve used previously. Check out your new Dashboard area and let us know what you think!

Departure from ThemeForest

Over the course of my five year tenure at ThemeForest, Envato has grown from a quiet, close-knit community to a multi-million dollar mega-marketplace, with over 3.5 million members and around 5 million marketplace items. Talk about growth.

Just as Envato has grown over the years, so have my own endeavors. Using ThemeForest as a platform, I’ve created a pretty good name for myself with my previous adventure, Okay Themes, designing and developing a unique collection of WordPress themes that have been deemed trustworthy and considered a breath of fresh air in the bloated, settings-infested theme landscape.

After fighting the good fight for five years, my body of work has officially outgrown the ThemeForest marketplace. Although it has been a great platform for starting my business, my own ethos and aspirations have evolved. Starting today, my WordPress themes will be available exclusively through Array and WordPress.com.

ThemeForest Customers

I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure my ThemeForest customers are well taken care of during this transition. If you’ve purchased a theme from Okay Themes via ThemeForest, your download will no longer be available via your ThemeForest Downloads section starting today.

But fear not, loyal customer! You can transfer your purchase history to Array and still access your theme downloads and support for 1 year! After 1 year, you may choose to renew your license at a 20% discount to continue getting updates and theme support.

Simply visit the ThemeForest registration page and enter your email and Purchase Code. Using this form, you can transfer each of your ThemeForest purchases to Array. If you are a new user, an account will be created for you and the details will be dispatched to your email. If you already had an account at Okay Themes, you can sign in using the same credentials to access your downloads.

We’ve worked tirelessly to make sure this is a smooth transition for everyone involved. Please feel free to contact us if you have any specific questions about the transition. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.

Special Thanks

Although this site may seem simple in nature, it was a technological feat that required more than just my hands. The following folks are highly skilled in what they do, and without their help, Array wouldn’t be what it is.

Heavy Heavy - Heavy Heavy is a creative studio based in San Antonio, TX. I worked with Steven Darby and Erik Ford to develop a new logo to accompany Array’s simple and thoughtful aesthetic. Darby collected my ideas, concentrated them down and turned them into a graphic, creating something truly unique that further underscores my dedication to simplicity. Look for a follow-up post about the process of working through a redesign with these guys.

John Parris – John joined Array at the beginning of 2014 and has been an invaluable asset to my small team. John shares the same passion for simplicity and has influenced many decisions that have led to a more seamless user experience.

George Gecewicz – George has held down the support forum while John and I worked on building out Array and updating the theme collection.

Justin Sainton – Justin helped me import my support discussions from my previous support app, Tender, into bbPress. We’ve open-sourced this project for anyone who is looking to make the same switch.

Pippin Williamson – Pippin is the lead developer and mastermind behind EasyDigitalDownloads, which powers the shopping cart and many other features on Array. I couldn’t have built this site without his quality, extendable plugins.

Nick Cernis – Nick helped me set up a seamless process for ThemeForest users to register on Array and transfer their purchases to their Array dashboard.

Mandi McAlister – Mandi, my wife, provided me with endless amounts of coffee, feedback, support and motivation to keep building the site, even when I hated it and didn’t want to work on it anymore.

Meet George, Our New Support Wizard!

Please join me in welcoming George Gecewicz to the support team! George will be helping out in the support forum, answering inquiries about themes and providing insight into life’s most complex questions.

Hailing from the East coast, George is a support heavyweight. Having fulfilled several support roles in the past, we are mutually excited to bring his expertise to the Array collection of premium themes. When not on the clock, George spends even more time working with WordPress, reading and writing.

Stop by Twitter and say hi to George, or drop him a line in the forum if you run across him.

author-mobile

Author Gets A Massive Update

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today I have for you a huge update for Author WordPress Theme. Author was initially released on June 5th, 2012. Since then it had seen about 20 updates for bug fixes, new WordPress feature support and more. It’s our top priority to keep all of our themes up-to-date, functional and relevant.

The past two weeks have been dedicated to updating the entire collection, adding seamless, in-dash theme updates and extensive code cleanup across the board. Working with WordPress.com on Publisher, we learned a great deal about rigorous testing and code review. We’ve applied this same gauntlet to all themes.

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ampersand-laptop

Introducing Ampersand WordPress Theme

Howdy folks! It feels like a launch day today, doesn’t it? That’s because it IS a launch day! We’re happy to announce Ampersand today. Ampersand is a portfolio style theme with an emphasis on beautiful, legible typography and a graceful mobile experience.

Each theme we build here at Array is an improvement upon the last. Our themes get better with each release. With Publisher, we worked closely with the WordPress.com theme review team to refine every line of our code and improve the overall usability of Publisher. We’ve applied this same microscopic detail treatment to Ampersand, and it might just be our best theme yet.

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Rewrite Retired, Grab It For Free!

Happy Thursday, everybody! Today we’re officially retiring Rewrite from our premium theme collection and moving it into the retirement home where you can download it for free! Holy smokes! (Note: If you’ve purchased Rewrite in the past, theme support is still available for you in the support forum!)

We’re very fond of Rewrite, as it was the first responsive WordPress theme Okay ever released. Actually, it was the first time we had really experimented with responsive styles at all. It was very exciting to learn the power of elegant, responsive code, and we have Rewrite to thank for being the catalyst.

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New Feature: Grab Theme Updates On The Fly

Updating your WordPress theme can be a huge pain. You have to track down the latest files, download them, back up your current install (if you’re smart), upload the new theme files and hope that nothing broke in the process. Good luck, buddy.

As theme users ourselves, we know this can really turn users off to a theme and potentially it’s provider. Theme updates should be seamless and cause no friction to your workflow. And now it is with Array.

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publisher-tablet

Publisher Now Available For WordPress.org

Array recently joined the WordPress.com theme marketplace with Publisher, a masonry-style, infinite-loading, responsive WordPress theme. Publisher has received a very warm welcome and already over 100 WordPress.com sites are powered by Publisher! And now we’re happy to make Publisher available to self-hosted sites.

Head over to Publisher’s theme page to find out more and purchase. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of Publisher’s features.

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array-wp

Array Joins WordPress.com

We are ecstatic to announce that Array has joined the WordPress.com premium theme marketplace! This is a huge step towards providing our awesome themes to even more users, starting with WordPress’s hosted blogging platform, WordPress.com.

It was a very rewarding and enlightening experience working with Philip Arthur Moore over the last few months. There’s a ton of work that goes into the themes submitted to WordPress.com. Every theme has to be meticulously tested and reviewed many times, resulting in a robust, bulletproof theme fit for an audience as large as WordPress.com.

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