Masonry is a new free WordPress theme with an elegant 1-column design. You’d be hard-pressed to find a theme that is easier to set up. It offers just a handful of options built into the native customizer, including the ability to customize the header colors and header background image.
The theme is mobile-friendly, with a hidden sidebar that houses the primary navigation and widgets. It also has support for a footer menu and a social links menu at the top. With the help of the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin, you can have an existing site looking just like the Masonry demo in a matter of a couple minutes.
The Story Behind Masonry: A WordPress.org Theme Collaboration
There’s a unique story behind the creation of this theme. Masonry was started as a collaboration project between WordPress theme designer Emil Uzelac and DeviX, a development company founded by Mario Peshev and Stanko Metodiev.
Uzelac is most well-known for his work on the WordPress.org Theme Review Team and his popular free Responsive theme that was eventually acquired by CyberChimps. He put out a tweet, announcing his availability:
You have a WordPress project and I have 2 weeks free, let’s talk! #WordPress
— Emil Uzelac (@emiluzelac) September 7, 2014
Uzelac was Peshev’s mentor for the Theme Review Team in 2011 before he promoted him to a reviewer. This was back in the days when you had to pass more than a dozen test reviews before moving on. “Emil is super dedicated to the WPTRT and a great person and should not be left unemployed at any time,” Peshev said. He responded to his tweet, and a theme collaboration was born.
DevriX set out some ideas for the theme and then hired Uzelac to design and develop it. “We have added several things and will keep maintaining it, but we paid him for a full zip file that was (almost) ready to go on WordPress.org,” Peshev said. “Since he’s one of the TRT admins, it was the easiest way to cover the hundreds of requirements there.”
Peshev said that DevriX gets no practical business benefit from the theme, as the company doesn’t perform customization or installation services. He saw it as a good way to give back to the community while also helping volunteers to find more work for their expertise.
Making the Theme Review Team More Visible
As a result of this collaboration experience, Peshev discovered that there is no easy way for people to find and hire those who are skilled at preparing a theme for approval on WordPress.org. He suggested that a directory of Theme Review team members might be a good idea for promoting the folks who have these abilities.
There is no clear way to hire any of them for theme reviews or building a theme following the WordPress.org guidelines. I assume that small and medium agencies would be willing to pay for professional reviews or getting themes built for any reason, which would support both parties. I’ve had several clients paying for code reviews and fixing themes in order to get them in the WordPress.org Theme Directory.
In the past, themes have sometimes taken months to go through the process, after getting rejected a few times and then finally gaining approval. Hiring someone to help prepare a theme to pass WordPress.org guidelines can save a company a good chunk of time. “Given the 4-6 week period to get a theme reviewed, that’s a valuable service,” Peshev said.
A directory would help people in the community to be able to identify the qualified Theme Review Team volunteers available to hire for code review, even for products that are marketed outside of WordPress.org. “Same goes for all the other teams that don’t get props in the Core releases, such as docs, polyglots and accessibility” Peshev said. “In this case, theme reviewers are not listed anywhere and not publicly available for hire (for new themes or professional reviews).”
In the case of Uzelac and Peshev’s collaboration, the end result is a nice free theme for the community to enjoy. With all the volunteer hours put into reviewing themes for WordPress.org, do you think reviewers could benefit from being listed in a directory? Or would this needlessly complicate the relationship between reviewers and submissions on WordPress.org?