web 2.0

Sunday, May 16, 2010



An Interview with Leland Fiegel of Theme Lab

Posted: 16 May 2010 03:00 AM PDT

Leland Fiegel is a 21 years old professional web developer from United States of America who specializes in development of WordPress themes. He is the guy behind Theme Lab which is one of the most famous websites for WordPress tutorials. Themes released at Theme Lab have been downloaded more than 400000 times . Today we are going to discuss WordPress, Theme  Lab and his life in general. Join us if you are interested.

1WD: Many of us may be familiar with you because of your website: "Theme Lab" For those who are unfamiliar with you, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your life?

Leland: My name is Leland Fiegel.  I'm a web developer and blogger.  I'm a part-time student, a Lost fanatic, and an NBA fan.  I've been running Theme Lab for over two years now as my primary blog.  I talk about WordPress, release WordPress themes, as well as post tutorials and coding tips.

1WD: How did you get started in web development?

Leland: Since I was around 10 years old, I was pretty fascinated with making websites.  I discovered the "View Source" button on my old Internet Explorer browser and examined and played with code until I eventually taught myself HTML.  I made a bunch of fun little sites (none online anymore, unfortunately) and just started getting in the business side of things about 5 years ago, when I started buying domain names, developing websites for them.  My domain addiction carries on to this day, although I'm getting better at not buying every good domain I see nowadays.

1WD:There is always a heated debate on WordPress GPL issue. Will you please share your personal views with us about this matter?

Leland:I've said this before, but I don't believe there is any issue that gets the WordPress community more riled up than GPL-related debates. Arguments about commercial products and services, especially commercial themes, seem to always come back to the GPL in some way.  I personally try to stay out of it as much as I can, as I believe there are much more productive things you could be doing than sitting around arguing about things that have been argued hundreds of times over already.  It's like beating a dead horse.  Some people might completely boycott non-GPL products, and that's up to them.  Personally however, I don't mind promoting non-GPL products as long as  I feel it's a quality product.

1WD: Premium themes companies are growing like mushrooms. Do you think there is enough room for new WordPress premium theme companies in this over crowded niche?

Leland: It seems a new "premium" theme company pops up every day.  Usually they are started by people noone has every really heard of before, they release a few mediocre themes, and then they're never heard from again.  These are what I call the "fly by night" sites.  There are other new ones, however, who do a good job managing their credibility and reputation, put out a quality product, get good buzz flowing (usually by providing awesome support) and they probably end up doing quite well.  Some established theme developers may say it's "too late" to enter in the theme market.  I personally don't believe that for one second, even though it may not be as easy to start up now as it was in the early days of commercial themes with all the noise.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and there's always room for new, interesting, innovative, and quality new products.

Jungle Land - One of the most Popular Themes of ThemeLab

1WD:Each day, there are several WordPress theme releases in the community. What do you see in a “Quality” WordPress theme.

Leland:I see a quality WordPress theme as one with a clean design, with clean code running things behind the scenes.  It doesn't necessarily need to have a boatload of theme options, a fancy magazine-style layout, or 50 social bookmarking icons built-in.  It just needs to work and let you focus your content, without getting in the way too much.  Themes that are slow loading, poorly coded, with subpar usability are themes that you should definitely stay away from, even if it may look flashy or "cool" on the front-end.

1WD:You are owner of Custom Theme, which offers custom theme development. What's your day-to-day like?

Leland: I'll be honest in that I haven't really been getting many complete custom theme job requests lately.  Most of the work I've been doing lately has been mostly coding related.  Either coding mockups that people already have designed for them, or making "matching" WordPress themes so they can have a blog that blends in with the rest of their site.  There is a big market for this as people recognize the value a blog could add to an already established website.

1WD: How do you concentrate while writing code, and what is your favorite code editor?

Leland : First step, CLOSE TWEET DECK.  If I don't, I find myself constantly checking it to see the latest updates.  And if I get a reply or a direct message and that little popup box appears, game over.  I'm Twitter addict too, in case you didn't notice.  Closing Gmail also helps as well.  My favorite code editor would have to be Notepad++.  I don't need any fancy features, just something a little more useful than just straight Notepad.

1WD: Any code pet peeves?

Leland: Let's see, where do I start.  When I see "0px" instead of 0.  When CSS shorthand isn't used properly (such as margin-top: 10px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; when you can say the same thing as margin: 10px;).  When I see a bunch of <br/> tags to create space, when you should be using padding or margins in CSS.  When I see a bunch of useless meta tags that noone cares about anymore loaded up in the header of a document, like "Last Updated" and "Revisit After".  I'll stop there, I think I have an idea for a future blog post.

1WD: What are your future plans?

Leland: I'm planning on keeping up producing free content on Theme Lab, as well as posting paid content as well in a new section called the "Underground." There will be paid themes, tutorials, as well as a private forum for members.  It's something I've wanted to do for a while because I feel like I have a lot of WordPress coding knowledge to share.

Thanks for your time, Leland.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us. Do you think we should continue such interviews or any suggestions you want to give us. We are open for ideas. :)


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