Brian Gardner and the art of consistent WordPress design

This is the latest episode in my WordPress Community series. In these videos, I take a candid look at the work of people who have made (and continue to make) significant contributions to the WordPress platform.

This time, the spotlight is on Brian Gardner. Brian is a blogger, developer and entrepreneur who has been involved with WordPress from early on. I first came across his work back in 2006 when he released a free WordPress theme called “Vertigo”. Its clean layout and professional feel caught my attention and led me to his blog where I discovered an entire series of high quality free themes.

You see, *way* back then, the term “premium theme” wasn’t part of the WordPress community’s vocabulary. People used to release free themes and plugins all the time, partly out of wanting to give back to the community, partly as a strategy to drive traffic to their sites and in the process earn more advertising revenue. Brian did both very effectively and was able to build the mighty StudioPress on the back of the loyal following he had created.

Looking through the catalogue of themes at StudioPress, I can still see the same design traits at work. The bedrock of StudioPress is Brian’s flagship theme framework called Genesis. The formula is simple: build a professional grade theme framework with extensive features and an intuitive admin panel to power an array of clean and professional child theme designs. I say “simple”, but that’s a but of an understatement. Genesis and StudioPress is the result of years of refinement and evolution.

So I’m making this video in honour of Brian’s dedication to WordPress and his sense of consistency. Yes, there’s no doubt that WordPress has served him well, but his commitment to quality standards has also helped raise the bar of WordPress too.

Written by Will Ellington

Originally from the UK, I currently live in Osaka, Japan, where I work in higher education. I’ve been a WordPress user since 2004 and have developed numerous projects with it over the years. Wpliving is a place to share things i've learnt along the way, and to explore innovations in WordPress too.

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  1. Yeah, Brian is a cool cat alright and I can’t believe you mentioned Vertigo! I used to use vertigo blue (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/2764037425) back when I still ran a blog.

    Sad that those themes bit the dust. I guess all themes have a shelf life. I also miss the old days of WordPress, it was somehow so much more simple. Lucky that Matt Mullenweg is on a quest to make WP simple again for mobile…

    Anyway, thanks for this short trip down memory lane. I like these community videos. What about WP plugin developers? Are you planning on covering any of them? What about the people at Automattic? Surely they deserve a mention as pillars of the community? And don’t forget the wp forum gurus…

    • Oh wow, I didn’t know Vertigo came in a shade of blue! Lol, how geek 101 is this? Discussing themes from the past? There’s an idea for a list: the WordPress theme hall of fame! Could be fun to dig up some of those old designs.

      In terms of plugin developers, Automattic folks etc. Yes I’m going to mix things up. The first 3 videos have been about theme developers or web designers. I’ll shift to different territory soon. Thanks for all the suggestions though. Like the idea of the forum gurus. The unsung heros of WP.

  2. Very interesting Will, would also be cool if you covered people who have built great community sites, like Ryan from WPCandy.com

    • Thanks Jean. Yes, I’ll look at community sites too. I think you’re right to mention WPCandy, it’s a fantastic resource and definitely one of the points of inspiration behind wpliving.

  3. Thank you for sharing us the background of Brian. I have been using Genesis for 2 years, the quality is awesome. It’s more suitable for me than Thesis since I don’t want to mess with a mass of options.

    • Thanks for your comment. Brian really has got Genesis down to a tee as they say when it comes to the admin side of things. Perhaps I’ll do a review or a video that looks into the admin side of Genesis in the near future.

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