I’m excited to publish this interview with Sami Keijonen, the WordPress themer behind Foxland. I wanted to do this interview for a few reasons:
- He interviewed me recently and I wanted to return the favor.
- Besides his “self-interview” this is the first time anyone has interviewed Sami, which is quite surprising, but I’m happy to oblige
- Most importantly, Sami has interesting insights on theme development to share that would be valuable to Themetry readers.
Anyway, my questions are wrapped in <h2> tags, with Sami’s answers below.
You’re big into accessibility. I’m already sold, but for the other theme developers reading this who may not be, how would you sell them on the importance of accessibility?
I’m glad you’re sold. It feels good doesn’t it. I’d like to start with quote by Andrea Fercia.
Would you build a bridge that only a specific type of car can use?
When I talk about accessibility I usually start with these:
- By default web is accessible for everyone (if we use correct and semantic HTML), let’s not change that.
- Isn’t that our job to create better websites that people can actually use.
- If nothing else you leave money on the table if your service doesn’t work for some (many) people.
Amanda Rush also linked good articles by Karl Groves.
Articles like Creating Accessible WordPress Themes gives you good starting point to learn about accessibility.
As a theme author, I know it can sometimes be challenging to come up with unique theme names. You have some interesting theme names such as Kultalusikka, Hopeareunus, and Kalervo. Can you elaborate on your naming strategy?
Picking a theme name is sometimes challenging but mostly it has some kind of meaning. My theme name ideas come from different places. Now that I have a chance I’d like to summarize all my theme names.
Live Wire is a song name by AC/DC. It was my first theme and at that time I was thinking that all my theme names would be AC/DC related. Somehow I forgot this idea. I’ll promise to get back on track and name some of by themes based on this original idea.
Path means something like “finding your own path.”
Kultalusikka is also a song name. It’s from Finnish band called Kotiteollisuus. Kultalusikka means “golden spoon”. I guess the original saying is “silver spoon”.
From there I jumped to “every cloud has a silver lining” which is Hopeareunus.
Eino and Kalervo are my grandfather’s names. And they are also my middle names. When I was younger I was embarrassed of those old, traditional names. But now I’m super proud of them. I never met my grandfathers.
Kulkuri means drifter and Vaaka means balance. Both are Finnish words but I can’t remember why I picked those. 🙂
Kuorinka is a beautiful lake and small village where I have lived when I was growing up. My parents still live there so I still go there several times a year.
Simppeli means “simple.” And it really is simple theme.
Minä olen stands for “I am.” Juha Tapio has a song called “Minä olen, sinä olet” which translates to “I am, you are.” Note that this theme is kind of part one. I haven’t build theme called “you are” yet.
By the way this cover by Pauli Hanhiniemi still makes me cry.
Toivo is also Finnish word and means “hope”. It’s also boy name and I have two godsons called Toivo. Hi Toivo! Hi other Toivo!
Munsa, Sonsa, and Sanse doesn’t have any meaning :). For me there are more like sisters and brothers. Sonsa is designed by Tung Do so it might have some meaning.
Chuchadon was supposed to be church, charity, and donation theme. Hence the name.
By the way my next eCommerce theme name is going to be Checathlon. It’s a combination of words Checkout and Decathlon. This is what happens when you watch too much Olympic games.
According to your self-interview, you’re a math teacher. How do you apply your math and teaching skills toward your theme development?
I have thought about this several times. I guess I have some kind logical way of thinking which helps. But I actually like more visual things on theme development. It’s more like you’re creating a new painting. And I’m not very good at math, at least the harder math they teach you in University.
That’s one reason I like teaching which is more like frontend coding.
I’m also patient to get details right. Teaching helps you build patience. 🙂
How do you balance time between your math teaching responsibilities, along with Foxland and freelance work? What advice would you give to other WordPress professionals trying to balance a theme business or freelance career with a “day job”?
Well, I was a full time freelancer for one year.
In this year I could fully concentrate on client work but didn’t have enough time to build new themes that much. But at least I had clients and I could pay salary for myself. My first own paycheck was a pretty amazing feeling.
Now I’m going back to school to teach eight courses (about 6 months). At the same time I’ll try to take freelance jobs if I can, and build some new themes. I have know idea how I can balance all those! Ask me again early 2017. 🙂
I’d advise that you should focus more but don’t be afraid to try new things.
What advice would you give to an individual looking to break into the WordPress theme business?
If you’re not a great designer, find one. Good themes need fresh and unique designs, and rock solid code. But how do you turn great themes into theme business? I have no idea.
Or actually I do. Read and listen Matt Report about how to start a WordPress theme business with Mike McAlister.
That’s the best guide ever.
You have a balanced mix of paid and free themes on Foxland. How do you decide which themes are free and which are paid?
For a while I’ve been doing so called 48 hours theme challenges.
At least all those themes are free ones. And I really love creating simple but still solid themes. For example building Sanse theme was so much fun. There is no settings in the Customizer. Just write content, set menus and widgets, and you’re done.
If you had to pick one favorite theme from the Foxland collection, which would it be, and why?
It’s always the latest. Or this time it’s going to be the next one which I started to build yesterday. I already mentioned it, theme called Checathlon. It’s going to be business theme with support for Easy Digital Downloads and Portfolio.
Open ended, but anything else you’d like to share with the Themetry audience?
I’m glad you know about Themetry. This is one of those places where you should pick your themes.
Other than that, have fun y’all!