A “Theme Options” page is designed to give control over how a theme looks and functions, solely by setting options in the WordPress dashboard. The user then has no need to edit the core theme files.

Theme Options have become a standard feature in premium WordPress themes (And some free ones too!), and aren’t that complicated to set up.

This post is a roundup of how Theme Options have progressed so far showing you what the advantages are, some resources for creating your own, and a collection of premium themes offering options pages so you can see what’s out there.

And at the end of the post, there’s a competition to win a free PSD to WordPress coding, with a theme options page included! Courtesy of Design to WP, thanks guys!

Advantages of Theme Options

The advantages are quite simple:

  • No technical knowledge required – Users can swap between 2 and 3 columns without understanding a single line of HTML or CSS.
  • Theme upgrades possible – The theme files are not edited by the user, so the theme can then be upgraded with new features later without losing any of the customizations made by the user (As they are stored in the database).
  • User-friendly – Even for users who know their way around a theme, the ease-of-use of just flicking a switch in an options page is far more appealing than editing source code.
  • For theme sellers only: Competitive advantage – In terms of premium themes, an options page is now required. Users expect them and your competitors have them, so you can’t not.

Creating Your Own Theme Options Page

Alex Denning from Nometech has put together a series of very detailed posts walking you through creating an options page for a theme. Check them out here:

In Part 3, he shares some screenshots of options pages in free WordPress themes.

Over on WeFunction, there is a great guide to adding options to the Write Post page.

Theme Forest have also put together a tutorial for creating an options page.

Lastly, if you’re stuck for ideas on what to put into your page, Blogsessive have looked around and listed what they found were the most popular features in a theme’s options.

Options Pages from Premium Themes

A lot of themes don’t have screenshots of their Options pages, but this is a collection of the ones I could find. It should help give you some ideas for what you could do with your next theme, or even what options are out there as a customer!

NB – No affiliate links here, it’s just for inspiration. And no company has been listed more than once.

Groovy by NattyWP


Suit and Tie by WooThemes


Arthemia by Color Labs Project


Studio Blue by Elegant Themes


WP Unlimited also seems to have a great set of options, but I couldn’t find any decent screenshots for it. Still worth a look though!

Videos of Theme Options in Use

Press75 have a video of the options page on their “Massive News” theme here.

Thesis have videos of their options page, design options and in-post options.

Win a Free PSD to WordPress Coding, with Theme Options!

Design to WordPress are offering one reader here a free PSD to WordPress conversion, with their control panel included.

To be in with a chance to win, just reply to this post with a comment answering the following question:

What feature would you like most in a theme options page?

I’ll pick a random winner from everyone who enters in 10 days time!

Good luck to everyone who enters!

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