The WordPress theme repository is the best place to find safe and beautiful themes. However, it has been plagued with long queues, fewer contributors, and a flawed contribution process. The theme repo is flooded new entries on a regular basis but, how many actually make it to the list? The answer is — very few.
The future of the theme repository on WordPress.org has been in discussion for quite some time, but after the recent launch of the new plugin repo, I think that it’s high time to discuss the theme repo as well.
Matt Mullenweg’s biggest dream for the repository is for it to be the main place for users to search and find themes.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to dish out somewhat an ideal look of the WordPress theme directory.
Automated Reviewing Process
Ideally, a theme developer submits the theme, the theme review bot reviews it and responds back within 24 hours. After a few iterations, the theme goes live in less than a week.
Many developers including myself have been hesitant in submitting themes to WordPress.org because of the long wait time to get published. I think that the theme reviewing process should be revised altogether. It requires an in-depth automation with little human involvement.
After all, we are all developers, we can find a way to automate the process. Six-month delays are not good for the ecosystem. As a theme developer, I know how much effort is required to develop your product, and if you spend months building a product and then wait half a year to share it with others, it can kill your mojo.
Scalability of a workflow goes hand-in-hand with automation. With the current reviewing process, scalability seems near to impossible. Ideally, it should take approximately 24-48 hours for the theme to be reviewed and get published. Such automation will also allow contributors/reviewers to spend more time on something productive than doing grunt work.
Better Custom Demo
One of the major issues is the demo layout of the themes. It’s 2017, and WordPress is more than just a blogging platform. Themes are more business focused, and we need better demos.
The new TwentySeventeen theme is one of its kind. But have you tried looking at its demo? It doesn’t showcase the business layout of the theme.
It displays a more blog oriented layout, but it can do so much more. This issue is associated with almost every other theme at the WordPress.org. It’s time we improve the default demo and build something interesting.
Automated Theme Testing
I would love to see an automated testing library that tests your code in an agile manner with continuous integration. Imagine having an automated theme testing library that you could use in an agile way with continuous integration. Keeping your code in check, every day without you having to look at it.
The current workflow requires manual checking for all the bugs and theme standards. This not only requires an extra work but also contributes to the long delays.
Like I’ve said, we are developers. We can program things to make our life easier. It sounds completely illogical to check code issues manually when automated tools can handle the same.
The Theme Check plugin has been around for quite some time and developers rely greatly on it for debugging issues before the final theme submission. But relying solely on it makes no sense. Efforts need to be put in to produce more of such tools and provide an automated testing environment.
An ideal environment would include simple test syntax, no implicit globals, tests that run concurrently, and enforced automatic tests.
“Editor’s Choice” Themes
The section for Featured themes shows automatically picked entries based on statistics. Which is pretty important, because it is unbiased and automated. Though, I think we can also have a section for Editor’s Choice, which should be a hand-chosen section that features high-quality code and design standards.
Just because a theme got approved and ranks high in the featured section, doesn’t mean it has high quality code.
Some problems could come with the addition of this section, and we would have to decide who would choose the themes, but I think having both the featured section as well as the Editor’s Choice Section would bring equilibrium.
Improved Submission Guidelines
The current theme submission guidelines are quite well written but there’s room for improvement. I’ve been following the team’s discussions, and most of the time they’re struggling with the security and licensing guidelines, which developers fail to follow. The result is theme rejection which is very frustrating.
One possible solution is to introduce pre-defined component libraries and code snippets. This could help the developers write their code in a better way. All of this should culminate in a complete handbook which is accessible to everyone. Here are two examples of this in action: 10up Components Library, WPTRT GitHub.
Trust The Users
The WordPress rating system can also help. The theme review team should lessen their burden and seek help from the end- users who are the actual beneficiaries of a WP theme. It’s the time when users should be trusted for good and bad theme ratings. So, allow them to assist you by the use of rating system.
Plugins and themes are all connected. Most of the time, I find people arguing about what’s theme and plugin territory. It all boils down to the fact that the end users are going to use both.
What if we can have a section of plugins connected with themes? Theme authors could choose a few plugins that play well with their themes. How about that? I think everyone would love that.
Wrapping Things Up
As a WordPress developer and user, I along with many others would love to see these changes live. These were merely a few suggestions which I personally feel must be integrated. If you have something more to share regarding the current WP theme repo you are welcome to do so. Share your feedback in the comments below and let me know how do you feel about this post.
Finally, you can catch all of my articles on my profile page, and you can follow me on my blog and/or reach out at Twitter @MrAhmadAwais; where I write about development workflows in the context of WordPress.
As usual, don’t hesitate to leave any questions or comments below, and I’ll aim to respond to each of them.