WordPress Theme Directory

It looks like WordPress has decided to revamp their theme directory and turn it into a fully fledged source repository. This is a step in the right direction and a possible route to order in the previous anarchy that represented the theme market prior to this move. There are a number of requirements for a theme to be accepted:

  • A single zip file, with all of the files themes file included.
  • There must be a style.css file containing:
    • Name (which must be unique to the directory)
    • Tags
    • Version (in the format of x.x or x.x.x and must be unique to the theme)
    • Align classes: .alignright, .alignleft, .aligncenter (see http://codex.wordpress.org/CSS for more details)
  • The screenshot file name must be screenshot.png, and be a real screenshot of the theme, not a splash screen.
  • Licensing must be GPL compatible.
  • No hidden, paid or sponsored links in the theme. Links back to the author’s site are fine.
  • Support Gravatars
  • Show post categories and tags
  • The theme must be your own original work.
  • Adult/mature themes are not allowed.

(Interesting to note that now themes should position images correctly in posts, Gravatars will just work and you’ll be hard pressed to find themes with people in swimwear)

So, where does this leave WordPress. Well, for a start they are now in a position to guarantee quality in the themes they represent. In the past themes were riddled with bugs, unimplemented features, encrypted sections and sponsored links, all of which reduced the confidence of people trying to use them. All these reflected badly on the underlying product and now WordPress has a way to control all this. Another change we are bound to see is the ability for WordPress to automatically notify a user when a new version of a theme is available, in the same way it currently does this with plugins.

With a change like this, there are bound to be people who are unhappy with the decision. A number of people run directories of templates, these are bound to fade away now that there’s a quality offering and WordPress can direct people in that direction. Theme designers who earn a fee for maliciously hiding sponsored links in themes will also suffer. I still think there’s a market for premium themes that have a cost attached to them, if they offer additional functionality and support that the free theme directory doesn’t offer, but that would be an honest transaction rather than persuading users they have a “free theme” that has dangerous bits attached to it.

The other interesting fact is that WordPress is not only pushing to increase the quality of their product, but also tying it it’s other assets (like Gravatar) and encouraging people to use them. It’s advice that any IT Service organisation should take on board and use their position to maximise their utility and return. That’s what strategic planning is all about.

Should be interesting, check out the theme directory

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