I switched out my theme to the Poseidon theme by ThemeZee. I wanted to try something new and looked around at some of the recent themes available on the free repo. In my personal opinion there are very few themes that are well designed. There are several reasons for that and of course many of those being my own.
At times when I see the repo submissions I wonder why they are doing it? There are a few that want to learn about the process, a few that want the exposure, and quite a few that want to promote. I’m not against it but I do feel that there is a time and place for that. I’ve said it again and I’ll say it again. I love what I do. I’d do it for free – if I really could.
I had to think back to when I was actually reviewing themes and posted a comment on a ticket. I had to search for it because I couldn’t remember what theme ticket I had posted it to.
I made an analogy within the ticket:
You don’t just go to Carnegie Hall and begin to play, you learn about how to play, scales, harmonics, rhythm, tone. The basics. Much like a theme, you have to learn how to build one. You can’t just copy/paste code all willy-nilly in hopes that it will pass. That’s not how you as a theme author learn, that’s not fair to the user, it’s not fair to the theme reviewer, it’s not fair to you. There should be no reason a theme author doesn’t know their code.
What I dislike is seeing a theme author not applying themselves to learning. There are a lot of things to be learned. Security, escaping, translation, actions, filters. These are things that themes are capable of doing and should be doing. You can make a theme that is capable of being extended, filtered, modified with just a few lines of codes. It just takes time to learn these things.
Those last sentences still ring true with many theme authors that are submitting their themes. That’s just the code.
I’m not even going to get into the design aspect of it. Main reason is because there are so many copycat designs being submitted. That and the ones that could be decent are ported/migrated from static HTML pre-built design. I know there are a few out there who would agree that we need more niche themes in the repo, and I wholeheartedly agree with that.
Yes, I do at times still feel that way about some of the tickets I come across, be it the ones I review or the ones I read when I look through the list of submissions. Many have some good ideas but terrible design, and others are terrible ideas with great design.
Yes, reviewers can make suggestions but they are merely that. Authors should also be open to the ideas reviewers provide rather than just put them off.
At this point I already feel like I’m beginning to trail off into other topics so I’ll end it with one last thing. Learning about the elements of design are a good starting point for creating a good looking theme. There are a lot of places to takes queues from. One I often like is A List Apart.