Should WordPress.org Have Theme Design Demands?

There’s been some talk about quality control of themes (and plugins) on WordPress.org. It all boils down to the fact that most of the themes out there look like crap and might even perform accordingly. People like Kevin Muldoon of WPMods make a case for a higher entry level for the themes directory on WordPress.org.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting better looking stuff, but it raises a few questions. Like who decides what’s good looking and what’s not? And what about all those themes that might be excellent starting points for new projects, but look like crap beore you dress them with your excellence?

Theme design – and I’m talking about the visual look and feel here, nothing else – is hard. You might loathe what I find appealing, and I might think you’re colorblind, but this is the one thing where none of us is right. Sure, I might be better plugged into what works and sells for the masses, but that doesn’t mean that my opinion is worth more than yours.

Or let’s put it this way: If you want to rip of the Drudge Report, then by all means do it.

Better yet, if there’s a theme on WordPress.org mimicking said Drudge Report, I’d hate to see it removed from your grasp just because someone thought it was bad design.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any need for a cleanup of the themes directory on WordPress.org, not design-wise at least. Outdated themes are another matter, but I think theme approval for the directory should be limited to “write proper code for WordPress” and nothing else. The theme review team is pulling a lot of weight here, and putting design decisions on their shoulders is just plain wrong, for a lot of reasons.

But do we need a design-focused theme directory? Some people obviously think so, otherwise I wouldn’t be hammering out this column about it. For once, I’ll be one of those assholes that says “create the design-focused theme directory if you think it is needed”. I’m defending my temporary assholeness with the fact that I think a simple blog post listing your favorite themes is enough.

In my opinion we’ve already got the theme curation we need, through blogs and various gallery sites. That’s an ecosystem anyone can contribute to, posting about good looking themes. WordPress.org should be as neutral as possible.

Just put a date and a WordPress version on there, because finding a theme that was top of the line in 2006 usually isn’t what we’re looking at five years later.

Image credit: formatbrain, found on Flickr (CC)