How the Review Process Works

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Since I’ve decided to start reviewing a WordPress theme every day (rather, start doing it again) I find it necessary to break down my model and describe the criteria by which these themes will be “graded”. Here we go.

So you know…

Like the above says, there will now be a WordPress theme review every day. Keep an eye on them by subscribing or by watching the WordPress Theme Reviews category.

Five Star System

Each category carries the potential for a score of “5”. The scores go as follows, not surprisingly:

    Grading Scale

  • 5 – Excellent
  • 4 – Not bad
  • 3 – Eh
  • 2 – Pretty bad
  • 1 – Really poor


As I’ve said before, valid markup is essential to a solid website, no matter whether it is a fortune 500 company’s page or a blog. In this case, obviously, we are dealing with blogs. And each one will be graded on how valid their markup is.

The W3C validation systems will be used (for CSS, XHTML, as well as its various usability tests) and can be a good early indication of the quality of a theme. However, this isnn’t the only way it will be graded on its validity. I will also pay attention to things like messy markup and lots of nested divs, inline styles and the mixing of presentation with content. Oh, and I hope it goes without saying that each theme that is graded well on validation better be using divs and not tables.


Design is a tougher one to call. Obviously it is a bit subjective, but I will do my best to judge based on contemporary methods as well as popular trends (and what is old, tired, and outdated). Of course there will always be those who disagree with me, but then again comments are always welcome.


Themes will also be graded on their flexibility. This means a couple of things. First of all, can a theme stand it when I fill it full of content that isn’t like what is on the example site? In other words, can I use a number of sidebar widgets or only the ones designated? Is it easy to customize? Are there so many hacks I can’t navigate the code? Etc

In order to rank high under flexibility, a theme must have a minimum number of theme files, such as index.php, single.php, header.php, etc. It will also be great to see things like author.php and category.php too.

Flexibility also has to do with different WordPress compatibilities (2.2/2.3, WPMU, etc).

Something to Build On

If this post seems a little sparse, that is a good thing. I want to be able to come back to this and update it, improve it, and perfect it so that theme reviews get better and better. I will be linking back to these explanations from each theme review, so please jump in and suggest anything that might make things clearer for the author/user/reader. Thanks!