Why WordPress Theme Viewer Stinks, and What Should be Done About It

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Anyone who has uploaded a theme themselves or browsed through the theme viewer to any great degree is sure to have had a number of complaints with the service. Granted it is a service, and a great one at that. But there is still a lot that could be improved upon.

Header for WordPress Theme Viewer

My Complaints

No tagging leaves for very limited search capabilities

Tagging has nearly become standard, no matter what the purpose of the website is. There are search engines now which actually give greater value to a user tagged item than something indexed by an engine. The point is: users are the best way to categorize user generated content. Or, at least they should be a contributing factor. Right now there is no option on Theme Viewer for adding tags to themes while browsing. But consider the value of this. Users could:

  • Tag a theme with the purpose they used it for, thus lending even more value to the description.
  • Add helpful search terms like “SEO optimized” or “very clean code”
  • Leave any other number of custom tags that could do useful things I’m not creative enough to come up with.

Sure, there could (and probably would be) abuse of the system. But should that ever be the reason (or excuse) not to push the envelope?

Broken theme images cause confusion and misunderstanding

There is a great system built there, don’t get me wrong. But I have experience a mishap or two when it comes to the automatic image that displays for each theme. In short: it was broken. How about a description of what browser is snapping those shots? Or quality control that makes sure that the images that display are correct?

Unanswered emails/requests for service

This actually goes along with the above idea. When one of the themes I collaborated on with Cory Miller showed up broken in the Theme Viewer, I emailed the Theme Viewer people. I’m not sure who this is channeled to (a member of the undersigned, perhaps?) but I never heard back. Still waiting.

No rating system in place

The closest thing to a rating system is the “most downloaded” sidebar that shows the top then most downloaded themes. But this is hardly an indicator of quality; just take a look at the themes listed. Number one is a theme called Vestered Little. It’s not crap or anything, but it’s main feature is the ability to change the background image. If you don’t get the humor of that last statement, it won’t help if I try and explain it to you.

That post is above every stinking page!

If you search with the search box up top on Theme Viewer, that dang post never leaves its position. Every page you see, you have to scroll down half a page to see anything useful! This still amazes me; it’s very anti-user friendly.

So what should be done?

The toughest and the easiest question of all. Maybe it’s something that they can change in the Theme Viewer itself. Or maybe it’s time for something new.

What would a new, improved Theme Viewer look like?

  • It would be easily tag-able. Think Flickr, YouTube, Facebook—pretty much any web 2.0 that’s worth a rip.
  • It would be as well thought-out as WordPress is.
  • It would have quick feedback.
  • It would include a solid rating system where users’ reputation weighed into their votes.
  • All of the little annoying things, like that post above everything and the messed up screenshots, would be gone.

Phew. It felt good to get that off my chest.