Hopefully that headline is more drastic than the situation really is. I’m referencing a new project from this site called the WordPress Theme Generator. The WordPress Theme Generator (pictured below) lets anyone choose specific colors and locations for the elements of a WordPress theme (sidebar, menu, etc.) and generate their own theme. This theme can then be downloaded and uploaded to their WordPress blog, ready for use.
This could either be a really good thing or a really bad thing.
Putting WordPress themes into the hands of people has always been the point of WordPress. According to the the About page on WordPress.org:
Everything you see here, from the documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community. WordPress is an Open Source project…you are free to use it for anything from your cat’s home page to a Fortune 5 web site without paying anyone a license fee.
I wouldn’t argue with any of that. WordPress should absolutely be free to anyone, for any purpose.
I’m drawn to the reason I chose the wording that I did above. I’ve stated it before, and I’ll state it again: I despise Myspace. I really do. I don’t think it will be the future of social networking. Not anymore. I do believe it was a (dare I say necessary?) step toward some of the things we are looking to now. But at this point (I want to say) we don’t need Myspace anymore.
So how is the Theme Generator bringing back Myspace?
In some unspoken way there is something different about how themes are created for WordPress. Somewhere in deep dark caverns unknown, the sound of scraping metal and sparks fly as the mysterious designer works late into the night perfecting her latest creation (read: it’s a mystery to most WordPress users). The Theme Generator takes some of that mystery away. But it doesn’t take it all away. Creativity can only exist to a certain degree with the Theme Generator. Wild and out there themes won’t pop out of the machine. It just won’t happen.
When users are given something like this, however, they won’t realize that they don’t have the whole game. If things like this become widespread, say goodbye to a market for (good) theme designers. And at that point we have another Myspace.
Again, I’ll support anyone’s right to create a theme this way until I keel over; that is the intention of the WordPress creators and community, and I wholeheartedly believe that. But I can’t help but wonder: is that really the best use of WordPress? Are we doing it justice?
What do you think?