Problems with WordPress Themes

Japh – a fellow tweep and WordPress evangelist at Envato – recently shared a post on his blog titled “The Problems with themes on ThemeForest are problems with Themes.

The topic of discussion boils down to this:

  • ThemeForest has a massive library of themes that are available for purchase
  • Some of the themes that are available for purchase consist of poor code that ultimately affect plugins and/or the overall WordPress experience
  • A proposed solution for how to increase standards and improve the theme review process

Though I’ve little experience with ThemeForest, I shared my thoughts as a developer who cares about the importance of code quality, as someone who as worked directly work Automattic’s theme team, and as someone who is highly aware of the problems with WordPress themes.

For me, this hits very close to an issue that’s important to me: Just because a theme looks good and appears to function well does not mean that it’s well-architected.

Unfortunately, customers believe that if a theme looks good, then it’s well-built. From my comment on Japh’s post:

The problem with having such a vibrant community of developers – and I use that term loosely – is that people are getting away with churning out poorly architected “products” and being rewarded for them through payment.

This gives them incentive to continue creating something even if its at the expense of building a quality product. The customer is none-the-wiser. If the theme looks good, nothing else matters.

This is patently false and the burden of responsibility is not on the customer to evaluate the theme – it’s our job as developers to make sure that we’re treating the inside of the theme with just as much quality as the outside of the theme. Otherwise, we’re polluting the marketplace.

Remember, themes are software and are subject to the same treatment and if you – as a developer – truly care about your craft and writing quality code, then you’ll stop contributing to the problems of WordPress themes by churning out poorly written code and start contributing in ways that follow WordPress best practices.

I think there’s a big opportunity to continue discussing this very issue, but this issue was first brought to our attention in Japh’s post so I’d like to direct any comments regarding ThemeForest to his post.

Anything else is up for discussion here :)!