1. Mike McAlister

    While we’ve (Array) certainly retired themes in the past, I wouldn’t say we’ve ever retired them on a “regular basis.” This would imply that it’s part of our collection’s cycle, but in reality, we’ve only retired themes circumstantially in the past. As we’ve transitioned and grown, it made sense to focus on the themes that gained the most traction and were favored by our customer base.

    Every theme company operates differently, but I would venture to say that everyone wants to make sure they’re operating as optimally as possible. For some, this means rolling out new features, others may refocus their efforts on improving existing themes and some may retire themes. There isn’t one particular approach that fits every theme provider.

    At any rate, it’s important to make sure you support retired themes until they’ve fulfilled their obligations to a user. If you’ve sold a year of support with the theme, you should honor that commitment if you want to retain and build trust from your customers.


  2. Devin

    Hi Jeff. Thanks for the post.

    I believe WordPress.com also takes this approach. For example, the venerable Kubrick has been retired for a while: https://theme.wordpress.com/retired/kubrick.

    Minor updates are definitely preferred for the life of the theme (which should be at least a few years), but I think releasing a new theme makes sense when you need to do a big overhaul of the code or design.


  3. Justin Tadlock

    I retired my first themes back in 2008 for a few different reasons. Surprisingly, I didn’t get too much hate mail. For the most part, there was good feedback. Those themes were some of the most popular back in the day.

    The important bit is to be completely transparent and have a plan of action to support current users for the rest of their membership terms. I wouldn’t retire themes without bringing some new stuff in either..

    Any theme shop knows that it’s not a good idea to support and update old themes indefinitely unless they’re still bringing in money. The only realistic way to do that is to have fees (monthly, yearly, etc.) for continuing the updates. Otherwise, you’ve got to drop off some of the dead weight every so often.

    A good three-year-plan might be worth considering for theme shops. I think three years is a reasonable amount of time keep a theme going. Some might want to do two years or four years. You also have to take it on a theme-by-theme basis. There’s a lot that goes into the decision to retire a theme.


  4. Otto

    And this is why I’m so big on preventing “lock in” type features in themes. People need to be able to change themes easily, without loss.


    • Alec Kinnear

      That’s indeed the key Otto, not allowing lock-in features to creep into themes. Ironically WooThemes (now an Automattic acquisition) were one of the worst in the day (we know first hand as we offered WooThemes as an option with our Typepad to WordPress migrations).

      The big push now at WordPress.org to insist that advanced functionality go into a plugin and not the theme is an important step towards data portability for WordPress publishers.


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