New and Updated Theme Tags Now Available to Theme Authors

photo credit: Doors Open Toronto 2008 - Toronto Archives - (license)
photo credit: Doors Open Toronto 2008 – Toronto Archives(license)

The WordPress Theme Directory will soon be rolling out new and updated tags for filtering the 3,800+ free themes hosted there. After a year of discussion and preparation of core and meta trac tickets, the Theme Review team finalized its proposal for overhauling the tags. Theme authors are now encouraged to update their themes to start using them.

Justin Tadlock summarized the tags that will be added and removed in an announcement on the Theme Review team blog. Most notably, all the color tags will be removed, as filtering themes based on color isn’t an important factor in this new era of the customizer. Fixed, fluid, and responsive layout designations will also be removed. The theme subjects column will be updated to include the following:

  • blog
  • e-commerce
  • education
  • entertainment
  • food-and-drink
  • holiday
  • news
  • photography
  • portfolio

A new “grid layout” tag and “footer widgets” feature tag will also be added. The Theme Review Team plans to evaluate the tags once a year to ensure that the filters are meeting users’ needs.

“Tags should always be fluid and representative of what users are searching for and what types of themes are being created,” Tadlock said. “Therefore, in January, we will reevaluate the current list of tags and decide if changes need to be made again. This will give a chance for more people to be involved in case they missed it this year.”

A few users commented on the fact that the new and updated tags remove the ability to filter themes by whether or not they are responsive. Tadlock summarized the team’s conclusion on this particular change, which is also noted in the ticket for the tags overhaul:

A note on “responsive”: It seems that this is the no. 1 searched layout tag, followed by “fluid”. Based on feedback and discussion, we believe most users are simply looking for a responsive theme. When a tag is always used by themes and by users, it becomes practically useless in distinguishing themes from one another.

Brad Griffin contends that users are left to assume that all 3,800+ themes are responsive (which is not the case), and may have to discover this the hard way through activating and trying themes. Users and theme authors who feel strongly about this change and any others will have the opportunity to weigh in again in six months during the yearly evaluation.

A draft for the new Theme Tags reference page is available in the Theme Review handbook. Updating the filtering options in the WordPress admin is slated for the 4.6 release. In the meantime, theme authors are encouraged to update their themes so that the new filters will have themes to display when users search.


10 responses to “New and Updated Theme Tags Now Available to Theme Authors”

  1. Hi Sarah,

    When checking against standard/popular tags, automated testing could be set up. It’s a substantial investment of man-hours to do the first time but once it’s done then all the themes will be correctly tagged in the future. I’m not sure we can trust theme authors to tag correctly (based on the plugins database experience).

    • I’m not sure how automatic testing could accurately test for proper categorization as an education or holiday theme, for example. The theme review team seems to provide closer scrutiny before making themes live as compared to plugins, so it’s not likely that improperly tagged themes will slip through.

      • There’s a lot of tags which could be covered by automation, Sarah. In particular, your example “responsive” is very easy to test for. Slider would be another one. As Justin notes, almost everything code related could be tested automatically, both making sure themes with features have the right tags and that some authors are not gaming the system. Great news that automated tagging is on its way! It means more hours will be available for manual review for exceptions or reports. Automation in the end will shorten the review queue.

        What’s especially cool about automation is that if there’s a mistake in automation, sending a bot back to redo all the work is not a big deal. Trying telling a volunteer to reviews 6774 themes by hand all over again!

    • We can automate some of the tags, particularly things that themes have to call add_theme_support() for. If it’s code-related, it can be automated. Of course, things like subject tags are open to interpretation, but the other tags are usually not.

      Automation is definitely on the list of things we’d like to see happen in the future. There’s a lot of people with some really good ideas around this. It’s just going to take time and people to invest that time.

  2. That list is just silly.

    How about adding BUSINESS as a tag (or are you all forgetting who pays your bills)?


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