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:
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.