Splashpress Media

Launching Free WordPress Themes….finally!

Posted on Sep 18, 2007

Free WordPress Themes

One of the projects that we have been working very hard behind the scenes on for quite a while is Free WordPress Themes. It’s never easy coding and designing something as comprehensive as this project from scratch and we have indeed faced a lot of teething problems. Our thanks to Jacob Gower and Design Disease for their patience and tenacity with this endeavor.

Finally…everything seems to be working smoothly and we are ready to launch. Our apologies for the delay. Here is an update on all the fixes that we have managed to achieve since our soft launch some months ago-:

* The counters all now work correctly, so that “most downloaded” and “top rated” are all functioning correctly.

* Search results are no longer duplicating, and are appearing as they should.

* Tags are appearing and linking as they should.

* Comprehensive admin functions have been added, so that we are able to control the quality of the themes uploaded and delete/edit as is appropriate.

* The pagination of all areas in the site now functions correctly, so that navigation is a breeze.

* The thumbnail “boxes” have now been formatted, so that they stay the same size- no matter the length of the WP Theme title (2 or 3 lines) or if a “view demo” link is inserted. This was a tricky hurdle to overcome!

* There is a standard image/screenshot applied for those themes uploaded that are missing one.

* Selected themes can now be viewed in full demo versions.

* Comments, ratings and feedback can be left by all users on any theme.

* The blog has been launched and we already have a few posts up.

* To get the site started, we have ourselves uploaded approx. 500 “quality themes”.

And so, after all said and done, welcome to Free WordPress Themes!!

As introduced on the site-:

This site, Free WordPress Themes, is a celebration of good design. We hand-picked a selection of WordPress themes that we think are worth using on your blogs. For this, we have used this criteria:

* Validates with XHTML standards. For this, at least XHTML 1.0 transitional is sufficient. Of course, we’re not very strict when it comes to compliance, but the best themes out there are those that look good and are coded properly.

* Aesthetically pleasing. Now this would be subjective. But we do subscribe to some objective measures of “beauty,” like for instance readability. Color schemes and proportion are important in this regard.

* Usability. A pretty site is useless if it is not navigable and if it is not usable in general. We easily get turned off by sites that make it difficult for the reader to find what he’s looking for.

* Helpfulness of the theme author. We like it when a theme author gives good support to his/her theme’s users. For instance, themes that use images should have raw files packaged, so the end-user can easily make modifications on Photoshop or some other raster-graphics editing app. Don’t you think so, too?

Our hope is that FWPT will be seen as a real alternative to the official WP Theme Viewer. Our stance on the “sponsored themes” debate is essentially in the middle of the argument, in that we believe that Matt Mullenweg and the WordPress community were right to stamp down on the mass of “spammy” themes on WordPress (thousands of hidden links), but we feel that a unilateral policy of no sponsored themes at all was wrong, and a policy of refined differentiation was called for. There is “responsible” theme sponsorship, such as we at Splashpress employ at Performancing Themes, with just one sponsor allowed and whose link is not “spammy” and where the user has the option to take it out at their discretion. Quality themes like these, by the likes of Brian Gardner, Thord Hedengren and Design Disease– cost a great deal of money and are worth supporting, also with the post-release support in mind. Without such funding, the community will be robbed of such an array of free choices, as designers will not want to release their themes for free anymore, but rather go for the paid model version, as Brian is doing with his Revolution Theme.

This hard line taken by Automattic has caused a lot of controversy with the WordPress community and we therefore feel that our launching of FWPT comes at an opportune time- that it may be considered by users and designers alike- a welcome new home for free, free quality WordPress themes. Unlike Automattic, we will be judging each theme on its individual merits and allowing sponsored themes, while having no tolerance for spam. Many designers and users have had their whole accounts deleted at the WP Theme Viewer and others are disillusioned by the constant downtime. Even Matt Mullenweg himself has admitted to the problems.

We hope that you will join us in making FWPT a site that benefits everybody!!