Public Alpha

Alpha Alert.

I hope that you like the project idea. If you do, please refrain from publishing any content about it just at least until the end of July. It’ll be our little secret for now. You can certainly reach out to @justnorris and tell me that you love (or hate) my secret project ☺️

At the moment I haven’t published Themetally anywhere, except the AdvancedWP Facebook Group, so while I’m not keeping anyone from visiting Themetally, I don’t think the project is production ready just yet.

Why build ThemeTally?

A tiny back story.

About 2 months ago I was researching what kind of portfolio themes are out there and inevitably stumbled upon dozens of listicles on Google, which provided me with quite a nice list of themes. Unfortunately, not all of them were free or GPL, because the listicles can sometimes be a mixed bag with WordPress.org themes and other kinds of themes.

Because I only wanted “Official WordPress” themes in my research results, I decided to just directly browse on WordPress.org instead, and I quickly realized that there is room for improvement. Just to name a few off the top of my head:

  • What does the theme really look like outside of the bare bones WordPress demo?
  • Theme descriptions need more information! For example what plugins themes are they compatible with? Any required or recommended plugins?
  • How often is a theme updated? (like pulse on GitHub)
  • Is a theme really worth “3 stars” if only 2 people have rated it (1x5stars and 1x1star)?
  • What’s the activity level of the theme?
  • Are theme active installs increasing or decreasing?
  • Infinite scroll isn’t paginated. If you accidentally refresh, you’ll have to scroll way down again.
  • Themes aren’t really categorized

I decided to build Themetally to solve those problems and provide the information that I felt I was missing when looking for a theme.

Public Alpha

Today I’m launching Public Alpha. This is the point where I want to gather all the feedback I can get. Whether it’s through Facebook (AWP) or right here down in the comments section – if you have feedback – I want to hear it!

Great successes so far:

  • Built the base of ThemeTally
  • I’ve setup a WordPress demo site for all themes with custom demo content. The idea behind that deserves its own post, but the TL-DR version would be that when browsing for a theme, I felt the need to preview how a theme would look like with just regular blog content. The WordPress demo falls short here and author demos are unreliable (not all authors create custom demos for their themes).
  • Updating theme data daily
  • Gathering active installs ( for more theme analytics)
  • Paginated Infinite-scroll – a half a gazillion of thank you’s to David Desandro for picking up Infinite Scroll project.
  • Pseudo categories (they’re still tags, for now, I hope to really turn them into categories some day)
  • Theme Authors List is something I never thought I’d be interested in looking at until I saw that I have all the data I needed for it!

All in all, I think that Themetally is pretty bare bones right now, but that’s exactly the right time to gather feedback. So please, pleaseif you have any – reach out to me in any way possible and tell me your thoughts!

As I said at the very top – just don’t post Themetally on Product Hunt or Reddit – if I get even a tiny traffic spike, the server will probably crash instantly. I have no caching, and I haven’t optimized any database queries at all. Be gentle 😘

 

The Roadmap

I’ll start by trying to tackle the simple questions, like theme statistics (not just a plain downloads count) and theme pulse, and when the project gains traction, I’d love to get more data about the themes from authors, like which plugins are recommended/compatible with, is there a pro version or paid support, etc.. Maybe we can even eventually do custom cover images or author profiles –  that’d be awesome 🤔

“Get out of alpha” roadmap

For now, I have to focus on what’s right ahead of me. For the past 2 months, I’ve worked on ThemeTally almost full-time with a few exceptions. I’m almost out of dollar juice to continue full-time, but I will throw as many hours at ThemeTally as I can because I really want a better theme directory out there.

So here is my roadmap for this month:

  • Sort “Latest themes” by creation date, not last updated
  • Add a simple search box
  • Squash bugs 🐜🐞🐛
  • Add more analytics (I’m already collecting the active installs data)
  • Scrape theme creation date
  • Prepare for a public beta (cache and optimize database)

 

 

Please leave comments and get in touch, I really want to hear your thoughts!

Cheers! 🍻

Some WordPress tags are actually Categories

WordPress themes currently can be tagged with 60 different tags. These tags range from the very useful almost category like names, like “Blog” or “Photography” to entirely useless tag names ( I’m looking at you “blavatar” ? ).

To simplify the user experience a bit, I decided to pull out some tags from WordPress tags and call them Categories instead.

The data is going to still rely on tags, but as soon as the theme is pulled in ThemeTally database – the first tag that matches any of the tags I’ve marked as “categories” is going to set the theme category.

Here are the categories:

  • Blog
  • Photography
  • News
  • Holiday
  • E-Commerce
  • Food and Drink
  • Portfolio
  • BuddyPress
  • Entertainment
  • Photoblogging

So if your theme has, for example, tags “photography, news, blog, portfolio, e-commerce” – it’s going to be set in the “photography” category.

In the previous post, I already complained about authors abusing theme tags. That’s why I won’t be marking multiple themes with multiple categories. The first keyword I find – that’s going to be the category. Hopefully, this will yield cleaner results in the long-term.

I realize that this might produce a side-effect, where for example, a theme is tagged as “Photography” and “Portfolio” and “Photoblogging”, but and I might make a few exceptions for those categories eventually. However, a theme that’s  Blog + Photography + BuddyPress shouldn’t be marked as Photography theme in my opinion.

In this case, I just have to trust that theme authors have tagged their themes in an order with most relevant tags first. If that’s the case – the themes should fall into the correct categories.

 

Tag abuse in WordPress themes

For the past week, I’ve been working on a good way to rank and sort themes, and I think I’ve made some good progress.

Today I noticed a quite disturbing pattern – some themes abuse the available tags. For example:

Theme tag abuse on WorPress.org

As a theme author myself, I understand the urge to stuff every possible tag into a theme. The idea is probably to get as many eyeballs as possible on your newly designed WordPress theme. However – stuffing every possible color, or both “light” and “dark” keywords are not helpful for the end user.

If I’m looking for light color scheme themes, with a yellow accent color – I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t want themes that have keywords “dark” and “blue” in that theme.

The intention of ThemeTally is to help people discover new WordPress themes.  To combat tag-abuse I’ll have to severely punish the ranking score of the themes that use multiple or opposite tags.

Development Log

I created a Development Log category, and I hope to share some interesting insights as I continually build ThemeTally.

For now, I think I’ve procrastinated long enough. Time to get back to making ThemeTally.