// Internet Duct Tape

WordPress.com Theme Review Help

I’m still fiddling around with the structure of the WP Theme Review. I’m looking for help and suggestions, specifically:

  1. Renaming fields (row titles) to say what they mean.
  2. Improving descriptions.
  3. Cutting unnecessary fields.
  4. Re-ordering rows and sections (this is very trivial for me to do, so if reorganizing the rows would make more sense then please let me know!)

Please leave a comment with your suggestions.

Summary

Summary

Major Features (Summary)  
Date reviewed This is the date the theme was reviewed on
Screenshot Link to a screenshot of the theme.
2006/10/wp-screenshot.png
Theme Sample Link to a sample/demo blog that uses the theme.
Theme Author Who wrote the theme? If you like one of their themes you may like others.
2006/10/wp-author.png
Layout width How wide is the theme with sidebar (in pixels)?
2006/11/wp-theme_width21.png
Custom image header Does the theme support uploading a custom image for the header? This is a great way to make your blog stand out from the crowd.
2006/10/wp-upload_header.png
Number of sidebars How many sidebars can be displayed at once?
Widget support Does the sidebar support widgets?
Page templates Can pages be created using templates?
 
Useability (Summary)  
Max image width What is the maximum width of images that will display in blog posts? Weird things can happen if images or tables are wider than this limit.
2006/11/wp-post_width3.png
Wide images behaviour What happens when an image is over the maximum width?
Squish:
2006/11/wp-post_width_squish3.png
Chop:
2006/11/wp-post_width_chop2.png
Run-off:
2006/11/wp-post_width_runoff2.png
Sidebar image width What is the maximum width of images in the sidebar?
Blockquote shows paragraph breaks Is there space between paragraphs inside of a blockquote?
Paragraphs have space between them:
2006/10/wp-blockquote_paragraph.png
Paragraphs do not have space between theme:
2006/10/wp-blockquote_no_paragraph.png
HTML tag style bugs (Posts) Are there any bugs with displaying HTML tags?
Image display bugs Are there bugs with how images display?
Display old comments when Off Is it still possible to see the old comments but not add new ones if comments are turned off? Existing comments should display, but there will be no input box for new comments.
HTML tag style bugs (Sidebar) Are there any bugs with displaying HTML tags in the sidebar?
Bullet for Unordered Lists (Sidebar) Do unordered lists (UL) display bullets?
UL has bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ul_bullets.png
UL does not have bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ul_nobullets.png
Numbers for Ordered Lists (Sidebar) Do ordered lists (OL) display numbers?
OL has bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ol_bullets.png
OL does not have bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ol_nobullets.png

Details

Text Appearance  
Text under Firefox How does the text look under Firefox? (font, font typeface, visted/unvisited links)
Text under Internet Explorer How does the text look under Internet Explorer 6? (font, font typeface, visted/unvisited links)
 
Resolution  
640×480 Does the blog look good at 640×480 resolution?
800×600 Does the blog look good at 800×600 resolution? Most important.
1024×768 Does the blog look good at 1024×768 resolution? Most important.
1280×1024 Does the blog look good at 1280×1024 resolution?
 
Theme  
Screenshot Link to a screenshot of the theme.
2006/10/wp-screenshot.png
Theme sample Link to a sample/demo blog that uses the theme.
Theme author Who wrote the theme? If you like one of their themes you may like others.
2006/10/wp-author.png
Layout width How wide is the theme with sidebar (in pixels)?
2006/11/wp-theme_width21.png
Theme background Background colour behind normal text in pages/posts.
Theme (cont)  
Theme text Colour of the normal text in pages/posts.
2006/10/wp-normal_text.png
Theme link text Colour of links in pages/posts.
2006/10/wp-link.png
Links are *very distinct* from text Is there a high contrast between links and normal text (do they stand out)?
2006/10/wp-link_very_distinct.png
Links are *distinct* from text Is there some contrast between links and normal text? If the answer to both of these questions is no, that means links blend into normal text.
2006/10/wp-link_somewhat_distinct.png
Visited links are different colour Are visited and unvisited links different colours?
2006/10/wp-unvisited_link.png
Visited links blend to text Do visited links become the same colour as normal text?
2006/10/wp-visited_blend.png
Theme image Does the theme hardcoded images that can’t be changed? This can be frustrating.
2006/10/wp-theme_images.png
 
Main Page  
Max image width What is the maximum width of images that will display in blog posts? Weird things can happen if images or tables are wider than this limit.
2006/11/wp-post_width3.png
Wide images behaviour What happens when an image is over the maximum width?
Squish:
2006/11/wp-post_width_squish3.png
Chop:
2006/11/wp-post_width_chop2.png
Run-off:
2006/11/wp-post_width_runoff2.png
Post titles capitalization How are post titles capitalized? This is important for non-English languages. (as typed, all uppercase, all lowercase, first letter capitalized)
Normal/as-typed:
2006/10/wp-post_normalcase.png
First letter capitalized:
2006/10/wp-post_lowercase.png
Next / prev page Are there next/prev links at the bottom of the blog to navigate through the history?
2006/10/wp-post_next_prev.png
Edit post from front page Do posts have a link to quickly go to the post editor from the front page without using Dashboard-Manage Posts?
2006/10/wp-post_edit.png
Dates above/below Where does the date display in relation to the post body?
Above:
2006/10/wp-dates_above.png
Below:
2006/10/wp-dates_below.png
No:
2006/11/wp-date_no_date.png
Date can be changed In Dashboard-Options the date format can be changed. Is the date format used, or is the date format hardcoded into the theme? (format, no-format)
Date uses format string:
2006/11/wp-date_format.png
Date is hardcoded into the theme:
2006/11/wp-date_no_format.png
Main Page (cont)  
Displays author Does the name of the post author display? (useful for multi-author blogs)
Name displays:
2006/10/wp-post_author_name.png
Name does not display:
2006/10/wp-post_author_name_missing.png
Author name is linked Is the post author name linked to the link in the author’s profile? (useful for multi-author blogs)
2006/10/wp-post_author_name.png
Displays categories Do categories display?
Categories display:
2006/10/wp-post_categories_show.png
Categories do not display:
2006/10/wp-post_no_categories.png
Categories above/below Where does the category display? Above post text or below post text.
Above:
2006/11/wp-category_above.png
Below:
2006/11/wp-category_below.png
Comments above/below Where does the link to comments display in relation to the post text?
Above:
2006/10/wp-link_comment_above.png
Below:
2006/10/wp-link_comment_below.png
Show excerpt instead of post There is an excerpt field when creating a new post. This is a place where you can put a summary of the post. If the excerpt field is filled out for a post, does the excerpt display instead of the post on the main page?
2006/10/wp-post_excerpt.png
Show excerpt on category pages Do excerpts show up on category pages?
2006/10/wp-post_excerpt.png
Main Page (cont)  
HTML tag style bugs (Posts) Are there any bugs with displaying HTML tags?
Blockquote shows paragraph breaks Is there space between paragraphs inside of a blockquote?
Paragraphs have space between them:
2006/10/wp-blockquote_paragraph.png
Paragraphs do not have space between theme:
2006/10/wp-blockquote_no_paragraph.png
Horizontal rule (HR) is styled Is the HR tag customized?
2006/10/wp-styled_hr.png
Pre text has horizontal scroll Are scrollbars used if the text in a preformatted tag goes over the post width?
2006/10/wp-pre_scrollbar.png
Image display bugs Are there bugs with how images display?
Image has margin Is there space between images and nearby text?
Automatic margins:
2006/10/wp-images_styled.png
No automatic margins:
2006/10/wp-images_unstyled.png
Image has border Is there a border around images?
Automatic borders:
2006/10/wp-images_styled.png
No automatic borders:
2006/10/wp-images_unstyled.png
Wide table behaviour What happens when a table is over the maximum width? (crop at sidebar, overlap sidebar)
MORE tag When the MORE tag is used to break text, what does it look say?
2006/11/wp-moredotdotdot.png
2006/11/wp-more_continue_reading.png
 
Single Post View  
Sidebar displays Does the sidebar display in single post view? (looking at the post by itself on a webpage)
2006/11/wp-navigation_single_post_view.png
Next / prev post Are there links to the next/prev posts in history when looking at a post on it’s unique page?
2006/11/wp-navigation_single_post_view.png
Permalink URL Is there an explicit permanent link to the post? The post title is always a permalink, but sometimes the theme also gives a permalink between the post and comments.
2006/11/wp-single_post_perma_feed_trackback.png
Trackback URL Is there an explicit link for trackbacks?
Comments feed URL Is there an explicit link to an RSS feed for comments on this post?
Single Post View (cont)  
Comments Comments
Displays edit comments link Is there a quick link to edit a comment while looking at the post?
2006/11/wp-comments_edit.png
Displays trackbacks different than comments Are trackbacks/pingbacks displayed differently than comments?
2006/11/wp-comments_vs_pingback.png
Display old comments when Off Is it still possible to see the old comments but not add new ones if comments are turned off? Existing comments should display, but there will be no input box for new comments.
 
Header  
Blog name Does the blog name display in the header?
2006/10/wp-name_displays.png
Blog tagline Does the blog tagline display in the header (underneath the blog name)?
2006/10/wp-tagline_displays.png
Custom image header Does the theme support uploading a custom image for the header? This is a great way to make your blog stand out from the crowd.
2006/10/wp-upload_header.png
Top navbar support Is there a navigation bar under the header with links to different pages?
2006/10/wp-navbar.png
Navbar has a Home button Does the navigation bar have a link to the main page of the blog? (clicking on the blog name will always bring you to the main page)
2006/10/wp-navbar_home.png
Navbar works with many pages Is the navbar still useable with too many pages? If there are too many pages, the navbar should wrap the text to the next line. Many themes break if you have too many pages in the navbar.
Good:
2006/10/wp-navbar.png
Bad:
2006/11/wp-navbar_breaks2.png
 
Sidebar  
Number of sidebars How many sidebars are supported?
0 sidebar / 1 column:
2006/11/wp-columns_0.png
1 sidebar / 2 columns:
2006/11/wp-columns_1.png
2 sidebars / 3 columns:
2006/11/wp-columns_2.png
Sidebar location Where is the sidebar located? (left, right, bottom, configurable)
Sidebar title capitalization How is text capitalized in sidebar headers? This is important for non-English languages. (as typed, all uppercase, all lowercase, first letter capitalized)
Normal/as-typed:
2006/10/wp-post_normalcase.png
First letter capitalized:
2006/10/wp-post_lowercase.png
Sidebar image width What is the maximum width of images in the sidebar?
Wide images behaviour What happens when an image is over the maximum width?
Chop:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_image_crop.png
Run-off:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_image_runoff.png
Sidebar (cont)  
Sidebar widgets support Does the sidebar support widget customization on the Dashboard-Presentation menu? Widgets allow you to easily change your sidebar by dragging-and-dropping RSS feeds, Flickr widgets, etc.
Sidebar widgets bugs Are there any bugs with sidebar widget support?
2006/11/wp-sidebar_support.png
HTML tag style bugs (Sidebar) Are there any bugs with displaying HTML tags in the sidebar?
Bullet for Unordered Lists (Sidebar) Do unordered lists (UL) display bullets?
UL has bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ul_bullets.png
UL does not have bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ul_nobullets.png
Numbers for Ordered Lists (Sidebar) Do ordered lists (OL) display numbers?
OL has bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ol_bullets.png
OL does not have bullets:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_ol_nobullets.png
NOTES Special things to note about the sidebar of this theme.
 
Single Page View  
Sidebar displays Does the sidebar display when looking at a page on it’s own unique webpage?
2006/11/wp-columns_0.png
Page comments Do pages display comments (if comments are turned on)?
NOTES NOTES
 
Page Templates Supported  
Archives Archives
Displays page text Does it display the user-defined text for the page?
Displays categories with archives Does the archive include categories as well as monthly archives?
2006/11/wp-archive_displays_categories.png
Links / Blogroll Links / Blogroll
Displays page text Does it display the user-defined text for the page?
Sorts by categories Are the links organized by categories?
Image replaces link name If there is a user-defined image, is it used instead of the text?
2006/11/wp-links_template_image.png
NOTES NOTES
 
Sidebar Categories  
Number on same line If the number of posts in a categories is displayed, does that number appear on the same line as the category name? There is a bug with many themes that it displays on the next line.
Good:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_cat_num_good.png
Bad:
2006/11/wp-sidebar_cat_num_bad.png
Do not display empty categories Are empty categories removed from the list of categories in the sidebar?
 
Blogroll  
Sort by categories Are the links in the blogroll sorted by the categories they are under?
Image replaces link name If there is a user-defined image, is it used instead of the text?
 
Custom features  
Colour themes Are there multiple colour themes to choose from?
2006/11/wp-special_colour_theme.png
Sidebar orientation Can the sidebar be moved to different positions? (left, right, bottom, removed)
2006/11/wp-special_sidebar_orientation.png

What’s Missing

Since I started the WP Theme Review I’ve cut a few things and ignored some suggestions. These are the reasons why.

Theme accents: A screenshot is much more helpful.

Font Typeface / Font size: This is more easily captured by an image than words.

Previous Page / Next Page direction: It would be nice if all themes were consistent with Previous/Left and Next/Right (or vice-versa), I don’t think most people care.

Edit post/page: The ability to edit from the single post/page view was added to the dashboard, so it doesn’t matter if it’s on the single page/post views.

Categories link to http://wordpress.com or http://blog.wordpress.com: All categories link to wordpress.com except for Uncategorized.

Footer has Powered by WordPress, Logout, Jump back to Top, Entries RSS / Comments RSS / Link to XFN.org: These are very minor details in the minds of most people. I don’t think anyone would based their choice of themes on them.

Pages displayed in correct order on the sidebar: Blix is the only theme I’ve found that supports this feature. Even Sandbox doesn’t. Screw it.

Pages displayed with hierarchy in the sidebar: Works for the first 17 themes, I doubt I’ll find a bug.

XFN rel tag support, description used as titles, additional features of the “blogroll” editor: These take a long time to test and categorize for little value. Most people do not understand (or care) what they are, and no one would base their choice of a theme upon them. Important for theme designers, but not important for theme users.

Smiley face icon: You can read more about it here. It’s annoying, but I’ve seen it come and go so many times that I’m not going to bother with it.

Next / prev by post title: I couldn’t find any examples of being able to navigation between posts that didn’t use titles.

22 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. engtech said, on October 11, 2006 at 10:17 am

    Get the ball rolling. I need to add some margins between the images and the text, and when I give lists of examples it should be something like

    squished
    ::image::

    chopped
    ::image::

  2. Lloyd D Budd said, on October 11, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Wonderfully thorough!

    There are themes where the categories in a post do not link to WordPress.com’s tags? There are footers that do not link to WordPess.com?

    “Next / prev page” should not use the term “page” for obvious reasons, though that is a fault of WP not yours. I find it interesting whether a theme points left or right for previous posts or next posts.

  3. engtech said, on October 11, 2006 at 10:14 pm

    There are themes where the categories in a post do not link to WordPress.com’s tags?

    I’m not sure. The “Uncategorized” category always links back to blog.wp.com instead of wp.com and that through me off for a bit. I’m going to keep looking out for it though.

    There are footers that do not link to WordPess.com?

    Haven’t found one yet, but I’m looking for it. I may put in something where I hide rows that are always “Yes” to reduce the information.

    I also think I should generate some example text of what fonts/links/etc look for each blog.

  4. engtech said, on October 11, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    just noticed that “post author and post author linked” have the wrong images. they should be in the row above.

  5. engtech said, on October 11, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    “navbar home button” should be before “navbar too many pages”

  6. vuee said, on October 13, 2006 at 8:04 am

    * is that horrible, creepy, smiley face visible anywhere? (it’s a tracker icon)
    * it would be useful for me to have the parts that illustrate usability (i.e., fonts, colors of text, whether blockquotes are set off in some way or italicized (no!) and basic outline (are pages supported) located higher up in the review. I can’t think of specific examples for you. It maybe necessary to pull out the bigger picture (overview) from the more detailed stuff which follows. Don’t do away with that info, but when I try to choose a theme, there’s no point in reviewing details if the theme has odd fonts, indistinct colors, inappropriate images. [My focus is on cross-cultral communication rather than “style”]

    Thanks for the work. Your analyses are so useful.

    [I assume this would be the detail description of individual themes but the precednt in the process would be more of a summary matrix of several themes, i.e., with checkmarks, like the comparative shopper stuff.]

  7. timethief said, on October 15, 2006 at 2:43 am

    I’m absolutely blown away by the thoroughness and detail in what you have produced. You are so flipping geeky [read that as an endearment] that you almost intimidate the crap out of me. I will have to read this carefully and more than once to be able to “cope” with it all [said the non techie as her eyes crossed]. Then I’ll get down to the business of providing feedback item by item.
    Illustrations are worth a thousand words to me and off the top I can say that I’m in agreement with vuee on the usability factors being illustrated and appearing higher up in the review.
    I know you requested that we comment here and not by email however, I’m sending you an email from my primary email address. This is simply because I may have missed this one from you in admidst the legions of African princes wanting to transfer money to my bank account at my “throw-away” yahoo email address.

  8. engtech said, on October 15, 2006 at 3:15 am

    * it would be useful for me to have the parts that illustrate usability (i.e., fonts, colors of text, whether blockquotes are set off in some way or italicized (no!) and basic outline (are pages supported) located higher up in the review. I can’t think of specific examples for you. It maybe necessary to pull out the bigger picture (overview) from the more detailed stuff which follows. Don’t do away with that info, but when I try to choose a theme, there’s no point in reviewing details if the theme has odd fonts, indistinct colors, inappropriate images. [My focus is on cross-cultral communication rather than “style”]

    In the next update I will be including links to live demos of the theme. Do you think that would be enough?

    Illustrations are worth a thousand words to me

    Yeah, part of the problem with my flipping geekiness :) is that I can completely skip over basics like that. One of the reasons why I blog is to be able to improve my communication skills.

    I know you requested that we comment here and not by email

    That’s only so that I have one spot to look at for all of the feedback. Otherwise I’ll forget something. Thanks for the real email address though.

    This weekend has been nutso for me (work deadline + personal stuff) but I hope to have an updated help page by at least next wednesday.

  9. engtech said, on October 15, 2006 at 3:21 am

    When I do the next update of the help, I *might* include a listable list of the different features so that people can rate each section up/down as to how useful they are.

    The only problem is it would mean you guys would have to register for listable.

    (dumb idea :)

  10. engtech said, on October 15, 2006 at 3:23 am

    is that horrible, creepy, smiley face visible anywhere? (it’s a tracker icon)

    oh yeah, about that thing. I have such a hard time telling if it’s going to show or not. I’ve seen it appear and disappear using the same theme, so that’s why I’ve been leaving it out.

    This thread has more info.

  11. Lorelle VanFossen said, on October 17, 2006 at 6:22 am

    Wow. This is amazing. I want to spend time going through this more thoroughly, but I’m on the road. I’ll take a more serious look as soon as possible. Brilliant work and thank you!

  12. timethief said, on October 18, 2006 at 6:30 am

    @engtech
    Yo’re going to see me clicking in and out a lot until I can go through everything item by item. I started from the bottom and I’m working upward.
    Custom features – Home Link Sidebar Widget- Is there a sidebar widget for adding a link to the main page of the blog? DUH. What useful purpose would it serve and in what situations would one choose to use it?
    About me information – Do we really want everything on an “about” page to be depicted in a sidebar or simply a summary comprised of for example 250 characters including spaces?

    Under Blogroll I see this (1) “Are the user-defined XFN microformats values used?” DUH. What are these thingees and what do they do?
    (2) Under Blorroll and Links/Blogroll – Target field used – If the target is set to _blank or _top is that value used? DUH. I haven’t a clue what this is used for.

    Gotta go company’s here.

  13. engtech said, on November 03, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    The text that has strikeouts in the comments is because I’ve incorporated that suggestion already or made a decision on it.

  14. timethief said, on November 04, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    Hi there,
    I think your work is terrific and was disappointed to hear from drmike that the wpdevelopers preferred bloggers stumble around in the dark “trying out” themes as opposed to being able to have a chart of features and make informed choices. Oh well – to each their own.
    IMO all themes should provide templates for both an archives page and a contact page. However last week on the forum a blogger told drmike that one of the templates (archives) previously included with the Blix theme had disappeared. drmike confirmed this and both sent in feedbacks. Do you think one more question a break-down question on specifically which templates are available with a theme would be useful include in the review?

  15. engtech said, on November 05, 2006 at 2:51 am

    Page templates are already up there. The summary just says “supports page templates or not” while under details it says if it supports archives, links or special (IE: blix and contact template).

  16. timethief said, on November 05, 2006 at 5:47 am

    Yup I found the page templates and damn it I didn’t see the details part :(. Oh well I seem to be excelling at overlooking details lately and that always means that I’m over-extended *sigh*. I apologize for my oversight. :(

  17. engtech said, on November 05, 2006 at 8:57 am

    not a problem. You’re experienced with WordPress now and if you get confused/miss something it means there’s room for improvement on my side.

    – add links back from summary to detailed
    – add a field that says when I did the review for that theme (since things change)

  18. timethief said, on November 07, 2006 at 9:43 am

    BTW on the case of the disappearing Blix archive page template …

    The archive template has returned as an option for Pages. However, the archive template no longer lists each and every post link by month, which was a great feature. Now it’s just blank, not even a simple monthly archive listing.

    http://wordpress.com/forums/topic.php?id=4891&replies=4

  19. adam said, on December 13, 2006 at 8:53 am

    number 1 bug with garland, that doesn’t have an entry on your chart:

    the left sidebar occurs before the content in the (structural) HTML markup.

    thusly, in IE, wide images force the content down, not the sidebar. (same problem for anyone viewing from a mobile device, text-only browser, or screen reader).

  20. engtech said, on December 13, 2006 at 9:09 am

    Yeah, I wish it had a way to turn off one of the sidebars.

  21. wolf693 said, on March 12, 2007 at 12:44 am

    I know, I have like three I want to turn off. Also, if anyone knows how to upload themes onto WordPress.COM (not .org!) I COULD SURE USE THE HELP!!! E-mail me at wolf693@great-fox.com if you do.

  22. engtech said, on March 12, 2007 at 1:14 am

    @wolf: You can’t upload themes on to wordpress.com.

    The closest you can get is buying the CSS upgrade and re-skinning an existing theme.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: