Changes in review enforcement

The WordPress guidelines have always recommended a differentiation between what a site looks like, and the content it contains. It looks like the theme review team will be cracking down on that going forward. And that’s a good thing.

At Performance Foundry we work hard to keep this separation. In a recent Miami real estate website we built, we took the projects, neighbourhoods and realtors editing panels out of the theme and put them into a custom plugin. The CSS and styles for those “custom post types” are then controlled by the theme.

Why should you care?!

Because — while it’ll cost you a few thousand dollars in development time now, it’ll save you multiples of thousands when you’re ready to change your style.

Brands change, audiences grow, business needs evolve. Your website needs to do that too; and that’s why this technical differentiation should matter to you.


Rescuing Themeforest sites when they grow up is a lot more expensive than refitting sites built on compliant themes. The first hit is always free.

Source: WordPress Theme Review Team is Cracking Down on Violations of the Presentation vs. Functionality Guideline

So where should I get my theme, and what should I look for?

There are many commercial outlets to buy themes, and many free places to get them. You can also have custom themes designed and developed by professionals. The latter is the kind of work we enjoy doing here at Performance Foundry.

Your best option is to have a theme custom developed to meet your publishing or business needs. This gives you the best return on an investment of US$5,000-20,000 for most small business sites. These might be built on existing frameworks like Underscores, WooThemes Canvas, Genesis or built from scratch.

Your second-best option is to download a theme that looks like you want it to. Expect hundreds of hours of learning, or paying $1,000+ to get it just right. But what are the danger signs?

Expect to be locked into the theme if:

  • There are lots of ‘options’ panels that allow you to add content. When you remove the theme, the content will disappear too… That could represent a LOT of broken links and disappearing content
  • The options panels allow you to change dozens of little things on the site. You really want to set and forget this; it’s not optimal to have lots of things stored in the database to break down!
  • If the theme demo page shows you dozens of stylesheets and Javascript resources when you run it through http://tools.pingdom.com‘s checker, it’s going to run slowly on generic servers.

We’re 100% behind the decision to separate theme style and website function. It makes for a cleaner, faster and better website.

Want to have your site reviewed, rescued from a over-zealous theme, or a new site built? Touch base with our team below.

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