THX38 “Theme Experience” Overview

Re-imagine a theme experience that is beautiful, visually focused (able to display more/bigger screenshots), fast, and mobile-ready. Plugin url: http://wordpress.org/plugins/thx38/

Initially we were covering themes.php and install-theme.php. Time and dev resources constraints forced us to focus the last few weeks solely on getting themes.php fully ready.

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Problem Solving

Problems:

  • A very text and information heavy interface for something that is eminently visual.
  • Convoluted presentation of your current theme, your installed themes, and adding new ones.

First user test with current admin interface showed the amount of time between arriving at themes.php and understanding what was going on (which themes are installed, how to add new ones, etc) was quite big, going to the install themes screen took them ages. In contrast, tests ran with the THX plugin showed us the interface was grasped very fast, and people got to the install themes page in a matter of seconds.

Solutions:

  • Moved theme descriptions to a details overlay, and streamlined the presentation to its bare bones.
  • Removed tabbed interface and made adding new themes organic to the grid presentation.
  • Focused on perceived performance, made theme browsing and search faster, with a fully responsive design at all stages.
  • Added url triggers for opening specific themes, as well as arrow-keys navigation while browsing the detailed view.
  • Added basic support for multiple screenshots per theme, and bigger display.
  • Focus on the customizer as the primary action for your current theme.

The installing themes screen was left as a prototype for the future.

User Testing

Early user testing clearly showed understanding and interacting with the screen is not easy. One user eloquently said, “I was thinking I would have a screen with a bunch of themes to look at.” For install-themes, filters proved to be hard to use paired with the fact the words users think of to describe themes aren’t present in the theme keywords we offer.