Improving Adding More Themes and/or Page Templates

This post continues the previous discussions we’ve had on the project to improve If you’d like some background information, you can check out the notes from the 2014 Community Summit and the discussion on the CSS Editor.

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One of the most common pieces of feedback has been that, when organizers are building their sites, they want more themes and/or page templates to choose from. The goal of this post is to start a conversation on that topic and hash out the details of what we want and how to move forward.

Right now organizers can only choose from the CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. themes (TwentyTwelve, TwentyFourteen, etc) plus the WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. Base theme, a custom theme that was written specifically for WordCamps. Organizers can’t edit the PHPPHP PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML., HTMLHTML HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is a markup language that is used in the development of web pages and websites. and JavaScriptJavaScript JavaScript or JS is an object-oriented computer programming language commonly used to create interactive effects within web browsers. WordPress makes extensive use of JS for a better user experience. While PHP is executed on the server, JS executes within a user’s browser. of the themes due to security and maintenance concerns, so customizing the CSSCSS CSS is an acronym for cascading style sheets. This is what controls the design or look and feel of a site. is the only way to create a new design. There’s a lot that can be done with just CSS, but sometimes organizers still wish they had more options.

Define the Problem and Goals

I think it’d help to have some specific examples of limitations, and to describe what the goals are in having more choices. These questions should help start the discussion, but feel free to ask/answer others too.

  • Have you run into limitations customizing your site? If so, can you describe them?
  • Do you find that it takes too much work to transform the design of the available themes into your custom design?
  • Do you run into situations where you can’t achieve the design you want without modifying the theme’s HTML?
  • Are there other major problems that you run into?
  • What do you think would be good solutions to the problems you found?

Potential Solutions

So far two potential solutions have been discussed: making more themes available to choose from, and providing a way for organizers to submit custom page templates for any available theme.

They’re not mutually exclusive, so we could possibly do both, but we have limited resources, so I think it’d be best to pick the one that will make the most impact and focus on that first. After the first round of improvements are made, we can reassess where we are and what to do next.

Other than those two, are there any other solutions that should be considered?

Adding More Themes

The first potential solution would be to simply make more themes available to organizers. This would save time in some cases because you could start with something that is closer to your custom design.

It would also provide a wider variety of layouts and templates, which could solve some of the problems related to needing a specific layout in order to achieve a particular custom design. If a developer did run into that problem, though, they would still be stuck because they wouldn’t be able to edit the HTML.

Just like with plugins, we have to be careful about security, performance, etc when adding more themes, but those concerns could mostly be mitigated by picking themes that are available in both the directory, and on Those themes have passed an exhaustive review by trusted developers, so we would be able to assume that they’re safe without having to audit them ourselves.

Do you think this is a good solution? If so, which specific themes would you choose?

Are there any problems with it?

Accepting Custom Page Templates

Another potential solution would be to allow organizers to write custom page templates, so that they could create custom layouts for the content area if their design required it. The templates wouldn’t affect the headerHeader The header of your site is typically the first thing people will experience. The masthead or header art located across the top of your page is part of the look and feel of your website. It can influence a visitor’s opinion about your content and you/ your organization’s brand. It may also look different on different screen sizes., sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme. or footer, though. In order to use the templates, we’d need to create child themes for the existing themes, and add them there.

The templates would have to meet certain criteria, and be reviewed for security and other concerns before they could be added to We wouldn’t want to end up with dozens of templates that are only relevant to a single camp, or to have to review new templates for every site, so I think we’d have to require that the templates be generic enough to be reused by other camps, and that they only be created when there is a significant need that can’t be accomplished with CSS alone.

What do you think about this solution? Are there any specific page templates that you think would be useful?

Are there any problems with it?


Do you have any other thoughts or comments?


Everyone is encouraged to particpate in the discussion, but I’m pinging the people who took part in the previous discussions to make sure they don’t miss the post: @ryelle, @harbormark, @chanthaboune, @nvwd, @kovshenin, @rafaehlers, @davidjlaietta, @dimensionmedia, @mj12982, @iandstewart, @miss_jwo, @topher1kenobe, @jenmylo, @georgestephanis

#community-summit, #improving-wordcamp-org, #official-websites, #page-templates, #themes, #wordcamp-org