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:

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


  • 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.


  • 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.

#3-8, #core-plugins, #feature-plugins, #proposal, #themes, #thx38

Omnisearch / Global Admin Search, Final Pitch


Previous posts:

IRC chats in #wordpress-core-plugins:

We were a small, but scrappy group. It was mostly myself, @japh, and @lessbloat.

Omnisearch currently adds three ways to search.

  • A Dashboard Widget:
    Omnisearch Dashboard Widget
  • An admin page under the Dashboard:
    Omnisearch Admin Page
  • And as a search box on  the adminbar — when you’re on the admin side of the site:
    Omnisearch Admin Bar

All three turn up the same results page:

Omnisearch Results Page

And all is happy with the world.

We were trying to solve the proliferation of different search forms for different data structures in the admin.  When trying to find content, it’s inconvenient and difficult to always navigate to the right data structure and then search it — especially if you’re unsure if something was in a comment or a post (all too frequent in p2s)– and you just want to pull in all relevant results.

Other things we’d considered were potentially adding an Alfred-like pop-up modal where you could enter omnisearches, and see results from the menus on the page that happen to match — very much like WP Butler’s current functionality.  We opted not to add it in this pass, though, figuring better to keep a slimmer implementation.

Our user testing confirmed that this was a definite win.  In fact, the user even remarked that there should be a centralized search when we had them running through the initial steps where they were to search each data structure independently, before activating Omnisearch and seeing how that compared.

We’re eager to hear any feedback on code, methods, or even name.  I’ve had some people mention that they’d prefer it have a less ‘marketing’ name, and more of a generalized “Global Admin Search”.  I prefer Omnisearch for brevity, but would love to hear some discussion on the pros and cons of whether it would be better to use a more general name.

#3-8, #core-plugins, #feature-plugins, #omnisearch, #proposal