Discussion about allowing themes to use onboarding functionality

A few weeks ago, in a meeting, we were talking about allowing onboarding functionality and we had an interesting suggestion to make a guest post on the blog. Your opinions on this topic are welcomed.

Author: Themeisle

Discuss setup/onboarding wizard guidelines for themes

Hello! We would like to bring into discussion our approach for onboarding users for our one page theme, Neve, which is submitted for review here https://themes.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/60623.

We would like to know TRT’s opinion, and hopefully, through an open discussion with users and theme authors, find better ways of onboarding users, in every theme. Our solution is not perfect, but we think it’s a good starting point for this discussion.

The mechanism

Immediately after activating the theme, you are taken to the Setup Wizard where you are presented with some demos that you can preview or/and import with a single click. The wizard takes you through all the necessary steps to set up your site fast, from just one place!
The wizard is dismissable, so you can choose to use it, or just skip it.


Our reasons

1. Not all the themes are the same, and because of that, we feel that theme authors (same as plugin authors) should be able to guide their users towards the best UX path possible.
In the case of a One Page theme, there is no point in enabling latest posts as default, as 99% of the users actually want the One Page frontpage.
In the case of Neve, we have built a theme with multiple potential front-pages, this is how the theme is presented and what the users expect to get from it.

2. If this is a problem, we can make much clear/easier to understand in the onboarding that the user can keep the latest posts option, maybe add a “standard” site library that user can pick and be directed to the customizer for e.g, like “I want the default blog listing frontpage”. If we auto-start without this option, we agree it might get a bit confusing.

3. WooCommerce is already doing this and we think they have a good reason for it ( or they don’t know what’s best for their users ).
Allowing theme authors to do this, would allow us to do lots of things for an improved UX, guide users with not only the demos sites but maybe with the style, fonts, plugins and much more. Sure, we would first need to agree that WordPress core hasn’t adapted to new WordPress uses, otherwise this should have been already there, but at least as plugin authors can, we think we should leave theme authors deliver the best UX for each particular theme.

4. We found out that 99% of the existing Neve sites use the demo provided in the onboarding. We think this is a good indicator of what the users actually want, and think that requiring 99% of the users to take an extra step to set up their site, only so that the remaining 1% don’t have to take an extra step of skipping the onboarding is not in the best interest of the user.

New requirement regarding affiliate links

We have a new requirement regarding affiliate links:

Themes are not allowed to have affiliate URLs or links.

This also includes paid sponsorship.

Please make sure your themes follow this rule by removing any affiliate links.

We’ll discuss the following subjects in the next meeting, October 9th:

  • Plugin recommendations
  • Upselling, fine-tuning some aspects

More info: https://make.wordpress.org/themes/2018/09/18/rough-draft-upsell-affiliate-sponsorship-guidelines/

Rough draft: Upsell/Affiliate/Sponsorship guidelines

After talking with the team leads, I was asked to publish an outline of ideas to consider for guidelines. These are being posted here for feedback from the entire community.

Nothing is set in stone. The below and any comments will be discussed in the next team meeting. Now is the time to share your thoughts.

The following is in response to the recent uptick in discussion as well as usage of affiliate and sponsored links within themes. These need to be addressed in a meaningful way that’s both fair to users and theme authors without allowing themes to be displaying things that are akin to spam.

The general rule of thumb should be: Any link, advertisement, etc. should benefit the user in using this specific theme. It should not be upsells of unrelated products.

Affiliate links in general:

Affiliate links in and of themselves are OK. They’re not inherently bad.


Themes may only upsell products and services that are directly related to the theme. It’s probably best to go with a whitelist of things that are OK just so that it’s clear. I think the following covers most things, but I may have missed something.

  • Child themes for this specific theme.
  • A pro version of the theme, whether in theme or plugin form.
  • An add-on plugin for this theme.
  • Design/Development services.
  • Theme support.

Plugin recommendations:

Themes may not include third-party plugin recommendations either via link or TGMPA solely as part of a paid sponsorship. Any plugin recommended by a plugin (affiliate link or otherwise) must have some sort of theme integration. The following is a list of some things that I consider theme integration.

  • Theme uses plugin hooks to make template HTML match.
  • Theme adds CSS to directly style components of the plugin.
  • Theme adds custom templates to handle the front-end output.

Paid sponsorship:

Any sort of paid sponsorship for backlinks should be prohibited. For example, hosting companies shouldn’t have their links on a theme admin page, which are not relevant to the theme itself.

Agenda for 2018 September 11

The Theme Review Team holds a meeting and we encourage all members to attend.

Channel: #themereview | Time: Tuesday, 11 September 2018, 19:00 CEST 17:00 UTC

The following will be discussed during the meeting:

The meetings typically last 30 minutes, however, may last up to 60 minutes. If time permits, additional topics may be discussed.

If you would like to discuss additional topics to those mentioned above, then please reply to this post and include the topic, along with a brief description of what you would like to discuss.

#agenda, #meeting

Updated Screenshot requirements

Slight change of plans, the previous rule was not sustainable and we had to change it as follows:

Screenshots are allowed to display only dummy text that doesn’t suggest/describe theme features, functionality, or statistics. If it looks like an AD, then it’s not allowed.

  • Dummy text examples: Lorem ipsum (or similar generators), text that doesn’t describe your theme, company, service, or products.

Please change your screenshot if it’s breaking this requirement. Not doing so can lead to your theme being suspended.

Deadline: 2 weeks (August 27, 2018).

EDIT: Nice screenshot examples to follow

EDIT: Removed the banned words.

Thank you!