With WordPress 5.6, two almost forgotten features surrounding the WordPress website platform came to surface by a lead WordPress developer Hou-Sandi. To take the starter content feature which themes are able to optionally add for the new installations and to apply it to the theme preview system of WordPress was the idea and it isn’t a new one.
The goal initially was to provide an option whether to turn on the feature selectively at first testing it with a few default themes as this would give the team some time to sort out some problems and remove bugs. It would also give the team enough time to make a decision on any additional guidelines to consider before releasing it to everyone. The themes team feels like they don’t think they will be needing any new guidelines. So there should not be much work from their end.
Unifying the starter content would certainly help with the overall goal of aligning the demo so that the users can actually accomplish something on their sales. A consideration of the combination of starter content and the theme unit test data that is already existing hasn’t been changed much even after seven years.
We are up for having a discussion about it but in general, the theme developers aren’t going to want to give a bad impression in their public facing previews. We should just check the guidelines to make sure they cover things.
Most of the time, plugin authors always get the latest update instantly and more frequently while the theme authors feel like they are second class citizens. The theme previewer changes wouldn’t be forever limited to just some of the core themes. This could be the very first step.
For now, the Twenty Twenty-One, Twenty Twenty, and Twenty Seventeen demos display their respective starter content.
But Why Now?
It isn’t without a doubt that for years, the theme previewer has been considered a problem area with users constantly complaining about it and massive discussions held by the themes reviewers and authors criticizing it and asking for a change. Some have gone to extreme limits to attempt some mod and ended up finding themselves on a shortlist for banishment.
But in the end, the users just want to witness their themes doing wonders and being in all their glory as they are the face of WordPress and themes are the first thing noticed by everyone. Hou-Sandi once announced that the theme previewers are doing a serious disservice to themes in today’s context.
The block system has a lot to do with this situation. Blocks can open up a lot of possibilities for website design and they are very much easier to be implemented. Blocks will always play a huge part whether it is a starter content or templates for custom front pages. Hou-Sandi stated, “I also believe that between blocks, block patterns, and eventually full site editing, it is more important than ever to the broad success of the WordPress project for themes to showcase their ideal states and make it easier for users to achieve the same thing on their sites,” and added “Starter content, introduced in 4.7, was a step in this direction, but has languished for quite some time.”
On October 6, a discussion was initiated to gather feedback for the future of this feature and possible changes toit. That post received some useful responses but it could’ve gotten much more feedback that too from a wider range of users involved with any sorts of WordPress projects but particularly the theme authors. It was all a part of a mind mapping about what should be done with the starter content.
Do the authors consider this a little too late? That’s a huge concern. But also there is an excitement among many users regarding this. Now is the right time for the theme authors to step in and provide valuable feedback and pitching. As it would be very crucial and beneficial for the further development. This could be the very first step towards obtaining a control over previews of themes.
The long neglected feature of combining the theme previewer with the starter account can be expected to be coming on WordPress after being neglected for years but it would be a huge benefit for the themes authors and users. What do you think would happen? Let us know in the comment section.