Retired Themes-Round 2 (sorta)

And the theme retirement trend continues on WordPress.com with new additions to the previous list of retirees:

  • Bueno
  • Dark Wood
  • Enterprise
  • Inuit Types
  • Monochrome
  • Motion
  • Neutra
  • Notepad
  • Notes IL
  • Paperpunch
  • Steira
  • Structure
  • Titan
  • Under The Influence
  • Vostok

Again, existing sites can continue to use their theme even though it is retired and sites set up prior to a theme being retired can switch to that retired theme. What you cannot do is create a new site using a retired theme.

Here are screenshots from my Dashboards>Appearance>Themes:

On an older, existing site, it shows me there are 305 available themes:

After creating a new site, it shows me there are 210 available themes:

(You may see different numbers depending on when your site was created and when a theme was retired.)

There are a couple of surprises to me in this list. Bueno, introduced in 2010, was and is one of the most popular themes on WordPress.com and was showcased in February this year, with Titan, also introduced in 2010, not far behind in the popularity race. Again, here’s the list that Panos created in January 2012 showing the popularity ranking at that time.

At this point, I don’t think I can claim that only older themes are being retired. And while it would be easy to say that themes are constantly being upgraded to keep up with improvements on WordPress.com, it appears retiring a theme is more practical rather than upgrading it.

What do you feel is driving this trend?

P. S. There is an interesting thread started by Staff in the forums asking how did you choose your  current theme.

Author: JenT

Celebrating 10 years on WordPressdotcom! When not herding cats, I can usually be found setting up or customizing someone's WordPressdotcom blog, spelunking in the Support documents or helping out in the WordPressdotcom Community forums. Talk to me about taking your message to the world on WordPressdotcom (the hosted version).

11 thoughts on “Retired Themes-Round 2 (sorta)”

  1. “What do you feel is driving this trend?”

    I don’t know, buy maybe it’s the increasing emphasis on premium themes. Perhaps by reducing the number of competing free themes, the premium themes stand a chance of being seen and chosen?

    1. Right now there have been close to 100 themes retired (97 to be exact) and the vast majority are, indeed, free themes. However, a big chunk of those themes truly needed to be put out to pasture just on the basis of their inability to incorporate new features introduced in WordPress. Of course perhaps not all users want or need to have “the latest and greatest,” but that doesn’t mean TPTB want themes that aren’t back-end compliant. As I said, perhaps retiring is more desirable for them than having to upgrade a theme to be compliant.

      As far as the premium theme vs. free theme idea, I think the average cost for a premium theme is somewhere around US$70-75 and for many people that is a lot of money even as a one-time expense. There are still more free themes than premium themes, but maybe time will tell.

      (Edited to add “‘maybe’ time will tell.” Nothing is certain but death and taxes.)

  2. “What do you feel is driving this trend?”
    I think it’s mainly due to WP’s new fad: responsive layout. You’re listing 15 themes: all of them are fixed-width themes.

    PS You’ve got an extra e after “Notepad”.

    1. Thanks for the catch; duly fixed.

      I wish it were that obvious. If it were only fixed-width themes, then “Mystique” and “Blogum,” two themes I use, should be on that list as well. Searching for fixed-width themes in the Showcase brings up 131 of them, including the newly released “Typo”. Looking more closely, many of those “fixed-width” themes are also tagged either flexible or responsive width, so that’s a thought.

  3. Maybe I should have written “partly” instead of “mainly”.

    Typo theme? 131? You can’t trust the Theme Showcase filters: a) Typo has flexible width; b) at the moment there are 81 fixed-width, non-responsive themes (56 free, 25 premium).

    Of course you’ve got a point when you say that it’s more practical to create or adopt new themes instead of updating older ones, but note that they no longer offer a replacement theme for each retired one, like they did at first. Also note that some features (for instance the Related Posts section) can easily be added no matter what the theme, but you cannot easily turn any fixed-width theme to responsive. So I might risk predicting that the next batch of retirees will be some of those 56 unfortunate creatures…

    And I think David’s point is veeery valid. They’re producing more new premium themes than free ones, and they’ve retired too many free ones (including several themes that had unusual or unique features or design), so by limiting the number of available free themes they might lure more users into buying a premium one.

    1. The latest Premium theme (Delight) is US$40, a significant drop from the average, so it could very well be.

    2. And get ready as it seems that tomorrow (Theme Thursday) will bring 3 more new themes, 2 Premium, Awesome and Bexley (again in the US$70 range), and a new free theme, Spun.

  4. It is understandable that only so many themes should be available at one time from a support perspective. I picked my theme by going down the list until one caught my eye, installed it, did not really like it, repeated process about ten more times until I found a suitable one to use… for now!

    1. Sounds painful, Greg. I changed the theme on my photography site last month and ended up creating a spreadsheet to list the features of some of the themes I “shopped” in the Theme showcase, which gives a much more detailed description of each theme compared to in the Dashboard>Appearance. Still not 100% sure that Oxygen is “the one”.

      Now that I come to think of it, that process may not have been any less painful.

  5. I just discovered my Enterprise theme has been retired, so I’ll probably start shopping for a new one.

    Would an of you, as veterans, have any thoughts on themes (paid or free) that have this same sort of “newspaper” layout? Our site is a high school newspaper. I probably will not make any decision until summer because I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m learning a new theme and trying to keep the site up to date. I’m also hoping that the transition to a new theme won’t break things too much. I know our site is a bit “amateur,” but it took me a LONG time to get it to look so amateur. 🙂

    Thanks for this topic. I just stumbled on it and it was exactly what I was looking for.

    Our site is khsknighttimes.com

    1. You might have noticed that if you are already using the theme, you can continue using it. It won’t be available on new sites that are created after the theme was retired. So, you can carry on as usual. 🙂

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