In an earlier post I mentioned I’d talk about how the changeover to the Block Editor changes how one chooses themes. This post is sort of about that.
The WordPress.com Great Premium Theme Cull of 2020.
To encourage users to move to the no-longer-new Block Editor interface (aka Gutenberg) WordPress.com recently removed from the Theme Showcase Premium themes that did not support the Block Editor.
This leaves the current number of available free themes at 111 and 37 Premium themes as of writing this post (*see below for update), which is a significant drop and the lowest number of Premium themes I can recall in recent years.
A WordPress.com Happiness Engineer replied to a user in the Community Forums that “We’ll start adding more themes that take full advantage of the editor” but there was no timeline given as to when users could expect new Premium themes. He also mentioned that Business users can upload any WordPress theme, as can eCommerce plan users. For many SMB’s spending upwards of US$300 a year just to have the possibility of uploading an external, custom theme is a stretch.
Just to remind you, Premium themes have been included at no additional charge in the WordPress.com Premium, Business and eCommerce plans, as well as being available as a one-time, standalone purchase for sites on the WordPress.com free and Personal plans.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: On September 1, 2021, WordPress.com retired all 83 available Premium Themes. Read on to understand what this means for your site.*
To put this event in perspective, WordPress.com regularly retires themes, both free and Premium, for a variety of reasons. What makes this event unusual is the number of themes retired at one time, even though not all the themes from the following vendors were retired overnight. I would be remiss in not pointing that out. However, according to my further research on 9 March, the number of available Premium themes listed in the Theme Showcase up until March 3rd was 183 themes.
5 January 2021-Updated: Now included in the short list of available Premium themes are themes from:
- ElmaStudio (Moka, Zuki, Nikau)
- Upthemes (all themes retired)
- Pixelgrade (Hive, Patch, Gema)
- The Theme Foundry (all themes retired)
- Array (all themes retired)
- Themetry (Adaline, Spatial, Bari)
- Pro Theme Design (15 available themes)
- Catch Themes (Verity)
- Themes Harbor (7 available themes)
- Themes Kingdom (6 available themes)
- Anariel Design (6 available themes)
- AudioTheme (6 available themes)
- ThemeZee (3 available themes)
- Elegant Themes (all themes retired)
- elightup (The Four, Floral)
- Obox Themes (all themes retired)
- StudioPress (all themes retired)
- ThemeTrust (all themes retired)
- Pixel Union (all themes retired)
- WooThemes (all themes retired)
- Viva Themes (Soho)
- Foxnet (all themes retired)
- Cedaro (all themes retired)
- SiloCreativo (Paulie, Janice, Rosalie)
- Organic Themes (10 available themes)
- ThemeGrill (Radiate)
- Graph Paper Press (all themes retired)
- Nudge Themes (Melody, Perle)
- DesignOrbital (5 available themes)
- WPShower (all themes retired)
- Press75 (Wanderer)
- CSSIgniter (Olsen)
- MH Themes (all themes retired)
- Reaktiv Studios (all themes retired)
- InkThemes (all themes retired)
- MeridianThemes (1 available theme)
- Templatic (all themes retired)
- Themes by bavotasan Now c.bavota (Arcade, Gridiculous Pro)
- WP Theming Now DevPress, (all themes retired)
- We Cobble (all themes retired)
- Press Coders (all themes retired)
- CyberChimps (all themes retired)
- ThemeZilla (all themes retired)
- CodeStag (Blink, Carbon)
- Themefurnace (all themes retired)
- and, of course, Automattic (all themes retired)
*As with previous theme retirements, you can continue to use your retired Premium theme. However, take note that unlike free themes, if you switch away from a retired Premium theme, even for testing purposes, you will not be able to reactivate your previously enabled Premium theme. The only exception is if you purchased the Premium theme as a standalone purchase. In this case, you need to contact Support directly for assistance.
By the time I finished writing this post one day after starting it, the number of available Premium themes had dropped to 24.
The tally at 08:30 IST on 07 March is 19 Premium themes available.
The tally at 18:52 IST on 09 March is 18 Premium themes.
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Page Layouts coming to Posts?
With the addition of preset Page layouts available with the new Block Editor themes, one has to wonder if such a “library” of layouts won’t eventually come to Posts as well. Right now, of course, you can choose from a dizzying array of Blocks for your Posts, but it doesn’t have the same visual punch and appeal as this:
OPINION: If the idea is to encourage new and experienced WordPress.com users to fully adopt the Block Editor, I feel like it’s going to take a lot more than providing new free and/or Premium themes that support it. The Block Editor is still not very intuitive at this point and, for some, a big leap that they won’t make unless they can actually see what the Editor is capable of doing and can duplicate it on their own site.
WordPress.com is not WordPress. For many people, WordPress.com is their first exposure to creating a web presence for themselves and/or their business and the majority are not “power users.” To achieve democratizing the web, we should embrace more than one way of doing it.
As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.