WordPress Themes I Hate! (and theme builders)

I LOVE WordPress. I love WordPress above all other blog/site creators I’ve ever used.

You can do anything with WordPress – blogs, static sites, shopping cards – you name it, it can be done with WordPress. The WordPress community is wonderful, usually falling all over themselves to help you – you couldn’t ask for a better group of people.

BUT there are some themes which I wish I could Axe Kick in to oblivion. Themes which have had me literally pulling my hair out. Themes which have caused knots in my muscles that require therapy. Themes that should carry warning labels for fear of irreparable brain damage. Themes that now, at the mere thought, are causing uncontrollable twitching in my right eye.

These are those Themes:

Lets start with Atahualpa
I have used Atahualpa to create many, many themes, it is easy once you’ve done it once or twice (but so is parallel parking with practice.)
The thing I hate about Atahualpa is how it takes over WordPress entirely. If you change your mind and go with another theme, you must start from scratch – Delete you database, Delete all the WordPress files and FTP the files back to your server.
EVEN if you Reset all the parameters within Atahualpa and Delete Atahualpa, it will still have messed with WordPress enough to have you fighting for your theme-ing life. The few times I’ve been able to completely remove the theme, the damage was so severe that WordPress just limped along like some poor beaten dog.

Thesis – Code More – Do Less
If you’re reading my blog at the time of this post, you may notice that my current theme is Thesis. Thesis is held together with not nearly enough duct tape! Any little adjustment throws the theme in to an upset. It’s a prissy spoiled theme that is always on the verge of crisis. Think stereotypical hormonal teenage drama queen. Hell, I was less of a mess when I was pregnant – and that’s saying something!
Every little change in Thesis causes a cascading fail – change the theme background color and you risk the collapse of some unrelated feature, like the sidebars. Only hard cord programmers dare stray from the preset theme options and few live to theme another day.

Twenty Ten & Twenty Eleven
2010 & 2011 themes are wonderful examples of “Just because you can, doesn‘t mean you should!”
“Keep it simple for the stupid” may have been the goal, but not the result. Each time I look at the coding I think “Did they put this in there just in case someone may want this in the future?” I can’t think of another possible reason why they would dump so much code where it’s not needed.
There are tutorial after in-depth tutorial on how to edit the themes, but it all comes back to – Why is all that code in there? – I’m never going to need half of it.

Other Themes
Other themes are just themes with erratic issues – issues that should have been corrected long before the released.
For example, this morning I was dealing with the Vasiliki theme – looks cool right?
Was this theme created for the express purpose of hitting on every one of my theme pet peeves?

1) The Sidebar runneth over!
Lets say you only want 5 post excerpts to appear on your home page, well you better not have a whole lot in your sidebar or it will fall below the footer – that’s ugly!

2) Unwanted Features I can’t easily remove
I don’t tweet 50 times a day, why would I want a built in twitter function? And why make it so difficult to remove? What if I’m a new blogger and I don’t have sponsors and I haven’t figured out what affiliates are yet? There’s no need for those boxes.

3) Instructions that don’t help
“Go to Adminpanel > Appearance > Menus to create your menu. You should have WP 3.0+ version for custom menus to work” AND DO WHAT? I know how to create a menu, but once it’s made – Then What? No where does it say “Do X to make it work and get rid of this message.”
There’s a nifty little instruction video that shows you how to create a featured image, that doesn’t help.

4) Lost is space
Why all the space? A theme flush left is lazy theme-ing. Even stupid sales pitch static sites where it’s only purpose is to hold you captive until you pull out your credit card are Justified, Centered, something other than pushed to the left!

My absolute biggest pet peeve, the one thing that I will spend hours to defeating are ‘free themes’ with affiliate links that are eval base64 encoded.
Themers who create a great theme for ….. Lets say a cooking blog. The perfect colors, the perfect look, everything in the perfect place and in the footer you’ll find 5 affiliate links for poker sites which are encoded so they can’t be removed.
There are ways to remove the encoding and I will do it just to spite those who build ‘free’ theme with non-related affiliate links. Put something related to the theme in the footer, I’ll leave it, but anything else ….. No Way Buddy – it’s going.

Elements used to create Featured image Artwork provided by Created by Jill.

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