Call for Testing: Theme Showcase

Hello! I’m Davide, the design lead for the Theme Showcase, and I’m happy to announce that after lots of research and work we are launching the foundation of what’s going to be the new theme showcase.


The Theme Showcase is where you find, pick, and activate or buy a theme. Currently, we are focusing on creating a new foundation, so it’s going to have less features (for now!) but hopefully what’s there is going to be faster, clearer, and simpler.

What works:

  • Search for a theme by name or description.
  • Filter the theme list by All / Free / Premium.
  • Use the Customizer to preview and activate themes.
  • Activate a theme directly from the main list.
  • Details and Support links in the “…” menu.

What will work soon:

  • There are some smaller pieces and bugs that we are still working on, but overall they are minor. It’s great if you find them so we know how much impact they have.


We’d like to know:

  • Your overall impression: does it feel fast? can you find what you want, by name, by topic, by feature?
  • Any bug or frustration you feel while using it.
  • What filters (columns, colors, features, …) you are missing the most, i.e. your top 3.

Try the following activities:

  1. Go to My Sites on Horizon, and tap “Themes” in the left sidebar.
  2. Try searching for a theme you know by name (if any).
  3. Try searching for a topic (or anything really) that you might use to find a theme.
  4. Try to activate a theme on your site.
  5. If you have multiple sites, try activating themes on both “Single Site” and “All Sites” views by switching at the top of the sidebar.

Write any feedback you have as a comment to this post, even multiple comments if you find different things at different times.

We are going to gather feedback about this specific sequence of tasks for the next 2 weeks, so until August 4th.

Published by

Davide 'Folletto' Casali

Designing Product Experiences at Automattic · Advisor · Mentor · Speaker · Baker Framework Founder · ManifestoIbridi Author

31 thoughts on “Call for Testing: Theme Showcase”

  1. I cannot preview or activate any themes from the page.

    When I try to preview it says “Loading the Customizer” for a while with the spinning gear, then the message “Sorry, the customizing tools did not load correctly” appears on the screen with a Try Again button.

    When I try to activate it goes to a page with the message “Changing Themes?
    Use your site theme browser to manage themes.” and a “Open Site Theme Browser” button.

    I think it may be forcing me to my site ( rather than my site (, and that may be the point of failure.


    1. Thanks! Definitely something we need to check.

      We did some changes, but I’m not sure if this is fixed now… Can you try to activate a theme now from both the customizer and form the ••• popup menu, both in the “All Sites” view and in the single site view?

      If it doesn’t work, is there any error in the console? 🙂

      Thanks in advance! 🙂


      1. OK. So I’ve done some more testing, and here is the rundown:

        Going to still has the same issues, even though I select my site from the drop-down list. Still trying to apply to my site,

        This is the message I see in console when I click on a theme:
        Mixed Content: The page at ‘’ was loaded over HTTPS, but requested an insecure resource ‘…’. This request has been blocked; the content must be served over HTTPS.

        The error only occurs when using the preview option, no error appears in console when choosing activate.

        The drop-down list only includes my sites, I just use for this test because it is my current testing site.

        If I go to, the links all work.

        If I go to, I can choose a site. Once chosen, the customizer loads and works without issue.


  2. Kudos on the Themes showcase page and the Horizon logo. The themes showcase page is very responsive and fast.
    I do have a suggestion though.

    When I am searching for the theme name such as Illustratr, the search isn’t doing an incremental search. May be am too early to expect this and you already know of this.

    Here is a screen shot I took this morning, It doesn’t show the illustratr theme unless the complete name is entered in the search field. Adding incremental search would make this page perfect.

    Besides this, everything looks great.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Here’s some feedback on the ‘Search for a theme by name or description’ feature:

    Overall I found the search to feel fast, smooth, minimalistic and responsive. I tend to ‘browse’ themes over ‘search’ themes, so I can’t imagine using the search a great deal.
    The filters I miss the most are ‘custom header’ (I like them), ‘columns’ (I like less) and ‘dark/light’ (I like light).
    Searching by just a few characters doesn’t seem to work. For example, searching for “tw”, “twe”, “twen” and “twent” returns zero results whereas in the old search these would all return the “twenty x” showcase themes
    When there’s an odd number of results (such as searching for ‘publisher’), the last result takes up 4 times the usual space, resulting in blurry pixels (screenshot is here). It might be best just to display it the same as others and leave the space to the RHS free?
    I think adding a small “free” icon on the free themes where the price goes on the premium ones would help differentiate these (although this is existing behaviour).
    (Very minor)The search icon changes the cursor into a pointer on hover, although this isn’t a functional icon so maybe it doesn’t need this?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Full disclosure: I’m a die-hard WP-Admin fan and strongly dislike both the My Sites page and the Customizer. I prefer to browse themes for personal use inside the classic dash interface and only use the theme gallery (, not when searching for a specific theme to give the support doc link to users in the forums. Still, at first glance I like the new interface.

    Pros: – I like it very much that the theme of my currently active blog is shown at the top with a link to the support doc. This is something that’s missing from the current theme gallery and, I think, a big reason why users sometimes don’t know what their old theme was after switching.

    – Loading time is fast (actually faster than the WP-Admin theme gallery and switching the currently active blog is virtually seamless. I was kind of expecting the entire page to reload when I clicked on Switch Site and was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t. Infinite scroll loads slower than the initial page load, but it still feels faster than WP-Admin.

    Cons: – Too much wasted space. On my widescreen monitor there are wide strips of empty space on either side of the screen. And the way things are positioned my eye is drawn to the menu rather than the theme thumbnails, which appear small both compared to the current versions of the theme gallery and considering the space still unused on the screen.

    Possible issues: – Clicking the theme thumbnail goes directly to the customizer. I expected it to provide more information on the theme instead. Considering how often users wind up in the forum asking for advice about a theme that is contained in the support doc, it might be better that the default action goes there instead. I also foresee users panicking that they’ve accidentally activated the theme if the Customizer loads immediately. I’m also missing the direct link to the theme demo, though that can still be reached via the support doc, so less of an issue.

    – The support link in each theme’s menu goes to the support doc, same as the details link. Wouldn’t the themes forum be a more logical option? Additionally, if the support doc for a FREE theme is opened via the support link the support doc now contains a link to the PREMIUM themes forum, where free theme users will be unable to post.

    – The search box asks “What kind of theme are you looking for”, but if I type in a kind of theme, i.e. “magazine”, it returns no results. It also doesn’t recognise partial search strings. For example, I searched for the twenty-something themes. For “twen” it showed no results, but for “twenty” it showed them all, and also “Hum” which does not match the search string at all. Searching for specific features appears to work, except that when I, for example, searched for “portfolio page template” it listed many themes that definitely don’t have that feature.

    – Scrolling down the gallery is jumpy, as in it would suddenly jump up an entire screen height every few themes. This happens with both keyboard and mouse-wheel scrolling. I don’t have this problem on other pages, so it’s definitely not a quirk of my keyboard and mouse.

    – The more-link goes to the current theme gallery, but I assume that’s where filters are supposed to go.

    Wish list: – I use filters mainly when users post in the forum asking suggestions for specific types of themes or themes with specific features. Thus filters for the types of themes, e.g. “magazine”, “photography”, “minimal”, etc. and also filters for features not found in the majority of themes, like custom post headers, portfolio and showcase front page templates, front page excerpts, etc.

    – A revert to last-used theme button. This request comes up a lot in the forums and I think it could be a valuable addidtion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the full disclosure. That helps a big deal in having the right context for your feedback. I really appreciate that. 🙂

      And for the list itself, thank you. Definitely lots to work on, some in the near future some further away, but a lot of food for thought. 🙂

      (The last used theme is very interesting… I’ll give a thought about that too).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. And thanks to all involved for creating the platform to work with users on pending changes. May it turn out to be sustainable in the long term.


  5. A few notes:

    – There is no distinction between free and premium themes.
    – In mobile, I can’t both search using terms AND use the Free / Premium / All filters.
    – I see the Activate option, even if I don’t have Business. When I click on it, an overlay appears but it never fully loads.
    – I noticed a few alignment issues in the Thank You overlay: (desktop) and (mobile)
    – The banner at the top is a bit jumpy on mobile:
    – The search field isn’t visible on mobile. It’s hidden behind the keyboard. Similarly, it’s hard to notice the results are displayed as you type, since the keyboard is in front of them. Here is a video: I feel think the information about my current theme takes a lot of space in mobile.
    – I wasn’t sure what to expect when clicking the More button, but I was surprised when it opened another tab. We should probably display an icon indicating this will happen, similar to how we do in the sidebar.
    – As others reported, I also expected to see more details about a theme by clicking on the thumbnails. I also expected the theme name to be clickable.
    – Details and Support are the same pages for free themes.
    – It would be nice if the search elements were fixed to the top of the screen, especially in mobile. Otherwise I have to scroll all the way to the top to do another search: There’s also no easy way to scroll to the top.

    For mobile, I’m using Firefox 39 on a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact running Android.


    1. I see the Activate option, even if I don’t have Business. When I click on it, an overlay appears but it never fully loads.

      Here’s a video for the issue with the Activate button for premium themes:


  6. Ditto on the last used theme icon. Great idea – a security blanket.
    Will be back when more time, but at first go, it’s easier to find possible/useful themes now.
    Not sure, but is there an icon showing new themes vs older ones? (If you are starting out, you might want to go with the newest line) Anyone ever consider a “Easy Peasy” icon for the new bloggers that prefer simple and easy over mind boggling options?
    The themes I sampled seemed to load comfortably fast. Tried a couple on one blog.
    Shallow surface comments here, but will try to get back (although there are those which much more expertise in function that I have)


    1. First impression feedback is as valuable as in-depth one, so thank you. That’s great. 🙂

      On the new themes, currently we are showing themes by recency, so the default view is already ordered like that, while when you start searching it’s filtered by relevance.


  7. So many feedback is already given. I just want to add a few things:
    You can’t search for a developer, e.g. I can’t search for “Elmastudio”.

    And the incremental search is a little weird. If i try to search for “Twenty Twe” I got all “Twenty *” themes. If I add the next character “l” it just find “Twenty Twelve”.

    And if I click on support for a free theme, I got just on the theme page, e.g.

    On the theme page for Stay there is a red box with a link to the premium support forum. But Stay is not a premium theme and there is no forum for it, so the link redirects just to the premium forum home page.


    1. Yes incremental search doesn’t match just the theme name but also other characteristics, so if anything else has the “Twe-” root it will show up. I know it can be a bit odd if you’re looking for something specifically. 🙂
      Thanks for your feedback! 🙂


  8. Most of the things I noticed like ‘incremental search’, ‘link to premium theme forums for free themes’, ‘blurry screenshots’ … have already been mentioned. So I won’t bother mentioning these as well.

    I’ve tested the new showcase in “Single Site” and “All Sites” view (OS Ubuntu 14.04.02 LTS, Firefox 39.0, Testblog was I agree with everyone else. It’s fast, responsive and works like a charm. One thing I noticed though is the loading of the theme screenshots takes way more time on the new showcase than on & in my impression.

    Search for a theme by name or description.

    Works fine.

    Filter the theme list by All / Free / Premium.

    Works fine.

    Use the Customizer to preview and activate themes.

    Works but activating a theme, visiting the site (button), going back in your browser, activating another theme and visting the site again reproducible resets the widgets in my sidebar to a standard set.

    Readding these widgets is a huge pain because the Widgets screen in the backend (Design → Widgets) is a very long list. Scrolling down to the “Inactive widgets” and clicking on the widgets doesn’t provide a button to add them to the sidebar again. This results in a lot of drag&drop and scrolling.

    What filters (columns, colors, features, …) you are missing the most, i.e. your top 3.

    I agree with KokkieH. I mainly need the filters when people in the german forums ask for a suitable theme. Therefore I mostly need the “Features” and “Types” filters. Since you asked for a Top 3, this would be “Custom Header”, “Post slider”, and “Full Width Template”.

    Here are some loose things that I noticed as well:

    My testing procedure usually is, searching for any of the twenty *** themes. I went with twenty fifteen this time. When I click on the “Details” link in the ••• popup menu for a short moment it shows a localized german page before it changes to the english original.

    Searching a theme by topic only works in English. Typing in “Wedding” shows a lot of suitable themes. “Hochzeit” (german for “wedding”) doesn’t list any themes. Since the new showcase is localized for the most part (even the search bar asks in german “Welche Art von Theme suchst du?”) german users might enter german topics here only to find no suitable themes.
    I don’t know if it’s of any help but the translations for the topics can be found in GlotPress when searching for Theme Showcase term name.

    When using the Customizer to preview and activate themes, it always shows three scrollbars. → horizon_customizer_scrollbars.jpg

    Martin K.


    1. Thank you. Especially regarding language: while we aren’t adding internationalization support right now to all the themes, you’re right it’s odd that part looks translated and yet search won’t work. I’ll check what we could do. 🙂


  9. 1. Frustration: Wasn’t intuitive (took about 5 seconds to figure it out) that I needed to click on the theme picture to have a pop-box appear that then instructs me to apply theme. The White pointer-hand sometimes blends into the white color-scheme of some themes. Would be nice if I get a mouse-over effect on the theme picture (rather than just a pointer hand) that alerts me I need to click on image.
    2. Not sure if the current theme details bar of a site appears at top when a site is first selected? I only noticed the bar when I switched to a theme.
    3. Confusing: I activated a theme and yet when I click on the Support button on the theme detail bar at the top it tells me to activate theme.
    Theme Activated:
    “Activate” displayed after clicking on support, seems like it should display a different phrase such as “THIS IS YOUR CURRENT THEME” :
    4. Time between activation and appearance (on customizer) is about 10 seconds using Mozilla on a mac with Yosemite.
    5. When I view the logo in the top left, I am unclear if that is a new logo (supposed to represent Horizons) or if the line running through the logo is incorrect.


  10. Heya! The top bar appears only when you’re on a single site view (which you can switch from the sidebar, “Switch Site”), because otherwise you’re just seeing the browser.
    Thanks for the feedback, we’ll look into it. 🙂


  11. I think it would be nice if Preview and Activate buttons are shown upfront on every theme like on the current Theme Showcase.

    Now I need to wonder where the buttons are and click on the three dots to bring up the menu.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi there-my feedback is not going to be very technical, but hopefully you’ll be able to glean something from it. I also have a strong preference for working in the WP Admin rather than the New Dash.

    Computing environment: Chrome44 primarily/FF39 on Win7Pro SP1 PC

    Try searching for a theme you know by name (if any):
    Results: Themes whose names I could think of, which are mostly the newer themes, were found very quickly.

    The surprise came when I realized that older themes which have been officially retired, but which I personally still have access to in my WP Admin Dashboard (like Green Marinee) are not present in the New Dash Themes. This made me wonder whether older sites will still have access to retired themes after the changeover. I also found that the thumbnails were initially slow to load, especially in FF39. I tend to clear my browser cache daily.

    Try searching for a topic (or anything really) that you might use to find a theme.
    Results: I searched for “pull quotes,” “logo,” “testimonial,” “landing page”. Then I tried searching for multiple features, but that didn’t seem to work.

    More importantly, knowing what features to look for is a result of having been here close to 9 years, switching or at least searching for themes and seeing the tagging going on in the Theme Showcase. What about completely new users who may not know what they are looking for? My guess is that besides “free” and “premium,” “blog” and “website” might be useful? If you don’t know what a Custom Header is or what a responsive theme is, what good is a filter for it?

    Try to activate a theme on your site
    Results-All Sites: The first time I did this last week and selected agallerydemo from the pop-up window, the theme (I believe it was Sela) was immediately applied without a detour first through the Customizer preview. Today, thankfully, the Customizer preview opened instead. When I exited without applying the selected theme (x in the upper left corner of my screen), the Customizer closed and returned to the Horizon page that contained my last search results. That’s nice!

    Results-Single Site: I agree that having the name of the current theme at the top is very handy. And I also noted the comment above about both the Details and Support links next to it seeming to lead to the same page in the Theme Showcase. That is until I saw that on the page for Zoren one lands on from the Support link there was an extra button in the sidebar which leads to a forum page for Zoren in the Premium Themes forums. Of course, being a free theme there is no such animal, at least not right now. So that made me wonder if there’s a new structure coming to the regular Themes Forum as well.

    I also tried to apply a Premium theme to ablogdemo and the Customizer loaded as expected with the purchase button. No surprises there.

    Just a general note about Themes: one of the most often asked questions about themes in the forums from new users is “Why doesn’t my site look like the demo?!” Applying a theme to a site regardless of where it is done (theme showcase, dashboard, etc.), isn’t the end of the process. It’s the beginning. I feel that’s something that needs to be addressed as well.

    (Hitting the “Post Comment” button, but really wishing it was a preview button instead.)


    1. Non technical reviews are as valuable – if not more – than technical ones. Thanks for your feedback!
      We are reviewing everything around themes, and this is just the first step with an entirely new approach. So some of the things you mentioned are definitely going to be reviewed and redesigned. 🙂

      Just a question: the old themes you weren’t able to see, was that on the All Sites or the Single Site view? Because on the Single Site view you should be able to see them still… if not, that’s probably something we want to look into. 🙂



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