Why can't old themes -- at least the more popular and versatile ones -- be upgraded to support the latest features instead of abandoned and eventually tossed out? For instance, I would love to see Twenty Ten updated to be responsive.
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Retrofit themes instead of retiring them
I am assuming that the number of staff hours that would be invested into retrofitting over 80 retired themes that no longer support all wordpress.com features is not cost effective. That being said, I'll tag this thread for a Staff response. Please subscribe to the thread so you are notified when they respond and please be patient while waiting.
Hi there - this is a great question!
One of the biggest reasons we don't usually retrofit themes on WordPress.com is that it would affect users of the theme who have already made customizations based on its HTML/CSS structure. Modifying the theme substantially on our side can destroy all the customizations WordPress.com users have made with Custom CSS. If you multiply that by the thousands of users who use a popular theme like Twenty Ten, that makes for a lot of unhappy people, which we try to avoid.
Instead of retrofitting, we regularly add new themes to the showcase that incorporate new features like responsiveness, as well as newer designs that reflect current trends.
In the case of Twenty Ten, which is actually a core WordPress default theme, Twenty Eleven - the following year's default theme - was designed to be an responsive alternative, so you may want to take a look at it, if you haven't already.
Just let me know if you have any other questions!
I hadn't thought of that. It makes sense, but it's a shame. Replacement themes are never quite the same as the "classic" originals. Twenty Eleven has some peculiar and unwelcome design changes.
A possible solution might be to automatically retrofit themes for new and free users, but give paid users who've already made customizations the option of manually upgrading or keeping the old versions.
We've actually thought about doing something like that in the past, but in the end we decided to focus on new themes and moving the web forward instead of working on tools that take extra work to allow keeping old versions. We do have an optional mobile theme that people can activate under Appearance > Mobile. It'll be displayed on smaller devices and we think they are a good compromise for folks who opt to use a non-responsive theme.
Thanks so much for the response here. It all makes perfect sense to me now and I'll bookmark this thread.
timethief - I'm glad, and thanks for letting me know!
You're welcome. :)
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