I've spoken before about the function of categories in the general organisation and distribution of WordPress themes (free & premium) across the Web. For me, categories in this sense function as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, categories can be very useful in classifying, organising and enabling easier user access to WordPress themes. On the other hand, categories can also be restrictive, particularly in terms of creativity. Let me briefly explain what I mean by this.
Most premium WordPress theme shops and marketplaces use similar category names in the organisation of their themes. You'll find structural categories such as blog, magazine, portfolio, eCommerce and so on. Each of these categories describes a fundamental structural attribute of the themes it represents. You'll also find thematic categories such as creative, technology and nonprofit. Each of these categories describes something of the end use of the themes it represents.
In both cases, categories are used to delimit a particular field or “niche” as it's often referred to in marketing spiel. These niches are essentially small markets that theme creators supply their products to. The more demand there is within a specific category or niche, the more that category is deemed “valid” by its community of users. And so finally then, the more “validation” a specific category receives, the less likely its boundaries are going to change. That means that anyone working at the creative end of WordPress in the interest of generating income is already operating in deference to and within the restrictions of a specific category.
Now in this video, I wanted to look at a specific category that I find particularly troublesome. It is the “charity” category in use on the ThemeForest website. The problem with this category, to me at least, is that it delimits and exploits a field that is by definition non-for-profit. The themes that fall under this category are being marketed and sold with the explicit recognition that their end-users are most likely working in a volunteer and non-for-profit capacity. And it is in this sense that I find the structural relationship of this category with the themes it houses to be unethical and immoral.
As an alternative, I highlight the work of WPCharity.com, a site offering free WordPress child themes for charitable organisations, run by Anggi Krisna and Moch. Zamroni of the Tokokoo network. Please go and check them out. I am aware that there are a lot more charity-oriented initiatives amongst WP theme designers, and I will therefore make this post, the first in a series that looks at some of the charity focused work that theme developers are involved in. If you have any suggestions for projects I should cover, please let me know.
Finally, I would very much like to hear your take on the category issue. Please let me know your view in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by.