If you want your theme to show up in the WordPress.org Theme Directory, it needs to go through a stringent review process. This way, people only get to see themes meeting certain standards. However, the review process can take a long time depending on how many other submissions are waiting for approval.

That’s where the Trusted Authors program comes in. Its goal is to help streamline the review process for certain authors, and in this article, we’ll explain how it works and why it’s a good initiative. However, let’s firstly take a minute to break down how the theme review process works in general!

How the WordPress Theme Review Program Works

The WordPress Theme Review Team page.

The WordPress Theme Review Team take care of checking new themes are up to snuff.

The WordPress.org Theme Directory features one of the largest collections of free themes available online. However, getting your theme included means it needs to meet a very strict set of guidelines.

Some people may think those guidelines are extreme. However, it’s important to consider that WordPress users with little experience probably choose all of their themes from the directory. This means they rely on the WordPress Review Team to weed out any submissions that may break their website or cause other problems.

In addition, since WordPress has such a massive user base, having your theme approved for inclusion all but guarantees it’ll get some attention. Let’s talk a bit about how the approval process works, step-by-step:

  1. You upload your theme to WordPress.org, where it enters a queue.
  2. A reviewer gets assigned to your theme, who checks whether it follows the basic guidelines, and leaves you a ticket containing recommendations for changes if needed.
  3. You take care of all the requested changes and submit it again for review.
  4. If there are no more issues with your theme, it’s approved and moves to a new queue.
  5. A senior reviewer takes another look at your theme and may request additional changes before approving your ticket.

It sounds simple on paper, but your experience submitting themes for review might vary. What’s more, the WordPress Theme Review team adheres to a hierarchical structure of team leaders, moderators, reviewers, and trainees. Depending on who you get, the process might take longer for you if they’re still in training or if workloads are high.

That is not to say the process doesn’t work, but there’s always room for improvement, which brings us to the next section.

Why The WordPress Theme Review Process Needs an Update

The WordPress Theme Review team does a fantastic job. They take hundreds of submissions and comb through them to find any errors that might affect WordPress users. However, the theme review process is certainly due for an update.

If you’ve ever submitted a theme for review, you know the process can be a bit frustrating. First off, it can take a while until a reviewer checks out your theme. In some instances, your reviewer won’t get around to adding tickets until the last possible minute, or they’ll disappear, leaving you waiting until you get a new one. In addition, you can only submit one theme at a time, which means the wait adds up if you’re working on several of them.

The main problem, of course, is the sheer number of themes in the queue. As WordPress keeps growing, the number of themes that get submitted increases, meaning an increased workload for everyone. Naturally, that leads to the process slowing down, which is far better than the team deciding to lower requirements. Even so, people have been complaining about how long the process takes for years now. There are also complaints about how the WordPress theme development documentation could stand to be more thorough.

In short, the theme review process works, but it’s more frustrating than it should be. This frustration can scare some talented developers away from submitting future themes, which is a net loss for the entire community.

An Introduction to the WordPress Trusted Authors Program

The WordPress Trusted Authors program is a solid first step when it comes to streamlining the whole review process. The goal is to make it easy for developers with a proven track record to submit and receive approval. With this change, the Theme Review team hopes to see a significant reduction to the waiting queue, which means they can get to new themes sooner. If you make it into the program, your theme submissions will go directly to a new queue, which team leaders will handle directly.

As you might imagine, there are requirements to meet, but they’re not as strict as you’d expect. To apply, you need to have at least one theme live in the WordPress repository. Then, when you submit a new theme, you can add a comment to this post, following the format you see below:

An example of an application to the Trusted Authors program.

At this point, a team leader will review your application. If they approve you for the Trusted Authors program, your theme will move to a new queue reserved for others developers who’ve also made it in.

You can also apply to the program using your latest approved theme once it’s live. However, keep in mind your theme should be somewhat recent (no more than two years old) to increase your chances of approval. After all, WordPress theme requirements change constantly, and older themes potentially won’t meet new guidelines.

As you might expect, your theme needs to be nearly spotless for approval, and shouldn’t present more than three sanitization or licensing issues in total. In addition, all of your associated products need to be 100% GPL compliant, you need to use demo content correctly, and there should be no malicious code within your theme.

Of course, the WordPress Trusted Authors program is still in its early stages. This means there might be changes down the line and requirements may vary. However, it’s a move in the right direction and it can benefit you greatly if you’re a prolific WordPress developer.


Having a theme in the WordPress.org Theme Directory is an excellent way to obtain more users and attention to it. However, not every theme makes it past the review stage since they have to meet a strict set of standards. Even if yours does, there’s usually a long wait for approval.

Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress theme developer with a few projects under your belt, you might qualify for the Trusted Authors program. This means your theme submissions will be handled by team leaders directly so they can get approved faster. At this point, it appears to be a win-win for everyone – developers can turnover new themes quicker, and the Review Team can clear the lengthy waiting queues that cause so much frustration in the community.

Do you have any questions about how the WordPress theme review process works? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Article image thumbnail by Abscent / shutterstock.com.

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