Everything needs to be just right. We will go through enormous amounts of effort to get the words to match the concepts.
I am worried the word “Theme” to describe the concept of themes may be a tiny bit off.
For me, conceptually, themes are building blocks, your site’s design is composed of many “themes” aka building blocks or little lego pieces that you can either author or source from github to build the castle that is your site.
The word “theme” can often be thought of as a single cohesive concept as opposed to a collection of bits so the concept is slightly fighting with the implementation.
Is there a better word to describe our intention with themes any better?
For context, are you thinking about “theme” as a user (“I pick one theme from user settings”) or as an admin/designer (“I can build a theme by combining existing themes”)? As a user, I’d say themes is just fine, and likely a great description for the feature. Alternate thoughts as a user would be “skin” or “style”. As an admin, I agree theme doesn’t really describe the building block idea of adding them together - but I’m not really sure what else to suggest.
Maybe we could we expand the use of plugin? What about “Visual Plugin”, or “UI Plugin”?
Fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your weblog. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.” Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website.
I prefer “Theme” the term implies an amalgamation of multiple parts. It is far better than alternates like “Styles” or “Designs”. You could use a modifier like “Theme Packs” , “Theme Bundles” or “Theme Base”, but I really like the simplicity of “Themes”.
Just the same, I think if it is planned to sometime in the future have a folder similar to the plugin folder that could contain template files, emoji and avatar sets etc. and this feature will become more than only CSS, that Themes would be the better term.
I don’t think there is a NEED to find something else from what is already understood by people generally due to the use of this term in almost every forum software and beyond.
That said, if we are really looking for terms to describe smaller composable blocks for themes then we can create a new term. Ideally, we should not do that, but using any existing term would cause confusion with various other usage in practice. The final composed outcome as presented to the user should still be called themes.
One such term that I can make would be THEMELETS which can be thought as small themes or a word-play of theme + template (= theme templates).
After writing this, I thought I would Google this term and I found that some people have already used it (check the following three examples).
If, for used theme components, there would also be an icon next to the theme-component name in the list of themes, it would be perfect. (Or is that what you’re saying only that it’s not in the screen shots?)