Detecting WordPress Themes with WordPress Theme Detector

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When it comes to finding out which WordPress theme a particular website uses, there’s the manual way of checking, and then there are a number of very handy automated free online-services, such as WPThemeDetector (a service more commonly known as ‘WordPress Theme Detector’).

Let’s dig a little deeper by looking at the information about a site WPThemeDetector can detect, taking it for a spin on a real-life website and checking the accuracy of the details it yields:

What can WPThemeDetector detect?

Created by Luis Alejandre, WPThemeDetector attempts to detect whether or not a site is running WordPress*, the exact theme a site is currently using (note: it can detect both parent and child themes) and even which plugins are being used**; what’s more, according to Luis, it’s also capable of displaying information on the usage of CDNs (such as MaxCDN) and/or WordPress specialized hosting services (such as WPEngine)!

Using the site is, as you’d expect, incredibly simple: just bang in the URL of a site you’d like to check the specifics of and hit return.

Let’s try it out with one of the best-known — and longest running — WordPress community blogs around: WPTavern.com.

Results:

Here’s a screenshot of the initial portion of the results (note: you can either click the image itself to see the ENTIRE results of our test or simply head over to WPThemeDetector and do the exact same test yourself of course):

WPThemeDetector Results Example - Screenshot

(click to view full results)

Wow, that’s a lot of information! It’s worth noting at this point that not all sites will yield this much detail, but still: that’s quite a lot to work with. Not only does it give, as promised, the details of the child theme and the parent theme in use, it also gives details of where the parent theme is available. Furthermore — although not shown in the above screenshot (click the image to view the full results) — we’ve also been given, further down the page, details of ten plugins currently being used on the site.

Is the information reliable?

The first thing to mention is that, as openly stated on their FAQ page, the tool cannot detect all of the plugins a website uses: it can only “detect active plugins for which references can be found in the HTML code generated and sent by the site’s server”. As far as theme details go, however, assuming the theme being used includes the usual-basic information in its stylesheet (see our previous post for details on finding info on themes by looking at stylesheets), WPThemeDetector should indeed be able to give as-accurate-as-you-can-hope-for results — and in this case, because WPTavern does indeed include such information in its stylesheet (which we’ve had a quick look at to verify things), the results are accurately displayed!

That said, there will be sites that have masked the data that WPThemeDetector is looking for, in which case it may well give miss-leading results: such as saying a website doesn’t use WordPress when it does and/or failing to find information about the exact theme being used — to a certain extent, however, this can’t be helped of course since no such tool can ever be perfect.

It’s also worth noting that some of the additional information displayed about the site (right at the bottom of the results page) is wildly inaccurate. In our WPTavern test, for example, we’re told “This site has just one backlink, according to Alexa” — whereas, in actual fact, Alexa tells us the site has over 1635 sites linking in!

Summing up

As far as a quick and easy tool for finding information about which theme a website is using, WPThemeDetector is an outstanding service — giving far more information than I was initially expecting in fact: some of which would be difficult/tedious to find any other way.

The only real danger with relying on tools like this is when site owners have their sites set up slightly out of the norm (choosing not to include or mask certain data, using WordPress on only a portion of their website, and/or using complex WordPress customizations, etc): in which case all such tools will struggle to detect things as they should — if you want to find the theme a website is using, then using tools like this is a great place to start. Just don’t take all they say as gospel and don’t give up if you’re shown a seemingly dead end, since it may very well be worth doing a few things the tool doesn’t suggest: such as checking the code manually and/or emailing the site owner to see if they’ll give you any additional info, etc.

*something you can also do manually without too much difficulty.

**although ‘attempts’ here is the main word to focus on, because by no means can it detect ALL the different plugins being used on a site (far from it in fact)!

Note: found the ideal theme but still unsure about the ideal hosting? Take a look at our handy guide on the subject!

Know of any other neat WordPress-theme (and/or plugin) detection tools?

By Brin Wilson

Founder of WinningWP - passionate about all things WordPress! Find me on Twitter.
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