The search function in the Theme and Plugin directories needs to allow for more than one layer of sorting/filtering. As it stands there's no effective way to do so, which makes finding what you want a frustrating and time-consuming experience.
Using the search input field as it currently is, you have to choose to sort the search results by Relevance OR Newest OR Most Popular OR Highest Rated. Isn't "Relevance" really a given? If you select one of the other options, you're essentially saying "sure, show me results that may be totally irrelevant to the search term." Secondly, why can't we sort first by one criteria, and then by another (and then another)?
For an example of an ideal plugin directory search: say you want to search for plugins by the keyword "share". You could type in that term, and then select to have the search results sorted first by rating, then by # of downloads, and then by latest update (similar to how you can sort multiple columns of data in Excel).
Re: the latest update criteria, it would also be great to be able to filter search results by time periods, e.g. last 3 months, last 6 months, last year, etc.
The Themes Directory tag filter search is a little better, what with its ability to select multiple check boxes/tags. However, it still has some frustrating limitations.
First, many key choices/tags aren't there, but should be. Some examples:
- COLORS – "multiple options", "custom color options"
- FEATURES – "custom fonts", "responsive design", "CSS 3", "HTML 5"
- STYLE (new column) – "minimalist", "bare CSS template", "grid-based", "typography-based", "text/content emphasis"
The Themes directory should also have multi-level sorting of search results, the same as I described above for the Plugins Directory.
That's my $0.02.
I commented on a post about this subject in the Ideas area three years ago, but the thread has long since been closed. About a year after that the plugins directory search was revamped, bringing it to its current level of functionality. But that was 2009, and we're coming up fast on 2012. I don't even know if this is where I should be posting this feedback... should it be a kvetch?