[closed] New Default WordPress Theme? (86 posts)

  1. Jen
    Community Organizer
    Posted 6 years ago #

    The post at http://wordpress.org/development/2009/12/2010-a-theme-odyssey/ outlines some of the thinking by the core team about bundling a new default theme with WordPress 3.0 next year. This forum thread is the best place to weigh in on what features you think are important to include in a default theme, if it should have a specific look, etc.

    I'll kick it off. I would like to see something with generally minimalist design, nice typography, a custom header, and a couple of different page templates, making it easy for the theme to be used for CMS-type sites as well as blogs (a template for a non-blog home page with a featured content area would be fantastic IMO).

  2. Micah Cooksey

    Posted 6 years ago #

    I heartily agree with the custom page templates. I think that lots of widget-ready areas would be nice, along with a nice big widgetized footer.
    Another thing I've noticed about quite a few themes for WP is that if you're not going to use the theme for a blog, you really have to hack the code to make it usable for a CMS-type site.

  3. The way I see it, if you attack the root of the problem and replace Kubrick with a base theme that contains everything DD32 mentions in his ticket, this could do nothing but positive things for the WordPress community. First time theme developers would have an excellent base to start from and learn a thing or two in the process with documentation included within the theme.

    I think the default theme in WordPress should find a way to balance a myriad of points. The first, showcasing what WordPress is capable of doing out of the box without being too complex. The second is to be used as a fantastic guide to creating themes with WordPress which of course is going to require lots of documentation, probably inline. Third, I hope the minimalist design is at least stylish enough to use by itself or at least, has great typography and is easy to style or modify. Would be awesome to tap into the typography skills of Darren Hoyt :)

  4. Mark McWilliams
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Edit: Should type faster, and stop looking at other pages, looks like Jeff got in with what I'd like to see too! ... But glad I'm not the only one!

    I think (And have already said it before on Twitter!) that 2010 should showcase what WordPress can actually do, yes, more people look at it as just blogging software and expect nothing more than a blog look and feel to it! - But fact is, as many of us already know, it's more than that! :) As Jane has semi-mentioned in her post above!

    So what I'm really saying is, WordPress has loads of features, yet the default theme doesn't take advantage of at least 50% of them, one being the Post Thumbnails. One minute it was built into the default theme, and next it was removed again!

    I'm sure I could go on and on, but I think (And hope!) you see what I'm on about! ;) It'd finally be good to see a default theme that had all the template pages covered!

  5. Make some really sexy PHP, but also keep it simple. After all it's supposed to serve as an example theme. I also think a lot of documentation in the theme file itself in the way of PHP comment blocks would be helpful. Explain what's going on or at least link to Codex articles about each function. Yes, it's bloaty, but helpful to the novice trying to figure out what's going on. PS: I'd be willing to help code this theme -- I've converted quite a few static pages to themes.

    Keep the HTML as flexible as possible so it's easy to be reskinned. Think Sandbox style. No fixed width background images for example.

    I think it'd be cool if it had a basic options page to allow for things like controlling left/right sidebar, theme width, etc. Nothing fancy (not a full blown framework), but allow the user to tweak the theme a little without having to know CSS. Allow them to make it their own (background image, header, colors). Again, not a full framework, just a little customization. We can keep this all in functions.php so it doesn't clutter up the theme itself for example purposes.

  6. Ian Stewart
    Theme Wrangler
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I'm kinda partial to the HTML structure in the Shape Theme I came up with. There aren't a lot of blog or CMS-type site layouts that can't be created using it.

  7. bradpotter
    Posted 6 years ago #

    The new theme should definitely take beginners into consideration yet set the standard for developing themes.

    Use best practices in the XHTML and CSS code.

    Be well commented in the code and have a table of contents in the style sheet.

    Include example files for every file listed in the template hierarchy at:
    This will show newbies the great flexibility of WordPress

    Make use of commonly used template tags and the new tags implemented in 2.9

    Documentation with the theme or a link to documentation that is kept current at wordpress.org. Separate from the Codex please so its easy to comprehend.

    Something different to show change, white with square corners perhaps ;-)

  8. demetris
    Posted 6 years ago #

    This is a huge discussion, but I think Dion covers most of the important aspects in the Trac ticket.

    Things that are important in my opinion:


    A few more action hooks, that maybe could become sort of standard if introduced by the default theme, helping plugins work their way easier into the content/functionality of a typical WP site. E.g.:




    ... before and after the_content(), so that plugins can add content without resorting to filtering.


    An Options page, to tweak very basic things. This page would also help theme authors in general, as a model; now it is not easy building options pages for WordPress.


    HTML5 doctype. Enough said!


    Sensible typography! Seriously! No things like text-align:justify without hyphenation, or text-transform:lowercase!

    An application named WordPress should have better typography than that. And good web typography is rather easy to achieve these days, with so many knowledgeable people working on the subject and sharing the result of their work. (See number of CSS frameworks.)

    See, as an example, the typography on op111.net: http://op111.net/

    It is a theme I’m putting together, very plain and simple on the surface. Its typography is almost default Blueprint CSS -- http://www.blueprintcss.org/ -- (I’m resisting the temptation to mess too much with Blueprint) and I’m surprised by how good it looks by virtue of the sensible typography alone.

  9. Jeremy Herve
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I am going to repeat what others said before me, but this 2010 theme should definitely serve as an example. It should consequently group lots of features that make WordPress great, while staying simple to start with if you are discovering WordPress and know nothing about code.

    I think page templates are a great way to do just that. They can be there, serve as an example, and still stay at the back for the one who downloaded WordPress and who does not want anything but a blog.
    Your idea of a homepage template with featured area is exactly what I would imagine.
    I always say that the weakest point in the WordPress project is its past, and its background: everbody who knows a bit about WordPress will tell you it is a blog platform, but only a few of them know that it can be so much more. In my opinion, the default theme should be built with that "weakness" in mind.

    So I'd see a minimalist great-looking theme, well commented and extremely well documented, without too many images but a nice work on the typography, with a simple options page with only a few theme options, to serve as an example.

    For additional features, if the theme is well documented, lots of child themes will be released in no time anyway.

  10. lokrin2000
    Posted 6 years ago #

    What about rewriting it enough so that when updates to the theme are made they aren't overwritten?

    Or would that add too much code for a default theme?

  11. archshrk
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I'm torn between one theme that does it all and several small themes that highlight different approaches. Should the default theme be able to switch from 1,2 or 3 columns? Left vs right column? fixed vs dynamic width? etc...

    Far too many people stick with the default theme for it to be static or boring but that is what prompts most people to find a theme that suits them, their personality and their site's perspective. If we get too creative, people won't be as motivated to find something different or personal.

    My vote then is to keep it simple with limited flexibility and able to handle the most common features easily.

  12. demetris
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Oh! One thing more!


    A selection of themes that are both well-coded and popular should be studied carefully before any decisions are made. Here are a few that I would start with:

    • Hybrid
    • Tarski
    • Thematic
    • Thesis
    • John Turner
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I'd like to see a default theme similar to Thematic:

      • the ability to create child themes
      • the ability to hook into in different places along with filtering
      • if there is a default options the ability to override of disable or extend
      • be an example of best practices in theme option coding
      • ability to implement other css frameworks easy

      The biggest thing for me is extendability. WP is so powerful because of it actions and filters. I think the default theme should also follow in these footsteps.

    • Ian Stewart
      Theme Wrangler
      Posted 6 years ago #

      Picking up on Jane's suggestion …

      a template for a non-blog home page with a featured content area would be fantastic

      I think a 'magazine'-type home-page template would definitely be something to consider. Especially if an example theme settings page was built in.

      I don't think I'd like to see column switching as an option though. If this is a theme meant, eventually, for simple tweaking and customization, a few sample stylesheets for layouts (like Sandbox, Thematic, Shape, etc.) brought in w/ @import would be simpler.

      HTML 5 doctype, sure. Though I'd be inclined to steer away from HTML elements.

      I'd also be inclined to steer away from styling with CSS3. I'm thinking here of the IE user tweaking his stylesheet and not realizing his new color combinations are making a garish text-shadow-ey mess for people browsing in FF or Safari.

    • John Turner
      Posted 6 years ago #

      HTML 5 doctype, sure


    • Fernando Tellado
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I propose two really different approaches for a new default theme … 

      - Thematic: really clear, good for SEO and to educate in developing skills
      - Carrington blog: a new concept of theme framework - looking to the future, with a great options page, beauty and lots of fun

    • Duane Storey
      Posted 6 years ago #

      +1 for making the theme super clean so it can be used as an example. Valid XHTML, proper CSS, documentation, no inline styles, etc.

    • kingjeffrey
      Posted 6 years ago #

      Another vote for HTML5 doctype!

      But HTML5 elements as well. I'd love to see posts marked up as <article>s and <h1>s styled by depth of <section> nesting.

      This is out of scope, but perhaps we could get a visual editor that outputs HTML5 as well (<figure> wrapped photos and <section> nested <h1>s specifically)

    • dcostalis
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I think demetris nailed all the major points, but I'd like to add a couple things:

      2. An Options page, to tweak very basic things. This page would also help theme authors in general, as a model; now it is not easy building options pages for WordPress.

      I think having a few basic options could help extend the half-life of the default theme. Having a few basics such as one or two columns, columns on the left or right, and maybe even a few color options can help keep it from getting stale as everyone upgrades to 3.0

      3. HTML5 doctype. Enough said!

      Yes. Please. If popular software like WordPress sticks with 4.01 or xhtml 1.0, the internet is doomed.

      4. Sensible typography!

      Absolutely. Even sticking with the core blueprint model and advertising it as such would be a vast improvement! It's clean, it's classy, it's modern, just like WordPress 3.0 will be.

      On a somewhat related note, I'd like to see a better "example" post sample on install, actually showing off everything that can be done. I think this will help new users immensely. Showing just how the gallery works and all the <hx> tags right off the bat can be a great resource. Also, a quick one-click "hide all" for the initial DB entries... this comment may not quite belong here, but ensuring that all aspects of the theme are solid and conform to typography standards is important to remember!

    • mark.dillon
      Posted 6 years ago #

      1. Similar to Thematic or Hybrid
      2. Incorporate the Section Widget (WP plugin competition winner for 2009)
    • kingjeffrey
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I'll miss Kubrick. I cut my standards-based-web-design teeth dissecting that theme in early 2005.

      I am glad to see that a high priority to keep the new theme simple — so it too can act as a teaching tool.

    • Dennis Whiteman
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I would like to see Thematic considered as the foundation, but with the BuddyPress stuff in the Buddymatic theme included. That would give you a parent theme with all the main features integrated, including BuddyPress, and make creating custom designs very easy because of the all the hooks that can be modified.

      In most of my Thematic-based designs, I also usually include a custom home page template in my child themes with six home-page-only widget areas so the client can essentially layout the home page with either stock or custom widgets.


    • Jeremy Clarke
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I love this idea and think adding stuff to default theme will be great.

      Like Jeffr0 and Alex I think making it an exemplar of documentation is the right idea. When someone goes in to edit it they should be presented with php comment blocks explaining what is happening and why, as well as linking to articles about stuff like Widgets API, Settings API etc. It increases the size of the original .php template files, but will have a vanishingly small effect on overall server performance and none of the PHP comments will be visible in the resulting HTML passed to users.

      When using/adding features to this theme one gotcha is that if we aren't careful we could make non-core features seem like core features. Things like adding special widgets should be off limits. If Default theme needs something I think its a good time to ask if Core WP needs it too. It should show off what you can do simply by using the API, and avoid actually doing new things itself if at all possible.

      In terms of specific features I want to see that aren't in Kubrick here's a shortlist:

      • Epic users/authors support: author pages with their names at the top, avatars, 'user_description' bios etc should be linked from author names.
      • Pages treated as navigation: Kubrick's biggest "it's not a cms" FAIL is that pages can only be shown as a sidebar list which makes them look unimportant. Make sure the new default has some high-profile place to list pages, most people do and everyone strong>should use them.
      • Footer and content-top widgetized sidebars: as already mentioned this is easy to set up and makes a site insanely more powerful as a CMS. By content-top I mean above the main posts loop.
    • Austin Matzko
      Posted 6 years ago #

      Jane wrote:

      This forum thread is the best place to weigh in on what features you think are important to include in a default theme, if it should have a specific look, etc.

      I think you're asking people to jump too many steps ahead. First, you need to figure out what the purpose of the default theme is. Then we can talk about what features best further that purpose.

      • The default theme used to be what everyone started out using. That's no longer the case, and it doesn't need to be the case with the proliferation of free and paid themes, many of which can be installed directly from the dashboard.
      • The default theme (and perhaps more so, the "Classic" theme) used to be the basis of people's learning how to create their own themes. But again, there are many good, basic themes that can be used as examples. And there are many tutorials on how to create a theme. Theme-developer training no longer needs to be a goal of the default theme.

      I suggest instead that the purpose of the default theme be to act as the public "face" of WordPress. In other words, it will be what people think of when they think of WordPress, as they do now with Kubrick. It doesn't need to have all the whiz-bang features; it doesn't need to show developers how to develop; it doesn't even need to be something that people will use (most won't); instead, it just needs to make the WordPress brand look like something people would want to use.

    • kingjeffrey
      Posted 6 years ago #

      Regarding good typography...

      Let's keep some vertical rhythm this time. And main content line length about 30x that of the font size.

      Georgia, when sized at 15-16px is just beautiful (and ubiquitously available).

      Perhaps we can use a @font-face rule for heading text. With a classy font like a Museo Sans.

    • Chuck Reynolds
      Posted 6 years ago #

      It's not the design of kubrik that I care about but more of the functionality and ability to use the default theme for simple modifications.

      Things I'd like to see in a new default:

      • make it a framework so it can stand alone and have the ability to use child-themes so default can be updated with core still
      • not 100 lines of code to change header colors in the functions file that we have to remove
      • having a few different page templates pre-built
      • grid-based layout and simple typography following usability and readability standards
      • start with html5 push

      ran out of steam with 20 other things goin on but... that's a start

    • chrisfmasse
      Posted 6 years ago #

      What I seek when I assess a theme:
      - fluidity
      - 2 sidebars (2 sidebars on each side, or 2 sidebars at the left)
      - a horizontal menu bar that lists the pages and the sub-pages
      - maybe another one that lists the categories
      - a footer that can publish a page menu or more
      - option to change the font and the colors
      - option to restrict the fluidity

      Thanks. Keep up the good work.

    • Devin Price
      Posted 6 years ago #

      I would like to see a similar layout and structure to Thematic- but without the hooks and filters. A new user should be able to go into the template files and see well documented examples of how everything works.

      I know that theme options add extra code and complexity- but I think a well coded options array with commented examples of how to add more items would really spur development in this area. I think the reason most theme authors don't have options is because a lack of well-coded examples and documentation. I would suggest having an option to change the layout of the home page from a standard date ordered list of posts to a "feature site" (and clearly explain in the documentation how to do this).

      When the new theme is released, I think us designers and developers should have a raft of child themes ready to go. Everyone one of us that cares about how the default theme looks could personalize it to whatever we want, highlighting the amazing abilities of child themes and css. Everyone could have their own ideas incorporated rather than having to haggle over whether the sidebar should be on the right or the left, or what type of font to use.

      WordPress.org could include all these child themes in the repository. There might even be an option from the download page that allows you to view the child themes when downloading the parent theme. This would allow us all to put our own individual spin on the project and make sure that everyone isn't using the same boring default theme (and yes, the default theme should be a little bit boring).

      This is an awesome discussion and I'm looking forward to what we all come up with.

    • frankieroberto
      Posted 6 years ago #

      Another vote here for the HTML5 doctype. Though I'm not so sure about the new elements.

      Other things to consider:

      * Support for a top-nav based upon Pages?
      * Support for the OpenID plugin (eg so the comment form gets styled nicely if the plugin is added)
      * Fluid-width rather than fixed-width.
      * Abandon the comments-popup.php file.
      * Do something more useful in the 404.php file (eg listing recent posts and/or offering a search box).
      * Abandon the custom header image UNLESS this code is integrated into WordPress core - the functions.php should basically be blank, except for defining a sidebar and maybe declaring a value for $GLOBALS['content_width']. The point of the theme should be to use existing functionality, rather than to add new functions (which should generally be done via plugins).


    • Ian Stewart
      Theme Wrangler
      Posted 6 years ago #

      Support for the OpenID plugin (eg so the comment form gets styled nicely if the plugin is added)

      How about having the theme 'style-ready' for a few of the more popular plugins that add 'stuff' (like Subcribe to Comments).

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