New Default WordPress Theme?
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).
+1 for making the theme super clean so it can be used as an example. Valid XHTML, proper CSS, documentation, no inline styles, etc.
Another vote for HTML5 doctype!
But HTML5 elements as well. I’d love to see posts marked up as
<h1>s styled by depth of
This is out of scope, but perhaps we could get a visual editor that outputs HTML5 as well (
<figure>wrapped photos and
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!
- Similar to Thematic or Hybrid
- Incorporate the Section Widget (WP plugin competition winner for 2009)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
What I seek when I assess a theme:
– 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.
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.
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).
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).
I think the big question is: how much do you want to push WordPress as an all-purpose CMS in version 3.0? Because the thing about a “default” theme is that it suggests there’s a “default” way to use WordPress — for blogging. We know that doesn’t have to be the case, but the beginner doesn’t.
So I’d suggest making three default themes, all of them clean and minimalist:
-An advanced version of P2, or some other next-gen idea that shows what WordPress can do when used creatively.
A much bigger undertaking, sure, but I think it would send the right message. And since there would still be a basic blogging template, a new user wouldn’t be immediately overwhelmed.
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