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

  1. Michael Dance
    Posted 6 years ago #

    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:

    -Blogging template

    -Magazine-style template

    -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.

  2. Eric Marden
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I vote for K2: getk2.com

  3. lokrin2000
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Ok, what about a basic theme that has several available stylesheets that could be chosen?

    The stylesheets would change the basic overall look and people could write and offer stylesheets for different looks rather than having to change to a different theme? The back-end (Appearance > Theme Options) would list the stylesheets available for that theme with images and explanations.

  4. Catia Kitahara
    Posted 6 years ago #

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

    Maybe these plugins should be those ones which will become the canonicals (or whatever they will be called)?

  5. lokrin2000
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Also, why limit to one theme? Right now there is a DEFAULT and a CLASSIC theme. It might be worthwhile to put in a couple of different themes so people can see differences in how coding is done.

  6. Paul
    Posted 6 years ago #

    As a WordPress/PHP neophyte I love lokrin2000's suggestion of CSS options that one could choose from or modify. Indeed, in a perfect world, I'd love to see a system where one could create an HTML template that, along with the base CSS file, would customize the resulting blog template. For us non-PHP persons it is hard to work HTML into the various PHP pages. Creating an HTML header, page, sidebar, and footer layout concurrently with CSS and having it all pulled into the PHP would be fantastic. But I can only imagine how difficult that is to code.

    FYI I use WP Framework as a base for the customizing I do for clients. It provides a nice, blank, modular theme from which to start the customizing, and is fully widget/plugin ready.

  7. Ryan Hellyer
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I'd like to see something without options, lean mean and useful for noobs to learn from.

    I'd like to see a solid HTML/CSS structure. This would mean not leaving the HTML/CSS coding to someone in the WordPress community, but passing it onto someone who is an expert in the field such as Paul O'Brien (http://pmob.co.uk/).

    Janes suggestions about custom page templates are a good idea too. Although the exact custom templates included would depend on how the final design looks/functions.

    Whatever it is, I'd like to see it go through an extensive public testing phase so bugs can be ironed out. It's probably tempting for the core team to just release something with a BOOM, but if it is to become useful as a development tool for new WordPress users it will need to be well thought out and if it is left to a small group of individuals, I imagine a lot of potential fixes would be missed. I was involved until recently with the development of another major software's default theme and they suffered this exact fate and looked a bit ridiculous because of it.

  8. Hugh
    Posted 6 years ago #

    In this whole thread I have only seen K2 mentioned once. Is there any real reason that K2 cannot replace the default theme in WordPress?

    • Is it not well documented for the beginner?
    • is it not well suited for being an example theme?

    The first thing I do when do a clean install of WP is to install K2 and delete the default themes. (but I don't do a lot of mod'ing of themes...) I know that Michael Heilemann just picked up the pace a bit on the K2 project. He has asked for any final suggestions as they try and crank out the 1.0 version.

    Is it possible (or practical) for the final theme to come in both an HTML5 and XHTML(1.1/2) versions?

  9. efikim
    Posted 6 years ago #

    The biggest problem I see with WordPress and themes, and this discussion, is that no-one seems to consider documentation to be a major issue.
    Unless there's sufficient up to date and easily accessible documentation for people new to WordPress and the theme you might as well not bother if you're trying to get new people involved.
    Read the codex and even worse read the code aren't going to entice people

  10. gazouteast
    Posted 6 years ago #

    While everyone here is focussing on the front end theme, I'd also like to throw thoughts in about the admin theme.

    Basically, I hate it.

    Since WP 2.5 the admin side has been awful - it's way too slow to load as a page, and opening a sub window, such as the media gallery, fries my CPU and takes forever to load - this has been an increasing problem in every sub-version of WP since 2.5 was released.

    Lighten up the admin theme, make it load and run as fast as the front end. Just as an example, I'm a fairly fast typist, and there are times when I've written something and realise I wrote it wrong, then go to backspace delete and look to the screen to see how far back I have to delete, but the screen is still "writing" what I've just typed. Trying to backspace delete over it renders a one character movement per second or longer. This does not happen in the front end comment box, nor on other sites such as here in the WP forums - ergo, it is a problem with the admin theme.

    Another factor that makes me hate the current admin theme is all the widgetised stuff throughout - I want to set my admin and leave it, losing the bandwidth, page-code, and rendering overhead of all that java (or whatever it is) so that I can work FAST, not be always waiting for wp-admin to catch up with my keyboard or mouse.

    In admin, I want TWO sidebars - one with the existing menus, and another with a menu list I can define and hard code (if that's the only way to do it) without squishing the admin screens into a single column of widgets - cascading includes would run faster and be just as efficient - the second sidebar could also be used for plugin developers to add micro-help comments, tips, links etc on the individual plugin admin pages, as well as for admins to have a "quick view" of current site activity - users online, posts being read, comments just posted, and in multi-author blogs, posts just submitted or published - these don't have to be live updating via javascript, just refreshed with a DB query on each page load.

    Right now, the biggest offput with WordPress is the "slug on Prozac" symptoms of the admin interface. I know some of you will say it runs fine for you - but what computer spec are you running? If WP needs a dual-socket quad core Intel 3Ghz+ with 16Gb RAM and SAS drives ON THE WORKSTATION PC, with 16GB+ internet connection, to get tolerable performance from the admin screens, then not only should that be stated in the pre-install documentation, but the developers need a good hard slap around the head for not thinking about the planet's majority of users who are still running 32-bit computers with single CPU, 512Kb RAM (or less), with 8Mb graphics cards and sub-100Gb older and slower hard drives, running sub-2GB internet connections.

    The connection and hardware specs needed to get wp-admin to run at reasonable performance is marginalising WordPress outside the north-western quadrisphere of wealthy-nation propellor-heads - think about this BEFORE releasing WP v3.0 - PLEASE!


    Regarding the revised theme for the site's public side - my requests are simple and already stated by others -
    - child themes of similar nature to BuddyPress, but easier to understand and implement, with compatibility with BuddyPress regardless of whether originating in WP or WPMU.
    - heavily commented css and php files so users and developers know what each part of the file is attempting to do.
    - easily identified and compulsory options for fixed width or fluid (not all theme layouts are compatible with fluid width when the user has a "small" monitor).
    - FIVE default sidebars pre-defined and included - header, footer, each side, plus a horizontal "in-content" sidebar.
    - multiple page and post templates (e.g. with / without sidebars, single & multi-column) to show this is a major feature of WP.
    - both home.php and index.php as standard files in the default theme (they're needed for WPMU and BuddyPress anyway, so why not include them in WP standalone?)
    - post auto-thumbnails, with thumbnail size either settable on the fly when posting (custom fields?) or definable from a post-page panel.
    - more "wrapper" divs as standard for background graphics and colours (I know how to do this myself, but how many newbies do?) with a simple options page in admin and the css pulling the data from that.

    I could go on, but many of my "wants" are certainly in the plugins or theme customisations arena, and should not be in core code.


  11. equalmark
    Posted 6 years ago #

    It seems clear to me that many people base their own themes on the default theme, as the default is seen as the blueprint of themes. Therefore to me the default theme should simply show off all the features that WordPress can achieve (well as many as possible!).

    The design should be simple, clean and fresh which allows easy customisation of the theme and also allows users to see exactly whats going on regarding code and how that code displays specific features.

    I also think that the code in the theme is important. The code should be commented all the way so that new comers can quickly understand what particular pieces of code do in terms of functionality. It could provide an excellent learning platform for new WordPress users and therefore help educate people to contribute to the development of WordPress and join the community.

  12. Richard Tape
    Posted 6 years ago #

    As noted by Jane, the original default theme was an impressive and wondrous thing, 5 years ago. This is precisely what I think the 2010 theme should be. It should impress and serve (as many have noted) as an example of how to write a clean, neat, useful design.

    A HTML5 Doctype surely is a given, one would hope. As is thorough and well-written inline documentation.

    I would also like to see an options page which offers the user a selection of seemingly basic changes (such as to have a main menu with categories or pages) combined with somewhat 'advanced' options (perhaps a colour selector, or perhaps allowing a switch in the position of the sidebar) (Yes, that is the correct spelling of colour ;) )

    Without wanting to reiterate what many people have said before me, I genuinely think this is a big deal for WordPress 3.0.

    In the beginning, WordPress began as a tool to help produce better typographic output. It is therefore imperative that the 'flagship' theme should make excellent use of typography. Relatively simple things such as a vertical rhythm baseline, full declaration of the spectrum of available elements. Perhaps utilising a CSS Reset to help cross-browser compatibility. I'm not an advocate of CSS frameworks, but the developer could do worse than to look at the typography in the blueprint one.

    I would hope that the theme will take advantage of some of the excellent 2.9 advances (such as how to use the post thumbnails for example).

    I concur wholeheartedly with Jane's idea for having custom page templates for a non-blog front page. This could hopefully open up a whole new area of people producing several page templates in their themes which can only be a positive thing.

    I'm not sure I agree with making it a 'framework' as such. I'm not sure this will get utilised the way most people would think it would. An example as to how to create a theme and precisely how to use some of the advanced (and basic, of course) functions that WP offers 'out of the box' is a much better way forward imho.

    If you really wanted to push the boat out, you could produce a couple of child themes which show people how to use these excellent little tools.

    I honestly could go on for a very long time. I wont bore you all! Good luck to the person (Jane?) who will be reading and analysing all of these forum posts!

  13. helloari
    Posted 6 years ago #

    i love thematic and one of the most useful features it has are body classes. that would be a really helpful feature to include in a theme for beginners. i wonder if it taxes the server, though, so perhaps having an option to turn it on and off.

    as for a name, i suggest "Odyssey"

  14. RENAUT
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Odyssey is a nice name (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey)

    I started with wordpress several years ago using theme plaintxtBlog (http://demo.plaintxt.org/?wptheme=plaintxtBlog)

    Today i think i would start with a theme like veryplaintxt (http://demo.plaintxt.org/?wptheme=veryplaintxt)

  15. dahamsta
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Whatever ye do, please take Classic out of the default distribution. At this point it's just a waste of pixels.


  16. gordonbrander
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Hi, Gordon, lead front-end dev for the Carrington framework here. I'm hearing a lot of voices for...

    Development side:

    • Simple, elegant code
    • Lots of commenting and documentation
    • HTML5 Doctype

    As a starting point for learning, keeping things simple is essential. Too many bells and whistles, and the newcomer is overwhelmed with the codebase. Keeping things lean also speeds future development and allows us to stay agile and up-to-date.

    I for one would love to see this new theme be a fine example of the best semantic markup.

    Design side:

    • Clean, readable typography
    • I'll add one: Grid-based design

    Blogs are for reading, and good typography is key.

    Grid-based layout has long been a standard of good design. It also gives the theme a unique character, while keeping it simple and easy to customize.

  17. KKWangen
    Posted 6 years ago #

  18. @mercime
    Volunteer Moderator
    Posted 6 years ago #

    For one of the 2010 WordPress Themes - I assume there will be at least two 2010 themes :-)

    - at least one theme is HTML4.1/XHTML 1.x valid

    - WordPress theme framework ala CSS Zen Garden with all the WP 3.0 PHP tags goodness and CSS hooks only, keeping it clean and simple but not bare naked :-)
    This theme can be used as a parent theme. Documentation on this theme can be built in Codex with simple diagrams/illustrations to specific parts of a special Page/Post template.

    - Bells and whistles like preferred grid frameworks, javascripts, theme option pages, etc. should be add-ons in child themes or themes built upon the WordPress framework theme. Tutorials on these add-ons can be added in Codex either as full explanations or links to sites which already have such tutorials.

  19. lokrin2000
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Expanding on my previous...

    What about something like:

    Theme1 - single sidebar left
    theme2 - single sidebar right
    theme3 - two sidebar left
    theme4 - two sidebar right
    theme5 - two sidebar split

    And then maybe around 4 style sheets that would work with all the above?

    gazouteast Here! Here!

    The back-end/admin theme needs a lot of work. I run a few blogs and once in a while I get confused as to which one I am in., I found a plugin written in Spanish and have been able to do some minor hacking so I have different colour schemes, but I'd really like a way to theme or style the back-end also without having to resort to a plugin.

  20. lokrin2000
    Posted 6 years ago #

    And YES, whatever is done needs to have documentation. Simple stuff for the first time user and more in depth for people writing themes or wanting to learn to write themes. The more complex stuff could be placed in the codex, but adding a readme file (or two) to the appearance section would be helpful even if it mostly had linksto codex sections.

  21. Frank Bueltge
    Posted 6 years ago #

    HTML5 ? sure - i have also my basis-theme for WordPress with HTML5: feel free and use this; make better, give more functions and ideas
    Projektsite: http://wpbasis.de/
    Download: http://code.google.com/p/wp-basis-theme/

  22. griehund
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I'm personally hooked on a three column format. Left column for blog roll. center wide column for content/blog. Right column for ads and such. Gave up on Kubric and finally settled on F2. A simple template that utilizes side columns that can be used or not used would make me a happy old man.

  23. efikim
    Posted 6 years ago #

    HTML 5 only for the themes would be a mistake ... those who'd see this as a requirement at this early stage probably don't need (and maybe wouldn't use) a default theme ... they'll be able to write their own, or will know where to source a variety of themes anyway!

    Too many blog users will probably still be using browsers that don't implement any of the new HTML5 goodies, and possibly won't cope with it at all. The same problem faced by early adopters of XHTML.

    Default themes will be used by novices and so shouldn't be at, or even anywhere near, the bleeding edge.

  24. Mike Schinkel
    Posted 6 years ago #

    As you've said, it'll be 5 years before the theme will be refreshed and that means probably another 5 years before it will be refreshed again. Given that, this needs to be given a tremendous thought (as you are doing.)

    Some here have said that many people modify the default theme so that would mean that the default theme should:

    1. Establish best practices for a WordPress theme
    2. Be very well documented in the code
    3. Incorporate most of the features supported by WordPress

    So what are best practices for a theme? That should be a new discussion but I'll throw out my two cents:

    1. Establish a base set of theme settings
    2. Establish a base set of hooks that new themes could emulate
    3. Use a "custom" directory where custom CSS and custom theme functions would always go
    4. Allow explicit setting of "Blog", "CMS", or "CMS+Blog" thus giving coders a setting they can inspect within plugins (maybe this should be in core?)

    Here are the theme settings, in relative order of importance that I think the user should be able to make in the admin console so this be become defacto-standard (my list is long, I'm sure others will want to shorten it):

    1. Configure font families and font sizes for each area (provide list of standard fonts)
    2. Configure # columns (1, 2 or 3)
    3. Configure column layout (content, content+1 right sidebar, content+2 right sidebars, 1 left sidebar + content, 2 left sidebars + content or 1 left sidebar + content + 1 right sidebar.)
    4. Allow selection of different color schemes
    5. Allow upload of Header Logo and configure alignment
    6. Configure Title Tags
    7. Set Page Meta Data including Home Page
    8. Header and Footer Scripts
    9. Set a Syndication Feed
    10. Configure post thumbnails (horizontal and vertical alignment)
    11. Configure comments (avatars, disable throughout site,
    12. Configure display of post attributes (published on, author, comments, etc.)
    13. Configure archive pages format (show titles,excerpts or posts)
    14. Configure NoIndex on Archive Pages
    15. Disable Custom Stylesheets

    This is pretty straightforward. Establish some theme hooks but make sure that applying them to a theme is super easy (i.e. little or no "if" statements or "for" loops.) This set
    of theme hooks would be analogous to what many programmers know of as an "interface." Here's a hypothetical list of hooks (the actual ones can be hashed out by a task force):

    1. theme_header()
    2. theme_menu($orientation='horizontal')
    3. theme_title()
    4. theme_body()
    5. theme_post()
    6. theme_sidebar($sidebar_num=1)
    7. theme_footer()

    I'm not proposing a full-on framework, just the most basic level. If this came be "standardized" then it will make updating WordPress and themes much easier (and I know getting people to update to the latest version is a WordPress community goal.)

    And to figure out which hooks to incorporate into this base level I would recommend forming a task force of all the people currently building theme frameworks and any other professional themers that want to be involved.

    This should be a long list but I'll just mention a few things that come to mind.

    1. Multiple page templates for common page types
    2. Incorporate post images
    3. Drop down menuing system (mega menus preferred)
    4. Support for both Blogging and CMS (maybe it should be two themes?)
    5. Author pages
    6. Use a CSS Reset
    7. Child Theme Support
    8. Widget Support in other than Sidebars

    A closing thought: I think a themes should ideally be about look and feel and less about features so that it should be as easy for the designer to create a theme as possible (this is one thing WordPress does so much better than Drupal.) Still this means that moving as many theme "features" into core so that the best designers who are not PHP developers can create beautiful theme that users can then use without having to trade off functionality.

  25. Dan Cole
    Posted 6 years ago #

    A new default theme should be a good solution for people who are never going to download another theme. It should push theme development ideas, not in features, but in terms of core architecture and flexibility. A theme that gets this kind of attention should have every little detail right on the inside, as much as on the outside. It shouldn't be a niche theme, but one that allows first time internet authors to focus on their content, community, and dream.

    How are plugins and themes going to interact in the future? Should plugins extend themes or should themes carry all the feature under the sun? I would think that plugins are to themes, as plugins are to WordPress, but that doesn't seam to be the case with all the theme options pages.

    Child-theme should really play a big role in WordPress 3.0+. Many theme developers on WordPress.org are only changing the look of an existing themes, yet carrying the rest of the code with them. This same thing would be better done with child-themes. Creating a two level tear within themes would allow for better development of themes in the long run. It would separate the core architecture of a theme from the design. Unlike other blogging and CMS platforms which integrate the architecture of a theme, a two tear solution would be more flexible and less restrictive, yet allow for better development and compatibility over time. This would also separate theme features and the design of the theme into different tears.

    Theme innovators should have a direct and active role in the development of this new theme. I'd be nice to have this theme be developed in the open, in a Trac and P2 like setting.

    Here are some questions to think about:

    • What are new author using WordPress for? How are WordPress powered websites being used?
    • How can the author's life be made easier through a new default theme?
    • How can the new default theme make an author's content stand out and flow from one post to another?
    • Will a new author really need this particular feature?
      How can this be done more efficiently in terms of code and for the people using it?
    • How could we benefit other developers and themes? (e.g. a php library)
    • Is this where we want theme development to go?
    • If we started over, from nothing, is his how we would do things? Is this the best way or our we compromising to stay with status quo?

    Here are some ideas that I think are interesting:

    • Shortcuts
    • Back-end on the front-end (When your logged in)
    • Child-themes
    • Child-plugins (an additional directory within a theme for pre-packaged plugins)
    • In-line editing (Titles, posts, messages...)
    • A common library for features.
    • More theme hooks
    • I hope everyone is having a good day and I can't wait to hear more about this project in the future.

  26. Chris Wallace
    Posted 6 years ago #

    Here's my list:

    • 960 Grid System with simple baseline grid
    • Simple layout theme options page (ability to add/move/delete/size columns and resize main content area)
    • Simple color theme options page (change colors of titles, body text, backgrounds, add/remove borders, etc.)
    • Simple typography theme options page (change typography of everything in the theme)
    • Focus should be on making this a lightweight parent theme that can be extended greatly using child themes or used on its own by beginners
    • Add a few child themes that serve specific purposes and offer unique page templates accordingly. Maybe a CMS, video blog, photo gallery, some of the more popular niche-based styles.
    • Add helpful code comments.

    I am all about keeping the theme simple but adding a lot of customization of basic layout, color, and typography.

  27. lokrin2000
    Posted 6 years ago #

    What about placing theme options in a new database table called themes? It would make trying to clear up deleted themes easier. Same with plugins.

    I'm not saying that each theme needs to create it's own table.

    I've had themes and options leave a whole bunch of junk behind after uninstalling them.

  28. Lokheed
    Posted 6 years ago #

    All of the people pumping eighteen sidebars, 9 on each side, you are out to lunch. One sidebar. Read, one sidebar.

    I'm sick of blogs that clearly suffer from widget overuse. I don't need to see the calendar. Nor the time. Nor your tweets. Nor how much spam you blocked. Nor the myriad of other html you feel like regurgitating. I don't spend hours perusing blogs, memorizing every detail. Frankly, we all like to think we're that important, but we're not. And the rise of blogs daily sees quality articles dwindling at an alarming rate.

    Keep it clean. Restrict the urge to flood a page without anything remotely irrelevant. I'd like to see the focus back on the actual journalism. While people are no doubt going to abuse the system, or just don't have anything decent to say, I'd rather give them less power than more.

    I'm all for aesthetics, but I'd hate to see a blank slate (which a lot of people misattribute as usable and fresh) or some ridiculous theme that has more sidebars and widgets than actual, real content.

  29. Ben Huson
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I don't think the default theme should go down the route of being a theme framework. It needs to be simple and not scary for less PHP-savvy people to be able to get stuck in and customise. It should include lots of commented examples of WordPress functionality but adhere to the standard WordPress them file structure.

    I think the main aim should be to showcase that WordPress is a CMS and I like the idea of maybe having a 'home' template with widgetised areas so that users have a decent starting block if you wanted to set up a non-blog site.

    Alternatively, the idea of packaging 2 themes, a blog and a magazine-style theme would mean that first-time users would more easily be able to understand that WordPress is a CMS.

  30. macosxpc
    Posted 6 years ago #

    I am not sure about HTML 5 Doctype. I think it is too early to implement this Doctype when the specifications of HTML 5 are not finalized yet. I'm not mentioning the compatibility issues.

    WordPress is big, and probably the most widely used web platform ever. So a decision like changing the Doctype to HTML 5 should be considered so seriously. I would say we all need to wait first until the specification is completed, widely tested, widely implemented to browsers (and they are used by more than 75% of Internet users).

    As per the theme coding, I believe it should be influenced by the Thesis theme. I know the theme makers are making their money out of this theme, but I believe if it was asked to them to be the part of the next WordPress default theme development, I think (and want to believe) they will contribute to it at their best.

    The other thing is asking Matt Cutts for a contribution. If the new default theme becomes a framework to future themes (I believe it should for consistency purposes by the way), then Google would be willing to have their hands on this project. At the end of the day, they care about taxonomy and if they know the new framework inside-out, then it will be much easier for them to classify the websites built by the new WordPress Default Theme Framework.

Topic Closed

This topic has been closed to new replies.

About this Topic