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).
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.
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)?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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”
Whatever ye do, please take Classic out of the default distribution. At this point it’s just a waste of pixels.
Hi, Gordon, lead front-end dev for the Carrington framework here. I’m hearing a lot of voices for…
- 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.
- 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.
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