A New Kind of Default Theme Proposed for WordPress 6.1

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WordPress 6.1 is expected to be released by October 25, 2022 and the Design Contributors have proposed shipping a curated set of style variations instead of the usual default theme.

The idea itself is not new and started when Twenty Twenty-Two designer Kjell Reigstad shared some thoughts about the future of default themes when he introduced the Twenty Twenty-Two theme last year.

“The community has produced a dozen best-in-class themes together, and we’ve come to look forward to a new one arriving at the close of each year. That said, themes are in a transition period today, and it seems like this may be a reasonable time to step back and re-evaluate the annual cadence with which we build default themes. 

Innovations like theme.json, block templates, and block patterns are making theme development far simpler, and are providing new ways for users to customize their sites. There’s reason to believe that the community can leverage all this to build more frequent and diverse theme and customization solutions for our users in the coming years.”

Style Variations

Introduced in WordPress 6.0, style variations have a huge advantage over classic themes and are definitely a game changer for block themes. Style variations let users quickly and easily switch between different looks in the same theme. They are predefined look and feel options that give users a way to drastically alter the appearance of their site without changing their theme.

Automattic-sponsored design contributor Channing Ritter asks “What if, instead of emphasizing the theme itself, we highlighted an opinionated set of style variations designed by members of the community? We could use Twenty Twenty-Two as the basis for a new theme that’s stripped back and minimal — a blank canvas to let a diverse range of style variations shine.”

She thinks “It would be interesting to experiment with how opinionated we could make each of the variations. Maybe one variation makes all typography on the site use a single type size in a monospaced font, while another variation uses many different fonts paired together. I think that pushing the boundaries of what can be done with the style variation format should be the goal — and we can have fun seeing what kinds of things we can come up with in the process.”

Community Response

The responses so far in the comments section are positive for the most part. But Carolina Nymark, a WordPress Core contributor at Yoast has raised some valid concerns. 

How to Voice Your Opinions

The proposal aims to get start the discussions about the next default theme and you can post your comments about it here. And if you are interested in submitting a style variation, you can reach out to Channing Ritter directly on the Making WordPress Slack. From those submissions, a curated collection will be selected to be bundled with the new theme.

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