New Twenty Twenty-Three Default Theme Now in Development

Last month, WordPress design contributors proposed creating a new kind of default theme that would bundle a curated set of style variations, instead of creating a new theme from scratch. This idea resonated with participants in the discussion and plans are now underway to use a stripped-back version of Twenty Twenty-Two as the base for the new theme.

Automattic design director Channing Ritter published a preview of what the base theme might look like with sample variations applied, along with the Figma design mockups.

Twenty Twenty-Three’s predecessor has a highly opinionated design. The upcoming default theme is more like a blank canvas with the spotlight on the style variations. Headings are not as prominent, typography has been replaced with system fonts, and there are no images included. The theme will use the fluid typography feature released in Gutenberg 13.8, and has spacing presets in place.

“One important note is that we are limited in the number of fonts we can include with the theme and should aim to use 3–4 different typefaces across all variations (in addition to systems fonts),” Ritter said. The initial list includes the following fonts, but can evolve based on contributors’ feedback:

  • System sans serif font
  • IBM Plex Mono
  • DM Sans
  • Source Serif Pro

One of the most exciting aspect of this project is that WordPress’ design contributors have invited the community to take a stab at submitting their own style variations for consideration. The variations that are selected will ship as part of the upcoming default theme.

Whereas many default themes in the past have come from a single designer or from an existing theme, Twenty Twenty-Three (TT3) will offer a kaleidoscope of style variations from different community contributors.

The theme in progress is available on GitHub and anyone can try their hand at creating a style variation. There are three different ways to do it. The most straightforward for some will be to create an alternate theme.json file and edit the code directly.

Those who prefer to design their own variation visually in the editor can make changes to the Global Styles panel and then save them as a new style variation using the Create Block Theme plugin. This opens up contribution to anyone with design skills, even if they do not feel comfortable editing the theme.json file. Alternatively, contributors can design static mockups in Figma or another program.

More detailed instructions for submitting a style variation are available in the post and those interested to contribute can join the new  #core-themes-projects Slack channel to ask questions and connect with others who working on the same project. The first variation submission to the TT3 repository is from new contributor Colin Chadwick, who created an eggplant color scheme complemented by the DM Sans font.

The WordPress community is full of talented designers and this call for style variations is an incredible opportunity to contribute without having to touch any code.

Style variation submissions for this project will close on August 31. The final curated set will be announced on September 7. The new TT3 default theme will ship with WordPress 6.1, which is expected on October 25, 2022.

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5 responses to “New Twenty Twenty-Three Default Theme Now in Development”

  1. I’m loving this. Feels very much like the logical next step into a world where WordPress core is a complete replacement for pagebuilders. Great job Channing Ritter et al. This is huge!

  2. I love seeing the evolution of Gutenberg! It has experienced hiccups and has felt like progress was moving slow, but feels like the page builder is moving in the right direction. I’ve been a fan from its inception and looked forward to every upgrade. I think starting out with a base theme such as this will make it easier to build upon, especially for non-designers who want a quick way of setting up layouts. This plus the block directory make great enhancements to the page builder.

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