WordPress 3.8 – Taking The Default Theme Further

One of the announcements from WordCamp San Francisco was the decision to use Further as the default theme for WordPress 3.8 dubbed 2014. Since the day I discovered Further, I’ve been trying to figure out how I could make the theme work for WPTavern.com. The things I like most about it is the layout, the logo in the top left corner, the entire left hand column, and the 4-5 widget footer. Further was originally developed by Takashi Irie. Check out his behind the scenes post on how the design came to be. Also, take a look around the ThemeShaper website as it was redesigned with Further.

Some of you may be wondering why the Further theme is not available for purchase on WordPress.com anymore. It’s officially been retired as it will be offered for free as the default theme in WordPress 3.8. While in San Francisco, I was able to learn that amongst all of the commercial themes available on WordPress.com, Further had the lowest refund rate. 2014 will be the first default theme to have a magazine type layout. I reached out to the team dedicated to the 2014 project and Lance Willet had this to say:

What are you folks aiming to do with 2014?

The Twenty Fourteen team for 3.8 is me (Lance Willett) plus Konstantin Obenland and Takashi Irie. We’ll put our “core hats” on and keep everyone updated via the http://make.wordpress.org/core/ blog and hold weekly office hours in IRC to coördinate the project; just like Twenty Thirteen development in 3.6.

With Further as a great starting point, we aim to add a few additional features such as an Authors widget and a Contributors page template. Plus many bug fixes or small improvements as they come up during the 3.8 cycle.

Why the decision to use Further and how different will it look from the Further we see today?

Matt Mullenweg picked it with the primary criteria of “magazine theme” with a clean design focused on content and reading. We think it’s a great fit for a default theme because of its fresh design, great use of post formats, and amazing mobile styles.

Not much different. Probably most of the changes will be under the hood — improving the code quality and matching core standards better — and better supporting older browsers and adding various accessibility improvements like ensuring proper color contrast.

That said, any time a theme goes into the crucible of core development, it changes for the better. Looking at each line under a microscope, testing it out in every possible extreme situation. I’m confident we’ll all be proud of the result.

How can people contribute to its development?

Nothing to announce officially yet. The leadership team for 3.8, led by Matt, will be posting to the Make Core P2 soon, hopefully next week. At that time we’ll lay out the details of IRC office hours, checkpoints for keeping tabs on Twenty Fourteen development, and where people can best jump in and help.

For now, interested parties can bookmark this Trac view: to watch the Twenty Fourteen tickets happen.

Folks can also ping me on Twitter, @simpledream — and I’ll make sure to contact everyone when we’re ready to dive in.

My Feedback On Further

While I love the look and feel of Further, there are a couple of things that really turn me off. The first is the use of incredibly large featured images for blog posts. With the type of content this site produces, routinely finding images 600px and wider related to WP would be a challenge. I also don’t like the pattern image that is shown for posts that don’t use the featured image. Also, if you use a featured image that doesn’t fill that area, you see the image plus the pattern which is ugly. This is something that will be addressed in 2014. While the entire site is aligned to the left part of the screen, I can’t help but feel that the space on the right side of the screen is wasted and could be used for something else, such as a sidebar. However, I think the best use of this space would be to increase the width dedicated to the content section of the site. Also, it would be cool to see the entire site be responsive so that no matter what size screen the page is displayed on, it makes use of all available space.

Featured Image In Further

I love how it has pull quotes built-in and the right-hand sidebar takes care of content published with post formats. I’m excited to see what becomes of 2014 and how the general user base will manipulate the design. What are your thoughts on the use of Further as the default them in WordPress 3.8? What are some ideas or enhancements you would like to see incorporated?


14 responses to “WordPress 3.8 – Taking The Default Theme Further”

  1. Matt Mullenweg became a saxophonist in high school. He has a collection of photographs that must be in the tens of thousands. And now he runs one of the crucial businesses on Planet Earth. He makes the checks & balances doctrine of the U.S. Constitution look like a warmup act.

    WordPress releases are named for figures from our musical culture.

    What do we see on the Further demo menu?

    Artwork | Books | Music | Paintings | Photos | Videos | WordPress | Writings

    Everything dominated by lavish placement of fully-indulged & spoiled-rotten photo-art.

    Just the way Ma.tt loves to see it … and does it, himself.

    The Demo has a black background and white text. For photos, medium-gray is arguably best, but black is a close second, and no one can complain about contrast.

    The header is in a fixed frame. Big nod to branding, and brand-placement. It’s no biggie to unfix it, if you get tired of the beer bottles staring at you.

    This kind of magazine theme is an art show & gallery, out-of-box. But it also favors multi-author management, and newspaper column presentation (sans photo-parade).

    It is the most exciting WordPress news in years, for me, that Mr. Mullenweg will be the lead on v3.8. I already see this in itself being covered as a bona fide story, in the business press. Don’t be surprised to read about it in coming weeks & months, at the Wall Street Journal.

  2. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of dark designs. This design has quite a few things that don’t appeal to me visually.

    1. small font in the sidebar and the top area
    2. very clustered heading/featured area (spacing is so tight)
    3. Left aligned design (this doesn’t look very good on large screen sizes)

    But again, this is just me. *Beauty is in the eye of the beholder*

  3. @Syed Balkhi – A couple of things. If you use a long width image of some sorts to be used as a buffer between the heading and featured area, I think you would be surprised at how much better the site looks.

    Yeah, I’m with you on the left aligned design. I hope it goes full responsive to fill whatever space is on the screen. I wish I had access to the showcase on WP.com to show off a couple of sites using the theme but it’s disappeared along with the theme.

  4. Reversing a white-on-black theme and vice versa is one of the easier things for semi-literate sub-programmers to do. Likewise, turning fixed structure-widths into percentages takes more attention, but is still a ‘plodding’ thing to do. The style sheet for the demo is “a.css”. “background-color” is easy to find & change. “color” changes the text.

    It’s a 94k file, verbose & voluminous, though not as outlandish as it can get. But it might be a couple hundred pages, in the editor.

    You can save a webpage locally, doctor its CSS file (change colors), then when you pull up the saved page, you see it with your mods.

    The problem here isn’t the abnormal colors or structural arrangements. Those will be in the style sheet (which we have). The problem is we don’t have any of the other theme-files.

  5. Hello, I am a French web designer, sorry for my bad English.
    I discovered by chance the theme ‘Twenty Fourteen’ on Github WordPress, there are some days that. I changed a few things, including added Fitvids.js script to allow resizing of video and make it visible on mobile. I changed for published videos are displayed larger on large screens. The main changes I have made is:
    changed the font for ‘web safe’: Verdana.
    -removed the left sidebar and enlarged site width from 1230px to 1920px.
    -Header set a background image on the whole extended to 1920px width.
    -In addition, I added a homepage slideshow displaying ‘sticky posts’. I set up four ‘loops WordPress’ to my posts organized into four columns classified into four categories.
    I appreciated the fact that the CSS is in px and rem.
    I liked this ‘Twenty Fourteen’ much more than previous default themes despite their obvious respective qualities.
    All this was done for the design of the site Air DesignMoteur (website link on my name). I consulted several news about WordPress and your article and its comments have motivated me to write about my recent work seems to illustrate yours points of view.

  6. That is SO awesome! Earlier this year I read about Twenty Thirteen and for the first time in the nearly 10 years I’ve been blogging I thought about theme design. Oh, sure, I’d looked at themes and figured whether or not they were for me, but the heuristic I used couldn’t be put into words. I dove into what I liked and disliked about Twenty Thirteen and I learned new terminology to describe what I liked. Also, and this is not meant to be disrespectful to the hundreds of free theme designers, it was important to see a professionally commissioned theme in Twenty Thirteen and realize that the fonts and nearly everything else about the theme I had in my blog were horribly, horribly wrong. In the end, I found Twenty Thirteen to be absolutely perfect for my personal blog (which you can see by clicking on my name), but I have another website (http://www.comicpow.com) which is more news-based and would benefit from a magazine theme.

    For now I am using what is essentially a shareware version of a pay theme that I like (Destro), but when I came across Further, I knew I would buy that theme eventually, once Comic POW! started making money and I could justify the expense. When I watched the State of the Word and Matt said it would be a magazine theme I told myself, “Well, I don’t really NEED further. Twenty Thirteen has renewed my faith in WP default themes. (I hated Kubrick and it’s banal generic-ness) I’ll just use Twenty Fourtheen.” So to hear that it’s actually based off of Further is AWESOME!


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