Introducing Twenty Twenty-One

Well friends, it’s time for what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: an announcement about the next WordPress default theme! The rumors are true; WordPress 5.6 will launch with a brand new default theme: Twenty Twenty-One. 

The default theme team includes:

  • Default Theme Design Lead: Mel Choyce-Dwan (@melchoyce).
  • Default Theme Development Lead: Carolina Nymark (@poena).  
  • Default Theme Wrangler: Jessica Lyschik (@luminuu).
  • …and you, our fabulous volunteers!


Twenty Twenty-One is designed to be a blank canvas for the blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. editor. After trying some designs heavily inspired by print resources, @kjellr remarked to me, “why not try something natively digital?” I added even more ideas to my increasingly unwieldy pinterest board and gave it a shot. The concept ended up being the most natural, usable design of the bunch. It was simple and un-opinionated, yet still refined. It felt like a fresh canvas, waiting to be painted.

Twenty Twenty-One will use a modified version of the Seedlet theme as its base. This provides us with a thorough system of nested CSSCSS Cascading Style Sheets. variables to make child theming easier, and to help integrate with the global styles functionality that’s under development for full-site editing.

Once the theme is stable, after BetaBeta A pre-release of software that is given out to a large group of users to trial under real conditions. Beta versions have gone through alpha testing in-house and are generally fairly close in look, feel and function to the final product; however, design changes often occur as part of the process. 1, we’ll start exploring Full Site Editing support.

Design Decisions

By default, the theme uses a native system font stack. I made this choice for a couple reasons:

  • No extra load time. Let’s keep this theme simple and fast.
  • This particular stack is pretty typographically “neutral” — none of the fonts are super opinionated, so the theme can be used broadly across different types of sites.
  • Using just the one font stack, without loading additional font files, also makes it easier for folks to customize or create a child themeChild theme A Child Theme is a customized theme based upon a Parent Theme. It’s considered best practice to create a child theme if you want to modify the CSS of your theme. for Twenty Twenty-One. We want this theme to be a teaching tool, and an outlet for your creativity.

The theme also uses a limited color palette: a pastel green background color, and two shades of dark grey for text. We’ll be bundling the theme with some additional color palettes, including both a white and a black color scheme. Why pastel green? Pastels and muted colors are pretty in right now (seriously I could keep going).

(Who doesn’t love a little pastel cottagecore during these troubling times?)

All this is to say: the design? It’s pretty simple. That’s where patterns come in.

GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc. introduced support for patterns in WordPress 5.5. This is the perfect time to show them off. Twenty Twenty-One will come packaged with a bunch of unique patterns designed explicitly for the theme. The theme’s overall design is simple, so you can make it your own, but the patterns will be opinionated. There are a couple already designed, and we’ll be relying on our talented community designers for more ideas. Here’s what we’re thinking about so far:

Want to contribute a block pattern? We have an issue template for that.

Lastly, we’d love to make the theme meet relevant guidelines from WCAG 2.1 level AAA. We loved the idea when brought it up, and would appreciate any and all guidance from our community a11yAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( experts to help make this possible.

You can find full page mockups of Twenty Twenty-One in the Figma file.


Per the development cycle information, the upcoming important dates are:

  • WP 5.6 Beta 1 – October 20
    • Last chance for feature projects and new enhancements
    • Theme should be committed to trunktrunk A directory in Subversion containing the latest development code in preparation for the next major release cycle. If you are running "trunk", then you are on the latest revision.
    • Start exploring FSE support in a second, block-based theme
  • WP 5.6 Beta 4 – November 10
    • Soft string freeze
    • Starter content should be committed
  • WP 5.6 RCrelease candidate One of the final stages in the version release cycle, this version signals the potential to be a final release to the public. Also see alpha (beta). 1 – November 17
    • Hard string freeze
    • Starter content needs to be finalized
  • WP 5.6 Release – December 8

Get Involved

If you are interested in contributing to Twenty Twenty-One, make sure you are following this blogblog (versus network, site). During the design and development process, there will be weekly meetings starting Monday, September 28 at 15:00 UTC in #core-themes. We’ll also be holding weekly triagetriage The act of evaluating and sorting bug reports, in order to decide priority, severity, and other factors. sessions at starting this Friday at 16:00 UTC.

Theme development will happen on GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. and in the interest of time, an in-progress version of the theme code has been uploaded here:

Once the theme is stable, it will be merged into coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. and the GitHub repo will be deprecated.

Learn More

If you’re interested in learning more about default themes, you can read the following posts:

#5-6, #bundled-theme, #core-themes, #twenty-twenty-one