Revisiting Starter Content (on .org and beyond)

Do you remember starter content? In 4.7, we continued on our quest to make it easier for users to make their sites look the way they envision, specifically by enabling themes to define a limited set of “starter content” to give users a way to quickly get set up with content that best showcases a given theme’s potential. This currently only happens in a fairly limited scenario: when live previewing a theme that includes starter content on a fresh install of WordPress. So if you’ve never noticed it, that’s completely understandable.

Starter content in 4.7 was always meant to be a step one, not the end goal or even the resting point it’s become. There are still two major things that need to be done: themes should have a unified way of showing users how best to put that theme to use in both the individual site and broader preview contexts, and sites with existing content should also be able to take advantage of these sort of “ideal content” definitions.

We are fast approaching the 5.6 beta deadline, so I don’t anticipate making a bunch of changes in coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. right this moment. But, since we have a new default theme coming, we should consider what kind of starter content can both showcase the theme in a demo and also help new users get started with 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. patterns and other fun features – a walkthrough, if you will. Based on experience with starting content, we will want to strike a balance between showing users what they can do and adding too many individual pieces of content that have to be tracked down and removed if they don’t want it.

The theme demo part is not tied to the release schedule but does mean that I’d be looking for the The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. theme previewer to start using starter content as a part of the content scaffolding, and that’s work that needs to be planned ASAP. This is the subject of ongoing discussion over on Meta Trac, and will likely need to be limited in scope initially to ensure that the theme review team isn’t burdened further.

For a future release, we should start exploring what it might look like to opt into importing starter content into existing sites, whether wholesale or piecewise. Many of us who work in the WordPress development/consulting space tend not to ever deal in switching between public themes on our sites, but let’s not forget that’s a significant portion of our user audience and we want to continue to enable them to not just publish but also publish in a way that matches their vision.

For the moment, a few points for discussion/clarity:

  • Does starter content in core need anything now to support Twenty Twenty-One features such as block patterns?
  • Have you implemented starter content in any of your themes?
  • What does it do well and what have you found yourself wishing it did?
  • Do you think starter content as a concept works well in the current landscape of themes that are more general purpose?

#5-6, #starter-content