Proposal: A new kind of default theme

With 6.1 slated to be the final release for the year, it’s time to start discussing the next default theme.

When designer @kjellr introduced the Twenty Twenty-Two theme last year, he shared some thoughts about the future of default themes:

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 to re-evaluate the annual cadence with which we build default themes.

Innovations like theme.jsonJSON JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, is a minimal, readable format for structuring data. It is used primarily to transmit data between a server and web application, as an alternative to XML., 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. 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. 

What’s next?

Style variations, which were released with WordPress 6.0, are predefined look & feel options that give users a way to drastically alter the appearance of their site without changing their theme. Default themes have always been used as a way to showcase the latest and greatest in editor capabilities, so focusing on style variations for the Twenty Twenty-Three theme seems like a nice way to continue that tradition.

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. 

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.

Call for contributors

For a truly diverse collection, style variations could be submitted by different members of the WordPress community. From those submissions, a curated collection could be selected to be bundled with the new theme. Please reach out to me directly (@critterverse on the Making WordPress SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at if you are interested in submitting a variation, and I’ll plan to post updates here on the Make blog as the project comes together.

Share your feedback

There are still many open questions about the next default theme but hopefully this post can help get the discussion going. I would love to hear from folks about how you see the next default theme taking shape!