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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.
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 SlackSlackSlack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/.) 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!