The Next Chapter for Themes

I wrote a post over on ThemeShaper all about what’s next for themes. This paragraph sums it up well:

Customers want their sites to look just right. They don’t want to learn a theme. So when the new age of themes begins, promise me you’ll focus on what they want. You won’t get distracted by the many different ways to extend this new editor or become mired in all the ways to prevent the abuse of customizing it.

Contributing to Twenty Seventeen

Sami Keijonen shared his experience as a first-time contributor to WordPress default themes on Post Status. It’s an excellent read, especially if you’re interested in getting involved in WordPress Core or default themes.

Twenty Seventeen wouldn’t be the same without Sami’s work. His experience provides a good example of how to watch an open source community, learn from it, find a niche within it and attack when you see a way to give back. My favorite advice is this:

Once you start contributing, you shouldn’t just disappear with no explanation. If you’re running low on time or have other obligations, it’s totally understandable, but be sure to politely inform others you can’t continue anymore, so they can pick up where you left off.

Dear Twenty Seventeen Contributors

We shipped! Twenty Seventeen, along with WordPress 4.7, hit the Web yesterday. We shipped not just any default theme, but one that gives users a home page like no other default theme. We made something amazing that literally millions of people will use and learn from.

At times, I’d go to bed worried about how to tackle a problem, but then I’d wake up and you all had it solved. Every day, you taught me something new and demanded my best. I can’t thank you enough.

It was an honor to work on Twenty Seventeen with you. I’m proud of it, and can’t wait to see what people do with it. Let’s keep improving WordPress, themes and customization together – there’s much more work to be done.

Thank you to from the bottom of my heart to the 102 contributors who helped get Twenty Seventeen created and launched:

aaroncampbell, acmethemes, adammacias, afercia, ahortin, akshayvinchurkar, alex27, allancole, anilbasnet, b-07, binarymoon, bradyvercher, brainstormforce, caspie, celloexpressions, claudiosanches, clorith, davidmosterd, delawski, dimadin, dineshc, doughamlin, electricfeet, enodekciw, fencer04, for, grapplerulrich, hardeepasrani, helen, hiddenpearls, idealien, imnok, implenton, implenton, initial, iv, joefusco, joemcgill, johnpgreen, jordesign, joshcummingsdesign, joyously, juanfra, karmatosed, laurelfulford, leobaiano, littlebigthing, lukecavanagh, mageshp, mahesh901122, manishsongirkar36, mapk, mattwiebe, mbelchev, melchoyce, metodiew, mor10, mrahmadawais, netweb, nikschavan, nnaimov, noplanman, nukaga, ocean90, odysseygate, patch, patilvikasj, peterwilsoncc, pratikchaskar, pressionate, presskopp, rabmalin, ranh, rianrietveld, ryelle, sami, samikeijonen, sandesh055, sgr33n, sirbrillig, sixhours, smyoon315, snacking, soean, sstoqnov, swapnild, swisspidy, swissspidy, taggon, tg29359, themeshaper, transl8or, tsl143, tywayne, valeriutihai, voldemortensen, vrundakansara, westonruter, williampatton, yoavf, yogasukma, zodiac1978.

Love,
DK

Twenty Seventeen in Trunk

Screenshot showing the initial commit of Twenty Seventeen

Last night, I made my first commit to WordPress!

It’s exciting!

Twenty Seventeen, the next default theme for WordPress, is now in trunk – the latest development version of WordPress. It’s been a busy week after a flurry of work from an amazing 59 contributors so far on the theme. 59! As one of the leads for the theme, that’s a number that I’m most proud of, and want to see grow.

You can read more about Twenty Seventeen in its merge proposal on the Make WordPress Core blog. Please continue to test the theme so it can be its best when it ships to the world. And thank you to all the contributors so far! This wouldn’t happen without you.

Hello Twenty Seventeen

After years of contributing to WordPress and its default themes, I get to help lead one – Twenty Seventeen! To say I’m excited and honored would be the understatement of both 2016 and 2017. 🙂

I’m looking forward to bringing a new theme to WordPress, and with the help of the WordPress community, making it the best it can be. I’ll be working with Mel Choyce, who designed Twenty Seventeen, and Laurel Fulford, who will help me give the theme life. Sure, Mel has designed some of the most beautiful themes out there and Laurel can code up anything, but that’s not what has me the most excited.

What I love most about open source, and the WordPress community, is the people. All artful creations carry inspiration from other sources, and I believe you can’t create anything worthwhile alone. That’s why Twenty Seventeen needs all the help it can get from as many people as possible.

If you’ve ever wanted to find a way to contribute WordPress, to take part in something that millions of people will touch every day, now is the time. Drop a comment on this post if you want to help. Let’s do this!

Empathy and Acceptance in Design and Community

Morten Rand-Hendriksen gave an excellent talk at WordCamp Europe 2016 about the role of empathy in the web field. It’s called Empathy and Acceptance in Design and Community, and you should give it a listen. I didn’t catch it in person, but it’s one of the best talks I’ve heard in awhile. I believe practicing empathy in our work could have the same impact on the Web as responsive design. It could be transformative.

Themers, Themes and the Content Creation in WordPress

My colleague, Michael Arestad, wrote an excellent post awhile back called, The shape of WordPress shapes the web. In it, he poses the questions:

Should the design of content creation in WordPress expand past blogging?

If so, what would the creation of content look like? Would the shape of the editor be determined by the theme? Would it be something more flexible involving direct manipulation? Could it be a mix of both?

Those are tough questions, but fun ones to think about, especially without the limits of the current content creation process. Some of what I envision for a better experience there already exists – in bits and pieces in different content management systems and platforms. Some of the reasons WordPress lacks a more optimal content creation process doesn’t have to do with just user experience, design or code, but also some of its contributors. I’m talking about themers – myself included.

From my vantage point, themes cause some of the biggest frustrations for the people who use WordPress every day. As we all know, born as blogging software, WordPress has evolved into a full-fledged content management system and its contributors have it looking more and more like an application platform every day. With that fluidness comes freedom. WordPress can do a lot. Sure, the post screen available at post-new.php has its limits, but that hasn’t stopped anyone yet. Meta boxes, custom fields, widgets, special classes, page builders and more have all tried to make the process better. But nothing has stuck, and everything has felt like a patch instead of a cohesive experience. And worse, open up any WordPress site that extends beyond a blog and you’re likely to find them all handling content in slightly different ways. Everyone loses here. The people who use WordPress, and those who make it and build tools from it.

I certainly don’t think the perfect content creation process exist for all the types of content that goes into WordPress. And I don’t think pulling in ideas and concepts from other sources is the whole answer. If the design of content creation in WordPress expands past blogging, it will take experimentation, user testing and a lot of collaboration to find something that works. So how do we get there? We have to start – together.

I know that we as themers can do a better job of bringing consistency to the themes we build, both individually and as a community. We’re doing a better job than we once did, reducing theme options, sticking mostly to the Customizer, keeping content types in plugins, etc. but more work remains. We’re all creating themes in our own worlds, but something better lies ahead. We need to sketch, design, build and create outside of themes, and with each other. WordPress Core needs you. Maybe you start working through some tickets. Or revive a stalled feature plugin that’s needed. The opportunities exist everywhere, and content creation doesn’t get better without themers.