WordPress 3.8 – Taking The Default Theme Further

One of the announcements from WordCamp San Francisco was the decision to use Further as the default theme for WordPress 3.8 dubbed 2014. Since the day I discovered Further, I’ve been trying to figure out how I could make the theme work for WPTavern.com. The things I like most about it is the layout, the logo in the top left corner, the entire left hand column, and the 4-5 widget footer. Further was originally developed by Takashi Irie. Check out his behind the scenes post on how the design came to be. Also, take a look around the ThemeShaper website as it was redesigned with Further.

Some of you may be wondering why the Further theme is not available for purchase on WordPress.com anymore. It’s officially been retired as it will be offered for free as the default theme in WordPress 3.8. While in San Francisco, I was able to learn that amongst all of the commercial themes available on WordPress.com, Further had the lowest refund rate. 2014 will be the first default theme to have a magazine type layout. I reached out to the team dedicated to the 2014 project and Lance Willet had this to say:

What are you folks aiming to do with 2014?

The Twenty Fourteen team for 3.8 is me (Lance Willett) plus Konstantin Obenland and Takashi Irie. We’ll put our “core hats” on and keep everyone updated via the http://make.wordpress.org/core/ blog and hold weekly office hours in IRC to coördinate the project; just like Twenty Thirteen development in 3.6.

With Further as a great starting point, we aim to add a few additional features such as an Authors widget and a Contributors page template. Plus many bug fixes or small improvements as they come up during the 3.8 cycle.

Why the decision to use Further and how different will it look from the Further we see today?

Matt Mullenweg picked it with the primary criteria of “magazine theme” with a clean design focused on content and reading. We think it’s a great fit for a default theme because of its fresh design, great use of post formats, and amazing mobile styles.

Not much different. Probably most of the changes will be under the hood — improving the code quality and matching core standards better — and better supporting older browsers and adding various accessibility improvements like ensuring proper color contrast.

That said, any time a theme goes into the crucible of core development, it changes for the better. Looking at each line under a microscope, testing it out in every possible extreme situation. I’m confident we’ll all be proud of the result.

How can people contribute to its development?

Nothing to announce officially yet. The leadership team for 3.8, led by Matt, will be posting to the Make Core P2 soon, hopefully next week. At that time we’ll lay out the details of IRC office hours, checkpoints for keeping tabs on Twenty Fourteen development, and where people can best jump in and help.

For now, interested parties can bookmark this Trac view: to watch the Twenty Fourteen tickets happen.

Folks can also ping me on Twitter, @simpledream — and I’ll make sure to contact everyone when we’re ready to dive in.

My Feedback On Further

While I love the look and feel of Further, there are a couple of things that really turn me off. The first is the use of incredibly large featured images for blog posts. With the type of content this site produces, routinely finding images 600px and wider related to WP would be a challenge. I also don’t like the pattern image that is shown for posts that don’t use the featured image. Also, if you use a featured image that doesn’t fill that area, you see the image plus the pattern which is ugly. This is something that will be addressed in 2014. While the entire site is aligned to the left part of the screen, I can’t help but feel that the space on the right side of the screen is wasted and could be used for something else, such as a sidebar. However, I think the best use of this space would be to increase the width dedicated to the content section of the site. Also, it would be cool to see the entire site be responsive so that no matter what size screen the page is displayed on, it makes use of all available space.

Featured Image In Further

I love how it has pull quotes built-in and the right-hand sidebar takes care of content published with post formats. I’m excited to see what becomes of 2014 and how the general user base will manipulate the design. What are your thoughts on the use of Further as the default them in WordPress 3.8? What are some ideas or enhancements you would like to see incorporated?

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