Another year, another WordPress default theme.
At Burlington Bytes, we’re primarily a WordPress shop. We do everything from building websites, to hosting and supporting websites, to building custom WordPress themes and plugins. We love WordPress because its simple enough for a layperson to build a website, but extensible enough for our designers and developers to build almost anything we can imagine.
When you first download and install WordPress on your server, the first big question is “What do I want this site to look like?” WordPress uses a theming system to handle the visual appearance of a site. Right out of the box WordPress will ship with a few different default themes from previous years, named after their respective year. If you’re not struck by any of the default themes, you can find free WordPress themes in the WordPress Theme Directory, or purchase “Premium” themes on a marketplace like Themeforest. At Burlington Bytes, we’ll sometimes start with a free or purchased theme and customize it for our client using a Child Theme. More and more, we’ve been designing and developing totally custom themes using our own Bootstrap starter theme which lets us build responsive websites very efficiently.
Themes are built following a very specific format, using a combination of PHP, HTML, CSS, and JS. The best way to learn how to build and modify themes is to set up a WordPress and dig in. If you’re on a live site, you should make a “development” copy of your site to avoid knocking the site offline if you make an error. You’re going to want to use a FTP program such as Filezilla, we don’t recommend ever using the built-in file editor. Take frequent backups so you can restore, or better yet, use git or another form of version control.
Twenty Sixteen is this year’s default theme and is currently running on 600,000 active websites. If you know what to look for, you’re going to see this theme all over the web for the next couple years.
Twenty Sixteen is responsive, with a mobile-first design. Instead of being built for laptops/desktops with functionality to scale it down, this theme is built with mobile devices as the primary intended audience, and will scale up for laptops/desktops. This is becoming a popular method of development as mobile usage continues to grow rapidly.
Twenty Sixteen is built for all audiences. The theme has been deemed “Accessibility ready”, meaning its built to be accessible to audiences that may have disabilities. According to the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, there’s a lot that needs to be considered, from how the site zooms, how well it can be parsed by a screen-reading program, and a host of other auditory, cognitive, neurological and physical considerations. Twenty Sixteen is also RTL translation-ready, meaning it can be easily translated into a variety of languages for global audiences.
Finally, Twenty Sixteen is just another step in the WordPress community’s continual work towards being a platform that is approachable for all audiences. It has a variety of color schemes built in, and is incredibly to use for anyone to get a website up and running with a minimal knowledge of code. We’d encourage you to jump in head-first and start building. If you break something, or want to take your website to the next-level, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of WordPress experts at Burlington Bytes.