Twenty Twenty-One: A Deep Dive into the New Default WordPress Theme

Twenty Twenty-One is the new WordPress default theme coming with WordPress 5.6. If you are waiting for a fully featured WordPress theme you may be a little disappointed.

Twenty Twenty-One is a minimalist theme that looks and acts as a highly customizable blank canvas. Like its predecessors, the new default theme will mostly rely on the Block Editor for page building.

In this post, we’ll go through the most interesting features of the Twenty Twenty-One theme and we’ll show you how to customize the look and feel of a WordPress website with a simple Twenty Twenty-One child theme.

Like Twenty Twenty, the new default theme coming with WordPress 5.6 isn’t built from scratch, but it’s based on a theme coming from the community.

Twenty Twenty-One has been developed upon a new Automattic’s theme, the Seedlet theme, which provides a clean and well-ordered structure of nested CSS custom properties. Due to the large usage of CSS properties in the theme’s stylesheet, building child themes upon Twenty Twenty-One is quick and easy.

Twenty Twenty-One is a highly accessible, minimalist WordPress theme with a single column layout, a footer sidebar, and two menu locations: Primary navigation and Footer navigation.

The new theme uses a system font stack. This should have several benefits for both users and developers:

* First and foremost, using a system font stack brings benefits to UX and performance because native fonts are already supported by the majority of operating systems and don’t require extra load time.

* Second, they look neutral, so they can be smoothly merged into any kind of design.

* Third, as they don’t require additional font files to be loaded, it’s easier for users and developers to customize the layout of a website using Twenty Twenty-One.

The Twenty Twenty-One theme uses a minimal color palette based on pastel green background colors and two shades of grey as foreground colors. The theme provides several additional pastel color palettes.

We’ll be bundling the theme with some additional color palettes, including both a white and a black color scheme. Why pastel green? Pastels and muted colors are pretty in right now

Twenty Twenty-One is the new WordPress default theme coming with WordPress 5.6! Learn all its key features in this in-depth guide!

At the time of this writing, Twenty Twenty-One is under active development and is not yet available for download in the WordPress Theme Directory. But you can grab an in-progress version of the theme on Github.

The Github repository will be deprecated once the theme is merged into core, and you’ll find it in the Theme Directory. As Twenty Twenty-One follows the WordPress 5.6 release schedule, you may want to save the following dates:

* 8 December 2020: Target date for the release of WordPress 5.6

To get the Twenty Twenty-One theme up and running, follow these steps:

Get the zip package from GitHub.

Upload your package to your development installation from the WordPress dashboard or via SFTP.

Browse to Appearance → Themes and click on the Activate button on the theme’s preview image.

Go to Appearance → Customize to configure Twenty Twenty-One.

You can now start running your tests either on a staging website or on your local environment.

Not ready to run your tests?

No worries, we have dissected the theme and we’ll show you what you could expect from Twenty Twenty-One.

Just like Twenty Twenty, the new default WordPress theme is not a fully-featured theme, but a minimalist theme that relies on the block editor for page building. The theme also aims at providing great accessibility. In the words of Mel Choyce-Dwan:

Lastly, we’d love to make the theme meet relevant guidelines from WCAG 2.1 level AAA. We loved the idea when +make.wordpress.org/accessibility/ brought it up, and would appreciate any and all guidance from our community a11y experts to help make this possible.