Over the weekend, we turned on a new theme called Twenty Ten. Twenty Ten is a big deal for us — it’s our first update to the “default” theme (the one you see when you start a new blog) on WordPress.com. Our goal with Twenty Ten was to create something stylish, customizable, simple, and most of all, readable. Since every new WordPress.com user will be seeing Twenty Ten, we wanted to design an example of what a WordPress theme can do — that meant inventing some new features as well as utilizing a few that you may not know about yet.
Twenty Ten comes with a selection of great header images. It’s easy to switch between any of the included header images or upload your own. You can even use a different custom header image for each post by including a Featured Image when you publish a new post.
One of the easiest ways to customize a theme to your personal style is with a custom background image or color. Twenty Ten is the first theme to use WordPress’ new custom background feature, so it’s easy to pick a new background color, upload an image, and tweak its tiling and positioning. If you’ve ever had to write CSS or muck about with code just to change your background color, we think you’ll really dig this new feature.
Twenty Ten neatly organizes your pages into a menu right in your blog’s header, and includes drop-down menus for multiple levels of nested sub-pages. There’s more coming with the menu, but give us a few days.
Special styles for Asides and Galleries
Twenty Ten includes special styles for posts that you file in the “Asides” or “Gallery” categories. When viewed on an index page (like your home page or a list of posts from a particular month), asides get a simplified look that seamlessly fit between full-length posts, while galleries give a peek at the photos that lie within. If you don’t already have those categories on your blog, just add them and start assigning posts to them. Twenty Ten will recognize the category name and start applying the correct styles automatically. For an example of what inspired us here, check out Matt’s blog and how he intersperses shorter posts and galleries.
If you’re like me, you constantly find yourself hitting the Preview button while composing so you can see what your post will look like with your theme’s styles. Twenty Ten aims to break that addiction by using the editor styles feature of WordPress. Now, the Visual Editor in WordPress can mimic the look of your theme, so you get a perfect visual representation of your post while you’re writing. I think this will be a really popular feature with new themes once people try it out.
One and two-column templates
By default, Twenty Ten uses a two-column layout with lots of room for widgets. If you’d like to hide the widgets and focus on the writing for a particular post, just choose the “One column, no sidebar” template.
Because we know you can’t get enough widgets, we’ve included two sidebar widget areas (extra-useful for those of you who customize your CSS) as well as four footer widget areas. It’s easy to load Twenty Ten up with lots of widgets without sacrificing your blog’s design.
Beautiful in Print
We’ve all experienced unpleasant surprises when trying to print an article from a web site. Twenty Ten includes special styles for printing, so you’ll get printed copies that are just as easy to read as the original.
To see more of Twenty Ten in action, visit the theme demo blog. If you already have a WordPress.com blog, you can find Twenty Ten under Appearance → Themes. If you don’t yet have a WordPress.com blog, just sign up and Twenty Ten will be waiting for you when you log in. Twenty Ten will be default for WordPress.org users when WordPress 3.0 launches in May. (What’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?)