10 Beautiful WordPress Themes from the Official Directory

We are obviously theme junkies here and everyday we check the official free theme directory. It’s only March now but many free themes have already became available since the new year. To highlight the great themes there I picked up ten themes added in 2012 that are not only coded well but look beautiful.

Like last year, 2012 has been and is going to be another great year for WordPress themes. Huzzah!

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Where Do You Find the Best WordPress Themes?

If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’re a WordPress theme aficionado, a true connoisseur. I’d like to know: how does a devourer of WordPress themes, like you, fulfill your massive appetite for awesome new themes?

For my cravings, I generally partake in the following (most common at the top):

  • I find out by word of mouth, from my colleagues at work.
  • Via Twitter, from the theme designers and theme shops I follow closely.
  • By way of the Extend free themes directory RSS feed (I then go preview each one immediately).
  • Reading reviews on sites like WPCandy, WPTavern, Smashing Magazine, or Weblog Tools Collection.
  • By checking the Commercial listing on Extend often, to discover theme shops, from time to time.
  • Rarely, I will use visual theme sorting services like the Theme Finder or ThemeSorter.

And in case your answers are different, where would you send someone to look for great WordPress themes who is not a theme junkie? Your family, friends, clients, a non-WordPress expert who asks your advice.

On Breaking and Fixing WordPress Themes at WordCamp Singapore 2011

My coworkers at Automattic and I frequently discuss the speed with which we’re able to onboard new themes into the WordPress.com theme directory.

Our top priority as the Theme Team is to make sure that all of our users feel like they have a theme that fits them perfectly; in order to meet that goal we’re focused on bringing a variety of themes into WordPress.com through a few primary channels: the WordPress.org theme directorypremium theme shops; and Automattic (in-house) themes.

It’s often the case that each conversion—that is, making a theme’s code WordPress.com-safe and ready—will take us anywhere between one week and one month, depending on the complexity and quality of the code. In a perfect world, though, we’d be able to snap our fingers and have every single awesome-looking theme available on WP.com right now.

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A 1000-Hour Head Start: Introducing The _s Theme

Have you checked out the Toolbox theme? Up until recently it was the starter theme we used to build free and premium themes on WordPress.com. Toolbox was (and is!) a great theme, but it could be better. Unfortunately, we wound up in a situation with Toolbox where we wanted to make some more drastic improvements to it as a starter theme but got a little stuck. We had people using it as a Parent Theme and that meant that the simplest id or class change could become a problem. Simply changing an id of #branding to #masthead in the template is enough to break most CSS.

And there were other more beneficial but potentially more disruptive changes we thought would be great to add to it. Changes like better starter styles, including a generic framework for adding your own responsive CSS; a script for elegantly handling menus on small screens; and easy-to-rework sample theme options. And whole lot more. The sort of things we found ourselves adding to 80% of the themes we were building. You know, the sort of things that you really need in a starter theme.

So, we forked Toolbox — don’t worry it’s still being updated — and made a better, faster, stronger, starter theme. A developer-only theme that gives us the freedom — us being the WordPress.com Theme Team — to iterate with abandon on the idea of WordPress starter themes. Since that theme underscores the new themes we build we call it the Underscores Theme, or _s for short.

And it’s pretty darn awesome.

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New Default WordPress Theme Twenty Twelve Hits Core for 3.4

Speaking of WordPress Themes in 2012, the new WordPress default theme for this year is in da hizzous.

For the 3.4 release cycle the core WordPress team is trying something new: assigning small teams to tackle various parts of the release. The Twenty Twelve team is Matt Mullenweg (Holder of the Keys and Grand Master Themengineer), Drew Strojny (Designer and Minimalist), and Lance Willett (Thematurge).

Want to keep tabs on this new default WordPress theme? Follow development updates on WordPress Development Updates and in Trac: Twenty Twelve ticket and Bundled Themes.

We’re super excited to see it land in WordPress trunk and start taking shape.