This week is a very exciting one in the world of WordPress because wordpress.org just released WordPress 5.6 ‘Simone,’ the final major update of the year. Every year, when WordPress releases its final update, they also release their official theme for the following year. For us, this is a much-anticipated event, and we were overjoyed by what was released.
Here are Eight Features that make Twenty Twenty-One a Great Theme:
- Basic & Minimal Design
- Expanded block editor functionality
- Focus on accessibility
- ‘Dark Mode’ support
- Lightweight for fast page loading
- Easy to customize with no coding required
- Support for 10 post formats
- Perfect Parent for child theme creation
1. Basic & Minimal Design
The goal of the theme was to create a basic and minimal canvas and give users a powerful brush to paint it with in the form of a feature-rich block editor. Here’s how it looks with zero customization:
We think they did a great job hitting their goal of minimalism and struck the perfect balance between minimalism and beauty. The default look of the theme looks great with little to no customization, yet at the same time, it is very easy to customize and overwrite those default styles.
2. Expanded Block Editor Functionality
Twenty Twenty-One was built with the block editor (Gutenberg) in mind. Within this theme, you can customize virtually every element using Gutenberg. This means that users with no coding knowledge can customize their theme like never before.
Previously, the block editor has felt feature-poor and never quite enough for serious users. For folks who don’t know how to write HTML and CSS, this means that if they wanted to customize every aspect of their site, they needed a page builder like Elementor or Divi.
The problem with page builders like Divi and Elementor is that they are bloated and can slow your site down. With Twenty Twenty-One, I feel for the first time like I can make the default
theme look beautiful and custom without needing to write any code. Now, the page builder experience doesn’t come with the same trade-offs, and to boot, it’s free!
To support you in customizing the Twenty Twenty-One theme, we have a ton of free resources that explain how to use the block editor and all of the most common blocks. So if you’re unfamiliar with the block editor (AKA Gutenberg) but want to use this theme as a starting point for your site, you know where to start!
3. Focus on Accessibility
The Twenty Twenty-One theme prioritizes accessibility, and we think that is awesome. With roughly 3% of internet users being visually impaired and relying on screen reader technology, it is important to keep this demographic in mind when designing websites.
To what extent does Twenty Twenty-One prioritize accessibility? Well, when left uncustomized, it meets all relevant guidelines from WCAG 2.1 level AAA. That said, to keep the theme accessible, the customizer will have to continue to adhere to those guidelines too. While only content creators can make their sites truly accessible, the Twenty Twenty-One theme helps out.
4. ‘Dark Mode’ support
This feature is just a fun one, and to those of us who spend all day looking at screens, a blessing. Dark Mode allows users to toggle between a dark and light version of the site. If users have their phone or computer in dark mode, the Twenty Twenty-One theme automatically adheres to the user’s default settings.
Dark mode is all the rage these days, so this one is worth experimenting with. That said, we recommend experimenting with caution as it is still somewhat of an experimental feature and can make elements of your site look weird. For example, if your logo has a background, it may clash with the dark mode version of your site.
5. Lightweight for fast page loading
We all know that having fast loading pages on your site is important. Fast pages are a better experience for site visitors, and they rank higher on Google. While having a good host for your website is also a good way to ensure your pages load fast (we recommend Kinsta), the largest factor in WordPress site speed is without a doubt, its theme.
If a theme is lightweight, that means it loads fast. When they call this a lightweight theme, they aren’t making light of the term. All credit to the WordPress core team for doing an excellent job engineering this theme in such a way that the code truly embodies the phrase ‘less is more’. In the world of theme development, less code means faster loading pages and all the good that comes with that.
6. Easy to customize with no coding required
Once upon a time, having a site that was customized to your liking was no simple task. Attaining a custom site either required hiring someone like us to build it for you or compromising site speed and security with a clunky page builder. This free yearly theme puts an end to those times.
The Twenty Twenty-One theme is compatible with Gutenberg’s “Full Site Editor” experience. This means that if you already love the block editor, you can install the Gutenberg plugin and expand its functionality to all corners of your site. With the full site editor enabled, you can edit the header and footer of your site using the same block editor experience that you have come to know and love.
7. Support for 10 post formats
No matter what type of content you like to post, the Twenty-Twenty One theme has you covered with support for ten different post formats. These formats are link, aside, gallery, image, quote, standard, status, video, audio, and chat.
The standard post format is the default, which is designed to create full pages with diverse types of media. Most of the time, standard is the way to go. That said, if you want to post a gallery of images, a video, your latest podcast, or something else, Twenty Twenty-One has a template that will make your media look good.
This means that whether you are looking for the best WordPress theme for coaches, the best WordPress theme for lifestyle bloggers, the best WordPress theme for artists, or the best WordPress theme for small businesses, Twenty Twenty-One may well be a perfect fit for you.
8. Perfect Parent for Child Theme Creation
When sites need a high level of customization, sometimes operating within the boundaries of a premade theme is not the right fit. Oftentimes, however, 90% of the theme works perfectly, and only 10% needs to be changed. In this instance, WordPress developers often opt to make a ‘child theme’ rather than reinventing the wheel.
Child themes make it so that layouts and styles can be ‘inherited’ from their parent theme and selectively overwritten where needed. For example, if you love the layout of the
Twenty Twenty-One theme, but the fonts and header aren’t working for you, a child theme would allow you to change those two pieces selectively and keep the rest.
WordPress yearly themes are often designed with child themes in mind, but Twenty Twenty-One takes it to the next level. This theme is special because the styling of almost every element is handled via CSS custom properties (also known as CSS variables). This means that if you don’t like the way a certain element looks, you only need to change it in one place rather than having to search and replace 15 CSS properties to ensure that your change is reflected everywhere.
Considering the thoughtful usage of CSS custom properties paired with the lightweight, fast-loading code, we think that Twenty Twenty-One is the best theme to use when creating a child theme. We certainly look forward to using it in this way when given the chance.
If you were wondering about the Twenty Twenty-One WordPress theme, we hope our eight reasons why we think it’s great, offered some insight. If you end up installing this theme and customizing it with the block editor, definitely check out our guide to the block editor and all of the major blocks.
Beyond that, if you need a qualified team of WordPress experts to help you create a child theme based on Twenty Twenty-One or perhaps something completely custom, we would be honored to help you out! You can look over our portfolio, or our custom website development services to see if we might be a good fit for you. If we are, you can contact us and schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discuss what you have in mind.
Finally, if you found any of the information here helpful, the best way to say thank you is to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin! We would be so deeply thankful if you did.
Thanks for reading!!