Announcing accessible WordPress theme: Tiny Framework

What started as a simple update, became a new theme!
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Everything is moving fast in web development world these days. Something that was great yesterday, is old today. What does it mean for the future of Tiny Forge WordPress theme, a popular and highly ranked responsive WordPress theme that found its way into hearts not only of beginning web amateurs, but also professional web builders? Tiny Forge was downloaded more than 65,000 times on WordPress.org and rated 5/5 stars, but we do not stop there. In order to provide users with the best WordPress theme for learning and developing, we are out to complete several tasks to stay in good shape. And we will do it with the next iteration of our theme - accessibility ready Tiny Framework! 😀 We were working hard on theme accessibility, better and cleaner document structure, compatibility with popular plugins and much more!

WordPress is the most popular web development platform in the world. That gives a user abundance of beautiful and functional themes to choose from. As it is with good food, the real art is to find the right mix of ingredients and spices. So what's on our menu for you, dear site builder?

Make theme accessible

Web developers started to think about web accessibility and that's very good thing! We want to have fully accessible WordPress theme, that all users will be comfortable using, even those with screen readers. Armed with Tiny Framework you can tackle even projects for .gov folks and other companies, organizations that care about users with disabilities. Our theme has WordPress accessibility-ready tag, provides full web accessibility and conforms to WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications) and WCAG 2.0 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) requirements!

During the overhaul of accessibility, theme also got SEO boost. There will be only one H1 heading per page on any page!

Align theme document structure with Underscores

Theme Twenty Twelve, that Tiny Forge was based on, was very solid WordPress theme back in the day, but it is no longer in active development, well it is actually, if you count Tiny Forge 😉

What theme is used by major web developers today? Underscores. The good news is that Twenty Twelve and Underscores have very very similar code base and that gives us an opportunity to align Tiny Framework with Underscores as much as possible. To make this alignment even better, style.css was refactored according to the Underscores structure. This will help us not to miss on latest and greatest in WordPress theme development. For the learning purposes it makes easier to port things that you like from Underscores and Underscores-based themes, but by all means, wonderful Twenty Twelve legacy will not die! So now you have Underscores wrapped in a Twenty Twelve design and sprinkled with other goodies 🙂

As a side note, you might say: "if Underscores is such great theme, why should I use Tiny Framework?" The answer: Underscores is really great theme, but it is a "bare bones" theme. Just look at freshly installed Underscores and compare it to Tiny Framework. Another "problem" - Underscores is changing very fast, so web site that you built several months ago, might have pretty significant differences with the newest version of Underscores. Tiny Framework on the other hand, tries to keep most important elements intact, so you would not break your site after update. Did I mention that Underscores lack Schema.org microdata format support, extra accessibility features and many other good things?

Get rid of unnecessary "moving" parts

WordPress development community is heading new direction - themes are simple, light and provide user data portability. This means that features, which are more suitable for the plugin should not be included in the theme. With this in mind we are removing built in Site Logo support and adding compatibility for the WordPress.com Site Logo feature that is also available as a Jetpack plugin component for self hosted sites. You can also install it as a separate plugin: Site Logo on GitHub. This way we will always have fresh good quality code without inflating the core of the theme.

New improved mobile menu

Twenty Twelve had very plain looking mobile menu, so for Tiny Forge it was replaced with the menu from theme Expound. Now it will be upgraded with new features. It is more compact and is better suited to be made "sticky" at the top of the page, it also has integrated search box.

Replace Elusive icons web font with Font Awesome

Although Elusive icons is very solid web icon font, but it is maintained by one person only. On the other hand Font Awesome became public favorite, got free CDN support and is improving at much faster rate.

Integrate Theme Hook Alliance custom action hooks

The fact that Tiny Forge theme is used by professional web developers made easy to decide on this one 🙂 Read more about Theme Hook Alliance custom action hooks.

Support for social profiles - new social navigation menu

Tiny Forge has nice tutorial on how to create social icons using web icon font, but what if your client doesn't want to mess with the code? One of most experienced WordPress developers Justin Tadlock created very nice social navigation solution that is now implemented in Tiny Framework. It is managed using WordPress native admin menu and is very easy to use 🙂

Add compatibility with popular plugins

First compatibility with selected Jetpack components will be added (Site Logo, Infinite scroll). Later there is a plan to add support for WPML, WooCommerce.

New child themes

As part of the learning experience, Tiny Framework comes with a child theme example. This time additional two child themes will be offered for very competitive price. I plan to offer one simple theme for $PWYW (Pay what you want) and second - Full Width Child Theme for $25. Prices are for 1 installation. Purchased themes will get updates for 1 year, later clients could purchase extension for the same price. Both child themes will come with GPL license.

Other smaller changes

  • Updated some standard theme functions with new ones, that are supported by WordPress 4.1.
  • Enhanced the security by sanitizing link and translation lines.
  • Added style.css code to quickly change layout of the site.
  • Moved some of the Footer code to functions.php file. This will make easier to develop with child themes - to make changes in the Footer, you will not need to copy actual footer.php file, but instead make all changes in functions.php file.

I hope it will be a nice way to support Tiny Framework project and users will have more selections creating their websites 😀

Tiny Framework is available to download @WordPress.org, give it a spin!

4 thoughts on “Announcing accessible WordPress theme: Tiny Framework

  1. Paul Baker

    Hello,

    We are building a website so people with disabilities, can manage their government funding. They need to do payroll, rostering superannuation and pay tax etc. Can you recommend a dynamic wordpress theme that we could use because it will need to be accessible by people with all types of disabilities, who use different tools to access their computers, or all types of mobile devices. All assistance will be greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards,

    Paul Baker

    Reply
    1. Tomas Mackevicius

      Hi, Paul,

      Tiny Framework satisfies all your requirements. Currently it is in the process of being approved for WordPress.org repository. If you want, I can email you latest version so you could try it. Otherwise, please check other themes, tagged with accessibility-ready tag.

      And remember that themes are accessible out of the box, but you have to make sure that your changes do not break the built-in accessibility.

      Reply
  2. Jenny

    Hi, I am really happy to hear your updates! I am searching high and low for a quality AA accessible theme to develop for a client who is launching an assistive technology business. I would really be grateful if I could try your theme as well! Many thanks, Jenny

    Reply

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