A Review: WordPress Twenty Twelve Theme

WordPress Twenty Twelve ThemeNot too long ago I heard about the WordPress Twenty Twelve theme and out of curiosity I started to search for more information about it. It wasn’t long before I realized that WordPress was on the brink of releasing it’s latest and greatest theme for the up coming WordPress 3.5 release. I saw the demo of the theme at WordPress.com and it looked like a very nice design. It was very simple and minimalistic. Near the end of September the theme was finally released on WordPress.org.

Of course I had to download it and try it out on my local server. My first thought was to start building a child theme, but I needed to find out more about this new theme. What I found out was astonishing. The online community on WordPress.org was abuzz, especially over the compatibility issue with IE8 and below. Apparently, the new theme menu doesn’t work properly in IE8 and below. But before I veer off course, I want to review the theme.

What’s great about the new theme?

This is a fully responsive theme. By resizing your browser you can see how the design of the new Twenty Twelve theme adjusts to different screen sizes. The images also resize to fit the screen they are on. The style of the theme is minimal, this gives a designer or developer great flexibility with future design if they choose to use this theme as the base for a project.

Responsive, Mobile-first Layout

…Starting with a thoughtfully crafted mobile-first layout, Twenty Twelve is intended to be viewed on any size device from smartphones and tablets up to the latest and greatest HiDPI screens. No matter how your readers decide to visit, it’ll remain good-looking, readable, and usable. — WordPress.com

You also get the option to setup your own custom front page with widget areas. This was designed to give a user the option to setup a blog site or a CMS. Of course some people like this new feature and others don’t. For more information about the rest of the features on the new theme click here to read more.

So what is the compatibility issue?

The new Twenty Twelve WordPress theme works very well. The main problem people have is that the theme does not display the menu properly in IE8 or below. What happens is the menu collapses into a single button making it difficult for people to navigate the new theme. In other cases such as IE7 it displays the menu vertically instead of horizontally.

[ad name=”Blog Post Ad”]

This issue concerned me and almost put me off from using the new theme. After a little research and some experimentation I found a solution to resolve the menu problem in IE8. I will provide a tutorial on how to resolve the IE8 issue in an up coming tutorial. Although it did not fix the issue with IE7, I started to wonder if it was worth trying to resolve the issue.

Should IE7 and below be and issue?

For a long time I kept designing websites with backwards compatibility to IE6. I did not give much thought to how many people still used these old browsers, so I decided to do some research. According to the W3C  Counter, world wide IE6 has a usage of 0.9%. Since it is such a small number of users, it would probably be safe not to worry about this browser anymore. Based on the Statistics from W3C and StatCounters, the usage for IE7 is less than 6% in 2012. In some cases it’s as low as 3%. This tells me that IE7 is nearing it’s demise. You can read more about this here.

So this brings me back to the new Twenty Twelve WordPress theme. Should I really worry about older IE browsers? Unless the demographic that I am targeting is using these old browsers, then I probably don’t have to worry to much about them.

My Conclusion

After some research and experimentation. I decided that using the new Twenty Twelve theme to develop future child themes is a good place to start. This will also include the fix for IE8 to make sure people can still see a useful website, but for IE7 and below I will not worry too much about it. Hopefully as browser technology continues to develop further, these older browsers will slowly disappear.

You may have different opinions on this subject, so feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.