WordPress was initially used as a blogging platform, today it powers millions of websites around the world. However, over time, it became one of the most preferred open-source web development platforms. Most developers these days prefer this content management system for developing their website. When you decide to power your website using a WordPress theme, choosing the best theme becomes a dilemma. However, you can create a WordPress theme yourself.
So are you planning to create a WordPress theme? There are many options to do this, including creating a theme from the scratch, using a WordPress starter theme, using page builder themes, and using drag-and-drop WordPress theme builders. What exactly is a WordPress starter theme? It is a blank theme with minimal design and comes with a basic or with no layout. Usually, such themes come with the most commonly used templates in a WordPress theme.
In WordPress starter themes, you will find all the required template files, including the basic CSS styles, and the functionalities that are required to create a WordPress theme. These themes come with the code to help you display posts, comments, and archive pages, with minimum or no styling. This saves you from the effort of creating everything from scratch. With these themes, developers can start adding their own styles to create an entirely new and fresh theme.
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These differ from the parent themes that usually completely style WordPress themes, which can be directly installed and used on live websites. A starter theme or child theme can be used to create a parent theme. As discussed, starter themes come with no styling, but you can add those.
We will take you through some of the best WordPress starter themes that you can use to create parent WordPress themes:
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Underscore is one of the most popular WordPress starter themes, also referred to as. Don’t use it as a parent theme, but you can use it to create a parent theme. It comes with ultra-minimal CSS, which means that you are free to write your own CSS stylesheets when creating your WordPress theme as there is less stuff to bother the developer.
A large number of WordPress developers have already used Underscore for creating both free and premium WordPress themes. Majority of the codebase in _s is well-optimized with comments on nearly every function and call. This will help you to quickly grasp and understand the concepts of WordPress theme development.
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It is one of the best options for SASS users as it comes with a SASS configuration as well. All you have to do is check the _sassify! checkbox. The options offered by this tool saves you from the effort of manually updating theme name, slug, and other details as in other WordPress starter themes.
Bones is not a framework, but a WordPress theme for developers, built around the latest web standards. Being as minimalistic and bare as possible, it is a powerful foundation to kick-start any WordPress project. Bones comes loaded with Sass, which will help in speeding up your development process. Also, Bones is responsive and mobile-ready. It comes with a custom post type support. Bones features detailed stylesheets, which show you which selector does what and is presented in an easily understandable way.
And the best part about this theme is that it comes with a two-column layout with the basic design for the post and widget sections. Bones comes with a ready-to-use code for custom dashboard and custom post type functions. You would find that rarely do other starter themes have these features, and hence, you would require to add some additional code. However, with the Bones theme, you can publish your custom content instantly.
Base by SitePoint
Developed by SitePoint, Base is one of the latest WordPress starter themes. Base provides you with a clean, simple and fast platform to create custom, responsive and awesome WordPress themes. This simple WordPress theme is built on HTML5 and CSS3. By default, it is a fluid and fully responsive, and mobile-friendly theme. SitePoint’s Base implements the unsemantic grid, which is based on percentages, which will help you create versatile and adaptable layouts.
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This theme is translation-ready, WooCommerce-compatible and multilingual-ready. Base is compatible with a range of the most popular page builders, including Page Builder, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, Divi Builder, and the Elementor Page Builder. Base incorporates Normalize.css, retina-friendly Font Awesome icon font, jQuery Validation, Modernizr, and two Google fonts, Dosis and Open Sans. This theme is the best choice for beginners as it makes learning and understanding theme development easier.
You can use it either as a starter theme or as a parent theme. Some of its features include Font Awesome icons, built-in widget sliders, and modern styling capabilities. And Bootstrap 4 ensures that your website gets a refreshing and modern appearance. Since it comes with Font Awesome integration, you can add numerous font icons, which can be further styled by CSS. Understrap is compatible with WooCommerce, Contact Form 7 and JetPack.
The implementation of Blade from Laravel as a templating engine ensures that the development process is faster and efficient. The two front-end frameworks options that you can use are Bootstrap 4 and Foundation. However, if you prefer to do it from scratch, you can choose a blank framework and style.
FoundationPress is one of the most modern WordPress starter themes, which uses Foundation 6 framework as back-end and hence the name ‘FoundationPress’. The intent behind FoundationPress is to ensure that WordPress developers can build excellent websites using a set of tools. Since it is an open-source project, a number of community members have made significant contributions, leading to a rapid and constant development of FoundationPress.
FoundationPress is universally semantic and offers clean code. You have the provision to create a mobile theme first as it is responsive. It is based on Node.js and uses the Sass pre-processor for stylesheet management. Make sure that your system has GCC installed on it as Sass is compiled using a library, referred to as ‘libsass’.
WP Bootstrap Starter
This WordPress starter theme is a combination of Bootstrap, Underscore and Font Awesome (Font Awesome is one of the widely used font icons that comes with more than 600 icons for scalable vectors). You can find this theme within the WordPress theme directory and has over 1000 active installs to date. Last updated on August 2017, this is a simple, yet powerful, Bootstrap WordPress theme.
Just like WordPress, this theme is licensed under GPL. Some of its features include page templates, right-sidebar, left-sidebar, blank with container page, blank without container page, footer area with widgets (you can remove it if you do not want to use it), and WooCommerce-ready. It is compatible with Elementor Page Builder, Visual Composer, and Contact Form 7.
Almost everyone has come across the Thesis theme from DIYThemes, which has been around for quite some time now. A design theme, such as Thesis, is the best way to overcome the issues that might arise when dealing with designs. Very recently, Thesis transitioned its core, including an extension of Skins, which are pre-designed layouts that can be altered to meet your personalized website needs.
The latest version of the Thesis theme comes with a visual template editor, which gives you the complete control over your designs (though this editor is awaiting patent approval). It saves you from the effort of having to hire a developer to help you with the process of complete your project. Another important feature of the Thesis theme is referred to as Boxes, which is a streamlined method, allowing you to add sidebar content to your site. Boxes come with in-built extensions and widgets for altering and customizing your site to meet business requirements saving you from the effort of paying for the WordPress plugins to bless your site with customized features.
This WordPress theme comes with no styles and does not support the grid system. This theme is available within the WordPress theme directory and currently has more than 10000 active installs. This theme allows you to build websites or create themes from scratch as it comes with minimal design.
Some of its features include unstyled, semi-minified and unformatted design, it is also SEO-friendly, jQuery-enabled and the CSS is reset for cross-browser compatibility. There are no programmer comments.
This WordPress theme is based on Underscores and Bootstrap framework. It gets all the code from Underscore and uses Bootstrap features for speedy front-end development.
It is compatible with the Gutenberg editor. You can use it to develop amazing websites. This multi-purpose theme is compatible with most page builders. It has no jQuery and boosts site performance.
Create Parent Themes Using WordPress Starter Themes
Some of the above-mentioned WordPress starter themes provide you with a core for creating themes that can be used for creating websites. WordPress starter themes have minimal elements, which help you build themes from scratch and add custom features according to your desire.