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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Based on the Foundation framework, JointsWP is one of the most commonly used starter themes. Though it exhibits some of the features of Foundation Press, the base design is entirely different.
Are you unfamiliar with Sass or just starting to learn it? Then, you can download this theme with only normal CSS. It powers you with the flexibility to develop complex and mobile-friendly websites. Using a few commands, you can compile Sass files, minify JS files, and much more.
Some of its features include:
- Foundation navigation options
- Custom-grid templates for archives
- Bower tool, motion-UI
- Translation-ready files
This starter theme has an active user base of around 70,000 active installations, of which, there is a total of 450,000 downloads. It powers over 200 active themes. You can, in fact, create premium themes using Unyson. A number of WordPress premium themes have their back-ends powered using the Unyson framework.
Some of its features include:
- Drag-and-drop builder
- Three built-in sliders
- User-friendly drop-down menus
- Contact Forms
- Calendar and Map shortcodes
- Portfolio layouts
For more details on the type of themes that you can build using Unyson, visit ThemeForest and look for themes tagged with Unyson. It comes with a wide range of features, customized functionalities, and options, which you can customize according to your site’s requirements. Most of these requirements are fulfilled by Unyson using extensions.
PageLines is a premium theme framework, which has excellent community support and will help you to develop an amazing website. It is incredibly fast and has an intuitive interface. Regardless of whether you are an amateur or experienced in programming, this theme is a great choice.
Some of the features that it offers include:
- Drag-and-drop builder
- Developer-friendly environment
- Performance optimization
- Search engine friendly
- Fully widgetized
- Custom colors and image support
For further details on PageLines, click here.
X The Theme
X theme is one of the best choices for developing your website. It is also one of the best-selling themes on Theme Forest. According to developers, with X theme, you can finally create a design that you have always wanted. X theme has its own page-builder, which is referred to as Cornerstone.
Some of its features include:
- Flat design
- Custom backgrounds
- Unlimited sidebars
- Clean code
- Responsive design
This front-end page building tool allows you to modify your website’s design without having to redo the entire site from scratch. Since all functionalities of an IDE are integrated into your browser screen, it makes it easy to edit stylesheets, allowing you to view the changes in real time. It receives constant updates and is well-maintained. The X theme offers certain premium plugins, including email forms, ACF Pro, Uber Menu, Woo Checkout Editor and Snippets.
This starter theme has a customer base of around 100,000 approximately. This theme is constantly updated based on user inputs and the latest market trends. The Bridge theme comes with more than 200 unique demo layouts, for business websites, e-commerce websites, and blogs. These demos are extensible and can be customized as required.
Here are some of its features:
- Fully customizable
- Interactive elements
- Custom options
- Amazing portfolio layouts
It is well-documented. Whenever a new version is released, Bridge automatically gets updated. It also comes with video tutorials that guide you through the installation and setup of this theme step-by-step. It is fully responsive and search engine optimized.
FoundationPress has Foundation 6 as its back-end. This framework is considered to be one of the most flexible starter themes. It gives you access to numerous tools, which makes your website development process easy. Since it is open source, the community members constantly keep on contributing to the enhancement of Foundation Press.
Some of its features include:
- Extensive documentation
- Theme options panel
- Shortcode generator
- Contact page
- Portfolio page
- Blog page
It comes with a wide range of tools and plugins. This is based on node.js and implements the Sass pre-processor for managing stylesheets. Sass needs a library known as ‘libsass’ for compilation. So, ensure that you have GCC installed on your machine.
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.