One of the best things about WordPress is the wide array of options it gives you to design and transform the look of your website. Thanks to WordPress themes, users can create the website of their dreams without any coding.
On one hand, there are many WordPress themes called parent themes that you can use straight off the bat. On the other, others offer developers an easy way to create websites from scratch. These are called WordPress starter themes. Essentially, they provide a basic framework using which theme developers can build a functional website.
What is a WordPress starter theme and which are the 10 best WordPress starter themes to choose from?
Let’s find out.
What is a WordPress Starter Theme?
A WordPress starter theme comes with a minimal design and a basic layout. This is a pre-designed theme that developers can customize according to their needs. This basic outline helps developers get started easily and proceed to design a fully functional theme.
Starter themes are also useful for new developers learning to build WordPress themes. They can experiment with the existing themes without writing any code – or paying for the full parent theme.
How do starter themes differ from parent themes? Here are a few differences:
- Parent themes are ready-to-use and functional themes that can be directly installed on live WordPress sites. On the other hand, starter themes have minimum (or no) styling and need to be worked on before publishing to the live site.
- Parent themes provide multiple hooks and filters, which can be used to develop child themes. Starter themes do not come with any customizable hooks, filters, or template tags.
- Parent themes do not need major customization and can be easily tweaked with minor code changes. Starter themes are easier to customize at the HTML level.
With that out of the way, let us look at the 10 best WordPress starter themes for developers.
Best WordPress Starter Themes for Developers
Here are 10 of the best WordPress starter themes that developers can consider for their WordPress site:
Astra is rated as the most popular WordPress theme for developers. With a collection of over 180 starter themes, this theme is used by over 1.65 million websites around the globe. The best part is that both experienced developers and beginners can use Astra themes.
Astra themes are also used with popular WordPress page-building tools like Brizy, Elementor, and Gutenberg. Astra has a wide collection of customizable theme templates optimized for page speed and performance. Besides, Astra themes are compatible with most popular web browsers.
Developed and owned by StudioPress, Genesis is an open-source theme used by both experienced and new theme developers. Some of the powerful features of this theme include six layout designs, customized page templates, and featured widgets. With its one-click theme setup, you can use this theme to load demo content, plugins, and Gutenberg blocks easily to your home page.
Additionally, the Genesis theme is pre-styled for the WooCommerce plugin. This enables developers to design any online store. The theme is also mobile responsive and is optimized for multiple devices, browsers, and screen sizes.
This is among the most popular WordPress starter themes as it has been created by Automattic (the same company behind WordPress.org and Jetpack). Referred to with the underscore sign (_s), Underscores is equipped with all features needed to build any website. Written using HTML5 and CSS, Underscores has in-built support for WooCommerce. This theme is easy to work with as it ensures minimum distractions because of its lean and minimalist design framework.
Additionally, its customized template tags help in preventing code duplication and keeping the templates clean.
Beans is referred to as the most innovative WordPress theme and for good reason. This is probably the lightest WordPress starter theme among the lot – and is designed for flexibility and fast performance. Due to its flexible design, this starter theme works with both responsive content and adaptive images.
Beans is also SEO-friendly as search engines love it for its lightweight design, fast loading, and semantic coding. The theme is built with arguably the best frontend library framework available, namely Ulkit.
WP BootStrap Starter
This starter theme is also compatible with popular plugins like WooCommerce, Elementor page builder, Contact Form 7, and Visual Composer. Some of its best design features include a full-width page template, a blank page template, and left and right sidebars.
The best thing about this theme is that it can integrate all CSS files into a single minified file. Besides, this theme supports popular plugins like WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, and Jetpack. The Understrap suite includes the Understrap framework for custom WordPress development along with premium child themes.
It is a basic starter theme primarily used by developers without knowledge of the WordPress Codex. This theme is most suited for website developers who want to design a website without actually building it. Essentially, Naked provides developers with a basic framework of a WordPress site (without any design). However, the framework includes individual web pages, support for user comments, customizing options, and a responsive style.
The theme is written in HTML5 and features custom menus, sidebars, WordPress widgets, and everything to get you started.
As the name implies, this theme provides a “minimal” framework making it extremely lightweight and customizable. The theme offers no third-party scripts, formatting, pre-built CSS, and not even developer comments. It is regarded as the best WordPress theme for experienced developers, as they can use it to build their website design.
The BlankSlate theme features include SEO optimization and custom CSS styles for developers. Additionally, its “bare minimum” design creates a light codebase leading to fast loading and site performance.
Built using HTML5 and CSS3, Quark is a simple and elegant WordPress theme for developers. Based on Underscores and TwentyTwelve themes, this starter theme is clean, flexible, and easily customizable. This theme has multiple features including a 12-column grid, over 300 style icons, custom headers, post templates, and sidebars.
This starter theme provides custom theme options with the Options framework, making it easy to modify. Quark is also compatible with WooCommerce and WPML and is multilingual ready. Additionally, this fully responsive theme renders all theme elements on all browsers without any notable difference.
Built with HTML5 and WordPress coding standards, HTML5 Blank is designed for website performance and has many time-saving features. Indicative of its name, this starter theme also provides a blank slate for developers to design their websites.
To enable faster loading, the theme is not bundled with unnecessary styling features and has a clean codebase. It supports CSS3, which is required to build a basic WordPress theme. Developers with basic CSS skills will find it easier to work with this theme.
Choosing the best WordPress starter theme
The best WordPress starter theme is the one that is best suited for your website needs and your experience. For instance, if you prioritize simplicity, Quark is the simplest theme due to its minimalist design and clean codebase. Underscores has the best features for building a good-looking website while themes like Beans and BlankSlate are optimised for good performance and fast loading.
Whichever theme you choose, you must first back up your site before you test a theme. While scheduled backups should be a part of your WordPress maintenance strategy, they are critical when you’re experimenting with themes. By taking a backup before using a theme, you avoid the risk of breaking your site and always have a way to restore your site.
Even better, test all your themes on a staging site, or a replica of your live site.
If you’re looking for an easy way to back up your site, we recommend using a reliable backup plugin like BlogVault that offers unlimited on-demand backups. BlogVault also comes with free inbuilt staging so you can first test your themes, and then merge changes directly to your live site. In either case, as well as
If you are new to WordPress theme development, starter themes are no doubt, the easiest way for you to get started. With the right WordPress starter theme to help you, you don’t need to be an experienced web designer or coding expert to create a functional theme.
We hope this article has been useful in choosing the best WordPress starter theme for your website. Have we missed out on any of your favorite starter themes? Do let us know in the comments section below.