What is a Blank WordPress Theme?
A ‘Blank WordPress’ theme is a boilerplate that serve as a starting point for developing your own custom theme, hence the name; ‘starter themes’.
Blank WordPress themes come with basic WordPress PHP, CSS, and HTML code and theme files already filled out for you saving hours of coding time!
Unlike theme frameworks, most of the files in a blank WordPress theme are meant to be modified based on your needs.
Why Use Blank WordPress Themes?
A blank WordPress theme speeds up your workflow by reducing the amount of code you need to write. Having a skeletal foundation means you don’t have to do the same initiation process over and over every time you need to start creating a new theme.
In addition, using a blank WordPress theme lowers the chances of you forgetting critical files or code required for a theme to function properly.
Some blank WordPress themes will also have useful integrated features like responsive layouts and sample data to help you test your theme.
Do not mistake these with Premium themes with ones you will find on ThemeForest, these are designed to be a ‘blank canvas’ to create your own WordPress Theme. I also use a starter theme like one of the ones below when creating bespoke websites for my clients.
Here are our favourite three:-
Underscores, or _s, is a free blank WordPress theme developed by Automattic, the creators of WordPress.
The tutorial series by ThemeShaper (a major WordPress theme development company) will help you learn how to create WP themes using Underscores.
I use Underscores for every new theme I develop. It saves me hundreds of hours of coding! The great thing about it is that you can set the Theme name, Author & Theme Slug when you download which means you don’t have to do a find and replace when setting your theme name (which, coming from experience, can break things sometimes).
Roots is an excellent open-source WordPress starter theme. It’s built with HTML5 Boilerplate and Bootstrap (if you don’t need it, you can replace or remove it). It also has Grunt files for quickly compiling LESS code and combining your CSS and JS files.
A nifty feature of Roots is its Theme Wrapper, which helps you avoid having to write the same code in multiple files.
Bones is a free blank theme built on top of HTML5 Boilerplate. It’s responsive and developed under the Mobile First philosophy.
WPtuts+ has an excellent Bones tutorial to help you get started with this awesome starter theme.