Update March 2019: Themes and templates come and go, unfortunately. Some popular blank starter WordPress themes either disappeared from the web or haven’t been updated in a couple of years. Therefore, we’ve cleaned up this list to remove those unavailable or outdated themes and to bring you current and trending themes. Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these themes, or if there’s a different one you love!
Introduction to the Best Blank Starter WordPress Themes
Premium WordPress themes make light work of creating a professional-looking WordPress site, though there is a caveat to that: your site will look the same as the hundreds of other sites using the same theme. We’ve compiled a list of the best blank starter WordPress themes for you to simplify this process.
A trend that has been brewing in the WordPress developer community is the use of WordPress page builders and starter themes to create completely custom-looking sites. Our WordPress designers have done this plenty in the past, and we’ve put together this list as a helpful reference for ourselves and for you.
What Is a Starter Theme?
Starter themes are also known as base or naked themes. The blank theme is basically the starting point from where you can build your own theme. These are the pre-built frameworks that speed up the initializing process for developers.
In short, there are some things you have to do for every single theme. Every. Single. Theme. Laying this basic foundation can be a little boring. Customizing the theme allows you to let loose your creative side, but first you have to get through the tedious start.
… Or do you?
With a starter theme, you have the basic foundation already laid out for you. You can skip having to do some of the (let’s face it!) boring coding and move on to the more fun aspects of theme development. Using a starter theme doesn’t make your final creation any more or less worthy; it just means you were smart in how you used your time.
And if you still need help, contact us! We are recognized as a top WordPress Website Design Company on DesignRush.
Best WordPress Starter Themes for Developers
For your ease, we have hand-picked some of the best blank starter WordPress themes. Let’s take a look.
For a WordPress free theme, this is the most popular, free, open-source template. The same guys who are behind WordPress made the Underscores theme. The HTML and CSS markup in the theme are well maintained and follow WordPress theme standards.
The HTML templates are modern and well commented. Custom template tags exist to prevent code duplication. Sample CSS layouts and a JS-based navigation are also available to start you off. The Underscores WordPress theme is licensed under GPLv2 or later.
The Generic theme is exactly what it sounds like – perfectly generic and ready to go in any direction. This makes it a great starter WordPress theme for developers and designers. The bare bones are there, ready to be customized. Generic is SEO-friendly, responsive and uses HTML5.
Sage is a starter theme with great front-end flow work to speed up your development task. Based on the HTML5 boilerplate for WordPress, it has the minimal HTML5 template. The theme wrapper will help you avoid repetition
UnderStrap is the combination of Underscore and Bootstrap 4. You can use it as the starter or parent theme for your project. It includes some basic features like awesome font support and a built-in widget slider.
Foundation Press is one of the most modern starter themes, based on the Foundation 6 CSS framework. It is responsive and uses the mobile-first framework. Its semantic has a clean markup, and it is a highly professional starter theme where every element is easily customizable.
HTML5 Blank is another great open-source WordPress theme. This template includes both basic and advanced functions with minimal code that can be easily read and understood.
It follows both WordPress and HTML5 coding standards. It has preloaded basic functions in functions.php that will help you to ship your theme quickly. The documentation is great too.
7. Joints WP
JointsWP is another free blank WordPress theme that its creators built on Foundation 6. With its help, you can build complex and mobile-friendly websites without having to start from scratch.
JointsWP is a WordPress starter theme with gulp setup to save time by speeding up your workflow. In JointsWP, you can work with SASS, minify JS or watch files to change all with just a few commands.
WP-Flex has some unique features like sample data for unit testing. It adopts the best practices and requirements set forth by the official WordPress Codex and theme review guidelines. You can ease and speed your development work using WP-Flex.
Twenty Sixteen, though not officially a starter theme, has often been used as a starter theme, and with good reason. Built by Automattic themselves, it can safely be assumed that this theme represents the basics of what any theme should be. And it does. Being responsive and using best practices, this theme makes for a great starter theme for nearly any custom theme project.
10. Twenty Seventeen
Similar to its forerunner, the Twenty-Sixteen theme, Twenty-Seventeen is also coded with best practices by the organization who defines those practices, Automattic. Out of the gate, it is a bit different stylistically from the 2016 theme, and so makes for a good starter theme for those anticipating a layout that more closely resembles this theme vs Twenty-Sixteen.
Next, we present perhaps THE most basic starter theme you’ll find: BlankSlate by TidyThemes. The folks behind BlankSlate intentionally wanted to create “the cleanest and most minimal theme possible for designers and developers.” We think they succeeded.
Ultimatum was designed with virtually all users in mind: beginners, designers and developers. It promises to be simple enough for beginners to use, while also being sophisticated enough to streamline the design and development process for professionals. This Bootstrap starter theme comes with premium plugins and a drag-and-drop builder.
Beans is an SEO-friendly starter theme that can kickstart your ranking efforts. It is also highly responsive, adjusting the format, text and images to look amazing on mobile devices. The Beans developers also boast that this theme is “crazy fast”!
Marketed as “the most user-friendly WP theme,” StartWP allows developers to get to work without having to make tons of changes up-front. The clean design and superior performance of this starter theme means professionals don’t have to start at square one.
Blank WordPress themes represent a new trend in development tools to take your WordPress site to new heights in terms of originality. If you’re not a developer, we can help you out by coding a custom theme for you or you can just download our theme, Pixel Linear for free.