As a web designer, I’d say that more than 80% of all my recent work has been WordPress-related… from creating original WordPress themes, to heavily customizing existing ones. Which is why I’m so pleased every time I come across a bare-bones WordPress theme, something plain I can “build on”. I’m very grateful to the designers who’ve created these- here are my current five (free!) favorites:
If you’re the type of designer who likes to code up a regular HTML site before chopping everything up into WordPress templates, Whiteboard will make your life much, much easier. It’s a WordPress framework at its most basic, with necessary templates all set up and ready for you to paste your design bits into. It also includes some goodies like “Socialization Links”, with links to Technorati, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. Very simple, and a joy to have.
Looking for something a bit more powerful? I daresay that WP Framework belongs in every WordPress theme designer’s toolbox- especially those who want to release their own themes to the public. The Theme Options API, for example, is a set of functions that makes it easy for you to create your very own “theme options” page (and don’t we all love options?) Great accompanying documentation, too.
There are quite a few WordPress theme frameworks with accompanying child themes out there, and Hybrid is a particularly good one. The authors aren’t joking when they describe Hybrid as “user-friendly”, and their child themes are beautifully designed and easy to tweak. What I’ve linked to here, though, is their Skeleton child theme, which allows you to build your own child theme on Hybrid.
Just like Hybrid, Thematic is a framework that has some gorgeous child themes… but the truth is, Thematic is glorious on its own as a clean, minimalistic theme. Of course, it really shines when in the hands of talented designers. The lovely Gallery theme, for example, which is perhaps one of the most beautiful themes for a WP-powered photo gallery or portfolio, is a Thematic child theme.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Sandbox, which was perhaps the first “bare-bones” WordPress theme I ever used, and was crucial to me in the early days of learning how to create WordPress themes, when just looking through the code of Kubrick made my head spin.
Do you use theme frameworks? Are there any bare-bones WordPress themes you recommend?