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5 Awesome Bare-bones WordPress Themes

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:

whiteboard
Whiteboard
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.

wp-framework
WP Framework
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.

hybrid-skeleton
Hybrid Skeleton
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.

thematic
Thematic
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.

sandbox
Sandbox
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?


  1. By Jeremy posted on August 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm
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    Thanks for that, very useful.
    I’ve recently used Starkers by Elliot Jay Stocks (http://elliotjaystocks.com/starkers/) which is also a great starting point for new wordpress themes.

  2. By Colin posted on August 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm
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    I’ve used this one for rapid small business site development: http://notepad.ithemes.com/ It’s very CMS-like as opposed to blog-like.

    I don’t know if I would call it a framework but it is pretty bare. Styling it is easy.

  3. By Jeff Starr posted on August 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm
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    Great roundup! I would also like to add my recent bare-bones theme template to the list. It’s the first HTML-5 theme template available for WordPress. You can check it out here:

    http://digwp.com/2009/07/free-html-5-wordpress-theme/

    It includes all of the essential WordPress template tags marked up with HTML5 and styled with just enough CSS2.1 to make it easy to understand and customize.

  4. By Free Classified Ads posted on August 7, 2009 at 3:53 am
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    Great! Thank for your share the free stuff :) , Its helpfull for me

  5. By Victoria Blount posted on August 7, 2009 at 8:23 am
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    These are brilliant simple wordpress themes, i usually look for a bare skin that i can adapt.

  6. By Victory posted on August 9, 2009 at 11:34 pm
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    I use Thematic and i have to say its a very well organized theme. I am big on basic, clean, easy to read themes and Thematic is on par with any free WP theme i have come across.

  7. By Graeme posted on August 10, 2009 at 11:05 am
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    I would recommed the Starkers theme from Elliot Jay Stocks, I use it whenever I’m starting a WordPress theme from scratch as it has removed all formatting so it’s like starting with a blank canvas.

  8. By vancouver web design posted on August 12, 2009 at 2:51 am
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    Good list, thanks for sharing these.
    It’s always nice to start with some clean templates to build out from

  9. By china wholesale posted on August 31, 2009 at 2:16 pm
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    thanks for your sharing

  10. By Alaska Web Design posted on September 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm
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    Nice. I started a WordPress blog last week just to play with it.

    At Affordable Alaska Web Design Company we usually develop Web apps from scratch, but these templates take out a lot of work.

  11. By DesignStraw posted on September 4, 2009 at 9:05 am
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    Thanks for the information. Good Thought – I have bookmarked your blog.

  12. By Oes Tsetnoc posted on September 30, 2009 at 9:19 am
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    Awesome themes

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