Themes Web Development WordPress

WordPress Starter Themes and Development Tips

WordPress starter themes are themes that include the bare minimum needed to start building out a new theme. For this reason I usually call them WordPress developer theme frameworks. They exist to help jump-start the development process on new sites.

In this post I’ll share my favorite WordPress starter themes, some resources to help with theme development and my overall favorite WordPress theme.

My Top Three WordPress Themes

1) Joints

Joints is based on my favorite rapid prototyping tool and CSS framework, Foundation. There are several ports of Foundation over to WordPress however Joints is my favorite for its simplicity and ease of customization. It’s really the bare minimum needed to get started. is built on Joints.

Notable features:

  • Foundation
  • Sass enabled
  • Mobile first responsive
  • Admin overrides for white labeling

2) Bones

Bones is based on one of the most popular HTML/CSS frameworks, HTML5 Boilerplate. It’s one of the first starter themes I ever used and is what ultimately got me into Less.

Notable features:

3) Roots

Roots is truly a powerful and unique starter theme. It is based on HTML5 Boilerplate and comes bundled with Bootstrap. Roots goes farther than Joints and Bones by actually introducing a new way of loading what they call your “base format code”. It’s a bit different from the templating model we know and love but the intentions are good.

Notable features:

My Theme Development Tools

I covered these themes in a talk I did for the Boston WordPress meetup. During the talk I elaborated on some of the tools I use while developing new WordPress sites. You can check out the talk at the bottom of this post.

Mark Jaquith’s Local Config

I work with a team of developers on most of our WordPress sites so we needed an easy way to maintain local development environments without having to constantly change our config files. This post has some excellent tips for working extending the wp-config.php file to make local development easier.


As part of a team we also needed an easy way to collaborate on different projects. We started with SVN but eventually moved on to Git, mostly because of the popularity of GitHub but also because of its simpler workflow and the fact that it doesn’t create a .git folder in every one of our directories like SVN does.


Less and Sass are an easier way to write CSS. They use a more intuitive syntax and provide extra functionality to streamline the frontend development process. One of the perks of Less and Sass is the ability to compile a single CSS file from multiple files making it easier to compartmentalize your code into more logical chunks.


Grunt is a Javascript task runner. Besides being the “cool kid in town”, it’s a very powerful tool to have at your disposal. Once again, while working on teams, having a single gruntfile shared across all environments ensures you are all producing the same quality code for distribution.

My Favorite WordPress Theme

This would be the opposite of a starter theme. Basically the opposite of everything we just talked about. This is hands down the best WordPress theme I’ve ever worked with. I’ve used it on several sites now to quickly get a unique, professional site up in a few hours.

The theme is Divi by Elegant Themes.

There are too many features to list off but basically Divi is a drag and drop interface where you have complete control over everything being displayed. You control the sections, columns and the content (modules) with sittings like:

  • Full bleed background images and videos
  • Parallax effects on images and content
  • Complete control of section, column and content colors

What sets this theme apart from others with a drag and drop interface is the final product. This theme incorporates all the most modern design patterns and techniques. I’m excited to see how future Elegant Themes use this framework.

BostonWP Talk About WordPress Starter Themes

2 replies on “WordPress Starter Themes and Development Tips”

Well, my WordPress theme development tool is templatetoaster. This theme generator is best for me .

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