Building a theme from “scratch”- start with a starter theme

Our worst nightmare is when we hear “I’ve got a custom WordPress theme built from scratch.” A lot depends on how well your developer really knows WordPress- and how well they document your theme. With so many advanced themes and frameworks available- where you can easily make a child theme- and let a theme developer deal with all the changes in WordPress- going the custom theme route seems kind of silly.

But- if you are in a groundbreaking industry, and have a specialized use, and a large support staff, you may want to go the custom theme route. The New York Times can do this, the Podunk Picayune probably can not.

Using starter theme in your development is a great way to create a WordPress theme with all the up-to-date WordPress best practices.
Underscores: A starter theme maintained by WordPress parent company Automattic.
Sage: A starter theme based on HTML5 Boilerplate, gulp, Bower, and Bootstrap.
Bones: An HTML5, mobile-first starter theme for rapid WordPress development.
Quark: A simple starter theme built on HTML5 and CSS3.
JointsWP: A starter theme built with Foundation 5.
Naked WordPress: For designers who don’t know WordPress.
HTML5 Blank WordPress Theme: A WordPress HTML5 boilerplate starter theme.

Source: 15 Free Resources To Help You Become a Smarter WordPress Developer

Not a complete list- but, a good place to start

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3 new free themes from Automattic- the owners of WordPress

There are the “stock themes” with the year written out, like Twenty Fifteen that come with every install. And for some, that’s just fine.

There are also a ton of themes by others, some free and lots of premium ones- that all run the risks of not being 100% compliant.

That’s why the Automattic offerings are nice- guaranteed to have all the functionality and support, and free. All are responsive.

The new ones:

  • Cerauno is a polished, user-friendly magazine theme with plenty of customizable features. Add secondary content in up to five widget areas, brand your content with a Site Logo or Custom Header, and add Featured Images to grab your readers’ attention.
  • Canard: a flexible and versatile theme perfect for magazines, news sites, and blogs. It lets you highlight specific articles on the homepage and balances readability with a powerful use of photography — all in a layout that works on any device.
  • Argent is a clean and modern portfolio theme, geared towards creative professionals like designers, artists, and photographers. With its simple homepage template featuring portfolio projects, Argent aims to draw viewers right at what matters most: your wonderful work.

And we didn’t include screen shots- because you really should go check them out on the demo pages.

Most of these are to feed the ever growing but, with a proper child theme and a little customization, you’ll be rocking a very solid theme at the ultimate best price- FREE.

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What WordPress theme is that?

You see a site you like. You’re pretty sure it’s in WordPress (typing /wp-admin at the end of the url is a good way to check) but- you don’t like reading source code to try to figure things out. Enter:

The What WordPress Theme is That search tool allows you to quickly input a URL and find out what WordPress theme a site is currently using. It can also tell you what parent/child themes are being used along with what plugins are installed.

Source: 30+ Free Pro Resources for Building Killer WordPress Websites in Way Less Time

Hopefully, some developer didn’t rename someones theme as there own- for the clients sake. Child themes are critical to keeping sites up to date and working correctly. If there is one thing we’ve learned from over 10 years of developing on the platform is that it changes.


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