Support » Themes and Templates » Need advice: Best basic theme to build custom theme on?

  • Resolved gohlkus


    I haven’t used 3.1 but I’ve built custom themes for sites going up through 3.0.

    My question is this: to those who are developing themes for 3.1, what is your favorite basic theme (thematic, sandbox, toolbox, etc.) on which to build your custom theme?

    Mostly what I want is for the code to be clean without too much custom stuff added on top of WP’s core features, so that I can build my own HTML/CSS layout and keep it relatively simple. I’m going to use menus and some widgets and basic plugins, but not much else.

    I actually don’t want to mess around with parent/child stuff — typically I just modify the theme and be done with it. (Although if you think I should do otherwise, also let me know.)

    I hope to get some feedback. Thanks much!

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Anyone? Bueller?

    Chip Bennett


    Theme Review Admin

    TwentyTen is generally a good base from which to create a Child or Derivative Theme.

    My favorite is my own, but of course, I’m biased. 🙂

    Curious as well.

    Thematic seems to be the most popular, but just found a site built upon Sandbox, although it seems quite old.

    Anyone w/ some experience have anything to share?

    Chip Bennett


    Theme Review Admin

    I don’t consider Framework-based Themes, such as Thematic, to be “basic” Themes.

    They’re great Themes, because they’re so powerful and flexibble – but these attributes that make them so great are the same attributes that cause them not to be “basic”.

    Chip – I’d say the same applies to twentyten – as I’m on record stating in the forums on this site, there was so much completely new stuff introduced in both WP 3.0 and twentyten at the first iteration, that was also completely undocumented and unexplained, that it made twentyten exceptionally difficult to customise (via child or parent theme) for non-professional programmers … in fact I gave up on it entirely.

    The pace of change, and the rate of badly or non-documented additions and changes since WP 2.9.2 has accelerated with every release – instead of being able to come to and find all the essential explanations and how-to that’s needed, those of us without a PhD in programming now have to spend days on google just to get to grips with each new feature.

    To be honest, several times it has had me on the edge of abandoning WordPress completely and a few times has had me on the point of giving up webmastering. I know that part of the blame lies within myself – I never went to university, did not attend programming college, and do not have the funds to shell out £100 for every programming book that I think I need to bring myself up to speed … BUT, none of that was a problem before WP 3.0 – and under 2.9.2 I was running both single site and multi-user installs.

    Just an example .. some of my sites are still using themes issued pre-WP 2.5 and they’re dream themes to work with. However, several would benefit from microformats, custom post formats and types, and custom taxonomies. Can I find a straight-forward “do-this, do-that” codex page to enable all those? Nope.

    I’ve said it before. WordPress needs to slow the development and let the documentation catch up – for everyone’s benefit, including those who provide support in this forum.

    Moderator Kathryn


    Automattic Happiness Engineer

    Mostly what I want is for the code to be clean without too much custom stuff added on top of WP’s core features

    I often use Starkers.

    Agree with gazeouteast. I’m a newbie programmer AND WP user, and went straight from install to building my own custom theme from scratch. It’s taken me ~3 months and I’m still not done yet. I enjoy the process but the documentation is a crapshoot and I don’t feel like a better programmer, just a lucky copy pasterer! I want to fix this but don’t really know where to turn w/o going to school. That’s a whole other issue…

    I will say that the people here have been helpful to me so far! 🙂

    zoonini, thanks for the suggestion! Wasn’t aware of that one. Anyone else?

    Bones starter theme hopes to replace common plugins, speed up development

    Lately, I’ve been poking at this with a sharp stick….
    No opinions yet, just posting it as an option to explore

    Might be a bit much for what you are looking for….

    Sounds great, Rev. Voodoo, thanks! I’ll add it to the list of possibilities, though I have to pick one pretty soon.

    I also recommend looking at Justin Tadlock’s Hybrid.

    It scored very well on recent performance tests, along with Thematic and Twenty Ten:

    I would highly recommend Justin Tadlock’s Hybrid.

    Thanks to all — I hope this thread comes up in future search results for people looking for info like this. (If I had time, I would SEO this post.)

    I ended up going with “Boilerplate”, a mashup of the HTML5 Boilerplate and the Starkers theme. Great work by many smart people went into this:

    I built a child theme on top of it — prior to this I’ve only edited themes from scratch — and WOW, was it easy. It’s a breeze to make a child theme, especially if you already have your HTML and CSS set up. Highly recommended.

    I recommend It’s by Automattic, so it takes advantage of new WP features. It’s HTML5 and very CSS friendly.

    I have tried theme frameworks, but don’t like them because they do things their way — not necessarily the WordPress way. Also, most theme frameworks are good for non-coders who want to make simple changes like upload a logo and change the link color. For a fully custom theme, Toolbox is the place to start.

    I have to say I like the new Toolbox theme by Automattic, like Mike says it is html5 though.

    I did find an alternative, Small Potato

    It’s quite a good tutorial if your a little unsure of how WordPress works and it gives you a basic clean code to work with and he gets you to validate it as you work. One thing he does miss though is the top nav menu, but a quick check in codex will give you the correct php code for the nav menu, which you just add to header.php

    hope this helps 😉

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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