Choosing a Starter Theme for WordPress

WordPress has premium themes available around the web to help speed up theme development. Purchasing a premium pre-built theme can seem like a smart move, but we all know premium themes come with a lot of bells and whistles your website may or may not need. Using a WordPress starter theme can help eliminate the clutter of unneeded bells and whistles, and provide you with a basis to develop a theme that is clean, lightweight, and custom to your brand/company.

If you search Google for ‘WordPress Themes” you will receive results full of paid and free themes to choose from. But how do you know the theme you select will fulfill all of your needs correctly? The premium themes you will find in your Google search are themes that have an established design. A starter theme will provide you with a blank starting point and the tools you need to build your theme in any way imaginable. However, all of these WordPress starter themes are constructed a little differently and provide different tools. That’s where choosing a starter theme for WordPress can become difficult.

WordPress themes come with many different options to customize the way the site works with your content and functionality. Although sometimes all of these options are very helpful, they can be obnoxious and distracting and cause your theme to contain a lot of bloat/unused code/assets. As your sites become older, it may even prove more difficult to update the design presentation of the site due to limitations of the theme or lack of updates. Themes try to encompass every option available to accommodate a wide range of customizable features for your site, and in return what you can get is a site that doesn’t perform very well.

Purchased WordPress themes do not give you full control of your site’s design, and you’re always going to be constrained by the theme’s “set” style. This can make branding your site with your company’s colors/fonts/logo very difficult.

Building your own WordPress theme is one way to resolve all of these headaches by offering you the ability to create a look and feel that is completely custom and designed specifically for your needs. Building your WordPress theme can seem pretty daunting, but there are some starter themes that help speed up the process and make creating a custom theme easier. Below are a few of the WordPress starter themes that offer a head start on your custom theme development.

  • Underscores
    • A starter theme created by Automattic (the people behind WordPress, WooCommerce and much more).
      • Pros:
        • Actively maintained
        • Clean code base / Contains only the essential templates
        • Free
        • Lots of documentation
      • Cons:
        • Not a good choice for beginners; Requires strong knowledge of WordPress theme development
        • No established style (blank style.css to work from)
        • Not responsive
  • Understrap
    • This starter Theme combines the Twitter Bootstrap framework and the Underscores starter theme to make a responsive out-of-the-box Starter Theme.
      • Pros:
        • Actively Maintained
        • Established Framework (Twitter Bootstrap)
        • Developer Tools
        • Beginner friendly
        • Responsive
        • Free
      • Cons:
        • Requires knowledge of developer tools 
  • Sage
    • This starter theme gives you the ability to switch to many different front-end frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap, Foundation or others.
      • Pros:
        • Actively Maintained
        • Developer Tools
        • Theme customizer ready
        • Lots of documentation
      • Cons:
        • Non-responsive
        • No established styling
        • High learning curve
        • Some paid plugin features
  • WP Bootstrap Starter
    • WP Twitter Bootstrap Starter offers a clean, powerful and minimalist theme based on the “_s” underscores theme, Twitter Bootstrap Framework, and Font Awesome toolkit.
      • Pros:
        • Clean code base
        • Actively Maintained
        • Easy
        • Responsive
      • Cons:
        • Newer starter theme

Choosing one of the above WordPress starter themes can help speed up the development process of your custom theme while giving you tools and guidelines to help construct and style your custom theme properly. Have an alternative not listed above? Is your organization looking for help with a new or existing website? Please fill out the form on https://www.denverdata.com/contact-us so we can help you expand your business!

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