WordPress themes are one of the best features of WordPress. You can change the whole design of your website within a few seconds or minutes. You can choose a free theme, buy a premium theme or you can decide to create a new WordPress theme from scratch. Even there, you can start coding your design from scratch, or you can just use a starter WordPress theme that has all the basics to get you going.

There are many free WordPress starter themes available, and if you are a beginner and trying to learn WordPress theme development, then starting a theme from scratch is not a good idea. With a good understanding of HTML, CSS, basic knowledge of PHP, and a starter theme, you can create complete WordPress themes.

Even if you are an experienced developer, sometimes you are limited on time. If that’s the case, as it is for many developers, then give one of the starter themes below a shot. WordPress starter themes make your development workflow much faster. Most of the time you just need to style your theme to get it ready.


I am going to list some most popular WordPress starter themes, all of which are free. Each of these starter themes is under active development, and will provide a great base for your next custom theme design project.


Underscores is a starter theme originally conceived and built by some of the best WordPress theme developers in the world. It is brought to us by Automattic, the company behind WordPress itself. Most of the contributors to this theme are directly tied to WordPress, and this is what they use to power the themes that they build for users. It is also under constant development, and there are 97 contributors on GitHub so far.

Underscores offers well-commented, modern HTML5 templates, a 404 page template, an optional sample custom header implementation, custom template tags, a script for responsive navigation menus on smaller screens, two sample CSS layouts, and smartly-organized starter CSS in style.css that will help you to quickly get your design off the ground.


Roots Sage is another popular WordPress starter theme, which has gained a lot of attention, and these days it is managed by a group of 144 contributors at GitHub. It comes with HTML5, Twitter Bootstrap, Grunt, and Boilerplate so that you can choose your favorite framework for development. It also offers support for BrowserSync, Bower, Theme Wrapper, ARIA Roles, and microformats. It is also multilingual-ready.


Bones is free WordPress starter theme from Themble, designed by Eddie Machado. It is mobile-first, responsive, and based on 320 and Up and HTML5 Boilerplate.

Bones claims to be a WordPress theme for developers, built around the latest in web standards. Bones is a rock solid foundation to start any WordPress project. Bones allows you to keep what you need and remove what you don’t. It’s totally up to you.

If you want to use custom post types, Bones gives you a well-documented example. It also includes functions to customize the admin area for your clients. You can learn about all of the features at Bones homepage.

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