20 WordPress Theme Frameworks And Starting Resources


title-wordpress-theme-frameworksA theme framework is a theme that is designed to be a flexible foundation that can serve as a parent theme for building child themes. The use of WordPress theme frameworks may ease theme development by reducing the volume of work which may be needed in creating a backbone for your theme (usually by using PHP and WordPress Template Tags). Theme frameworks also make theme development more accessible, removing the need for programming knowledge. I listed here the best WordPress theme frameworks available as well as several child themes and related articles to help get Your foot with WordPress theme developing.

*Note: This is an old and a bit outdated article. Read our recent article about WordPress tools, frameworks and detailed Genesis framework review. (edit 2015, Jul 31)

If you are looking for some great responsive and high quality WordPress themes from 2015, go here.

 1.Thematic, A WordPress Theme Framework

Thematic is a free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework featuring 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for popular plugins, and a whole community behind it. It’s perfect for beginner bloggers and WordPress development professionals.


Preview live demo

2. Hybrid WordPress Theme Framework

Amazing WordPress theme framework, definitely one of my favorite. Here is short list what You archieve from this framework:

I’ll just give you the short list instead, so you can go ahead and play with the theme:

  • Developed with child themes in mind, so you’ll never lose your customizations.
  • SEO optimized. No need for plugins to handle this anymore.
  • Theme options that are about content/information.
  • Templates for everything.
  • 13 page templates.
  • Actively developed for WP 2.7 but backward compatible down to 2.5.
  • 15+ plugins supported within the theme.
  • Attachment handling like you’ve never experienced.
  • Advanced breadcrumbs beyond any other theme.
  • Ability to run just about any type of site.
  • And over 20 tutorials to start.


Preview live demo

3.Carrington – CMS theme framework for WordPress

Carrington is a CMS theme framework for WordPress that makes it easy to create unique looks for different categories, posts and comments just by creating custom templates. Framework with full documentation, community forums to have Your problems explained, very friendly!


Preview live demo

4.Vanilla Theme

Vanilla’s key boast is this: Exceptional power and freedom for designers, without (or barely) needing to know or touch PHP. Thanks to the combined capabilities of PHPTAL templates, Carrington’s atomic templates, YUI CSS and full widgetization (including custom widget controls).

Lovely framework released under code.google.com section where several frameworks is combined together – definitely worth checking out!


Preview live demo

5.Whiteboard – A Free WordPress Theme Framework

It is designed to speed up the process of designing and coding a WordPress theme by eliminating the time spent on WordPress’ back-end PHP that is used in every theme.

Whiteboard is clean, noted, and compact (only 76KB in size – unzipped!). It includes all the standard PHP tags and PHP files needed for a WordPress theme – plus a few extras.


6. WP Framework – A blank WordPress Theme Framework

WP Framework is a blank WordPress theme framework, which aims to cut down on your theme development time. It gives you a solid theme foundation to build your project on top of so you can focus on project-specific features right from the git-go.


7. SandBox

The Sandbox is a powerful tool available for WordPress theme designers and developers. The Sandbox can be easily designed just with CSS, so beginners will feel comfortable not bothering with PHP.

Experienced developers and designers can accomplish almost anything with minimal work, thanks to the rich, semantic markup and profusion of classes dynamically generated by the Sandbox.



8. OnePress Community Framework

The OnePress framework is an integrated website and forum solution. It is, simply, a WordPress theme to serve as the foundation and framework for your web site and online community. Leveraging the powerful WordPress and phpBB projects, OnePress provides a set of features focused on helping you build and maintain your site from the inside out. With this set of tools, you can easily run your community and do so with professional presentation.


9. The WordPress Starter Theme Project

And here are some of the features of WPcandy starter theme:

  • Blank style.css with theme name, author, URL, etc. tags at the top
  • Content-ready 404, archive, search, index, single post, and page files
  • Full, working comments.php file
  • Complete header.php set up with links to RSS, a stylesheet, and JS file; <title> template
  • Default search form template
  • Blank screenshot.png file and images folder


Several child themes and resources:

Junction WordPress Child Theme

Junction is a WordPress Child Theme based on the Thematic Theme Framework. In terms of style, Junction is vastly different from Thematic, however Junction capitalizes on the power of the Thematic Framework, which allows the ability to style the entire template without touching a single line of original php or html code.


Thematic Child Themes

Thematic offers a bunch of child themes, I featured one of them, but You should check this site for Yourself, actually I suggest You to subscribe to this site if You’re serious about WordPress theme developing.


Acamas WordPress Child Theme

Acamas is a Thematic Themelet. That means Acamas requires the Thematic Theme Framework installed in your WordPress theme directory. Thematic powers Acamas. And Acamas builds on the power of Thematic. But don’t worry! Thematic is free. Even better, it’s open-source and one of the most advanced SEO WordPress themes around. Download Thematic now and set your blog on a rock-solid foundation for success.


Preview live demo

And finally I found several related articles, You should read if You’re interested in actual using/modifying and developing WordPress themes:

How I used a WordPress Child Theme To Redesign My Blog


Poll – Which WordPress Theme Framework To Use?

Interesting poll with discussion below, trying to help You choose the right WordPress theme framework for Your case.


Why I created a WordPress theme framework?

Justin Tadlock, creator of Hybrid theme framework, explains what’s theme framework at all and why You should use it at all and much more – just read this article!



How to make a child theme for WordPress: A pictorial introduction for beginners

You can read in this article:

  1. How child themes work in WordPress
  2. How are themes modified without being modified?
  3. What you need to make a child theme
  4. Assembling a child theme: the framework
  5. Using Firebug
  6. Adding CSS rules to your child theme
  7. Putting it all together and activating the child theme
  8. Notes
  9. Links to tools and resources

ThemeShaper Forums


This forum will kindly give You answers to many unclear questions dedicated to help You modify WordPress themes.


Lorelle on WordPress

“Helping you learn more about blogging and WordPress every day with help, tips, advice, and techniques for blogging and using WordPress and WordPress.com. The blogging help you need. Now.” – amazing site with many useful articles and links about WordPress, blogging helping You to take Your skills to the next level.



WordPress Codex

And of course, You shouldn’t forget about actual WordPress creator codex website. It seems obvious, but often we forget such things :)


So you want to create WordPress themes huh?

Excellent WordPress guide teaching You how to create WordPress theme from scratch and clearly explaining each code snippet. I personally started here my WordPress learning.


In this article I wanted to show just the best WordPress Theme frameworks and few guidelines where to continue Your research so I kept WordPress tutorial, resource and article selection for later. Enjoy!

Few further resources:




  1. prabha

    i appreciate your research, very good theme selection. i think thesis framework is also awesome one

  2. Gajanan

    Nice compilation, however since the post is quite old (more than 1000 days) it must be revised.

    There are many new framework launched in due course.

  3. Aaron

    The list is really something great. All the frameworks mentioned here are awesome and helpful.Cheers!

  4. DavidW

    Dainis, if you consider updating this article we’d love to provide you with an evaluation copy of K9 Canvas the theme framework from Howling Dog Themes. We built the system to use with our own clients and have been refining it for the last couple of years. Originally we didn’t think of releasing it to the public, we just wanted something that would allow us to build sites that don’t look like WordPress sites while using WordPress and cutting our own development time. At a certain point it just didn’t make sense to not release it, so we have. Hope you’ll check it out and consider adding it when you update.

  5. Amrinder Singh

    I used Genesis , Canvas and Headway frameworks. But i prefer headway framework its easy.

  6. Anakson

    Hey Dainis,

    I loved the list. All the frameworks are really awesome..

    Can you tell me which is that #6 WP framework? Because the link is not working and the look of the theme is matching to this theme framework – . I am using the same for my blog. It’s really amazing and SEO friendly. Whats your opinion?

  7. Ventura Rodriguez

    The list is very interesting, but believe that missing a very important framework is GantryFramework.


  8. It is great to see all of the different themes all on one page. We have many resources that we never knew about. Thanks!

    • harry

      I agree with you Chad .ALL themes framework are great.Designs are eye catching.

  9. Jesse Taylor

    Thanks for the list — I’d never even heard of some of these frameworks before! Interesting read!

  10. Thanks for the great list. I love the thematic as I think it provides us perhaps with some of the best SEO benefits of all, but the rest of the list is nothing to sneeze on!


  11. Jo Oxford

    Great collection, I have always used the Thematic framework and it works really well. I think I’m going to try out the Hybrid framework soon though, it has had a lot of praise recently.

  12. I stopped at “So you want to create WordPress themes huh?”… took a look at the website and knew I had found what I was looking for, a complete course on WordPress themes.

    Thanks a lot.

  13. Rudi

    thx for share man, i’ll try all of the list

    Rudis last blog post : Free Pattern Background for your site

  14. Luis Eduardo

    Great source of resources about wordpress themes frameworks, those themes can be very useful when you don’t want to start from scratch with a new blog.


    Luis Eduardos last blog post : 12 Awesome French Short Animations

  15. Great WordPress theme frameworks and resources. The rest of the site is an perfect example of web design using WordPress:) Thanks again for sharing.

  16. Angie Bowen

    This is a great list of resources, thank you for putting it together. One can never have too many wordpress resources.

    Also thanks so much for including our article.

  17. Great compilation of wordpress theme frameworks, but you missed out on Starkers Theme that provides you basic framework without any styles, for creating wordpress theme.

    Satbirs last blog post : How to Mask Input with jQuery?

  18. Karl

    Useful list, thanks.

    If I may be so bold as to add number 21 to the list, I’ve developed Brave New World – a base theme free from cruft yet incorporates HTML5, WAI-ARIA landmark roles and hCard and hAtom microformats.

    My apologies for not yet getting around to explaining the finer points of HTML5, WAI-ARIA etc in my post.

    Regards, Karl

  19. Imagination is a Fully Customizable WordPress Theme and comes pre-loaded with 9 different site-wide styles to choose from, with just a click.

    Moreover, You can customize the style according to your mood, occasion or preferences. Use your imagination to create a unique look of your blog/website anytime you want.

    Check It Out: http://tr.im/imagination

    CSSJockeys last blog post : Imagination: Feature Rich FREE WordPress Theme!

  20. Terje Asphaug

    Hehe, you beat me to it. Was planing a article like this ;)

    Terje Asphaugs last blog post : My WordPress – A very nice Theme for Pro- or Personal Blogging

  21. This is really a great post. I just spent an hour going through many of the links, and links from those links… It really gives a person everything s/he might need to build a WP theme from (almost) scratch.