25 Free and Premium Barebone WordPress Themes for Easy Customizing

Posted in Themes, WordPress • Posted on 5 Comments

If you design and develop themes for WordPress, chances are you probably already know the importance of theme frameworks or skeleton themes. To put it simply, these are minimal versions of themes, stripped of all additional functionality, giving you just the bare minimum level of code that you can work with and base your projects on. Needless to say, such frameworks and skeleton themes can save a lot of time and effort by giving developers a ready-made starting ground (consider this: you’re building a house, but you need not lay the foundation, as it’s already there. You simple shoot off with the main building).

Such themes are known by various names – bare-bones, stripped themes, blank themes, etc. Whatever it be, at the end of the day, all of them serve one purpose – help developers create awesome themes!

We shall now take a look at some of the major WordPress theme frameworks and skeleton themes. Before we proceed, it should be worth noting that certain themes mentioned below, such as TwentyTen Five, are not skeletons as such, but they make an awesome starting point for your project anyway!

*Pricing for paid/premium themes is mentioned adjacent to their respective names. Themes/frameworks with no pricing are free.

1. Elemental (Basic license $59.99)

Major Features:

  • Custom control panel that lets you edit typography, navigation and other sections
  • Four widgetized areas
  • 12 custom page templates for sitemaps, contact forms, etc.
  • Custom widgets for social networking sites
  • Custom admin bar
  • Localization and translation support
Elemental

Elemental

Demo | Download

2. Toolbox

Major Features:

  • Supports HTML5
  • Ultra minimal
  • Custom page templates
  • One of the most well-known blank themes
Toolbox

Toolbox

Demo | Download

3. Bones

Major Features:

  • Built around the HTML5 Boilerplate
  • Organized CSS Files
  • Custom page templates
  • Available in two formats for WP: Classic, Responsive
  • Also available in HTML version for projects
Bones

Bones

Demo | Download

4. HTML5 WP Shell

Major Features:

  • Custom page templates
  • Dynamic sidebars
  • 404 and 503 error pages
  • iPhone detection
HTML5 WP Shell

HTML5 WP Shell

Demo | Download

5. Genesis (Standard License: $59.95)

Major Features:

  • Support for multiple columns and sidebars
  • Both full- and flexible-width templates
  • Excellent SEO
  • Unlimited support from the developers
Genesis

Genesis

Demo | Download

6. WordPress Theme Framework (Pricing: $6)

Major Features:

  • Built-in social media integration
  • related posts
  • breadcrumbs
WordPress Theme Framework

WordPress Theme Framework

Demo | Download

7. Thematic

Major Features:

  • 13 widget-ready areas
  • Grid-based layout samples
  • Modular CSS with pre-packaged resets and basic typography
  • Support for most WP plugins
  • Wiki-editable guide for customization
Thematic

Thematic

Demo | Download

8. Roots

Major Features:

  • Clean URLs
  • Based on HTML5 boilerplate
  • Additional styling for Gravity Forms plugin
  • Multilingual (roughly 10 languages)
Roots

Roots

Demo | Download

9. Whiteboard

Major Features:

  • Totally free and open source
  • More dynamic classes and IDs than any other WP framework
  • CSS3 animations
  • Flexible div structure
  • Fallback mechanism for older versions of WP
Whiteboard

Whiteboard

Demo | Download

10. Starkers

Major Features:

  • No non-semantic markups
  • Totally blank, ideal for developing your theme based on it
Starkers

Starkers

Demo | Download

11. Standard Theme (Standard License: $49)

Major Features:

  • Customizable layout
  • Floating Sharing buttons
  • Affiliate program
Standard Theme

Standard Theme

Demo | Download

12. HTML5 Reset

Major Features:

  • Semantic HTML5 Markup
  • Widget-ready sidebar
  • Built-in support for jQuery, Modernizr and Analytics
HTML5 Reset

HTML5 Reset

Demo | Download

13. The Buffet Framework

Major Features:

  • SEO options such as breadcrumbs, headings and canonical URLs
  • Action and Filter hooks
  • Compatible with microformats
  • Ready for translation
The Buffet Framework

The Buffet Framework

Demo | Download

14. Ashford (Professional License: $49; Free version also available)

Major Features:

  • Can create over 250 page variations
  • Fully customizable web fonts and color styles
  • Mobile friendly
Ashford

Ashford

Demo | Download

15. Catalyst (Basic License: $77)

Major Features:

  • 800+ design options
  • Unlimited layout options
  • SEO-friendly
Catalyst

Catalyst

Demo | Download

16. Simon WP Framework

Major Features:

  • Flexible and free
  • Widget-ready
Simon WP Framework

Simon WP Framework

Demo | Download

17. PageLines Platform Pro (Professional License: $197)

Major Features:

  • Drag and drop framework
  • Extensions Marketplace (version 2.0)
PageLines Platform Pro

PageLines Platform Pro

Demo | Download

18. ATOM Framework

Major Features:

  • Context-aware layout selection
  • Custom tabbed widgets
  • Short codes, Ad Management, Gallery slides
  • Easily extendable code base
ATOM Framework

ATOM Framework

Demo | Download

19. Thesis (Personal License: $87)

Major Features:

  • Easy to use options’ panel
  • Excellent Premium Support
  • Flexible and SEO-friendly
Thesis

Thesis

Download

20. The Constellation

Major Features:

  • Responsive design
  • Based on HTML5 Boilerplate
  • SEO-friendly
The Constellation

The Constellation

Demo | Download

21. TwentyTen Five

Major Features:

  • An HTML5 upgrade of the default TwentyTen theme
  • Responsive design
TwentyTen Five

TwentyTen Five

Demo | Download

22. Sandbox

Major Features:

  • Semantic classes
  • Dynamic functions and microformats
Sandbox

Sandbox

Demo | Download

23. Hybrid Core

Major Features:

  • Modular Framework with a solid PHP code base
  • Breadcrumbs and custom shortcodes
  • Loop pagination
  • Translation-friendly
  • Post templates
Hybrid Core

Hybrid Core

Demo | Download

24. Prototype

Major Features:

  • Custom Page templates and backgrounds
  • Breadcrumbs and threaded comments
  • Post layout and stylesheets
  • Translation-ready
Prototype

Prototype

Demo | Download

25. Modularity (Standard Club Membership $99 per annum)

Major Features:

  • Homepage apps for slideshow and video
  • Special layouts for magazine sites
  • Simple Color Picker Tool for customizable colors
  • Support for video on iPhone and iPad
  • Fully widgetized
  • Translation-ready
Modularity

Modularity

Demo | Download

With that, we come to the end of this round-up. Do share your thoughts in the comments!

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Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and is the author of "Sufism: A Brief History". He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.

5 Comments Best Comments First
  • Ellen

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012 17:40

    1

    Thanks for putting together a great list. I hadn’t heard of Ashford before, very interesting framework/parent theme for WordPress. I’ve been looking at various theme frameworks to build our client’s themes from and have played with many on your list, all very good making it hard to pick just one. Decisions, decisions…

    +1
    • Sufyan bin Uzayr

      Monday, February 27th, 2012 20:52

      3

      Glad you liked it! Ashford is a wonderful framework theme. Definitely worth a try!

      0
  • Chris

    Monday, February 27th, 2012 20:33

    4

    This is a great collection, and should be very useful to anyone getting into WordPress development. Thanks for compiling this and sharing it with everyone!

    +1
  • Sufyan bin Uzayr

    Monday, February 27th, 2012 20:51

    2

    Thanks for pointing it out. :-)

    0
  • radyo dinle

    Thursday, April 12th, 2012 11:30

    5

    25′ GOLAZO: Tirolibre de @Cristiano que entra directo / Free kick made by CR7! 0-1

    -1
  • radyo dinle

    Thursday, April 12th, 2012 11:30

    5

    25′ GOLAZO: Tirolibre de @Cristiano que entra directo / Free kick made by CR7! 0-1

    -1
  • Chris

    Monday, February 27th, 2012 20:33

    4

    This is a great collection, and should be very useful to anyone getting into WordPress development. Thanks for compiling this and sharing it with everyone!

    +1
  • Sufyan bin Uzayr

    Monday, February 27th, 2012 20:51

    2

    Thanks for pointing it out. :-)

    0
  • Ellen

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012 17:40

    1

    Thanks for putting together a great list. I hadn’t heard of Ashford before, very interesting framework/parent theme for WordPress. I’ve been looking at various theme frameworks to build our client’s themes from and have played with many on your list, all very good making it hard to pick just one. Decisions, decisions…

    +1
    • Sufyan bin Uzayr

      Monday, February 27th, 2012 20:52

      3

      Glad you liked it! Ashford is a wonderful framework theme. Definitely worth a try!

      0

Comments are closed.

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