Definitive List of Free WordPress Theme Frameworks

Using a framework is one of the best ways to increase productivity and do rapid development. Like other great resources, community and tools; there are several theme frameworks for WordPress to save you a lot of time and effort.

W3Avenue has compiled a list of free WordPress Theme Frameworks to help you find best solution that will suit your development style and practices. The list of themes / frameworks range from completely striped down themes to ready to use frameworks which require almost no programming to create customized look.

Blank / Startup Themes

  • Sandbox Theme
    The Sandbox Theme 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.
  • Starkers Theme
    Starkers is a bare-bones WordPress theme created to act as a starting point for the theme designer.Free of all style, presentational elements, and non-semantic markup, Starkers is the perfect ‘blank slate’ for your projects, as it’s a stripped-back version of the ‘Default’ theme that ships with WordPress.
  • Brave New World
    This is a base theme that incorporates HTML5, WAI-ARIA landmark roles and hCard and hAtom microformats. The theme is free of layout and styling beyond a modified version of Eric Meyer’s reset CSS and two baseline typography CSS files to choose from.
  • Whiteboard Theme
    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.
  • Basis Theme
    Basis provides a highly customizable starting point for your theme development. It comes with a pre-defined set of templates. The otherwise empty stylesheet provides a list of IDs und class-names which have already been used in the templates. The theme is widget-ready and introduces a number of custom functions in functions.php.
  • More: WordPress Starter Theme, Blank WordPress Themes, WordPress Naked, Blank WP

Frameworks With Full Support For Child Themes

  • Thematic Framework
    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.
  • Hybrid Framework
    Hybrid is a user-friendly, search-engine optimized theme framework, featuring 18 custom page templates and 9 widget-ready areas, allowing you to create any type of site you want.
  • Buffet Framework
    Theme framework designed not only for the theme developers who will be using the theme actions and filters to create the child themes, but also for the end users who would be able to add and remove what they want. Like most WordPress theme frameworks, the Buffet Framework utilizes WordPress actions and filters to allow theme developers to add additional content without editing the templates files using the child theme concept.
  • Precious Theme Framework
    Precious is a theme framework for WordPress 2.8+. Built with simplicity and web accessibility in mind. Feature include: Page Templates for Archives, Links, Search and Frontpage; Ability to override standard header.php, footer.php and sidebar.php by creating template files called header-mine.php, footer-mine.php and sidebar-mine.php, this can be done both to parent theme and child themes;Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional; Valid CSS (level 2.1); Widget enabled sidebar; Threaded comments support; Translation ready.
  • Ashfors Theme Framework
    Ashford is built to be as simple as possible to administer and packed with powerful features. It is a 2 column, widget-ready, gravatar enabled, WordPress Theme with features typically found on premium themes. Some unique feature include: easily create content carousel page; automagically add thumbnail images to your blog; build effortless FAQ pages; get painless Lightbox affects for images.
  • OnePress Communitty
    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.
  • More: K2, Vanilla , Archetype, Modularity Lite

Other Themes & Frameworks

  • Carrington Framework
    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.
  • WP Framework
    WP Framework was created to serve as the starting point in WordPress theme development. It accomplishes this by providing you with commonly used functions and features that modern WordPress themes should have. So when you start a brand new WordPress project, using WP Framework you’ll already have the basic functionality set so you don’t have to worry about mundane task like creating the loop, or recreating all the standard template files.
  • Biblioteca
    The original aim for the theme was to “provide rapid development for future themes” with a ton of options for the end user. Features include: extensive options page, SEO, Featured content gallery, Drop down navigation, Auto image resizing, multiple layouts, etc.
  • More: Tarski, BlogStarter, Artsite Framework

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Reader Comments

22 Responses to “Definitive List of Free WordPress Theme Frameworks”
  1. dlv says:

    great, I need one so i’m gonna check them !

    thanks sahre for this compilation !

  2. Alex Denning says:

    Thanks for including Biblioteca! It’s for those who want a framework that isn’t too complex to work with but is filled to the brim with features!

  3. Shanna Korby says:

    Hybrid is my current favorite. Thematic is very decent, too.

  4. Charles M says:

    Why isn’t Thesis on here? I’m sure you have a good reason and I am definitely curious…

  5. Karl says:

    Oh cool, found via Twitter. Thanks for listing Brave New World, hope people find it useful for dipping their toes into HTML5.

    Regards, Karl

  6. Great, thank fore sharing

  7. Eric Marden says:

    What? No love for K2?

  8. Jeremy young says:

    I have been using Justin Tadlocks Hybrid now for about three months and I absolutely Love it.
    I am not a coder by any means but the support I have received from Justin has been nothing short of first class.
    Recommend Hybrid to everyone I meet.

  9. It’d be great if you could include the screenshots of these themes somehow.

    • W3Avenue Team says:

      Harry, Look is irrelevant in case of majority of theme frameworks – It is the coding that really matters.

      If you have never tried a theme frameworks before, you should first try to evaluate each by reading the features they offer; then download few that seems to offer features that are more desirable to you; and then finalize one which you find most convenient to modify / use.

      Look & Feel is something that developers / designers usually prefer to implement themselves.

  10. Bethrezen says:

    I like Carrington framework. It’s not simple, but comes with all I need in creating wordpress themes, widgets and adding SEO stuff.

  11. Phaoloo says:

    Nice collection, it’s extremely useful for my next project.

  12. Tim Bednar says:

    I appreciate being mentioned in this list, very cool to be associated with Hybrid, etc. which are exceptional themes.

  13. Jef says:

    Exactly the list I need, thanks for the post.

  14. wp themes says:

    thanks for the nice infos. i used the default theme to learn what is a wp theme.

  15. Kevin says:

    Good list. Should be updated with all the new ones added and someone should put it all on

  16. Thank you for the helpful post. I had been searching for something related and found your web site in the process.. I will certainly be back for more.

  17. X-Developer says:

    Thanks for review. Used Carrington Framework before. Now i’m starting to learn Biblioteca framework. It seems to be good :)

  18. Tim Bednar says:

    As the creator of Ashford, thanks for listing it as a framework. I would recommend that people to visit the site and download the new v2.0 release, upgrading is easy.

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