Possibly one of the best things about WordPress is the ability to customize layouts to appear however you want. In this post I cover 11 totally free WordPress themes that are a prime target for your development creative juices. I haven’t tested them all, so if you want to vouch for one in particular go ahead. I currently use The Buffet Framework which is flexible enough and suits the needs of this site.
Wrapping custom themes around the WordPress core can really take the worry out of coding websites and what takes even more load of you is if you have a good grounding framework to start coding from. If you know a some basic PHP (just a rough idea about how the language works and some basic syntax is enough) and are intermediate at CSS then customizing a basic theme to suit your needs is a great alternative to forking out the coin for a ready made one (or having a theme designed for you).
Here are some excellent themes that could make up the bones of your next website:
A strong two or three column layout that would not require a lot of work up front to customize to any color scheme. Can be almost used as is.
Described as the ultimate in SEO ready themes. Thematic features grid based layout and would be a fantastic starting point for any blog. A nice raw base to start development on.
A SEO friendly basic theme that can be used as is, or seriously customized for best effect. Highly customizable directly from the admin console and is a bloody good alternative to the ever popular Thesis theme if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty in code sometimes.
A strong standards based basic layout to begin authoring your own custom theme.
A minimalist looking theme ready for a basic blog or website. You probably couldn’t do a lot here because it’s designed to be very basic. I wouldn’t overload this theme, probably the weakest out of the 11, but it has it’s purposes. Self help minimalist types will love it.
This is the theme that I am currently using and can recommend it. Supports child themes, is SEO friendly with clean code that is easy to understand and customize. Alot of customization can be done directly from the admin console, but sometimes it is necessary to get into the PHP includes files to make changes to achieve certain things. I like it so far, and it will do until I design my own framework.
This one was on my shortlist. It looks great as is featuring a nice banner and two column layout but also allows for some room for improvement. Good if you’re looking to get started now and make incremental improvements as you go.
Magazine style basic 3 column layout. Another one that made it into my shortlist when I was deciding on a theme to customize. The theme is already quite advanced and would require little coding to get it ready for a fast deployment on a new blog.
As the name suggests, a very plain looking two column layout that complies to standards. Ready to go or customize to your liking.
A very basic two column layout theme designed to be heavily reliant on CSS. This is good because it makes the customization easy and most changes can be done from the admin console.
This one has been stripped totally bare. It’s devoid of all styles allowing you to completely code your own. Almost like starting from scratch, but they’ve done the hard parts of the theme framework for you.
So there we go! I’ve barely scratched the surface I know, but this should give any budding theme designer a good platform to start from. Did I leave out your favourite theme you use for development? Or are you looking for a theme that is a little more ready-to-go? Tell us about it in the comments!