After setting up a basic production environment (which still needs some work), it’s time to decide where to start my WordPress theming journey.
I could start from nothing, building my own loops and basic pages for WordPress — but do I really want to do that? Not really. And that’s where frameworks and starter themes come in.
Last night, I downloaded a collection of starter themes to evaluate and decide which one will become the basis of my own theme. Here are the contenders.
Twenty Seventeen is the newest theme now bundled with the latest version of WordPress (4.7). It’s not quite a starter theme because you can use it right out of the gate for your own website with minimal customization. However, it’s maturity might also be its downfall for me. It’s too built up and I may end up using the pieces already included as a crutch. I’m skipping Twenty Seventeen for that reason.
Just like WordPress and the Twenty Seventeen theme mentioned above, Underscores (abbreviated _s) is developed by the people at Automattic. That means everything in _s should work with the latest version of WordPress. It’s incredibly minimal, comes with zero web-based documentation, and includes no frameworks. It’s not meant to be used as a parent theme whatsoever and only provides the bare essentials for developing a theme of your own.
From the folks at ThemeKraft comes _tk, which combines _s with the Twitter Bootstrap framework. You get all the basics you need from _s with the added ability to use Bootstrap components. It’s a little nicer out of the box than _s, but — again — not much in the way of documentation.
Want a basic HTML5 starter template? Here’s where you start: the HTML5 Blank starter theme. Just how blank is it? It’s base styling is a bit obtuse, but nothing an evening couldn’t fix up.
No, this isn’t the accounting software. Sage by Roots combines HTML5 Boilerplate with Bootstrap and package management solution Bower to give you a fully featured starter theme. However, the best part about Sage is its free documentation and an option to purchase a book specifically focused on theme development with Sage.
Rolling back a bit to a more basic solution, JointsWP is based on Foundation 6 and comes in Sass and CSS flavours. The base theme is incredibly basic, but includes just enough styling that you can run a site out of the box. It also comes with some great documentation.
As its name implies, FoundationPress is another starter theme that uses Foundation 6 components with Sass and Grunt, but it’s more stripped-down than JointsWP. That means it’s a bit visually ugly without customization in comparison to JointsWP. Documentation is also fairly limited.
I haven’t made a final decision on what starter theme and framework to use; more research is necessary. When I do finally go head first, I’ll make sure to tell you folks what I chose and why.