There are loads of WordPress themes out there, I’m often asked by clients if I’m using a paid  ‘theme’ for their site. The answer is almost always no unless of course they have requested or want a theme update to their site. The majority of my clients are custom design and development jobs, outside of themes like X and such however I do use frameworks. They save time, are ordered and I believe make for better sites in the long run.  Here are my four best starter themes on which to build web greatness.

1) – Sage WordPress Starter Theme 

Sage for WordPress

Here at ZEAL we have been using for over a year in house and for about two years while working for agencies. This is my go to theme now, it is honestly fantastic. I believe it will make you a more proficient designer, and as a developer will change the way you code. There is no room in this framework for messy code, all developers pick up bad habits along the way but using this cuts down on them. Overall Sage is a WordPress starter theme based on HTML5 Boilerplate, gulp, Bower and Bootstrap that will help you make better themes. The markup in templates is based on HTML5 Boilerplate. ARIA roles and microformats are used throughout the templates.


Cherry Framework as a wordpress starter theme

Cherry is always at the back of my mind when Im talking with a client who needs a lot of help and guidance with their WordPress site after launch. The great thing with Cherry framework as a wordpress starter theme is that it runs using parent/child. Jquery and other updates are handled by the parent theme, so you now whatever you have developed will be safe whatever the weather. The fully responsive design, easy install, steady update stream, shortcodes and widgets in abundance and the Bootstrap functins make this a easy to use and really comprehensive system. If you have a client who wants their site delivered so they can run it without your help this is a great framework to use. Download the latest version of Cherry here.

3) Bones – As a WordPress starter theme

Bones as a wordpress Starter Theme

A lightweight WordPress development theme, Bones is designed to make the life of developers easier. It’s built using HTML5 & has a strong semantic foundation.

It is important to remember that bones is not a framework and thats why the likes of Cherry and have always had my vote over bones. That being said this starter theme prioritises development from mobile up. Personally I think mobile development is the way forward, so many people view sites on Mobile now be it via browser or through the Facebook or Pinterest mobile app it just makes no sense to have a site that does not translate. While Im sure almost all developers will agree with me on this one, it is an idea that is still infiltrating down to business owners who find it difficult to see a site on mobile first and then expand it to desktop screens. I personally think that Bones is one to watch, as its approach for theme development is modern and forward thinking.

Quick Advice here: If you are just starting out

If you haven't used a starter theme before and are just setting sail in the high seas of WordPress starter theme development then I would maybe try something along the lines of before you settle on something like bones.

You can download Bones here

4) _S & Quark – As  a WordPress Starter Theme

_S As a wordpress starter theme Quark _S

It’s based on the Underscores (_s) and TwentyTwelve themes framework, so you can be sure that your theme is in good hands moving through the different WordPress and plugin releases. In my professional career (10 years and counting) I haven’t developed a Quark theme from the ground up, I have only had to update a clients site from time to time and found the framework a bit lacking compared to the likes of and Cherry. Its not that I can think of anything specifically bad about this theme, but I cant think of anything amazing either.

With that being said, if any of you have good experiences with this theme then please comment below, perhaps Im just not opening my eyes to its true potential !

Download the latest version here for Quark


So there are the 4 WordPress starter themes I would recommend on WordPress. What themes do you use? what are your views? Comment and Share! oh and Happy St Patricks Day from our little web design studio in Athlone, Ireland.

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