10 Blank/Naked WordPress Themes Perfect for Development

If you have to develop WordPress themes on a regular basis then I have no doubt that you too have experienced the tedium that goes with re-writing the same code over and over again. It doesn’t matter how excited you are about a new project or even how much you love web design, having to repeatedly do the same basic coding for every single theme can be really, really annoying.

Of course there are frameworks that you could use that will take the pain away, but these may offer too much functionality. What if you want just a basic nuts and bolts theme with everything unnecessary stripped out and leaving only WordPresses base structure with some basic CSS styling? Then you will need a WordPress Blank theme.

Some developers call them blank, they can also be called naked, starter, base, framework (not in the same vein as Hybrid or Thematic) or even just basic. Regardless of what you call them, they will all do the same thing: Bring the enjoyment back to WordPress development. You will find ten such themes below:

BLANK WordPress Theme

BLANK WordPress Theme

BLANK is a WP starter theme brought to you from the developers behind Digging Into WordPress. It is is a theme with more functionality than your typical starter/basic theme, but with almost none of the styling.
In an effort to inspire more WordPress theme designers to embrace HTML 5 they have also released an HTML5 version of Blank, you will find the page link below.


  • • It’s XHTML 1.0 STRICT and validates.
  • • The sidebar is widget-ready.
  • • Page titles are optimized for best SEO and readability/usability.
  • • Functions.php file does a number of things: Sets up RSS ’s in the head automatically, loads jQuery and registers the sidebar widget area.
  • • Its CSS uses a basic star-selector reset.
  • • Has basic toolbox and WordPress-standard CSS classes, including .screen-reader-text for hiding things.
  • • Standard typography-related sectors are there but generally without any attributes.
  • • CSS for threaded comments is in there, but light on actual styling.
  • • Both screen and print styles included in single stylesheet. Print styles optimized for generic nice printing.

Demo & Download Page

Empty Canvas – Work smart, Work less, Create more!

Empty Canvas

This blank WordPress theme was developed out of the personal neccessity from its developer. He felt the Sandbox approach, were they maybe useful for some, and other WP frameworks and themes were simply not basic enough. He took the “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself!” approach and developed his own.


  • • Compatible with WordPress 2.7.1+ (no threaded comments though).
  • • Dynamic top menu (page navigation).
  • • Widget ready sidebar.
  • • Archive pages that cater for most situations: categories, tags, search, authors, etc.
  • • Valid, cross browser, minimalistic code.

Demo & Download Page

  • Demo Empty Canvas

Simon WordPress Blank Theme

Simon WordPress Blank Theme

The purpose of this theme, as with all the others on this page, is to allow you to rapidly build and deploy WordPress driven web sites. Simon has a flexible and basic two-column layout, with quite a lot of features, here are some of them:


  • • It makes use of the 960.gs Grid
  • • Uses Blueprints Typography Framework
  • • Widget ready sidebar.
  • • It has a Featured Post on the Homepage.
  • • Title Tags have been optimised for SEO.
  • • Threaded Comments.

Demo & Download Page

Whiteboard – A Lightweight WordPress Framework

Whiteboard - A Lightweight WordPress Framework

Whiteboard has 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 WordPress theme.
The popular (16,000 downloads!) Whiteboard is clean, noted, and compact (only 72KB in size). It includes all the standard PHP tags and PHP files needed – plus a few extras:


  • • Widget ready sidebar.
  • • Pages included: Categories and Archives Templates.
  • • Pagination built in for posts.
  • • Built in social bookmarking.

Demo & Download Page

Starkers: The Completely Naked Theme for WordPress

Starkers: The Completely Naked Theme for WordPress
Starkers is free of all style, presentational elements, and non-semantic markup: All non-semantic, presentational class names (e.g: class=“center”, class=“alignleft”) have been removed; all non-semantic, presentational HTML elements (e.g: hr, br) have been removed; all unnecessary elements have been removed (e.g: div class=“entry” disappears entirely and h3 class=“comments” simply becomes h3).
Elements have been converted where necessary (e.g: small becomes p) and some IDs have been kept intact (such as h3 id=“respond”) to preserve functionality.
Browser defaults have been reset in the stylesheet (based on the YUI Reset) to provide a true “clean slate”.

Demo & Download Page

  • Demo Starkers
  • Download Page

WP Framework – A Blank WordPress Theme Framework

WP Framework - A Blank WordPress Theme Framework

WP Framework is completely extensible, flexible and the starting point for theme authoring and customization. With features like microformats, a traditional template structure, convention over configuration, clean semantic code, good documenation, and it’s atomic templating system, this framework is by far the most feature rich theme on this page.
It is a rock solid foundation for any WordPress developer but if you are looking for basic, then this is not the theme for you.

Demo & Download Page

  • Download Page

WordPress Naked

WP Framework - A Blank WordPress Theme FrameworkWordPress Naked is a simple two column WordPress theme developed to assist other developers that need to quickly implement a blog using WordPress but don’t really have the time to spend looking under the hood in any detail or reading documentation when it comes to applying a quick custom theme (e.g. their clients’ design).
The aim of Naked is to allow a developer, with an already prepared XHTML template, to very quickly apply it to this no-frills theme with the minimum of fuss and knowledge.


  • • Lightweight, semantic and validating XHTML.
  • • Minimal and commented CSS.
  • • The site title and strap line are H1 on the homepage and H4 internally.
  • • The HTML title contains the site name on the homepage and the post title on the internal pages/
  • • The post titles are H2 on the homepage and H1 on their standalone pages.
  • • Widget & Gravatar friendly.

Demo & Download Page

The WordPress Starter Theme Project

The WordPress Starter Theme Project

After you’ve finished your mock-ups in XHTML and CSS, you will always have to go through the same process: copy the style.css to the theme folder, chop up the HTML into various PHP files, tweak some stuff, and ship off the theme. During this process you will often find yourself going back and usiong the same tags, formats, and templates. This is were the This is were the WordPress Starter Theme Project comes in, it basically takes away the monotony from WordPress design.


  • • Blank style.css with theme name, author, URL, etc. tags at the top.
  • • Content-ready 404, archive, search, index, single post, and page files.
  • • Full, working comments.php file.
  • • Complete header.php set up with links to RSS, a stylesheet, and JS file.
  • • Default search form template.
  • • Blank screenshot.png file and images folder.

Demo & Download Page

  • Download Page

The WordPress Sandbox

The WordPress Sandbox

If you have been designing WordPress themes for a long time the chances are you would have at some time or other downloaded and used the WordPress Sandbox. The Sandbox was the original WordPress blank theme, perhaps a little out-dated now, but still a very useful and powerful tool that should not be ignored.
The Sandbox can be easily designed just with CSS, so beginners will feel comfortable not having to worry about the PHP. And seasoned 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. It is a timeless WordPress legend that should be put into the same bracket as Kubrick and K2.

Demo & Download Page



With the ET-Starter Theme you can easily choose between a 3 column, 2 column, and single column layout. Built in theme options, which allows you to choose whether you want a header image, then with the ‘Custom Image Header API’ built right in and easily disable the credit link within the footer. It also supports WP-PageNavi, Twitter Tools, and Contact Form 7 plugins. It also includes a built-in jQuery drop down menu.

Demo & Download Page

  • Demo ET-Starter
  • Download Page

(612 Posts)

Paul Andrew

Paul is the founder and editor of Speckyboy Design Magazine. He has many years experience within the web design industry and a passion for the latest web technologies and design trends. He lives in the small town of Inverness in the north of Scotland. Follow him on Twitter.


  • Awesome, this is the resource I needed! Being a developer I always look for ways to help make my job JUST that much faster.

  • Thank you sir.

  • AnyDog

     Yeah,it’s really anoying to build from the sctrach (acctually, that never happened to me… :)) or to change my previous themes. To have a few starter themes for few WP site types … That seems like a good solution

  • idmbob

    thx 4 sharing  ^_^

  • Saroj D

    Hi:I like the post. Information on this post is helpful to everyone. Pl. update me on such more posts.
    Saroj D.

  • i am going to use “Simon WordPress Blank Theme” for my next blog, thanks for your post..

  • Thank you I like whiteboard!

  • Lewis30

    Designs of Facebook pages is an area which I haven’t explored at all,
    except for reading a few articles about older FBML/iframe solutions. Is
    it really possible to include a WordPress site in a Facebook page?

    any case, I have worked out a few bugs to this theme today. I am
    planning to make it look a bit better by adding a better font for
    headlines and a background image, as well as adjusting the strange
    margins. The official release will be in a few days, but feel free to
    test the theme and suggest improvements.

  • Patrick Kanne

    Wow.. incredible how most of those so-called “blank”-themes still feel the need to include all kinds of basically unrelated crap that any blind developer can insert simply by downloading one or more plugins. There’s only two or three themes in this list that come close to the name “blank”.

    Nevertheless, thanks for compiling this list, if only since I now know I should make my own. It’s not your fault, so much is clear ;)

  • Nice…………

  • Dope. Thanks for the themes.

  • Can you please provide a simple wordpress theme which gives me good adsense ctr..?

  • Great share and just what I was looking for. These themes will allow me to add my own look and feel to my site. On a slightly different note, can anyone recommend a theme that’s good for a very small site (say 4 or 5 pages or so). So many themes are set up for bigger sites, and so things like navigation etc can look very empty.

  • The BLANK WordPress Theme is awesome! Thanks!

  • Great List! Thanks for the suggestions!

  • webapptester

    Great resources!

  • How does Underscores.me compare to the rest?

  • Jeremy Englert

    Some great themes here, but there are also some great new ones.

    Bones, for example, is great especially if you’re working with Sass.

    I also built JointsWP, which uses Foundation 5 as the framework, giving it a ton of great functionality.


  • Thanks for the list, I might have to try WordPress Naked. I used Bones a year or 2 ago before it had evolved to what it is today.