Best Free Starter WordPress Themes for Developers in 2024

Looking to build your own website? We know how challenging it is to begin. No matter what you’d like to use a website for, we are here to help you start. 

What is a starter theme? A starter theme offers you a canvas on which you can create. Developers and designers love starter themes because they give them more freedom. A starter theme typically comes with little to no layout and a few customization options. Since no starter WordPress theme is the same, we have thoroughly selected the best ones that will help you build a great, profitable website.


HighStarter WordPress theme screenshot

Our first pick is an awesome lightweight starter theme that will kick it off for you. No libraries or frameworks have been used during its development, so it’s swift, user-friendly, and easily adaptable to any design. Highstarter is a tiny WordPress theme (only 33KB zip file excluding the header image and the screenshot) that uses core WordPress functions, custom CSS, and vanilla js to provide high-quality performance and the best user experience. It comes together with extensive documentation and tons of customization options, making it accessible to everyone: from a debutant with no coding experience to a professional WordPress developer. You can pick between a right sidebar, left sidebar, or full-width layout as well as day and night modes with just one click. The theme also supports nested dropdown sub-menus, pagination, and even breadcrumbs out of the box.

And that’s not even everything there is to that high-quality theme: its child theme (a sub-theme that inherits all the functionality and style of the main theme) includes Webpack configuration for a smooth and modern development experience. Get started with a detailed set-up guide.


Understrap WordPress theme screenshot

The developers of this free WordPress theme framework for handcrafted sites have combined Underscores and Bootstrap: Underscores on the Back-End and Bootstrap on the Front-End. Start in an easy, but powerful way with a theme code based on Underscores and add beautiful, flexible styles, components, grids, and responsive design with Bootstrap. The project was powered by HDC, a web development firm trusted by more than 100,000 sites. 


Blockstarter will empower you to take advantage of the latest full site editing experience on WordPress. This theme has everything you can wish for: it’s lightweight – only 30KB compressed file size without the fonts and images and nothing to slow you down as only core Gutenberg blocks have been used to create the theme; it’s compatible with all the popular plugins, and it even supports the good old Classic editor; and it’s got an eye-catching design with vibrant colors and extra style options.  If you decide to go for the Premium version, unlimited possibilities will unlock, e.g. additional theme demos, various page templates, different sidebar positions, post archives multi-column layouts, more patterns, and block styles. Make your website truly unique by choosing different combinations of Google Fonts. Besides, when upgrading, you are also getting access to priority customer support from the developer himself and exclusive updates. 

The cherry on top: Blockstarter has two recently released demos, a sunny Tropical Island for a summery feeling and a fresh Winter Fairytale for when it’s cold outside. 


Sage WordPress theme screenshot

Sage’s Tailwind CSS config automatically generates a theme.json file which is used to configure the WordPress editor. Your defined fonts, colors, and spacing are available in the editor, and you can use Tailwind classes in your templates to rapidly build out your WordPress theme.

Want to use Bootstrap instead, or no CSS framework at all? Not a problem. Sage is a minimal starting point and ready for you to customize to fit your needs. 


Unax WordPress theme screenshot

The theme is light, with a minimalistic design, plenty of registered widget areas, and different menu locations. It was written by the renowned Bulgarian developer Atanas Antonov. The theme is also compatible with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Unax would be a great fit for a news magazine, a personal archive, or a writing blog with its intuitive navigation and accessible features. 


Scaffold WordPress theme screenshot

Scaffold is yet another perfect starter theme that was built without any frameworks or libraries, only core WordPress functions. It’s extremely neat and fast and Search Engine Optimized, as well as WPML-compatible. You can make the theme fully yours by customizing the background, header text, and navigation colors; changing the background and header images; or by playing around with menus and widgets. 


Underscores WordPress theme screenshot

Our last but not least candidate: Underscores, or just _s. It’s a starter theme that gives you all the possibility to create your own, unique project. It has a minimal css that won’t get in your way during the designing process. Other great features include lean and modern HTML 5 templates, a 404 template, an optional sample custom header implementation, and many more. You can learn more about the theme in a detailed, well-structured guide A 1000-Hour Head Start: Introducing The _s Theme.

Congratulations on scrolling till the very end of this list! By now, we sincerely believe you have found something in that list that would please your mind and soul. If you’re still in doubt, we invite you to check out the NasioThemes theme gallery and our blog for more inspiration.