Free in the GPL means freedom, not free of charge, but also, in the context of this article, it also means free as in it costs you nothing. A lot of people say “free as in beer” – this may or may not mean anything to you, but the WordPress themes in this post are free. We may write another item on the premium themes we like, but this is aimed at people looking to dip a toe in the WP waters, download a theme, and get started…
Underscores – THE starter theme
Can’t make this list without first taking my hat off to the start theme of all starter themes, which is Underscores. Or _s. This very site (silicondales.com) was built on a (not really modified very much) Underscores base, and it performs admirably both for mobile users and – very very importantly for us as WordPress optimizers – its a fast little number too.
I recommend grabbing a copy of Underscores from the below, renaming it, and hacking away until you’re comforable with it. Then you can make your own Underscores based started template for your own projects (where it fits the bill) or just iterate away on what you have made. Refer back to the original copy for hints using the links below.
Storefront – The WooCommerce Parent Theme
Underscores is great if what you’re building is a “standard” WordPress site. If what you’re building also includes eCommerce elements, then you will want to be installing WooCommerce (also free, like my beer) and all the latest and greatest extensions. If you’re doing this, my recommendation is to use their tried and tested Storefront theme as a parent theme, and then to make a child theme based on this where your edits and changes can be made.
Take a look at how the products are displayed out of the box – remember, this can be heavily customised:
There’s a heap of (free and paid) extensions which can help you to edit the appearence of your theme, and if you’re feeling uninspired, you can also buy storefront child themes from WooCommerce too. Pay to cut out the work, if you like!
- Storefront at WooCommerce.com
- Storefront theme on Github
- Storefront child starter theme (nice work Stuart Duff)
That’s it from me. This wasn’t one of those 69 themes to get you started items. This is my 2 recommendations for a WordPress website or WooCommerce store to get started with free, well supported, themes which work nicely, and really really fast.
Taking it further, faster
When you want to get more performance, please feel free to ask us to help optimize your WordPress or speed up your WooCommerce – or for the strongly self-motivated checkout our big long guide on speeding up Woo (and WP) sites here.