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Muhammad Medhat
Muhammad Medhat

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Understanding the Difference Between Boilerplate Themes and Starter Themes in WordPress

When it comes to developing a WordPress theme, developers have the option to start from scratch or leverage pre-built frameworks to expedite the process. Two popular options are boilerplate themes and starter themes. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between them. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and benefits of both boilerplate themes and starter themes in WordPress.

Boilerplate Themes:

A boilerplate theme, also known as a parent theme or base theme, serves as a foundation for building custom WordPress themes. It provides a structured set of files, templates, and functionalities that developers can modify and extend to create their unique designs. Boilerplate themes typically include the basic structure, common templates (such as header.php and footer.php), and essential functions required for a functional WordPress theme.

Key characteristics of boilerplate themes include:

  • Minimalistic: Boilerplate themes are intentionally designed to be lightweight and minimal. They provide the necessary structural elements without any styling or design components, allowing developers to have complete control over the visual appearance.
  • Flexibility: By starting with a boilerplate theme, developers have a blank canvas to work with. They can implement their own design choices, create custom templates, and add features specific to their project requirements.
  • Codebase foundation: Boilerplate themes often follow best practices and coding standards. They provide a solid foundation for developers to build upon while ensuring compatibility with WordPress updates and future enhancements.
  • Developer-centric: Boilerplate themes are primarily aimed at experienced developers who are comfortable working with code and enjoy the freedom to create custom solutions. They require a deeper understanding of WordPress theme development.

Benefits of boilerplate themes:

  • Provides a structured starting point for theme development.
  • Saves time and effort by eliminating the need to create the core structure from scratch.
  • Allows developers to focus on customization and unique design elements.
  • Offers flexibility and control over the entire theme development process.
  • Enables adherence to coding standards and best practices.

Starter Themes:

Starter themes, also referred to as "naked" or "bare-bones" themes, are similar to boilerplate themes in that they provide a foundation for building custom WordPress themes. However, starter themes go a step further by including a basic set of styles, design elements, and sometimes additional functionalities.

Key characteristics of starter themes include:

  • Basic styling: Unlike boilerplate themes, starter themes include some pre-defined CSS styles. These styles often provide a starting point for developers, containing basic typography, layout structures, and responsive design elements.
  • Customizability: Starter themes allow developers to modify and override the default styles and design choices. They provide a starting point but still offer the freedom to create unique designs and implement customizations.
  • Focused on rapid development: Starter themes aim to accelerate the development process by providing a solid starting point with some pre-styled elements. They strike a balance between flexibility and convenience, catering to developers who want to expedite the initial setup while retaining the ability to customize further.
  • Beginner-friendly: Starter themes are often considered more accessible for developers who are new to WordPress theming. With a basic structure and some pre-configured styles, beginners can get started quickly without being overwhelmed by a completely blank canvas.

Benefits of starter themes:

  • Offers a jumpstart for developers by providing a basic set of styles and design elements.
  • Speeds up the initial development process while still allowing for customization.
  • Suitable for developers at various skill levels, including beginners.
  • Provides a balance between convenience and flexibility.
  • Can serve as a learning resource for developers looking to understand WordPress theming.


Boilerplate themes and starter themes both serve as useful tools for WordPress theme development. Boilerplate themes provide a minimalistic and flexible starting point, requiring developers to build everything from scratch. On the other hand, starter themes offer a basic set of styles and design elements, allowing for quicker setup and customization. The choice between the two depends on the developer's preferences, level of expertise, and project requirements. Whether you opt for a boilerplate theme or a starter theme, both options provide a solid foundation for creating unique and functional WordPress themes.

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