15 Exceptionally Useful Resources for WordPress Theme Designers

One of the great benefits of designing and developing for WordPress is the amount of quality resources that are available from others in the WordPress community. Many times these resources can wind up saving you time in your own development. The only problem is that there are so many resources available that it is difficult to know about them all and sometimes to find what you are looking for.

In this post we’ll feature 15 resources that may be of help to you while you are designing and developing WordPress themes. If you have suggestions for other resources, please leave a comment.

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Frameworks:

Thematic

Thematic is a very popular WordPress theme framework created by Ian Stewart. This framework can be used as-is, or is excellent for using with child themes. In fact, a number of child themes for Thematic are available for free or as premium themes, including the free gallery theme distributed by Smashing Magazine.

Thematic

Hybrid Theme Framework

The Hybrid theme framework, by Justin Tadlock, has also been created with child themes in mind. It includes 13 page templates for various purposes, 15+ plugins supported within the theme, breadcrumbs, and tutorials to help you get started.

Hybrid Theme Framework

Starkers

Starkers is a “bare-bones, blank-canvas, starting-point WordPress theme” from Elliot Jay Stocks.  Starkers has no formatting whatsoever, which will provide you will a starting point that can save time in development of your own themes.

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Carrington Theme Framework

Carrington is a theme framework that better enables WordPress to be used as a CMS. Carrington makes it easier to create unique looks for different categories and posts with custom templates.

Testing WordPress Themes:

Using XAMPP for Local WordPress Theme Development

Jacob Gube of Six Revisions shows how to set up a local environment for theme development. This is a detailed tutorial that may be able to save you a lot of time and make your theme development much quicker and easier.

Using XAMPP for Local WordPress Theme Development

How to Set Up a Killer WordPress Testing Environment Locally

NETTUTS also has a tutorial for setting up a local testing environment. If you are designing and developing many WordPress themes you will want to check out one of these two tutorials.

How to Set Up a Killer WordPress Testing Environment Locally

nkthemeswitch

The theme switch plugin will allow you to show a different theme to anyone who is logged in to your site. This makes it easy to test a theme in development without your visitors seeing it.

Dummy Content:

WP XML Test Data Import

When developing themes one of the biggest frustrations can be the lack on content on a new installation of WordPress. Self Conclusion has put together an XML file with several posts and pages of dummy content with tags, categories, comments, links, lists, and everything you will need to test a theme. You can easily download this file and import it into WordPress to save the time of adding your own dummy content.

WP XML Test Data Import

Sandbox Dummy Content

For Sandbox design competitions, a set of dummy content was released. It achieves the same purpose as the content from Self Conclusion that was just mentioned.

WordPress Test Post Pack

Think Design Blog also has a pack of dummy content that can be downloaded and imported into WordPress.

Cheat Sheets and Reference Guides:

Complete WordPress Theme Guide

Nick La of Web Designer Wall put together a three-part series to help those who want to learn more about WordPress theme development. The three parts are: installing WordPress locally, building a custom WordPress theme, and moving and exporting WordPress.

Complete WordPress Theme Guide

WordPress Template Tag Reference Guide

The template tag reference guide is a great resource to have close by when you are coding a WordPress theme. It lists all of the template tags, which can save a good bit of time during development.

WordPress Template Tag Reference Guide

WordPress Theme Development Checklist

This PDF checklist is helpful to make sure that you are not forgetting any steps during theme development. The checklist will help you to know what you have done and what still needs to be completed.

WordPress Theme Development Checklist

WordPress Template Design Cheat Sheet

The template design cheat sheet is another resource that is good to have handy during development.  It lists the various template files, template hierarchy, sample template coding, template functions, and more.

WordPress Template Design Cheat Sheet

Coding Services:

WPCoder

If you are a WordPress designer and you would like to save some time in development of the theme, WPCoder is a group of developers that specialize in taking your designs in PSD format and coding them into WordPress themes.

WPCoder

PSD to WP

PSD to WP is another coding service similar to WPCoder.

PSD to WP

From the WordPress Codex:

For more WordPress-related content, please see:

Published August 13th, 2009 by

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59 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Sarah Lynn, August 13, 2009

    Perfect timing! I am working on my first WordPress theme right now and could use more resources. Thanks for the great list !

  • Agushery, August 13, 2009

    I love it…
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Siosi, August 13, 2009

    Fantastic post! I love WordPress :D

  • The Brisbane Line, August 13, 2009

    Good article. I’d designed my site before coming across wordpress but hadn’t begun building it. When I discovered wordpress I simply hacked an existing free template to accommodate my design. It’s not currently finished but is under way so these resources will no doubt help immensely.

    Thanks!

  • A u d e e, August 13, 2009

    I’m using XAMPP and NetBeans to build my custom WordPress theme. This post is very useful, since I’m a rookie on WordPress theming. I definitely need to check out some of the resource-links mentioned here :)
    Thank you!

  • countzeero, August 13, 2009

    I am a bit “Anti-Lists” at the moment but this is a good resource, thanks!

  • Alex Peterson, August 13, 2009

    Awesome resource. I’ve used the starkers theme before but it was too much like hard work configuring everything from scratch. So the Thematic theme is perfect for me with the basic stuff done. Nice.

  • Dzinepress, August 13, 2009

    amazing resource collection.

  • Hirvesh, August 13, 2009

    Awesome post! Btw, if you need more theme frameworks, please check out my post on it:

    http://codefusionlab.blogspot.com/2009/07/20-kick-ass-wordpress-theme-frameworks.html

  • Pliggs, August 13, 2009

    Wow, great list thanks for the share.

  • Lam Nguyen, August 13, 2009

    Cool. That’s almost completed list of wordpress theme frameworks.

  • Bendesign, August 13, 2009

    Great Resources. Thank you.

  • Stu | selfconlusion.co.uk, August 13, 2009

    Thanks for including my site on this post! great list I will definately be bookmarking a few on here I didnt already have! :)

  • Website Design Sydney, August 14, 2009

    Hey, Its really awesome information. Thanks for sharing nice stuff.

  • Film izlesene, August 20, 2009

    Thans a lot ! These are all important knowledge.I am using majestic theme for my website.

  • Tarek Shalaby, August 25, 2009

    Thanks for the great post. WordPress has long been established as an exceptional CMS, not just a blogging system. I think you should be doing your best to use WordPress with all website, before you decide to work with Drupal or Joomla!. The good news is that it can only get better.

  • Trendy Wordpress Themes, August 25, 2009

    Good information, thanks for sharing.

  • Trupti Mishra, August 25, 2009

    Really interesting post. I would definitely try out most of the resources mentioned here and would try to make my first theme.

    Thank you for posting such a great article

  • Suneel, August 25, 2009

    An amazing list of resources to help me out and at the right nick of the time.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Lynn Wallenstein, August 28, 2009

    Although I wouldn’t say it is a framework, I released this last year on Github. It is the default Kubrick theme, recoded with resets, grid, transparent png, etc. I found it is a good starting place for beginner designers:

    http://www.maverickconceptions.com/2008/11/23/wordpress-theme-designers-default/

  • sinema izle, December 7, 2009

    Thanks for the great post. WordPress has long been established as an exceptional CMS, not just a blogging system. I think you should be doing your best to use WordPress with all website, before you decide to work with Drupal or Joomla!. The good news is that it can only get better.

  • vektörel, December 14, 2009

    Really interesting post. I would definitely try out most of the resources mentioned here and would try to make my first theme.

  • George, December 26, 2009

    Really interesting post, definitely going to implement these into my wordpress theme design

  • JG Ballard, February 19, 2010

    Good post, Thematic is a great framework, I have used it before on my site but decided to go elsewhere. Do you use it here?

  • fareed@smashblogtips, June 29, 2010

    excellent resource, what i learn in this post is template tags, nice post any way thank you for sharing

  • wp themes, September 1, 2010

    This will improve my wordpress blog a lot. Thx for all those usefull tips and tricks.

  • jawad, June 4, 2011

    try the new guys http://psd2wordpress.co.uk/

  • Cre8iv Web Design, June 21, 2011

    Some very powerful tools for developing and designing wordpress templates. I personally think that Artisteer should be on the list especially for anyone who has never designed a template before. I have used it a number of times to produce full website template designs quickly. As you progress you may find it a bit basic but it still provides a good solid structure that you can then tweek by hand. Only downside is that it’s not free.

  • Essex Wedding Photography, September 3, 2011

    Nice resource – many thanks