Six Free Theme Frameworks for WordPress Theme Development

Posted OnDec 12, 2013     CategoryDevelopment, Themes     Comments2 comments

In this article, we shall take a look at some of the major free WordPress theme frameworks.

1. Ashford

Ashford, the first entity on our list, is a CMS frameworks that lets you add extra features, flexibility and functionality to WordPress. As a framework, Ashford enhances the generic WordPress core experience, thereby enabling you to, in a way, do more with WordPress! Also, it is worth mentioning that since Ashford is a CMS framework, it is primarily meant for non-blog websites.


Ashford offers 33 customizable theme options, 18 custom page templates, is widget ready and also comes with features such as social sharing, related posts and RSS comments. Plus, Ashford is search engine optimized and also improves the page load times.

Ashford is available in both free and premium versions. This is where a small drawback emerges: certain key and crucial features, such as mobile support and extra functionality for menus, are available only in the paid Pro version, which costs $49.

2. Gantry Framework

Gantry is a web application theme framework created by the good folks at Rocket Theme. Gantry offers a configurable admin interface, numerous widgets, in-built AJAX, right to left language support, typographic features, search engine optimization and browser level JS and CSS control.

Still need more? Gantry also comes with over 35 layout combinations and is responsive (based on the 960 Grid system). Wanna know the interesting part? Gantry framework is available for both WordPress and Joomla! users.


On the downside, though, support options are not actually free: most of the primary support forums are open only to premium members of Rocket Theme, though you do have the rather extensive documentation at your disposal.

3. Whiteboard

Whiteboard is a rather old framework which has been in existence since the year 2008. The framework features a fully standards compliant code base and offers various dynamic classes and IDs. Whiteboard makes it easy to create mobile-ready websites due to the fact that it supports the LESS CSS adaptive grid system.


Whiteboard comes with support for multiple languages and is cross browser compatible. It is highly customizable, features HTML5 with graceful degradation and can be used to power virtually any type of WordPress website. Among other things, it follows the WordPress coding norms strictly and is one of the best choices if you are looking for a free WordPress framework to help you get started with development.

4. Hybrid Core

You just cannot talk about WordPress theme frameworks and forget to include Hybrid Core!

Hybrid Core is one of the most popular theme frameworks out there — it is a modular theme framework that consists of chunks of PHP code, thereby allowing the developers to pick and include the features that they need the most. Hybrid Core is also backed by a decent starter theme Hybrid, which makes use of the Hybrid Core to its fullest potential.


Hybrid Core is probably not as feature rich as some of the other names on this list, though is still a great framework for creating WordPress Themes. It is flexible and supports custom widgets, custom theme settings user interface, and is translation ready. Plus, Hybrid Core also offers per-post layout controls.

Hybrid Core has full mobile support and is created using HTML5. Also, if you need support, you must have a paid membership at the Theme Hybrid theme club.

5. Thematic

Created by Automattic, Thematic is yet another extremely popular WordPress theme framework. It is highly customizable and is search engine optimized.


Furthermore, Thematic offers several widget areas as well as additional features for multi-author blogs. The framework also supports child themes, and even though it is fairly simple in terms of operation, its wide plethora of features may make it seem an overkill for smaller websites. In terms of documentation, Thematic is backed by both a user guide and separate style guides.

6. Simon WP Framework

Simon WP Framework is both a framework and a blank theme to help you get started with WordPress theme development.

The merits of Simon WP Framework can easily be assessed from the fact that it uses the Grid system as well as the Blueprint Typography framework. By default, Simon WP Framework has a two column design with featured post capabilities.


All in all, Simon WP Framework may not be as power-loaded as the other frameworks, but if you are looking for a rather solid platform for your next theme development project and do not wish to use the other frameworks that offer millions of options, Simon WP Framework might just be the simplifying solution that you need!

Head to Head

 Framework  Pricing  License  Open Source  Child Themes  Mobile-ready  HTML5
 Ashford  FREE (Pro version also available)  GPL  Yes  Pro version only  Pro version only  No
 Gantry  FREE  GPL  Yes  Not included  Yes  Yes
 Whiteboard  FREE  GPL  Yes  Not included  Yes  Yes
 Hybrid Core  FREE  GPL  Yes  Available  No  No
 Thematic  FREE  GPL  Yes  Available  No  No
Simon WP  FREE  GPL  Yes  Available  Yes  Yes

With that, we come to the end of this article about WordPress theme frameworks. Do you use or are planning to use any of these frameworks mentioned above? If so, feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments below!



  1. Justin Tadlock

    I just found this article. I’m the creator of the Hybrid Core theme framework and wanted to correct a few things that were incorrect in this article:

    1) Hybrid Core does *not* have child themes. It’s not a parent theme, so it can’t have children. It’s not even a theme at all. It’s a framework for building themes.

    2) Hybrid Core is mobile-ready.

    3) Hybrid does use HTML5.

    1. Aaron Osteraas

      Thanks for the information and apologies for the error on our part, amendments have been made to the article.

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