By Carl Heaton on

Over the past few months ive been collecting the best links that I ran into for creating WordPress Themes. There are too many to be very honest which is why I wanted to make a collection of the ones that are actually useful.

wordpress theme development

Over the past few months ive been collecting the best links that I ran into for creating WordPress Themes. There are too many to be very honest which is why I wanted to make a collection of the ones that are actually useful.

When developing themes you will need to learn HTML/CSS and then move onto frameworks. From there PHP needs to become your best friend and be sure to invite JQuery over for dinner so you get well acquainted. At the heart of your WordPress Themeing will be Photohop and or Fireworks.

If you have these skills, read on. If you dont take one of our online web design courses and youll be all set.

A Category of Smashing WordPress Articles

We all know Smashing Magazine and being powered by WordPress themselves it suits that they have a collection of detailed articles. They range from social media plug-ins to 2012 WordPress theme trends. SM is well know for it’s in depth articles so choose carefully and go for it.

Smashing Magazines WordPress Section


The Codex Bible

If you have ever been stuck with WordPress you will have stumbled on the Codex. Once you get to used it how they organise the information and what each page gives you, you will never feel alone again (with regards to WordPress Themeing).


Frameworks According to Codex

The codex guys have been kind enough to list of frameworks for you to choose from. A framework helps lift the burden of working everything out yourself and starting from 0. Trust me 0 is a long way down when making a decent theme. Oh, before I forget, pick a theme that is responsive!

Codex list of frameworks


So Which is the Best Framework?

Comparisons are a matter of opinion however this gives you a good start in making your own.

Theme framework comparison chart


Paid and Popular Framework

Genisis seems to be one of the darlings of creating themes. It is very powerful but with that power comes a plethora of themes that all look the same. Im just sayin!

Genisis Framwork


Navigation is a Pain

No, it is, its messy and annoying as you have to make sure that it can handle more branches than an average Oak tree and work perfectly in all browsers and mobile devices. So when I stumbled on this progressive and responsive navigation post I saved it and it has already come in use many a time.

progressive navigation


Ultimate? More Like Useful

Sorry, im not big on words like “awesome” and “ultimate” but useful is something that I find interesting and wplif’s guide is certainly that.

The guide is a break down of all the things you need to be aware of when creating themes. Lots of handy tips, tricks and places to find more stuff to read.

If you are building themes, keep this one at hand so you can always reference it because Noumaan did a great job on this post.

Complete theme decvelopment guideline


It’s Alive! But is it Kicking?

The Theme Unit test is a file you import to test all the variations of posts, pages, categories, menus, featured images, content and you name it. It only works with the standard WordPress functionality, so no portfolio items for example, but it is a great way of testing your theme before it goes live and kicks someone.

Unit Test


Snipping The Functions

Ohh, I was a happy boy when I found this one. The site is growing day by day with actual complete snippets for things like login pages and featured images. A nice way of taking the load of with a little ctrl+c then ctrl+v ( a web designers best friend).

You start by choosing what functions you need, once you have your wish list you can create the code ready to copy and pasted directly into your ever growing functions.php file.

Function Snippets


Cats Can Code!

Im a big fan of this website, its friendly writing style brings life to their tutorials that are directly useful. None of this searching around for other stuff to finish the story, Cats who Code is a great site for both WordPress and related articles. I dont often say that but I am now.

Cats Who Code


Web Courses Loves WordPress

There are thousands of CSS galleries out there, but WeLoveWP is a good way of being inspired by WordPress based websites.



Lots of Lines of Lovely WordPress Theme Advise

This is a fantastic tutorial if you are just starting out. It gives you a nice design to create as well as labeling what all the different code snippets actually does in the front-end.

Lnie 25


My Choice of Framework

Since discovering the Zurb Framework I was in love. It was super easy to use and helped me create the framework for a web page in minutes. Jonathan Smiley, one of the lead developers, told me that they have some pretty cool upgrades in the frying pan which means that so does Reverie. Reverie is a WordPress theme framework based on the Foundation framework. Yeah and? Well it gives you an instantly responsive theme with the UI power of the framework from Zurb. After using it I found Reverie to be well documented and youll find a lot of things turned off which I much prefer over things like Studiopress overflowing with options.

Now, on a minus point, the community and forum around Reverie has gone very quiet! So I am not sure of how progressive this framework will be. Im keeping a close on eye on it for sure!

Reverie Framework


OHhh it’s so Minimal

Again thinking of inspiration I spotted this theme. The author is selling it for a minimal $9 and if you are wanting a nice design to work from for your first theme then is it. The theme is deadly simple and to the point yet can be used for a variety of purposes.

My advise is to get the free version, try it out and check the code. Then purchase it and see what has been added with regards to functionality.

Minimal Theme for Inspiration


What we Expect from 2012 Themes

As 2012 started I asked our intern Tom to come up with a list of features we expect from a Theme. When we teach WordPress at our center we say the same things to trainees for what to look for. The list is below and a good one to keep at hand when making a theme. We want more from a WordPress Themes nowadays.

“What it doesnt do my!"

Idea WordPress Themes


And God Said let There be Snippets

I saw the light when I found this gem of a website. It features just about every snipped you need. All you have to do is have in you mind what you want to do e.g. feature images, adapt content for iPhone users or excluding certain type of posts.

First spend an hour or so wondering around to see what is out there, what WordPress can do for you rather than running to the nearest plugin. You will be surprised at how much you can do with the WordPress core.

For example check this useful snippet out for using your Gravitar icon for a Favicon:



Scared of PHP then Worry Not

If you are new to PHP or just dabble in it like me then writing a job theme or classified ads site is going to be as daunting as trying to get spandex back in fashion. With this plug-in you can create any type of custom post type e.g. a job/portfolio item and then using the views you decide how it is shown on your site. Wrap the view around some sexy CSS and you are good to go with just about any type of content.

I have not tired this out personally yet so if you have please leave a comment below this post.

Types and Views


The One Stop Shop

This is the post that got me into making WordPress themes. It covers everything, its long so put the kettle on and get comfy.

Note, this was written in 2009 so some of the items will be a little dated however it is a complete resource from start to finish to worth a read to get you started.

Ultimate Theme Guide


Know What is Needed Before You Release Your Theme

This post comes with three benefits;

  1. You know what is actually needed in a theme before launch. For example did you know you need to have sticky functionality? This means when a user wants a post to remain at the top of the list it should.
  2. Lots of links relevant to testing your theme before it goes live
  3. The list itself can be a permanent source of referral i.e. a good way of you to know what needs to be done next

Theme Checks


Scratching with NetTuts

Again this is a comprehensive i.e. long tutorial on making a WordPress theme from scratch so no frameworks insight. I didn`t much like the actual theme they made but the process of making it is solid and very useful.

Theme from scratch


Creating Customized WordPress Themes

A purchased this book from Sitepoint and really liked it. It is based on a framework and this website shows you how much you can make selling WordPress themes, the skills you need and load of tips on where to find inspiration and create niche themes.

If you are in it for the money check out the Customize WordPress site

Cutomize WordPress


Learn To Make WordPress Themes

We can teach you to make quality WordPress themes. We have a full suit of courses to get you to the level you need to be to start creating the idea theme for you or your business. However if you are interested in making theme design a career we want to hear from you now!

Click to see our Advanced Web Development and WordPress Training Courses.

Advanced WordPress Training


About The Author


He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.

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