Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Starkers 3.0

Posted on 21 June 2010 41 comments

Article illustration for Starkers 3.0

(Crikey — two posts in one day!)

For a long time now, people have been asking when I’d update Starkers. The previous version was incompatible with the last few releases of WordPress, but I’d decided to freeze development for a while, knowing that WP3.0 — and with it a new default theme — was just on the horizon. Now that it’s finally out and the Twenty Ten theme has been released into the wild, I’m happy to announce that Starkers has been reborn, now with full 3.0 compatibility.

Download / Demo

Previous versions of Starkers were based on the ‘Default’ (aka ‘K2’) theme that shipped with WordPress. Now that the theme has been retired and replaced with Twenty Ten, it seemed logical to use that as a starting point. Thus, Starkers has been completely rebuilt from the ground up.

Twenty Ten is a relatively powerful theme with some advanced options for customisation, but this comes at a price: the theme — just like Default before it — is littered with divs, spans, and all kinds of classnames and IDs. They’re all very useful when using the theme as it’s intended, but when it comes to creating your own themes from scratch, a cleaner, stripped-back framework makes more sense as a starting point. And that’s where Starkers comes in.

I may have missed a few things here and there, so as with everything that’s new, please don’t expect this to be perfect. I meet so many people who use Starkers (it always amazes me that it’s so widely used!) and I love hearing from those of you who use it, so if you’ve got any feedback or suggestions about the new version of the theme, please do get in touch, either in the comments below or via email.

See, I told you I wasn’t turning my back on WordPress!


  1. Chris Schmitz

    Chris Schmitz

    21 June 2010 @ 08:34PM #

    Always enjoyed working with Starkers… Thanks for the update!

  2. Mike


    21 June 2010 @ 08:36PM #

    hey is this in HTML5?

  3. ArleyM


    21 June 2010 @ 08:37PM #

    Being that the theme is so bare, it would be cool if you had a gallery of the people who’ve used the theme. It would be like a Zen Garden thing I guess.

  4. Marcell | Webdevtuts.net

    Marcell | Webdevtuts.net

    21 June 2010 @ 08:42PM #

    Thanks. I was wondering when you were going to release a new theme update.

  5. Barry


    21 June 2010 @ 08:40PM #

    Thanks Eliot! I alway use starkers when theming for wordpress after following tutorials by Chris over at css-tricks. Needless to say it’s very helpful!

  6. Amber Taylor

    Amber Taylor

    21 June 2010 @ 08:55PM #

    Hey Elliot, Starkers is great. It actually inspired a lot of my own boilerplate theme. Wordpress 3 rocks, Custom Post Types Taxonomies are going to make Wordpress walk all over a lot of other systems, and I am so excited that WP3 has moved into this new territory. One thing that isn’t very hot is the Twenty Ten CSS :-p. A good start for a WP3 nude theme is to re-organize the Twenty Ten css file to make a little more sense and ease of use. The way they have set up the sidebar verse main content area is a little screwy too. I have already ran into issues modifying the default Twenty Ten theme.

    At some point I hope to put together some sort of naked “Zen” theme as well. One of the big things I have noticed in Twenty Ten that will take some time figuring out, is all of the new functions set in the functions file which can be customized. It is great to have them there and documented so well, but they are quite lengthy.

    I by no means with to badmouth the creator of Twenty Ten. There are a lot of programming and functionality improvements built into the theme that are absolutely amazing. However I do think that a HTML/CSS guru needs to jump in there and re-arrange a couple of things to make it easier to work with out of the box. Thanks for all of your work, great articles, and music.


  7. Niki Brown

    Niki Brown

    21 June 2010 @ 08:57PM #

    Starkers is really helpful – thanks for keeping it up to date!

  8. Eugene


    21 June 2010 @ 09:13PM #

    I only recently started using WordPress and delving into the world of themes and content management systems. I’m sure this will help a lot. Thanks for the hard work you put into it.

  9. Joe Wilcox

    Joe Wilcox

    21 June 2010 @ 09:27PM #

    Thanks for this elliot.. I use starkers on all of my Wordpress projects ad this gives me a great excuse to have a play with wordpress 3!!


  10. Chris Schmitz

    Chris Schmitz

    21 June 2010 @ 09:34PM #

    @Mike No, it doesn’t really use HTML elements (article, aside, etc.) but these are elements you should probably be adding on your own anyways.

  11. Karl


    21 June 2010 @ 10:35PM #

    Thanks Elliot! I’m going to be all over this like a rash tomorrow – I’ve been battling with Twenty Ten and all the custom overrides or whatever in the functions.php file for a good few days now – feel like I’m having to learn more PHP rather than concentrating on markup and CSS :( The project is in HTML5 so hopefully I can strip it back to update Brave New World.

    Best regards, Karl

  12. Kory


    21 June 2010 @ 11:15PM #

    Thanks Elliot for the update. Thanks for the updated toy to play with.

  13. Marta


    21 June 2010 @ 11:52PM #

    Thanks for the quick update Elliot – I’ve used Starkers in all my Wordpress projects so far, I can’t wait to play with this new version as well!

  14. Adeline


    22 June 2010 @ 12:57AM #

    Excellent! I was waiting for your updated release :) and another thing, I can’t see any differences with your site now that you’re using Harmony. Good luck with it!

  15. Tony


    22 June 2010 @ 01:30AM #

    It’s beautiful! :)

  16. CodeNamePapa


    22 June 2010 @ 01:59AM #

    Elliot – Just wanted to say thanks for all your time and effort. I am still a beginner when it comes to building a theme from the ground up, and I’m shocked at the sheer bulk of resources freely available on the web and all the person-hours great designers put into their offerings!

    I’d just been given the task of creating a theme for a brand-new WP site and I was fearful that I’d have to start digging though twentyten by myself and throwing out all the extra stuff – I can’t tell you how happy I am that someone who knows what they’re doing has already done the heavy lifting for me!

    Thanks again!

  17. Tom


    22 June 2010 @ 02:16AM #

    The your Starkers theme was the reason I started using wordpress but since college started I haven’t invested much time into web design. But I am rediscovering my old hobby and what better place to start than with the new version of WP and the new version starkers! Huge fan of your work!

  18. Andrew Pryde

    Andrew Pryde

    22 June 2010 @ 07:56AM #

    Thanks a lot Elliot. I have always started my Wordpress designs with starkers (actually my own slightly modified version) so this is great.



  19. Sander Goorden

    Sander Goorden

    22 June 2010 @ 07:05PM #

    Thanks for the update! I use Starkers allot and will continue to do so with WP3.. you’re the best!

    Greets, Sander

  20. Ricardo


    23 June 2010 @ 09:26AM #

    Thanks for the update. I use it as a base for my own modified version.

  21. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright

    23 June 2010 @ 11:31PM #

    This has nothing to do with Starkers, just letting you know that it took around 5 mins for me to load this page, and the home page. Looks like something’s weird with the cdn.

    Also, thanks for Starkers

  22. David Wheatley

    David Wheatley

    25 June 2010 @ 12:53AM #

    Thanks for starkers, I have used it as a base for quite a few projects. Appreciate the 3.0 update.

  23. Thad Bloom

    Thad Bloom

    28 June 2010 @ 03:40PM #

    Thank you so much for your work on this! It’s great!

  24. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    03 July 2010 @ 06:58PM #

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. Really glad you’re finding Starkers useful!

  25. Jen Oliver

    Jen Oliver

    04 July 2010 @ 01:36PM #

    Thank you very much for this! I’m new to working with WordPress and can’t wait to get stuck in. It’s nice to have a clean slate to build on.


  26. archer


    08 July 2010 @ 02:00PM #

    thanks for making starkers up to date. Ive been using it on all my clients wordpress sites. :) However, i find the new starkers a little complicated. Maybe im just used to using the older version and allotting a little time figuring out the new version would do the trick. Anyway, thanks a lot for the great work. And nice website design by the way.

    just want to ask if there’s a shipping available for Philippines? I want to purchase your book sexy web design.

  27. andi


    12 July 2010 @ 11:14AM #

    thanks a lot! – just in time to do my first wp3.0-site ;)

  28. Evie Milo

    Evie Milo

    19 July 2010 @ 10:01PM #

    Thanks for the update – I was worried that it wasn’t going to come and then I’d be in trouble as I use starkers for all the wordpress sites I build and I coulnd’t do without it. Now that wp3 has come out, I need it even more!

    Thanks again

  29. Christopher Zavatchen

    Christopher Zavatchen

    22 July 2010 @ 12:52AM #

    Thank you Elliot for all your hard work and providing a stripped down theme for WordPress. I have used it as a base on multiple WordPress website projects.

    I am installing and setting up a new site for a client using WordPress 3.0 and was happy to see that you have updated Starkers for WP 3.0, but I have one question/concern.

    I noticed in multiple template files (i.e. 404.php, archive.php, category.php, etc.) that you are referring to ‘twentyten’ for the language translations. I am guessing that by leaving this in you are relying on the Twenty Ten theme to be installed and the “twentyten.pot” file under the “language” folder to be available.

    I see that you have a “starkers.pot” file under “language” directory in the Starkers theme, but is it being referenced or is the “twentyten.pot” from the Twenty Ten theme directory the one being used for translations based on the ‘twentyten’ references throughout the template files?

    Any clarification on this would be helpful and thanks again for all your work.

  30. mark shirley

    mark shirley

    22 July 2010 @ 12:48PM #

    Thanks for providing Starkers Elliot, I was about to try Chris’s tut at CSS tricks but that will probably be out of date and difficult to learn along side the new version of WP and stalkers. Do you know if anyone is going to do a tutorial on the new versions.

    Thanks again Chris


  31. Travis Holliday

    Travis Holliday

    26 July 2010 @ 05:38PM #

    Thank you, Elliot for the update! Starkers rules!

  32. Phil


    01 August 2010 @ 07:03PM #

    Thank you very much!

  33. James Wilkinson

    James Wilkinson

    15 August 2010 @ 05:07PM #

    Where can I find the older versions? I do not want to use any of Twenty Tens features, I just want my registered side bar and a blank theme to deal with. I will code in what I need not what wordpress is giving me by default.

  34. Alex


    15 August 2010 @ 11:25PM #

    Thank you for putting up the V3 of this! It really is great/makes it a lot easier to start making a new theme using the Starkers blank template.

  35. Kristy


    21 August 2010 @ 04:15AM #

    Thank you! I’m a bit late on the ship, but am so glad to find out there’s an updated version (as I’m finally making a WP3.0 theme) =]



    26 August 2010 @ 01:40PM #

    Thanks for this, a great start for WordPress projects!



    26 August 2010 @ 01:40PM #

    Thanks for this, a great start for WordPress projects!

  38. Håkan Folkesson

    Håkan Folkesson

    30 August 2010 @ 08:48PM #

    Thanks for the update!
    I have used Starkers for all my latest sitebuilds. I find it very easy to work with and build upon.

  39. Jim


    09 September 2010 @ 04:52PM #

    Have you considered the HTML5shiv?

    <!—[if IE]>
    <script src=“http://html5shiv.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/html5.js”></script>

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