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 grows up

Posted on 17 July 2009 40 comments

Article illustration for Starkers grows up

I’m happy to unveil the new version of Starkers, my bare-bones theme for WordPress. An update has been due for quite some time, but this isn’t just a compatibility release; Starkers has well and truly grown up.

Most importantly, it now has its own dedicated site (resize the browser window for the fun stuff, and view in Safari for the most CSS3 enhancements) rather than living in the occasional blog post. I’ll be investing a lot more time into the project from now on, so expect to see some big news on where Starkers is heading fairly soon. For now, though, hopefully you’ll be satisfied with the new version (it’s been re-written from the ground up, using the Default theme that ships with WordPress 2.8.1 as a starting point) and the more extensive information offered on the new site.

If you’d like to contribute to the Starkers project in any way, please do get in touch. Specifically, I’m looking for people who have some time to add support for threaded comments, increased accessibility (Al Stevens, I’m looking at you!), code indentation improvements, and any suggestions that will help make the theme better without becoming bloated. And of course I’m always happy to hear about any bugs you find.

Comments are open and I’d love to hear your feedback. Personally, I’m really excited about where Starkers is going to go, as I have some more cool developments on the way. Enjoy!


  1. Fernando Mateus

    Fernando Mateus

    17 July 2009 @ 06:29PM #

    Love it love it. Got a try it. Thx for sharing your work.

  2. Daniel m

    Daniel m

    17 July 2009 @ 06:38PM #

    I like it, it looks good naked, Gok Wan would be proud, were he a web developer, cheers elliot!

  3. Rich Clark

    Rich Clark

    17 July 2009 @ 06:47PM #


    I see you decided to strip out microformats on this (well kind of cos ‘hentry’ is still there) just wondered what made you do this? Do you not see any benefit in Microformats or just wanted it completely ‘Starkers’?

    Overall though a great base for starting themes from.

  4. Vanilla Man

    Vanilla Man

    17 July 2009 @ 06:47PM #

    I’ve seen some themes like this before under the high-sounding title “WordPress frameworks”, but i think it’s a bit overstated! :) Good job!

  5. Tim


    17 July 2009 @ 06:51PM #

    I’m a fan of nakedness.

    Every time I work with Starkers, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Man, I guess in working with this, there’s no place to go but up!”

    Keep up the great work, sir!

  6. Max Stanworth

    Max Stanworth

    17 July 2009 @ 07:18PM #

    ive been waiting for this update , greatly appreciated taking the time to get it back up to speed. I prefer a barebones theme like this over a theme framework.

  7. Aaron Bazinet

    Aaron Bazinet

    17 July 2009 @ 07:26PM #

    That’s fantastic! Thanks for providing such a valuable resource.


  8. Chris Wallace

    Chris Wallace

    17 July 2009 @ 07:41PM #

    Nicely done. I use Thematic for most projects now, but need to check this one out, I’ve always heard great things but never really bothered to take a peek. You have forced me to do so, sir.

  9. Peter


    17 July 2009 @ 09:55PM #

    That’s great news! Gonna try it out real soon.

  10. Judson Collier

    Judson Collier

    18 July 2009 @ 12:11AM #

    Excellent. Have the perfect use for this for a client!


  11. RSully


    19 July 2009 @ 11:57PM #

    I’m very impressed and very soon I plan to create my own wordpress themes! Im going to use this as the base!
    Too bad wordpress themes don’t have upgrade functions so I don’t need to download and add my theme to the new version!

  12. Denis Onichshenko

    Denis Onichshenko

    20 July 2009 @ 08:55AM #

    Wow, loving previous stalkers. You got me Inspired to make another wordpress theme from a scratch. Thanks, Elliot!

  13. nanochrome


    20 July 2009 @ 03:03PM #

    Great! I’ll Use It For My New Theme!

  14. Rich Kelly

    Rich Kelly

    21 July 2009 @ 05:17PM #

    Your original Starkers them was a complete life saver when I jumped straight into the deep end of designing for wordpress. I’ll continue using this superb theme in the future, keep up the great work dude.


  15. Slobodan Manic

    Slobodan Manic

    22 July 2009 @ 08:01PM #

    Wow, thank you Elliot! The old Starkers has really helped me learn about Wordpress theme development, i simply don’t see a better way to jump into Wordpress. Keep up the great work!

  16. diseño de grafico

    diseño de grafico

    23 July 2009 @ 01:41AM #

    Muy buen blog de diseño! great blog! thanks from Argentina.

  17. galih


    23 July 2009 @ 07:29AM #

    well,im still using this beside thematic in a few project. thanks sir for the updated version.

  18. Molly


    24 July 2009 @ 02:32AM #

    Great! I’ve been using Starkers since I began WP development and will be using the newest release on my next project. Thanks so much.

  19. Fips


    24 July 2009 @ 04:04AM #

    Doh! Just discovered the older version of Starkers a couple of weeks ago for designing a theme. Although I found a few of the outdated parts through trial and error, I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed. Might go ahead and use the latest release for a redesign if I find the time. If I’d only procrastinated a little longer!

    Either way, great to see this skeleton getting an update.

  20. Tom Stone

    Tom Stone

    24 July 2009 @ 05:50AM #

    The div on line 46 in “comments.php” has no closing tag.

  21. Terkel


    24 July 2009 @ 11:43PM #

    Thanks a lot! I’m using Starkers in all my projects.
    It’s nice with an update

  22. Warner


    26 July 2009 @ 07:09PM #

    I used to use the Sandbox theme, but now I use this because even though Sandbox is stripped it is not fully stripped. I prefer this to a theme framework any day. Theme frameworks are great, but it seems to me that there is a lot of unnecessary code.

    Thanks so much.

  23. Davide Di Cillo

    Davide Di Cillo

    28 July 2009 @ 02:19AM #

    Thanks! Just build my blog using it ;)

  24. Andris


    28 July 2009 @ 08:00PM #

    Since I wrote my first theme for wordpress I used your starkes theme. I’ll definetly use the updated version in my next project. Thanx a lot for your work.

  25. John G

    John G

    29 July 2009 @ 10:10PM #

    Hi Elliot, another big thank you from me… I’m writing this starkers too! Not really… I’ve kept my socks on.

  26. Leon


    31 July 2009 @ 07:35PM #

    Thank you very much!
    I’ve used this theme in a couple of projects and was very satisfied.
    Keep up with the great work!

  27. Andy kleeman

    Andy kleeman

    01 August 2009 @ 05:45AM #

    This is superb, great idea, thanks! Il defo use this on my next wp project!

  28. Moa


    01 August 2009 @ 08:12PM #

    I have been using Starkers for a whole lot of projects since WP 2.6, and I was thrilled to see this new grown-up version. Very helpful, and saves me loads of time. Many thanks!

  29. chris


    02 August 2009 @ 09:59PM #

    Yay love it. Asked myself a few days ago if you published a new version and here it is. Big thx!

  30. Davor


    04 August 2009 @ 02:18PM #

    Wow! This is so exciting! Thanks to the old Starkers theme I have recently managed to complete my first Wordpress powered web site and it’s working great. Your work helped a lot, thank you. I will defenitely stay tuned :)

  31. Fabian


    04 August 2009 @ 02:52PM #

    Great job! This is one of the Wordpress resources I use on every project. Many thanks!

  32. Tom


    06 August 2009 @ 07:02AM #

    I have been waiting for this! Really happy that you created a version for the recent version of word-press. This layout is freaking awesome. Props!

  33. Chris Madden

    Chris Madden

    07 August 2009 @ 04:07AM #

    Very cool. This is just what I was going to have to end up doing myself anyways. Thanks Elliot!

  34. Jack


    10 August 2009 @ 03:12AM #

    This helped me alot in turning my current site into a wordpress theme, Thanks!

  35. Conor


    20 August 2009 @ 12:52AM #

    Excellent, thanks for sharing this Elliot!

  36. Rafael


    20 August 2009 @ 02:15PM #

    Will start learning how to use Wordpress as a CMS with this :)


  37. Mcometa


    25 August 2009 @ 07:31AM #

    Life saver! Thanks Elliot!

  38. Ted Bondhus

    Ted Bondhus

    27 August 2009 @ 07:08PM #

    I’ve used Starkers to create several sites and it’s a beautiful tool!
    Thank you for jumping back into the project and keeping it updated for future versions of WordPress.

  39. Pontus Johansson

    Pontus Johansson

    05 September 2009 @ 06:46PM #

    This is amazing Elliot. It will significantly speed up development. Thank you!
    I have one suggestion though, and that is to swap the h2 tags for the post heading in single.php, to h1. The title of a document (post/category/page …) should always be wrapped in a h1, both for the sake of semantics and SEO (see this W3 article). And since you can only have one h1 on a page, the ultimate solution would then be to have a conditional statement in header.php so that the title of the blog is a h1 ONLY if it’s the home page, and a h2 if it’s anything else. What do you think?

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