The CSS frameworks here offer designers a structure going into their
projects, so they aren’t starting entirely from scratch. Some offer
layout guidance, mostly through the use of grids, while others only
focus on things like typography, leaving the layout entirely up to you.
1KB CSS Grid
The 1KB CSS Grid is an adaptable grid that can be configured in a
number of ways before downloading. You choose the number of columns,
the column width, and the gutter width before downloading the files.
It’s an incredibly easy to understand grid, even for those not familiar
with CSS frameworks. It’s also a very bare-bones framework, with only
the CSS necessary to build the layouts (no extra formatting is
YAML (”Yet Another Multicolumn Layout”) is a CSS framework for creating
flexible, floated layouts. It includes design patterns for typography,
microformats, forms, and more, as well as full accessibility and web
standards compliance. It’s also a very stable framework, with most
browser bugs patched by YAML. There’s also the YAML Builder, which lets
you create YAML-based layouts visually.
One of the sample YAML layouts with basic styling options.
Simpl is a modular, flexible CSS framework that aims to fill in the
gaps of some other CSS frameworks. It’s fluid (with the option of
static side columns), simple to learn and use, and is nestable (but
doesn’t require nesting). It includes styles for forms, tables, and
other common elements.
The Golden Grid
The Golden Grid is a CSS framework built on the principle of the golden
ration or the divine proportion. It’s 970px wide, uses a 6/12 grid
system, and when compressed is less than 1kb. There are a bunch of
great demos, both of the grid and of sample pages built on the grid.
There’s also a mini tutorial available to help you get started.
An example of a layout created with The Golden Grid.
SenCSs is a framework that offers sensible styling for all the
repetitive parts of your CSS files. It doesn’t include any kind of
layout system, unlike many CSS frameworks, which makes it more
versatile for non-standard website designs. It includes styles for a
lot of other things though: baseline, fonts, margins, blockquotes,
padding, and more.
Elements includes a variety of folders and files that help speed up
your web design process. It’s a lightweight framework that’s easy to
use, includes a number of preset classes, a mass reset, and adds icons
to external links (which improves both style and usability).
Blueprint is a free CSS framework that includes a CSS reset, a grid
that supports complex layouts, styled typography and forms, and plugins
for buttons, tabs and sprites. There’s also plenty of documentation to
get you started, as well as a discussion group and mailing list.
Tripoli is a generic CSS framework that resets all default browser
settings. It’s made to work with HTML 4 and separates typography from
layout styles. It also aims to increase the readability of your
websites through better typography. It also works with a number of
plugins to extend the generic defaults of the framework.
Content with Style CSS Framework
The Content With Style CSS framework offers half a dozen layouts,
including vertical navigation with one content column, horizontal
navigation with one content column, vertical navigation with two
columns of content, and horizontal navigation with local navigation and
one column of content. It orders the source code logically, with the
main content coming immediately after the header within the code,
regardless of the visual layout of the page.
960 Grid System
The 960 Grid System is probably the most famous CSS framework that’s
come out in recent years, and has been the inspiration for a number of
other frameworks. There are two grids available: a 12-column grid with
columns that are 60 pixels wide and a 16-column grid with 40-pixel-wide
columns. One big advantage is that these basic grid configurations can
be used separately or in tandem. 960 pays focuses on site layout and
pays little attention to things like typography (though there are basic
provisions in place for them).
Typogridphy is a CSS framework that focuses heavily on typography
within the layout. It’s based on the 960 Grid System and has
standards-compliant, semantic code. The typography is based on the
principle of vertical rhythm, but uses ems rather than pixels.
Emastic is a lightweight CSS framework that lets you customize the
width of the page using ems, pixels, or percentages. It works in either
a fixed or fluid layout, and includes baseline grid typography styles.
There’s a tutorial available that will teach you how to create layouts
with Emastic, too.
The Malo CSS framework consists of only 8 lines of CSS code. It’s
flexible and easy to use, with a customizable page width. Malo lets you
create layouts made up of two, three, four, or five parts. Nested
columns are also allowed.
BlueTrip is a CSS framework based on a 24-column grid. It includes
typography styles, an empty starter stylesheet, a print stylesheet,
form styles, and more. There’s extensive documentation available, as
well as a showcase of sites built on BlueTrip.
1 Line CSS Grid Framework
This is a bit of a different CSS framework, in that it only uses a
single line of CSS. Using this single line of CSS, which works on the
principles of dividing columns in half, you can create grids with 2, 4,
8, or 16 columns. It’s cross-browser compatible, even as far back as
Free WordPress Theme Frameworks
There are a lot of great WP frameworks out there available for free.
Some are very basic, with only the most general structure. Others are
minimalist themes in themselves, but easily adaptable to other
projects. What they all do, though, is simplify the coding process in
WP theme development, effectively eliminating a designer’s need to deal
with PHP or other code.
Reptile is a theme framework from WP Bandit that works with child
themes (skins). WP Bandit uses it for all of their themes and have made
it available for free download. There isn’t a whole lot of information
on their website other than that it includes a number of helper
functions to make it easier for your theme to interact with WP.
Vanilla was built to combine Carrington’s “atomic” templates, PHPTAL
templates and YUI CSS. It also includes full widgetization, including
custom widget controls. Vanilla is used with child themes, so you never
need to touch the basic code. It also includes an HTML “minifier” that
compresses output to speed up your site.
Whiteboard is a free WP framework. It includes all the theme files one
needs to create a WP theme, including: 404.php, archives.php,
categories.php, comments.php, footer.php, functions.php, header.php,
index.php, page.php, search.php, searchform.php, sidebar.php and
style.css. It also includes pagination for posts and socialization
links, and is only 72KB unzipped.
Sandbox is a very basic theme that contains a basic two-column layout
with minimal styling. It’s fully widget-compatible and has plenty of
selectors so it’s fully customizable with CSS.
The Buffet Framework
The Buffet Framework uses child themes for customization, and also uses
theme extensions for further customization. It’s search engine
optimized, has support for microformats, is powered by jQuery, and is
even packaged with 960gs and Blueprint CSS frameworks. It’s released
under the GPL v3.
Carrington is a free WP theme framework released under the GNU GPL v2.
One of Carrington’s biggest benefits is the extensive documentation
available on the website. There are four basic themes available within
the framework: Blog (a traditional blog-style theme), Text (a simple,
text-based theme), Mobile (for mobile browsers) and JAM (Just Add
Markup, a bare-bones framework). Depending on the level of
customization you want, there’s almost certainly an option that will
work for you.
The Carrington Text theme.
Hybrid is a free theme that includes 8 widgetized areas and 15 custom
page templates. It’s free and open source and can be used for both
personal and commercial projects. It’s available in a variety of
languages (just download the language pack), including Arabic, Chinese,
French, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. Basic
documentation is available for free, but for more extensive
documentation you’ll need to join their Theme Club ($25/year).
Thematic is an open source, extensible WP framework with 13 widgetized
areas, grid-based layout samples, and styling for popular plugins.
Thematic has enough style out of the box to use without developing it
any further, but it also makes a perfect parent theme (there are both
free and commercial child themes already available for it). It includes
a sample Child Theme to speed up your theme development. It’s also
ready for a number of popular WP plugins, and has a number of
easy-to-implement layout options for both two and three column designs.
Premium WordPress Theme Frameworks
Premium WP theme frameworks are much like the free frameworks
available, though most have additional functions that aren’t available
in the free versions. Many of the frameworks below offer option panels
that give non-coders almost complete control over the design of their
blog, while also being developer-friendly for those who do want to dive
into the code.
The Ashford WP theme framework is a simple, easy to use framework that
includes eight page templates (gallery, blog, topic, author, codex,
detail, and tab among them). There are more than 250 possible page
variations you can create, and there are four options for how to
display your posts (thumbnail, blurb, excerpt, and full). There’s a
limited free version (that’s still pretty powerful) or you can purchase
the pro version for $49.
Elemental is a premium theme framework from Pro Theme Design. Right out
of the box, Elemental has a clean, elegant design that can be used
as-is by just setting options in the custom control panel (for things
like typography, column size, navigation, etc.) or you can customize it
to your heart’s content. There are four widgetized areas, custom
widgets, animated multi-level dropdown menus, support for Gravatars,
image thumbnail resizing and a lot more. The Basic Copy (for one site)
is $59.99 and the Multi Copy (for developers) is $149.99.
Thesis is a premium WP framework that focuses on flexibility, built-in
search engine optimization and fast loading times. The options panels
offers a lot of flexibility without having to dive into the code.
There’s even a layout generator that lets you automatically create 1,
2, and 3-column layouts. The Personal Option (a single site license) is
$87 and the Developer’s Option (which allows multiple site deployments)
Nerdist is just one of the popular blogs running on the Thesis framework.
Genesis is a premium WP framework from StudioPress. Genesis works on
the basis of using child themes to style content without changing the
parent theme/framework. It includes a few custom widgets (including one
for Twitter, for user profiles, and featured posts), as well as a
choice of layout options. It also includes a number of Hooks for
further customizations. Genesis is $59.95.
Headway is a framework specifically for those who don’t want to deal
with coding. It has a visual editor that claims to let you create all
sorts of sites, from standard blogs to ecommerce sites. The
configuration panel for Headway is extensive and lets you do everything
from inserting scripts without coding to setting permissions and
adjusting settings for posts and comments. It’s a great theme for
anyone who just wants to design and doesn’t want to deal with all the
back-end stuff. There are two options available: Personal for $87 and
Developer for $164.
WP Unlimited is another premium WP theme framework that lets you make
pretty substantial customizations from right within the options panel.
WP Unlimited includes an AdSense Generator for customizing the look and
feel or your AdSense ads and for arranging them on your site. It also
lets you completely customize the design, and has built-in SEO
features. A personal license is $59 and the developer license is $150.
Frugal is a highly customizable premium theme framework with more than
600 custom options you can change right from your WP dashboard. You can
customize virtually every aspect of Frugal within the options panel.
Developers will also find Frugal useful, as there’s plenty of room for
custom CSS, functions, widgets, and more. Frugal has a variety of
license options: Personal Basic for $89, Developer Basic for $169,
Frugal MU (Multi-User) for $299, Frugal Unlimited for $399 and Frugal
Complete for $499.