I recently decided to learn the basics of making WordPress templates, having discovered it would be a useful extra bullet in the chamber when seeking contract work: In the 7 or so years since I last did that it seems WordPress has became not only the most common blog platform, but also a popular CMS choice for small to medium sites.

After a bit of investigation I decided the best way to get started would be to find a bare bones starter template I could use to both get to grips with the basic template PHP and also layer on my first new design. I found a useful article about blank starter templates (or two) and started working through them looking for suitable candidates.


I’m not going to be rude the work of others, especially in an area I’m new to, however my search didn’t yield any templates I felt were suitable, thus my learning task became to write one. I picked the best existing one I could find with a GPL licence and proceeded to (extensively) rework it into “Kernel”, a parent theme which (as far as possible within the confines of WordPress):

  • outputs truly semantic markup
  • is valid XHTML 1.0 strict
  • contains no CSS or JS, but does contain a CSS file listing all IDs and classes
  • logically, but not excessively uses IDs and classes to target individual elements or groups of sibling elements as design/functionality requires
  • has its div structure visually documented to help make new child themes
  • is uncommented in the HTML, and minimally commented in the PHP
  • is correctly indented in the source and output
  • contains adequate dynamic ‘widget’ areas
  • is free under the GPL

Now, I’m pretty new to this, and so will doubtless find things I’ve missed or misunderstood, but I’m pretty pleased with “Kernel” so far, and plan to use it as a base for most if not all my future WordPress work.

Jane Sexy Legs

Speaking of which, now I no longer work for the Beeb I don’t have anywhere for my technical blogging, so I decided to start this personal tech blog. Thus arose an opportunity to write my first child theme for Kernel: “Jane Sexy Legs”, which is what tech.hampson.org.uk is now using.

Its design is based upon the WordPress install readme and so is pretty minimalist, but it did at least give me the chance to use Kernel on a real design, and make a few tweaks and improvements as a result.

Anyway, the zips are below if you want to have a rummage, feedback welcome.

Download the “Kernel” WordPress theme.

Download the “Jane Sexy Legs” WordPress theme.