Gutenberg Starter Themes

WordPress starter themes provide a solid foundation for building your own custom WordPress themes. In this article, I share my two Gutenberg-optimized starter themes.

What is a starter theme

A starter theme is a lean WordPress theme with minimal styles and functionality. It often contains simple functionality you use across most projects. It gives you a common starting point for your theme development.

Gutenberg introduces many new features and styling requirements, which I’ve documented in my Developer’s Guide to Gutenberg. These starter themes incorporate all the recommendations listed in those articles.

Both of my starter themes use hooks and filters for customization, on which I’m writing a tutorial right now. Be sure to subscribe to email updates so you’re notified when that article is published.

Genesis Starter Theme

Genesis is a theme framework, a base upon which you build your own custom WordPress theme. It helps you build higher quality themes faster, and is built with a focus on SEO and performance. Here’s more information on Genesis.

EA Genesis Child is my starter theme for building custom Genesis child themes.

Non-Genesis Starter Theme

EA Starter is my other starter theme, which I use when Genesis isn’t a good fit – usually when I’m building a network theme that needs to support its own child themes.

It’s a fork of underscores that I updated to include hooks from Theme Hooks Alliance. It’s structured exactly like my Genesis child theme so I can easily move between the two. The only differences are the hook names (ex: tha_content_top instead of genesis_before_loop ).

More Starter Themes

Here’s a list of other Gutenberg-friendly starter themes.

Do you know of any other good starter themes that are Gutenberg optimized? Please share them in the comments below.

Bill Erickson

Bill Erickson is a freelance WordPress developer and a contributing developer to the Genesis framework. For the past 14 years he has worked with attorneys, publishers, corporations, and non-profits, building custom websites tailored to their needs and goals.

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Reader Interactions


  1. dusty says

    TwentyNineteen as a starter theme does not work very well, for instance to style a menu — you have to weed through no less than 8 different scss files. And a block quote has 31 different instances spread out over tons of files — its not a theme that is easily expanded on precisely because its too cut up into this separate issues. I never know if what it is is what it is — in fact — IT NEVER IS. ITS NOT A STARTER THEME. I really like the design itself. But what a hassle!

    • Bill Erickson says

      I agree that TwentyNineteen isn’t a stripped down theme suitable for building a completely custom design. But I think it makes a great starter theme for simple sites that don’t need a completely custom design. It’s sort of like a Bootstrap for WordPress – an opinionated design that works well if you want to use it that way.

      I used TwentyNineteen as the starter theme for Display Posts and Shared Counts documentation sites.

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