1. There are some gorgeous themes here but I’m starting to think Bootstrap is being used as a crutch. Bootstrap is great for developers who want to get something up quickly and don’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs of CSS etc. It’s great for a start up who wants to get good results quickly

    For a commercial WordPress theme (It wouldn’t be very fair to level criticism on free themes) I don’t consider Bootstrap a ‘feature’ or selling point at all, rather it implies that *maybe* the theme author is not versed in CSS and web design enough to make a theme, or they are simply taking shortcuts. That’s not a good indicator of a quality theme at all. Of course, I’m not saying all themes that leverage Bootstrap are bad or that the authors aren’t skilled.

    I just think Bootstrap (and it’s similarly bloated-by-nature counterparts) shouldn’t be part of a distributed theme in the way many of these themes are doing now. If you load up some of these themes and check what parts of Bootstrap are actually being used, you see code not being used, purely hanging around there as artifacts of a framework. This means the author is loading up Bootstrap with little discretion, without bothering to tailor it to the theme. I like it when theme authors obsess over their craft.

    1. Hi Peter

      When people use a Bootstrap theme they expect to have access to all the frameworks features. For instances they could use a plugin such as:
      to enable users to place Bootstrap features in pages and posts. It really comes down to personal preference. There is most certainly theme-bloat and features that are not used. To this end you can really only minify the CSS and JS files, which is by no means perfect. By the same token, people will use WordPress and not avail of all it’s features.

      When people use a Bootstrap theme, by extension they will expect access to most, if not all Bootstrap’s features.

      Perhaps you’ll understand that as a theme author it is not for me to decide how any one individual will use the theme or extend it’s features. I personally, think it is better to have bloat than to restrict people by limiting them to just theme-specific features.

      All these themes are Open Source so any individual that has the requisite skills can alter the code and omit any bloat.

      When developing a Bootstrap Theme for WordPress you are combining two independent and different code bases, which is a balancing act, that involves all the complexities of compromise.

      Personally I wasn’t aware of all the wonderful Bootstrap themes that are now available on the WP repository.

      1. For sure, theme authors face this design issue of not wanting to restrict their users. If you’re highlighting Bootstrap as a selling point, you want to make it easy for users to take advantage of that framework.

        I just wonder if Bootstrap is a selling point for most customers and whether it should be if it is. Because it is the opposite of what I’d come to expect of a designer who has undergone a very deliberate design process where every line of css has earned its way in for a particular reason. With bootstrap it is more likely that the css and html (markup) is driven by the framework, it’s an entirely different process of creating a theme. If a designer is trying to take shortcuts by using Bootstrap, I’d rather pick a theme author who uses their craft fully.

        I’m not against shortcuts btw, I love preprocessors, Bootstrap’s code is of a high standard, mixins are wonderful and so forth. I just expect that serious designers/theme authors use their craft to build their themes in a deliberate way and not have the end product so tainted by the shortcuts they used.

        1. sigh….. it has nothing to do with developers not knowing enough about css. Bootstrap has become a contribution effort from web designers alike. allot of the pre-made classes are well known and there for make very easy use when punching out code and giving it classes on the fly.

          It’s no different than a php framework, this is a css framework in a way. I feel like you are looking down on others when really i see it as being more intelligent way of developing quickly. Why re-invent the wheel when someone has done it for you.

          1. @Elgoots, not all devs are equally invested in mastering css for their projects and that’s fine. I’m also not saying that all devs using bootstrap don’t know enough CSS. Not at all. I said that above as well.

            If you’re creating a distributed theme, you are designing something. If you let a framework dictate the specifics of your craft, its final shape, I think that *can* be a detriment. If you can’t develop it without the framework, that too, *can* hint at underlying lack in care/skills/haste. Every framework can be used or abused.

            You don’t want to reinvent the wheel when solving the same problems. You do want to rely on what smarter people have already discovered. Of course. Those are design patterns. People good at their craft are aware of these patterns, or discover them through research. When you create a project, you use those design patterns, avoiding the ‘reinvent the wheel’ territority. When theme authors pick Bootstrap, they are inheriting a whole bunch of these patterns abritarirly without really knowing why those patterns were picked, or why all of them need to be in the particular project. They arrived on wholesale because the framework was chosen, not the other way around.

            For a theme author creating distributed themes, I don’t think it’s unfair to have high standards, any theme might be used on many sites. Just like you’d expect high standards from products built by Apple, or when you order a meal at a michelin starred restaurant. You know the products there are created with an intense level of precision.

            There’s no reason for a distributed theme to have been created in such a hurry that a bulky framework needed to be used to make it easier/faster, i.e. the easy route. Nor would you like to know that a chef is serving premade microwave meals because they don’t actually know how to make a dish from scratch, you’d always pick the chef that uses their craft. Sure maybe even the best chefs will pick a few premade components, but the core of their dish is going to be prepared with their input deciding all the specifics. You don’t need the chef to have milked the cow for instance, doesn’t matter who did that. You want the chef to have picked the milk from the right farm, used in it in the right proportions for the right part of the dish, to accomplish a specific experience in their dish.

            For distributed themes, there’s no reason to pick the microwave meal over the meal that was created by a Michelin-type theme author. I’m just saying, Bootstrap is becoming a hallmark feature of a microwave meal in the theme space. Cheap, fast to build with, but not made with the same love (craft ability), lacking in flavour(design) and maybe not as healthy(bulky, unwieldy).

  2. Some fabulous themes there Sarah

    Couldn’t pick a favourite easily but what a collection of themes like this does show, is why we all love WordPress.

    Thanks for putting the collection together and sharing.

  3. this is a good collection but most of the themes looks very much similar when it comes to bootstrap.
    It could be due to the grid structure. But then the main use of bootstrap is to speed up thee development and offer good responsive designs.

    1. Yes, I think that’s understandable given that they’re all using the same framework. I think the value is in having something to start with – reusable UI components that you can quickly use and move re-arrange.

  4. Great collection of free themes that I’m sure will help many.

    With more and more do-it-yourself online website creation tools becoming readily available it just doesn’t matter to a lot of people or businesses whether they know HTML/XHTML/CSS or not. They can setup a site themselves and save substantially.

    Thanks for posting…

  5. quite a nice list you’ve got here… Nice work Sarah! Thanks. Only just came across your blog! I like it.

  6. This is a great collection.

    What I like is the ability to get something up in very good time, which allows a business to focus on other pressing objectives.

    1. Hi Cartridgeserv

      WordPress.com have some incredible themes. WordPress.com is all about security and protecting people’s work. It’s always better to be safe, than sorry. The beautiful thing about WP is that you always have the choice between ‘.com’ and ‘.org.’ The ‘Flounder’ theme, is my personal favourite wordpress.com theme. Personally, I think it’s better than anything you can make with Bootstrap.

      What Bootstrap is great for, is offing theme designers and users a lot a of extra flexibility, that flexibility can be overkill for a personal blog.

    2. @Ruairi Phelan

      I’m using expound, but all free themes are so simplistic and no improvements will show up in the future I guess… in .org there are more chances to find you’re loved one.. bytheway… I didn’t find Bootstrap anywhere on .com…

      1. WordPress.com don’t favour frameworks, because they have a lot of overhead in terms of up keeping up the code base. I hope you realize that ‘.com’ have just opened their theme marketplace to all theme designers / developers, so someday soon you maybe able to avail of a bootstrap theme!

  7. Bootstrap = homogenization of the Interwebs. Every site built on Bootstrap or Foundation5 looks exactly the same: ginormous single tagline in 60px font taking up a full screen, an ultra-hip full-size background image (of a laptop, a tablet, a moleskine, a cup of coffee…) swallowing up a full screen, a smooth scroll to the next screen with three lines of clever but meaningless text taking up yet another full screen. Whatever happened to focusing on content? Please don’t make me scroll past three screens of your clever hipster marketing text and images of your hipster staff in dork glasses to get to the real content.

    1. douchenberger

      You’ve hit the nail on the head Joe – style over substance, design over content, a bit like “society” really :)

    2. dorcasm

      “…Bootstrap or Foundation5 looks exactly the same: ginormous single tagline in 60px font taking up a full screen, an ultra-hip full-size background image (of a laptop, a tablet, a moleskine, a cup of coffee…) swallowing up a full screen, a smooth scroll to the next screen with three lines of clever but meaningless text taking up yet another full screen.”

      You –really– haven’t looked at too many Bootstrap-based sites. A very small minority go overboard with the features you describe.

  8. I am using Arcade basic. It’s one of the best free WordPress themes I have ever seen. Thanks for this list. Worth bookmarking.

  9. martin

    I am using a great bootstrap theme called wedocs, it’s free to download from github.com/tareq1988/wedocs

  10. Jinson

    I am glad to see 4 of my theme babies here. Thanks for listing Adament, Revera, Wembley and Vangard.

    1. martin

      it’s not free – you sell it on your site for 10 usd yet the title of the theme also reads free… great advertising ;)

    1. martin

      i didn’t know the startup framework – looks nice – though the question here is kinda misplaced ;)

      the framework is built on bootstrap and you can use any tutorial on how to create a bootstrap based theme.

  11. Amazing list :) love all the themes mention though my favourite is: Arcade Basic

  12. Awesome compilation! checking out Inkness..looks awesome! much luv from Ethiopia!

  13. I’m thinking of testing some of these themes out for one of my sites, they look great. I’m not a pro in website design or choosing the right looking themes for a specific website, but i’ll have to see which fits perfectly, as they look like great theme to use.

  14. Flat looks fun. I have Foundation 5 memorized like the back of my hand but I owe it to myself to branch out to other frameworks and Bootstrap is next on my list to hack.

  15. Pete

    Hi, Flat Theme appeared useless to me. I tried the child theme supplied with it, but nothing came up. The child theme didn’t have a template name in the style.css. I tried putting in flat – didn’t work, I put in flat theme – didn’t work!

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