New WordPress theme: Simplest

When I came back to using WordPress recently, I was disappointed by the overwhelming complexity of the themes in the Theme Directory. I wanted to build something for my own site, but I was having trouble finding a reasonable base that I could build upon.

What’s the bare minimum necessary to make a fully functioning theme for WordPress 3.0.1? The answer wasn’t clear.

So, I set out to make the simplest possible theme for WordPress that would be approved for the Theme Directory. After a few revisions with the helpful guidance of the theme reviewers, it’s available now:

The theme is good enough to use as-is, in my opinion, but it’s first and foremost an example of the simplest possible theme that you can make for WordPress version 3.0.1. This makes is a a great candidate for do-it-yourself folks like me who want to make their own themes, but would like some basic level of support to build upon.

Here’s the code in case you’re curious:

It’s 83 lines of PHP and 75 lines of CSS in 4 files.

That’s an extraordinarily small amount of code for a fully functional WordPress 3.0.1 theme. To put it into perspective, the current default theme “TwentyTen” clocks in at 1551 lines of PHP and 1951 lines of CSS in 24 files. Of course, they’re not making an effort to be succinct, but with a functions.php file that’s 483 lines of code alone, I find it to be rather confusing to navigate.

So, I put something together that is truly minimal. Not only minimal in design, but has a minimal amount of clear, readable, understandable code. I hope you find it useful!


Published by

Trevor Turk

A chess-playing machine of the late 18th century, promoted as an automaton but later proved a hoax.

44 thoughts on “New WordPress theme: Simplest”

  1. Hi,

    I liked your theme very much.. Super simple..

    But, there is a small bug.

    If there are no comments, the form to add a comment wont be displayed.

    So please change the comments.php file to something like this.


    Comments closed

    <!– comments –>

  2. Arun, thanks for the report. I've updated the theme and it's available now. I even managed to make it smaller than before. Now it's 83 lines of PHP and 75 lines of CSS instead of 102 lines of PHP and 79 lines of CSS 😉

    Please enjoy, and let me know if you notice anything else. I'm updating this post with the new info now.

  3. I like the simplest theme. I, however, prefer sidebar (as to bottombar (as Simplest theme). Would you tell me how to move the bottombar widgets to the sidebar in Simplest theme?

  4. I love this theme! I'd been looking for the simplest WP theme possible, and you're absolutely right that there's very little out there that is minimalistic and clean. Many, many thanks for creating Simplest, I'll be having a lot of fun with it. 😀

  5. Trevor,

    This is fantastic. I am a designer/developer with minimalist taste and obsessed with the concept of doing more with less code with my own development, as well. Thank you for this theme.

    One thing I am struggling with, however, is my home page. I am receiving a "Sorry, the page you requested cannot be found" message, despite having not yet modified any files. So far I've only added your theme and changed my permalinks to the following format:


    Have you encountered this problem yet? And if it's not a problem with your theme, maybe you have some advice for me. I appreciate your feedback.

  6. Matthew, I don't think that's a problem with the theme, as it's been through the WP theme reviewers and all. Perhaps, though… I'd suggest trying with a fresh installation and making sure it all works, then changing the permalink, etc… Try the WP support forums if you continue having problems. I don't really have time to support this theme honestly.

  7. /* My response was seen as spam, so had to write one. */

    You can see with the theme of Simplest, but looks like different.

    I modified it and added some features (as you can see)

    So I really like this simple theme.

    (Please forgive Google translation)

  8. Hey Trevor,

    I love the simplicity and usability of this theme. I was just wondering, however, if there's an easy way to make the footer widgets line up side-by-side as opposed to on top of each other (for a quick example of what I mean, check out Speaky's footer here:


  9. Thanks for this one Trevor, pure minimalistic awesomeness. I've used your theme to improve my own designs and make them less bloated codewise.

  10. Hi, Trevor. Thank you for posting this. It's a perfect starting point for creating a theme that doesn't try to do everything, but gets the basics pitch-perfect.

    I actually made this theme even simpler for my site, as I don't have a need for comments at this point. I'm also not running any widgets, but I did pull the WordPress-generated menu down to the bottom of the page to get right to the content up top.

    I narrowed the theme's column on my site to make it a little easier to scan down the page and get most of the content within eye range. I added some paragraph indents and tightened up the layout of the 'graphs a bit as well.

    This was the perfect platform for creating exactly what I needed. Thanks again, Trevor!

  11. Trevor,

    just to let you know: I love it already. I didn’t install it yet but really, really appreciate the idea of keeping things simple.

    These days, I made an ftp backup of a customer’s site which took me around 50 minutes just because the theme was packed with stuff and additionally “enriched” (read the irony!) with around 30 plugins. People nowadays go totally crazy about making WordPress something like a spaceship with submarine capabilities and on-board restaurant …

    Whatever – let’s keep it simple! Thanks for your works, it’s deeply appreciated.



  12. Hey Trevor, great work with that theme, I like it a lot, but how can I add simple footer? Can you help me somehow? Greetings, Marcin.

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