In this post, we’ll take you through the nine best free Bootstrap WordPress themes of 2015. Let’s set the scene first.
Why Bootstrap and WordPress Are a Perfect Match
Before we get into our list of top free Bootstrap themes, let’s briefly cover three reasons why this front-end framework is such a great fit for WordPress projects:
- It’s easy to get to grips with: WordPress is tricky enough to deal with on its own at times, without having to waste endless hours trying to get your core CSS in order. With Bootstrap, most of the heavy lifting is done for you. CSS preprocessors are included, it’s fully responsive by default with a flexible grid system, and dozens of built-in jQuery plugins come as standard.
- It’s extremely well documented: From the straightforward Getting Started page to detailed breakdowns of CSS and components, Bootstrap’s documentation is a model many other open source projects should aspire to. Whether you’re simply tweaking elements or really diving in under the hood, you’ll find comprehensive explanations and examples available at all times.
- It’s a perfect base for wider theming: Bootstrap is deliberately low-key and neutral out of the box and designed to be potentially customized to fit any site. Because of this, it’s a natural fit as the underpinning of many WordPress themes and offers theme developers a rock-solid base to build their designs on.
The combination of these three factors – plus the fact that Bootstrap is free and has heavyweight backing from Twitter – has naturally caught the attention of talented theme developers worldwide.
Let’s crack on now with our list of the nine top free Bootstrap plugins to be found in 2015.
The Sparkling Bootstrap theme from Colorlib is a clean responsive option particularly suitable for blog and magazine sites. Based on Bootstrap 3 (as all of our selections are), the theme has maintained a rock-solid five-star rating so far and boasts over 400,000 downloads from WordPress.org to date.
Sparkling ships with a Schema compatible structure for optimized SEO and plays nicely with prominent WordPress plugins such as Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, bbPress, W3 Total Cache and others. The plugin is also fully compatible with WPML and available in a variety of translations.
The one-page format is an excellent fit for many agencies and service-based businesses and the theme is compatible with WooCommerce and WPML out of the box.
As a Bootstrap-based theme, Zerif Lite is naturally fully responsive by default, and also includes support for parallax scrolling and retina display. Custom content blocks can be used for showcasing team info, client testimonials and latest blog posts. A premium version of the theme is also available.
The Virtue theme from Kadence Themes is a versatile WooCommerce-ready option particularly well-suited for online stores and portfolio sites. Virtue boasts over 800,000 downloads and has maintained a solid five-star rating over its lifetime.
Using Bootstrap under the hood, the theme is fully responsive and a fully featured options panel is available to enable you to easily customize items such as your homepage layout, sliders, and font choices without having to dive into the core CSS.
Virtue is also ready for translation and comes with Italian, Russian and Spanish language files supplied.
If you’re looking for a fairly bulletproof way of fancying up your blog in a hurry, this could well be the theme for you. The demo pages show the blog design displaying cleanly across different post formats and sizes with handy previews of details such as image alignment options.
Totomo doesn’t exactly go to town with descriptions of functionality on its WordPress.org page, but there’s no arguing with the slickness of the demo site.
This one-column theme is a great option for bloggers looking for a stylish Tumbleresque implementation with excellent support for photos and rich media throughout.
Legal is a slick-looking corporate theme from Faster Themes built with advocates and attorneys in mind. The fully responsive design is flexible enough to be turned to a variety of business uses, however.
A premium version of the theme is also available featuring options such as an integrated booking system and support for parallax scrolling sections on the home page.
The theme is fully responsive and supplies online documentation covering items such as customizing the main menu and adding custom logos. A premium version of the theme with wider customization options is also available.
Deserve from Fruit Themes is a fast, lightweight option that will display smoothly across all devices. If you’re looking for a straightforward theme for a simple local business site, for example, it will suit your needs admirably.
A premium version of Deserve is also available with drag-and-drop options for home pages and WooCommerce support.
The free version is a slick-looking beast by default, with a huge hero section at the top and handy sticky navigation enabled for smaller devices. As with all our selections, having Bootstrap at its core means it will display smoothly across all devices and screen sizes.
Bootstrap 4 Almost Here
The themes we’ve covered above are all based on version three of the Bootstrap framework, but change is very much in the air at the time of writing. Bootstrap 4 is currently in alpha release on GitHub (complete with alpha documentation) and being furiously polished prior to its eventual full launch.
Long-term followers of the Bootstrap project may remember there was a considerable amount of pain associated with the move from version two to version three, but the development team has promised that, this time around, previous versions will be maintained much longer. That’s excellent news for all the themes on our list and an encouraging sign for the future.
Bootstrap 4 is looking like a fairly major rewrite so expect the theme developers we’ve highlighted above to jump on board with its new functionality as soon as a stable final release is out the door. Here’s a quick list of highlights to look forward to in the near future:
- Bootstrap is moving from Less to Sass with customization options such as gradients, transitions and shadows being moved into handy Sass variables.
- Flexbox support is on the way.
- Card-based design will be supported in version four.
There’ll be plenty more treats in store in what promises to be a landmark release for the framework so expect even more great Bootstrap themes to emerge as we move into 2016.
Is Bootstrap for You?
Front-end frameworks have come a long way in the past five years and the widespread adoption of Bootstrap has been very much at the forefront of that trend.
Having a solid base to build on is a godsend for theme developers and site owners alike and the range of powerful, free Bootstrap-based WordPress themes is truly impressive these days – and likely to grow even more so in the near future.
Are you currently using Bootstrap to power your site and has it worked out for you? Or do you know of a theme we’ve missed? Get in touch via the comments and let us know.