What i was doing previously, are as follows -

  1. I copy the wordpress base theme (like twentytwelve in wordpress 3.5)
  2. Rename the folder and converted index.html of my HTML to index.php for wordpress theme.
  3. Replace style.css with my current style.css.

Is it the right way of theme development or some else better technique can be applied for theme development ?

I google a lot for the theme development but 99% tutorials are only using index.php , style.css only(some only header/footer etc) although in the new version of wordpress 3.5 twentytwelve I found there are too many files in the theme.

So for the client case I dont want to leave any core theme functionality provided these dummy themes, so is it the correct way I am following or for the best way I need to design and code for each file ?

3 Answers 3


I like to do this as follows:

  1. Go to underscores.me, fill out the theme name, and download the theme.
  2. Strip out the parts of this (somewhat clean) template that don't want to use.
  3. Start building your own template with the functionality that you wrote.

This way you will have a clean template to start with, and no core theme functionality provided by the theme you decided to use as a dummy.

I don't know exactly if there is any "right" way to build your own theme, only that the Codex insist you use the WordPress Coding Standards, CSS Coding Standards and that you follow the design guidelines.
I think that, except of the parts of the Codex a developer is free in how to develop a theme.


Did you read official codex documentation about theme development?

Anyway here are some points to note

At the very minimum, a WordPress Theme consists of two files:

  1. style.css
  2. index.php


A theme can optionally use a functions file, which resides in the theme subdirectory and is named functions.php.

This file basically acts like a plugin, and if it is present in the theme you are using, it is automatically loaded during WordPress initialization (both for admin pages and external pages)

Template Files List

Here is the list of the Theme files recognized by WordPress. Of course, your Theme can contain any other stylesheets, images, or files. Just keep in mind that the following have special meaning to WordPress -- see Template Hierarchy for more information.


The main stylesheet. This must be included with your Theme, and it must contain the information header for your Theme.


The rtl stylesheet. This will be included automatically if the website's text direction is right-to-left. This can be generated using the the RTLer plugin.


The main template. If your Theme provides its own templates, index.php must be present.


The comments template.


The front page template, it is only used if you use a static front page.


The home page template, which is the front page by default. If you use a static front page this is the template for the page with the latest posts.


The single post template. Used when a single post is queried. For this and all other query templates, index.php is used if the query template is not present.


The single post template used when a single post from a custom post type is queried. For example, single-books.php would be used for displaying single posts from the custom post type books. index.php is used if the query template for the custom post type is not present.


The page template. Used when an individual Page is queried.


The category template. Used when a category is queried.


The tag template. Used when a tag is queried.


The term template. Used when a term in a custom taxonomy is queried.


The author template. Used when an author is queried.


The date/time template. Used when a date or time is queried. Year, month, day, hour, minute, second.


The archive template. Used when a category, author, or date is queried. Note that this template will be overridden by category.php, author.php, and date.php for their respective query types.


The search results template. Used when a search is performed.


Attachment template. Used when viewing a single attachment.


Image attachment template. Used when viewing a single image attachment. If not present, attachment.php will be used.


The 404 Not Found template. Used when WordPress cannot find a post or page that matches the query.

Here are some resources for faster theme development

  1. WordPress frameworks and parent themes
  2. framework for plugin/theme options panel
  3. Best Collection of Code for your functions.php file
  4. Best collection of code for your .htaccess file
  • its the index.html I changed to index.php for my wordpress(reverse of what you thought :) )
    – swapnesh
    Jan 17, 2013 at 9:15
  • Ah.. Got it.. :) Jan 17, 2013 at 9:18
  • what difference does it make via using my method ? bcoz I believe(if I am wrong then let me know) by my way I am not excluding any core file and functionality ?
    – swapnesh
    Jan 17, 2013 at 9:20
  • Hi swapnesh, I added my answer because I misunderstood your second point.. Anyway I updated my answer with some extra resources.. By the way don't you think your second point is kind of confusing? replace in the index.php with my index.html. I guess its better be like replace in the index.php with my index.php Jan 17, 2013 at 9:38
  • You are very right, I just changed the text of my question to reduce the ambiguity ..very thanks for being so informative :)
    – swapnesh
    Jan 17, 2013 at 9:41

If the only difference between your new theme and the twentytwelve theme is the index.php and style.css files, then you could use a child theme that is based on the twentytwelve theme.

Then you don't need to copy the twentytwelve directory, instead, you create a new directory with your theme name, put your index.php and style.css files in it, and just make sure that your style.css file's header has Template: Twenty Twelve written in it

  • thx for the answer, but its not for a single page..its for the other files as well :)
    – swapnesh
    Jan 17, 2013 at 9:36
  • @swapnesh, So you make changes to the other files as well?
    – Lea Cohen
    Jan 17, 2013 at 9:56
  • @LeahCohen yes, i believe so as the designer hands me only HTML/css/images and I have to convert it in Wordpress theme
    – swapnesh
    Jan 17, 2013 at 9:59

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