4/3/17

Developer Friendly WordPress Boilerplate: Bowst-Press

we love kittens and clean WordPress themes!

Starting a new open source project can be overwhelming!  With WordPress, you are faced with endless options and thousands of themes and plugins that are just a click away.  The temptation to install 'close enough' themes and 'I guess it works' plugins is strong because it's so easy, but as we've seen it unfortunately results in some pretty bloated, under performant, and code heavy sites that need a lot of help.

Here at Bowst we believe in clean & custom sites right from the start, crafted using methods that allow us to jump right into the flow of things and crank out a site in no time at all (and loads in no time at all!). That is why, as we've grown to love and appreciate WordPress (and helped fix a many of said bloated WordPress sites above), we've recently crafted our new WordPress Boilerplate Theme called Bowst-Press.  

Bowst-Press, available on GitHub, sets us up with a super clean and organized starting theme based on best practices and high standards. Using Twitter Bootstrap, it's jam packed with variables and pre-made sass files, so developers can right off the bat start plugging in their theme's brand colors, fonts, padding, etc. Based on the starter theme Underscore.me, it comes with a pre-set folder & file structure so you can dive right in and start adjusting template markup.

Because it's simply a starter theme, it doesn't come with the bulk of a downloaded theme that has only some of the things you need and a lot of visible excess.  With Bowst-Press the starting point of your site is easily and cleanly achieved, and after the following steps below are completed you can then incorporate custom code, functionality, plugins, and whatever else your site needs.

Development of a WordPress site with Bowst-Press is really easy,  and in a nutshell is as follows:

  • Download and install Bowst-Press from our GitHub account
  • Rename the 'theme name' to your custom project's name in all appropriate files and places
  • Override favicon, screenshot, and logo files with your custom project's imagery
  • Initiate NPM and install provided node packages to fully take advantage of a gulp build system that compiles sass and js files
  • Install suggested 'must have' WordPress plugins
  • Adjust values of pre-set sass variables and build out base styles in pre-made sass files
  • Build out structural html in pre-made base templates
  • Customize as necessary

Working with Bowst-Press allows me to complete the foundation of a website (base styles and layout structure created, header and footer completed) in about a day. With a solid base in place I can spend the rest of my time building out the main contents of each template and writing custom code where necessary. By the end of a week I can have a relatively simple brochure site completely finished thanks to having such a big head start in the beginning.  

This was the general developer approach for our first site using Bowst-Press, a local moving company that we gave a brand new theme last month, Gentle Giant. Improvements were noted immediately: much faster load time, easier content management (thanks to the Advanced 'Custom Fields' plugin), easier long term developer maintenance, simpler page editing (as previous theme bloat was eliminated), and even improved tracking results.

As a developer, it's the best thing ever to be able to get into the flow and breeze through a project with limited impediments. Having a clean base for each project makes this all the more possible and frequent, which results in happy developers, well-made sites, fast turnarounds, and naturally, happy clients!  

For a more thorough description of the above steps check out Bowst-Press on our GitHub account.

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