Introducing WP Rig: A tool to help you build better WordPress themes

WordPress and the web it lives on has evolved. So have the tools we use to build experiences and interactions on and with the web. WordPress theme development is no longer “just” about writing PHP and CSS and JavaScript. It’s also about accessibility and build processes and coding standards and performance best practices and and modern coding languages and browser support and a myriad of other topics. 

WP Rig bridges this gap by building accessibility, performance, coding standards, and modern coding best practices in by default. WP Rig is a modern build process and progressive starter theme bundled together. It does the heavy lifting so you the developer can do what you do best: Write modern PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. And there’s more:

More than another starter theme

WP Rig aims to make the web better through code and performance optimization. WordPress powers more than 30% of the web. That means what WordPress does has a direct impact on the web. And on the front-end of every WordPress site sits a theme. WP Rig helps every developer build themes that load faster and perform better through support for modern CSS and JavaScript (ES2015), automated code linting to WordPress Coding Standards, progressive loading of CSS and JavaScript, built-in lazy-loading of images, and built in optional support for the AMP plugin. On top of that comes a fully styled minimalist starter theme with full Gutenberg support engineered from the ground up for easy development and performance optimization.

What you get:

  • Minimum configuration. Get up and running in less than five minutes.
  • Pre-configured Gulp 4 build, translate, and bundle processes.
  • Full integration with VS Code.
  • Full support for CSS custom properties (variables), Sass, and ES2015.
  • Automated code linting to WordPress Coding Standards with ESLint and PHPCS.
  • Streamlined workflow with BrowserSync.
  • Modular starter theme built on the latest WordPress and web performance best-practices including lazy-loading images, async/defer JavaScripts, modular CSS with conditional preloading.
  • Seamless integration with most standard development environments.

A community project supported by LinkedIn Learning

WP Rig was built by Morten Rand-Hendriksen, a long term WordPress contributor and Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning, in collaboration with XWP, Google, and other members of the WordPress community. To show its commitment to the WordPress community, LinkedIn Learning donated Morten’s time to develop WP Rig and is releasing a 100% free course called WordPress: Building Progressive Themes with WP Rig in English, Spanish, German, and French.

WP Rig is a community project in the truest sense of the term. It is not owned or branded by any company, nor beholden to a company goal or ideology. The purpose and goal of WP Rig is to provide the WordPress community with a theme development rig that puts accessibility, performance, and modern best practices in the front seat to the benefit of the end-user and the web as a whole.

At its launch, WP Rig minifies JavaScript and CSS, supports asynchronous and deferred JavaScript loading, uses modular conditional in-body stylesheets for progressive rendering, lazy-loads images, and gives the developer detailed control over how the AMP plugin interacts with the theme should the site admin activate it. As new code, content, and performance best practices come online, WP Rig will update to stay on the cutting edge of what WordPress can do.

Your contributions welcome!

WP Rig is for the people who build WordPress themes by the people who build WordPress themes. That means you! To make WP Rig a tool everyone can use to build better more performant WordPress themes, we need your help. So take it for a spin, see how it works with your process, and provide feedback, submit issues, and create pull requests.

WP Rig is maintained by Rachel Cherry and Morten Rand-Hendriksen.