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Reintroducing Keel, a lightweight boilerplate for WordPress theme developers

Late last week, I released version 6 of Keel, a lightweight boilerplate for WordPress theme developers.

This is complete rewrite of the boilerplate, designed to speed up development time rapidly.

What’s new

Previous versions of Keel were simply an empty shell—they contained no CSS, only template files and markup.

So what’s new in version 6?

  • Kraken is now used for a basic styling template that includes a responsive grid, forms, tables, and buttons.
  • Accessible, mobile-friendly navigation and dropdown patterns are baked-in, powered by Astro and Drop.
  • Responsive video and Google Map support via FluidVids.js.
  • Faster mobile tap performance thanks to FastClick.
  • LoadJS and loadCSS for asynchronous loading of non-critical files for better performance.
  • A ton of WordPress-specific features that can be turned on or off with a single line of code (see below).

And the whole thing is powered by native JavaScript—no jQuery dependencies for anything.

WordPress-specific features

To help accelerate theme development, Keel also includes some WordPress-specific features that you can toggle on or off with a single line of code.

  • Beautiful mosaic image galleries.
  • A GUI for creating image-driven hero headers.
  • The ability to upload a custom logo.
  • Shortcodes to create button links and embed inline SVGs.
  • Custom page width and layout settings for greater design flexibility.
  • An option to disable comments site-wide.
  • A GUI for adding a message or call-to-action after every blog post.
  • A “Theme Support” page in the Dashboard for your clients.

Ugly on purpose

True to the original vision, Keel is a bit ugly on purpose. It

isn’t supposed to be a finished product. It’s a starting point that you can adapt to any project you’re working on. Add components. Remove components. Tweak the colors and font stack. Make Keel your own.

Built for mobile. Built for performance.

Mobile-first. jQuery-free. Progressively-enhanced. Powered by Object-Oriented CSS.

Keel was built to be fast and lightweight, and provide a kickass mobile experience.

Built for developers

Under the hood, Keel is powered by Gulp.js, a build system that minifies and concatenates your Sass and JavaScript, auto-prefixes your CSS, runs unit tests on your scripts, optimizes your SVGs, and creates SVG sprites.

It also includes a style guide generator to help you quickly bring your team or clients up-to-speed.

Where do you get it?

Check out the demo and download Keel at