Drupal themes are a Drupal Core feature that change the visual look and feel of a Drupal website without interfering with the content of the site. This allows for the CSS styling and HTML markup to be updated over time as needed with less effort than older HTML and CSS websites where the markup and content lived together in an HTML file. We have all come a long way since the days of Adobe Dreamweaver!
Drupal 9 Core Themes
Drupal Core includes some themes out of the box that have been thoroughly tested and are supported by Drupal Core maintainers. Drupal Core themes should be considered supported for ~10 years when released, so the new Olivero front-end theme and Claro admin theme are great themes to use for new Drupal 9 and Drupal 10 websites.
Bartik is the previous default Drupal Core front-end theme used from Drupal 7.x to Drupal 9.3.x that makes use of the Color module to allow for easy customization of certain theme elements like font color, background colors, and more. The Bartik theme is named after Jean Bartik, one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.
Claro is the new default Drupal Core admin theme as of Drupal 9.4.x that was developed as part of the Admin UI and JS Modernization Initiative. Claro was developed to be a clean, accessible, and powerful theme for rendering Drupal’s administration pages.
Classy is a sub-theme of Stable that adds helper classes on top of Stable that allow front-end developers and themers to quickly build modern looking websites with Drupal.
Olivero is the new Drupal Core front-end theme as of Drupal 9.4.x. Olivero was developed to be as accessible as possible
Seven is the previous default Drupal admin theme used from Drupal 7.x to Drupal 9.3.x. Seven was developed as part of the Drupal 7 UX Initiative.
Stable is the root base theme for Drupal Core that aggregates all the CSS from Drupal Core into a base theme. Stable’s markup and CSS should never change, so sub-themes of Stable can be sure that updates to the Stable theme will not introduce breaking changes.
Stark is a theme that is included in Drupal Core for demonstration and testing purposes which uses Drupal’s default markup and CSS without Stable or Classy as base themes. Stark can be useful in debugging issues with CSS and JS in modules that may be causing issues with a complex custom theme.
Starterkit Theme is a PHP-based command line tool that gives front-end developers and themers the ability to easily generate a custom theme using a Core or Contrib theme as the base theme.
Drupal 9 Contrib Themes
Below I have curated a list of the top Drupal 9 themes according to their usage statistics from Drupal.org. I have only included themes that are actively supported with at least maintenance fixes only for . I have also tried to ensure that all themes included in this list are covered by Drupal’s security advisory policy.
Learn more about Drupal themes on Drupal.org.
Bootstrap is a base theme for Drupal that is a port of the the Bootstrap 3 Bootstrap Framework enhanced with the features of Drupal. There is extensive documentation available in the docs directory within the theme repository to extend the base theme via templates, theme settings, or a sub-theme.
Adminimal is an administration theme for Drupal based on the Seven administration theme in Drupal Core, and was one of the first contrib admin themes available. Adminimal was developed to be a modern and responsive alternative to Seven theme with a minimalist design focused on usability.
Barrio is a Bootstrap 5 base theme. Barrio has extensive documentation, subthemes, and starterkits available to customize the look and feel of a Drupal website.
Gin is a newer administration theme for Drupal that is based on the Claro admin theme now included in Drupal Core. Gin was developed to radically overhaul the admin UI layout with some additional features like Darkmode included.
Adaptivetheme is an older Drupal base theme that has continued to receive updates to newer versions of Drupal Core and keeps up with modern front end trends and features. Adaptivetheme was developed to provide a sophisticated Drupal theme for people who do not code.
Bootstrap5 is a Bootstrap 5 powered Drupal theme that provides configuration options to easily create a custom looking theme out of the box. It can also be setup as a subtheme to allow further customization while still using the Bootstrap5 theme as a base theme.
Radix is a base theme that was orginally developed as a theme for Panels and Panopoly distribution has since become more of a general base theme with Bootstrap 4/5 support, Sass, ES6, and BrowserSync built-in for theme development. Radix relies heavily on web components provided by the Components module, which is a dependency.
ZURB Foundation is a mobile first, grid-based framework implemented in Drupal as a base theme. ZURB Foundation makes use of Sass and components for rapid prototyping of custom Drupal themes. There is detailed documentation available as well as a handful of modules to add additional functionality to the theme.
Tara is a lightweight, but stylized Drupal theme with a modern look and feel that provides features useful for many types of websites. There a bunch of features built-in including a slider, dropdown menus, Google Fonts, FontAwesome v4, and custom shortcodes to customize the look and feel of your site without a line of code.
Thunder Admin theme is an administration theme created for the Thunder distribution that was specifically developed to bring additional UX improvements from user testing and feedback provided by content editors using the distribution.
DXPR Theme is a Bootstrap based Drupal theme developed to provide a low-code Drupal theme with many possibilities. There are over 200 theme settings available with additional Color module support to customize the theme with node code required.
Vani is a lightweight multipurpose theme that is fully responsive in a mobile first design approach. Vani includes multiple theme settings including a built-in slider, dropdown menus, social media icons, Google Fonts, custom maintenance page, and the ability to use either Google Material or FontAwesome font icons.
Adaptive Theme 2.0
History of Drupal Themes
I started working with Drupal themes back in Drupal 5 when most contributed Drupal themes were very basic. Most Drupal 5 themes typically did not look great since they were created by developers.
Drupal themes evolved to be more stylistic through Drupal 6 with the birth of CSS3. Responsive web design started to emerge as the more efficient way to handle mobile layouts instead of maintaining a second site at some point between Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.
Drupal 8 provided a great framework for building responsive web designs, and most Drupal 8 themes are responsive out of the box. Accessibility became a focus for Drupal 8 themes and since Drupal 9’s release there have been initiatives to make Drupal more accessible for both users and administrators as Drupal’s Seven theme had massive improvements to it’s accessibility while doing content administration and site building.