Recently, one of our users asked us the question what is a WordPress theme framework? Before answering her question we did a quick search, and the results were surprising. There was not a single comprehensive article that explained what is a WordPress theme framework. Majority of the articles were sites listing the top free WordPress theme frameworks or WordPress theme frameworks compared etc.
What is a WordPress Theme Framework
A WordPress theme framework is nothing but a basic albeit well-coded parent theme. The major difference between a framework and a normal theme is you need a child theme to add custom styling with the former, which isn’t necessary with the latter.
If you create a child theme for your parent theme, you have every right to call that particular parent theme a WordPress theme framework. However, you should note that not all parent themes can be good theme frameworks, but all frameworks can be great parent themes. But before I go ahead of myself, let’s us see what WordPress says about theme frameworks.
Advantages of WordPress Theme Frameworks
- Time efficient – WordPress theme frameworks speed up the process of development since they come prepacked with starter code. This means, as a developer you don’t need to code your theme from scratch. Just pick a framework of your choice and build your designs on it.
- Faster page load speeds – Most WordPress theme frameworks load a lot faster than typical themes. This is because frameworks are generally free from heavy graphics and junk code. The code quality of WordPress theme frameworks is generally good compared to most stand-alone themes.
- Support – All (or most of) WordPress theme frameworks including the free ones come with lifetime support. You will get answers to most of your questions in the support forums or on the developers’ sites.
- High web standards – WordPress theme frameworks are written by diligent WordPress developers following strict web coding standards. Other than that, frameworks are peer reviewed, which means you get the best standards and more awesomeness. Lastly, most developers comment-out their code, which helps you to modify anything with ease.
- Easy to upgrade – On top of getting a lifetime of updates, WordPress theme frameworks rely on child themes, which let you keep all your custom changes when upgrading.
- Community – Popular WordPress theme frameworks have huge communities of like minded people. Having a community by your side as you develop your online business is always a great plus.
- Ease of development – Some frameworks ship with massive code libraries. Some frameworks come with drag and drop interfaces that remove the need for programming knowledge. You don’t need to be a pro developer to craft amazing themes using a WordPress theme framework. As a novice, you can create a professional WordPress site in no time.
- Increased functionality – WordPress theme frameworks come with built-in functionality including widgets, extended functions and so much more. Often, frameworks provide more functionality than normal themes not to mention they (frameworks) are way easy to customize and extend.
- Plenty of design freedom – If you pick the right WordPress theme framework, you can develop any design you set your mind on. You can create simple blogs thro’ to dynamic portals with multiple layouts. Once you understand the workings of your framework, you will be able to achieve so much more than just simple blogs!
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – You cannot ignore the value of SEO in online marketing. Your online business will benefit greatly when you optimize your website for search engines. Most WordPress theme frameworks have built-in options for search engine optimization.
Disadvantages of WordPress Theme Frameworks
- Cost – While there are a few free frameworks such as Thematic and Cherry Framework, the majority of WordPress theme frameworks are not free. You either pay a one-time fee or a recurring annual fee. In some cases, you might even be forced to pay extra to receive updates and support. Prepare your budget in advance by doing some comparison shopping but then go for a framework that suits your needs.
- Time to learn – Each WordPress theme framework is unique – they are coded differently. Any framework comes with its own unique set of functions, filters and hooks, which means you have to invest time to learn if you’re to take full advantage of the framework. Nonetheless, once you learn the ropes, you will be coding child themes like a pro.
- Framework limitations – WordPress theme frameworks are not flawless. Each framework has its own limitations that might force you to overwrite core files to accommodate your needs. This calls for vigilance on your part during the shopping process.
What type of Theme Frameworks exist?
Well there are Free one and paid ones… Ok seriously, there are a few type of frameworks that exist. There are complete drag & drop frameworks like nextcode that empower users to create everything visually without any knowledge of code. Then there are pseduo-drag drop frameworks like nextwoo . These frameworks allow users to drag and drop pre-define sections (similar to how WordPress widgets work). Obviously anyone can define custom sections using the available hooks and filters offered by the frameworks
Why do people use WordPress theme frameworks?
The main reason is to speed up their development. Theme frameworks drastically reduce the development time. The development time is improved because all theme frameworks offer a great deal of functionality and customization options, so the user does not have to code everything themedev. These features can range anywhere from (drag-drop functionality, sliders, SEO widgets, and more). Instead of creating a theme from scratch and modifying all the files, creating a child theme can be as simple as creating a new style.css file and customize a few functions using the functions.php file.
Should You Choose a WordPress Theme Framework?
Even though there is a learning curve, and they cost a little bit of extra money, in our opinion you should use a theme framework. Overtime, they speed up development time. It allows you to follow industry standards. Last but not least, you get great support from the developing team as well as others who are part of the community.
There are tons WordPress theme frameworks that are available. Themedev is powered by nextcode. You can read more about why we use Genesis. It is a great framework for development. It is not bloated like others with tons of options. You get just what you need. It plays nice with most other plugins that exist. Yes, you do need to have development skills to code a child theme for this.
Available Option Fields
A Simple and Lightweight WordPress Options Framework for Themes and Plugins. It has many Options fields with nice features like Custom Post type, Metabox etc.
Take time to understand your specific needs to determine the solution (framework or available option fields ) that will suit you best. Overall, WordPress theme frameworks have an upper hand over normal WordPress themes in terms of security, flexibility and functionality.