Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Theme Frameworks
A WordPress Theme Framework is actually a parent theme with a special dashboard and with child themes, options and plugins included. You can consider a Theme Framework as a Design Management System because you are using it to manage your website’s design.
Initially, theme frameworks were created for theme developers in order to easily develop child themes Theme frameworks use a set of functions which other developers, usually beginners, can use to create additional layouts and designs. Frameworks are usually created to meet all the SEO aspects that a WordPress site might have.
Some examples of WordPress theme frameworks are WP Canvas, WordSmith, Unyson, UpThemes framework, Carrington Core and so on.
The functionality included in frameworks used for theme development are:
- Custom functions
- Custom hooks
- Options panel integration
- Custom callbacks
- Script library integration
Types of WordPress Theme Frameworks
There are two types of frameworks free ones and paid ones, but you will not find too many free frameworks or if you find them you should look after hidden costs such as child themes payment and so on.
Additionally, there are drag and drop frameworks such as Headway which have a page builder included and you can just point and click in order to move elements from the design of a website. There are also some frameworks with a set of full options for everything just like Themify. And there are frameworks built specially for developers like Genesis.
There are also frameworks created especially for beginners like Headway while others are created for more advanced users.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Frameworks
People usually use frameworks because they are satisfied by a couple of advantages such as:
- Support and community which offer documentation, tutorials and help for any kind of problems regarding the specific framework. You can easily get answers even from the framework developer or from other framework users.
- Updates and upgrades are also included in the price of a framework and you will not lose your child themes styling and functionality.
- Functionality is more complex than a standalone theme and usually, it can be customized as you wish.
- Time is essential when you want to build a website so using a framework will definitely reduce the time you need to create your website.
- Multipurpose is the keyword for nowadays websites. Using the proper framework you can make a presentation website of a product, but in the same time, you can use it as a community forum, blog and so on.
However there are also disadvantages like:
- Limitations which are present on the free frameworks especially, but also to those frameworks which require additional money in order to use either a premium version or to use child themes and plugins.
- Price is one of the biggest disadvantages because most of the frameworks are paid and some of them are available through yearly subscription.
3 Best WordPress Frameworks to Consider:
In order to understand better what a framework is and what includes you should read the following reviews:
WooFramework used with Canvas Theme is available for $99 or $199, depending on your required license type. The first price is representing the standard package while in the developer package is included layered Photoshop PSD too. You can also pay $399 for all themes package.
WooThemes is one of the most popular framework team due to WooCommerce. You cannot buy the framework alone so you need to buy a theme such as Canvas in order to use it. Both together are WooCommerce ready offering one-click updates, solid foundation, and portfolio functionality.
The layout is responsive and the theme has some shop facilities, child theme friendly, Google fonts support, custom widgets, magazine and business templates and it is also ready for WooSlider. Oregon Trail Schools and GROW Academy are using Canvas and WooFramework.
Cherry Framework is highly recommended by Template Monster because it is easy to install, it has tons of customizable elements, 24/7 support, regular updates. And it is also fully responsive with the color palette and diverse fonts. Included with Cherry Framework you can find slideshows, custom post types and post formats, shortcodes, custom widgets and a theme customizer with data management.
As major features, Cherry is multilingual and SEO ready. The package where Cherry Framework is included costs $69 and you can get 2 new themes every month together with more than 130 existing themes. You can even try for free 3 themes.
Gantry is a free framework, updated 2 weeks ago at version 5.2.15. With this team, you do not require experience or coding skills.
You should also know that Gantry has features such as MegaMenu support, Ajax Admin, open source, unlimited undo and redo, SCSS and LESS support, built-in fields, theme inheritance, off-canvas panel, YAML configuration, Twig templating, particle system and so on. However, if you want to support, you need to pay a yearly subscription of $99.
The framework is based on Bootstrap and even if it is free, it is not easy to learn and use.
In the end, you only need either money to buy a proper framework or coding skills to use a free one. However, depending on the complexity of the framework, you might need to spend some money even if you have coding skills. You should also consider the time you need to properly use a framework. Do not forget about your web hosting resources, because a large, complex and powerful theme will use a lot of resources.
The best solution is to buy an intuitive, complex and beautiful framework with dozens of plugins and themes available without hidden costs. You should always look after reviews, ratings and especially after live preview/ demo of the framework and of the included scripts, plugins, and themes.