Designing a WordPress theme can be very time-consuming, not to mention difficult and stressful. But there are some that use a Theme Framework. Before having ideas on what the best WordPress Framework, let’s begin by understanding what a Framework is.
Over the years, WordPress theme developers have created schemes and processes to make their work faster and easier. Some start by creating an HTML template and then build the WordPress code around it. This can prove to be very stressful, noting that you have to re-write codes from HTML to PHP, but others just find that easier.
On the other side of the moon, designers start with the rudimentary WordPress codes and build their design around that. For them, this increases the speed of the coding process because they just type in a language that WordPress automatically understands.
And finally, there are those who, in the most efficient way possible, start with a Theme Framework.
What are Theme Frameworks?
WordPress Codex defines the term “Theme Framework” as:
A “drop-in” code library that is used to facilitate development of a theme.
A stand-alone base/starter Theme that is intended either to be forked into another Theme, or else to be used as a Parent Theme template.
Theme Frameworks are tools that make the process of creating functions you see in a WordPress theme a lot easier. They are themes that act as a launching pad for development, thus, speeding the process of creating better layouts and designs. Theme Frameworks provide easy support and creation of child themes, making the usability of WordPress extend to vast horizons.
WordPress Theme Frameworks are used as parent themes. This means that all functions lean towards the Theme Framework. Developers can just create child themes to customize styling and leave everything to the parent.
Why Use Theme Frameworks?
They speed up development
They render functional and customizable options
They normally have drag-and-drop options, sliders, SEO and widgets built within the framework
They are easy to modify
The parent themes are well-coded
Bugs can be fixed within updates
You are assured of excellent support
You can customize your theme even if you are not good in coding
Start with Framework? Or Start from Scratch?
Personally, I think that you should use a Theme Framework, especially when developing a WordPress theme. Why?
You can easily develop your themes, thus, increasing your productivity.
It makes your theme follow the community standards
You are assured of excellent support from the parent themes.
What Theme Frameworks Does 1WD Recommend?
Update: This review is really not in depth to help you make informed decision. We decided to rewrite it and review theme frameworks in depth and detail, to make the best choices and pick the framework which is the most suited for you. Read this article about how you can 10x save website development time using WordPress tools, and then go ahead and read detailed Genesis Framework review.
Genesis Theme Framework is highly recommended by many WordPress theme designers. What’s good about Genesis is that it creates a great deal of power and price. It includes highly customizable elements for a not-so-expensive price. Recommended for advanced WordPress Theme designers, this Theme Framework surely is a good deal.
Cleanly coded design
Search Engine Optimized
Coded using HTML 5
Great support and updates
Custom widgets and layouts
One of the best things about Genesis is that it’s a one-time purchase product. That means once you bought the framework for your website, you never have to buy it again. (Isn’t that sweet!). Aside from that, the wide array of child themes give you a great amount of choice! Most of Genesis child themes are beautiful and cleanly written.
One of the concerns that most designers have with Genesis is how it affects the learning curve of developers. With a pretty template always there to save your ass, you’ll depend much on it to the point where you no longer develop.
Overall Rating: B+
UX Rating: A
I have reviewed Cherry Famework before and I have always found it cool to use. Unlike most items in this list, Cherry Framework is free. Yes, you read that one right. It’s free. And the great thing about that is you get almost the same features from Theme Frameworks you pay for.
Great framework-to-child theme relationship
Data management that allows you to backup and restore your framework and its child themes
It’s freakin’ free
Cherry framework is probably the easiest to use free Theme Framework I have ever used. With its flexibility, you can easily use Cherry in any WordPress-powered website design you want. It’s even responsive!
Cherry Framework’s Slideshow feature is challenging, especially for blogging beginners
Overall Rating: B-
UX Rating: C+
For non-coding designers, Headway can become a very powerful tool. With its drag-and-drop feature, this Theme Framework would make designing easier and faster. This gives users the steering wheel to control almost everything they want to without spending some time coding.
Easy to navigate drag-and-drop interface
Pages are SEO-ready
HTML5 and CSS3 coded
Can customize landing pages
Headway’s visual editor is probably the best feature that makes the Theme Framework a part of this list. If you happen to choose to use CSS, you can still see the changes before making it live in the website. That way, you can tweak and adjust small design details without worrying that it would mess up your whole design.
Despite the awesome features of Headway, there are still some things that concern me the most. The learning curve of Headway is sort of steep. You need to experiment on features first before memorizing every feature.
Overall Rating: B+
UX Rating: C+
Framework creators of Ultimatum dubbed this WordPress Theme Framework as the ‘total design suite’. This is probably because you can have the control over the details of your website without even coding. Well, this is a sort of a sweeping proclamation, but we can make the argument that Ultimatum is one of the best out there.
Amazing form builder
Visual composer page builder
Ultimatum provides a wide array of features, but what I like the best with Ultimatum is that it is widgetized. Every single area on your WordPress site is a widget where you can drag and drop elements and control the design.
Aside from the relatively steep learning curve that poses a great challenge for designers, ultimatum is a pretty cool Theme Framework to play around with.
Overall Rating: A
UX Rating: B-
Thesis 2.0 is a Theme Framework that serves more than 42,000 websites around the globe. It has become one of the best and most talked about frameworks out there. Thesis 2.0 impresses you with its wide variety of fonts, sizes, colors, columns that can be customized in your own accord.
Custom 404 error pages
Great landing pages that convert
What makes Thesis 2.0 great is that it allows you to create multiple templates and customize each post with your preferred template. That means you can totally revamp each post’s layout without messing the other posts. Aside from that, Thesis 2.0 has SEO built in the Theme Framework, so no worries about changing titles or meta tags anymore.
One of the major concerns for Thesis 2.0 is it’s drag and drop system. I somehow find it unintuitive. Because of that, you tend to add a lot of unused boxes, which mess up the CSS. Sometimes, you find yourself looking for a missing bracket.
Overall Rating: C+
UX Rating: C+
While X isn’t called a framework, it is built as one. X might feel as a surprising choice to use as a framework but as you keep reading, you will understand why it’s worth giving this theme a try and why I am considering it the best WordPress theme of 2015.
X theme was launched on December 2013 by Scott Marlow and Kyle Wakefield. After working for a year on X theme, they released it to the public one year ago. They don’t have a long background in the WordPress field like the Genesis founder but they are very experienced entrepreneurs. They came in the market with a fresh look to bring in innovation and change.
X theme has been built from a marketer’s perspective, which is what I like most about the X theme. Because in the end, no matter how beautiful your website is, what matters most is that your website gives you the results you desire and the leads to conversions.
You can read our full review about X theme and analysis, so you can understand if this theme is the right fit for you.
Here are a few of the Child Themes developed out of these frameworks:
What’s Your Pick?
What do you think is the best Theme Framework? Make sure you read our Genesis review as it is the best choice for web professionals in 2015.