Insider Secrets to WordPress Theme Frameworks

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So, you want to know what are WordPress theme frameworks? First, understand WordPress as a CMS. WordPress is an astonishing open source web software you can use to create profitable websites or blogs. Therefore, creating custom WordPress themes is easy using WordPress API if you poses some skills. If you’re going to design and code a WordPress site, there are a few ways you can start. Many designers and developers start with an HTML template, then add WordPress code to. Others start with the basic WordPress code and design around that. But others begin with a framework, which is the most efficient way to create a WordPress theme.

» What Are WordPress Theme Frameworks?

WordPress theme frameworks are “starter/base” themes that you can use as a foundation for the creation of your own themes. Frameworks are designed just to be flexible foundations that can serve as parent themes for building child themes. This way you minimize the volume of work which may be needed in creating a mainstay for your theme (usually by using PHP and WordPress template tags).

So theme frameworks make development more accessible, removing the need for programming knowledge – making a lot of people very happy. Some frameworks are more elaborate than others, but this is mainly the heart and soul of a framework.

» Why Use WordPress Theme Frameworks?

If you want to develop a WordPress theme you will probably be demoralized by all the repetitive tasks, like code writing and frequently checking your mark-up.

The answer to this problem is a reputable WordPress theme framework. The best frameworks are designed to quicker the process of designing and coding a WordPress theme by reducing your work time on WordPress back-end code that is repeated within every theme!

PROS of WordPress Theme Frameworks

  • Switching designs is a lot easier.
  • Time savings if you want to create your own theme options.
  • Efficient development.
  • Support via communities built around the WordPress theme frameworks.
  • Highly optimized for CSS, HTML, PHP functions, and Search Engine Optimization.
  • Code is written following WordPress standards and best practices.
  • Ease to update for future releases of WordPress.

CONS of WordPress Theme Frameworks

  • Learning how to use this all new stuff takes time. Most theme frameworks have it’s own hooks.
  • Prices are higher than normal one. But hey… that’s a long-term investment in your business!
  • Frameworks define what you can and can’t do. The longer that you use a framework, the harder it is to break away to try something else.
  • If the framework isn’t built securely, your site is vulnerable. Hackers can study the codes, find out weaknesses and use them against you.
  • If you are looking to create a website with some 2 or 10 pages, then use a simple WordPress theme.

Hence, a framework is a theme on steroids mainly designed to be a solid foundation for a parent WordPress theme for building child themes. Let me explain it using an example – consider a red car. Your WordPress installation, the thing which powers your website, is the engine of the car. The theme framework is the body of the car and the child theme does the red paint job.

Therefore, when you design a WordPress site using a theme framework you will need two things: a Parent Theme and a Child Theme. Before I start reviewing each framework, it’s important to understand what child themes are in the context of WordPress and framework themes.

Best WordPress Theme Frameworks

» What Is A WordPress Child Theme?

A child theme is a theme that gets the functionality of another theme (the parent theme) and allows you to modify, or add to, the functionality of that parent theme. Creating a child theme is simple. Make a new directory, put a properly formatted style.css file in it, and you have a child theme! With some knowledge of HTML and CSS, you can make that very basic child theme modify the styling and layout of a parent theme without editing the files of the parent theme itself. That way, when the parent theme is updated, your modifications are preserved.

Child themes give you the possibility to customize a unique layout on top of another existing WordPress theme. This is just perfect for WordPress beginners who want to play around with building their own sites. It will allow you to make changes to both the style and functionality of a chosen parent theme.

The benefits of working off a parent theme means you don’t need to write all the HTML/CSS from scratch – but nor messing up with too much PHP. A child theme will automatically use any template files you include, such as sidebar.php or footer.php. But if they are missing, then your child theme will pull the same files from it’s parent.

The child theme created is very basic, but it will give you all the building blocks you need to get started creating your own themes, even if you’ve never created a WordPress theme before!

» Where To Begin: Free or Premium WordPress Theme Frameworks?

So you are at the moment when you need a great framework in order to be more efficient in designing your WordPress theme and site, but there are quite a few theme frameworks out there on the Net.

What to choose? The answer to that is listed below. Check out the free and premium theme frameworks I review in a few words. Try a few of them and then decide which one works the best for your project.

Thematic WordPress Theme Framework

Thematic is a FREE, open-source project managed by a team of WordPress enthusiasts. Some highlights: very extensible, powerful search engine optimized, including 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for most popular plugins, and an entirely devoted community behind it. It’s perfect for beginner WordPress development professionals.

Thematic was first released in early 2010 by the WordPress theme developer, Ian Stewart. All of their public work represents the best in coding practices, web standards, and technical excellence.

Thematic WordPress theme frameworks

» Thematic Framework Features

  • Perfect to use as-is or as a blank WordPress theme for development
  • Search Engine Optimized
  • 13 widget-ready areas and more possible in your Child Theme
  • Free and paid child themes are available for upgrading the theme
  • Includes a sample WordPress child theme for rapid development
  • A wiki-editable guide to Thematic customization is available online
  • Support plugins like Subscribe to Comments, WP-PageNavi, All-In-One SEO, etcetera
  • Multiple layout options for 2 or 3 column designs
  • Modular CSS and basic typography
  • Editable footer text – you can remove the theme credit without harming the theme
  • Options for multi-author blogs

If you’ve ever had a problem you cannot solve, you can find help from Ian, Chris, Gene, and the rest of the Thematic community in the Thematic Theme Forums. Join the discussions in these forums if you’re working with a child theme or molding someone else’s creation.

» Thematic Child Themes

In order to install a Thematic child theme, the first step is to download the Thematic theme (like I said previously, from which this child theme inherits all of the functionality), than upload both themes to your server in the themes folder and activate the child Theme. You can find a few good child themes developed for Thematic, along with all of the Thematic child themes created by Ian, filed under the Thematic Child Themes category.

Thematic it’s one of the most powerful free framewoks. Thus, what is the best way to customize Thematic? The only recommended way is to create a Thematic child theme. You should never modify files in the Thematic theme directory. This is because modifications you make directly to Thematic will not survive an update to the parent theme.

And lastly, almost every functional aspect of Thematic is changeable via hooks and filters. If you’re not satisfied and your desire is to drastically change markup as well as functionality, you can add WordPress templates to your child theme directory and they will override Thematic’s templates.

  • Thematic Overall Value Rating: B
  • Thematic Customizability/Options Rating: B-
  • Thematic User Experience Rating: B+

DIY Thesis WordPress Theme Framework

Thesis (also known as DIY Themes) is one of the most popular premium theme frameworks, used on over 50,000+ websites. There are three licenses available: Thesis Basic, Thesis Basic Plus and Thesis Professional. The genius behind the development of DIY Thesis is Chris Pearson.

Thesis is a mighty framework – and I really think is the best “in the box” WordPress theme available at this moment, hands down. It has an in force HTML + CSS + PHP combination and easy-to-use controls that you can use to calibrate each and every page of your site with a precision that has never been possible before.

For someone who doesn’t know PHP and hacks, Thesis will give a lot of functionality you wouldn’t be able to obtain for themselves otherwise. The Thesis option panels allow you to command your site with ease, while Thesis does all of the heavy work “behind the scenes”. You’ve never had this much control over your work before, and this is exactly what makes Thesis essential to a legion of website owners.

DIY Thesis WordPress framework

» DIY Thesis Framework Features

  • Layout generator with 1, 2, and 3 column design options.
  • Flexible design: easy change fonts, colors and navigation menu order and titles.
  • Best in Class SEO: includes even Google’s Rel Author, site verification on Google and Bing’s webmaster tools, Google Analytics, support for Markup Schema, customized 404 page.
  • A full options panel for customization with coding.
  • Skin editor which makes building a website from the foundation deadly simple.
  • Customizable multi-media box (good to place sign-up forms for email newsletters or serve sidebar content dynamically on different pages)
  • Focalize on typography.
  • Full support: dedicated forum for support and customization questions

If you’ll ask Thesis users what they definitely love, the answer is: the flexibility in design. With the latest release, Thesis become a template engine that will allow you to build your own designs from start – you can customize so much things on your site just from checking or unchecking options. You can also upload your header and favicon as well as comments with the click of a button, just to name only a few.

That’s possible through the Thesis Skin Editor, a visual element for building templates and managing your design. The Thesis Skin Editor brings your skins to life by allowing you to click on, move, and interact with the elements of your site. The drag and drop skin editor makes it possible for anyone to create their own unique WordPress website.

Thesis hooks are also among heavy features. Hooks basically allow you to modify your custom functions file without leaving WordPress. It means you can customize your site without messing with the theme files. For example, there are hooks for placing content below your footer, before the comments or after your header. Most hard core developers will say you should know CSS to get the most out of Thesis. While this is probably true, I can say that I designed some of my sites without knowing code other than what I googled to figure out.

By default WordPress is one of the most search engine friendly content platforms out there. And one of the biggest selling points of Thesis is that it’s developed with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. Thesis had a great SEO base – improved SEO features use a variety of new builds to help your website be better indexed by Google, and in many cases appear higher in search results. Thesis has taken the place of a lot of free plugins I used to need previously.

As the Thesis community continues to grow, the number of well designed Thesis sites I see grows as well. There’s a full gallery of Thesis customizations you can browse on the main site to get an idea of just what Thesis is capable.

When you purchase a DIY Thesis theme subscription, you’re essentially getting a lifetime subscription to that theme. This means that you’ll be able to login at any time and download the latest updated version. That’s how you’ll keep your website up-to-date and on the digital edge.

Finally, Thesis have behind a great forum to help with customizations, upgrading or any questions you may have. It’s the first place I go when I have a question. Chris and the Thesis community is really good at helping you out. Besides, Thesis has a cult on writing thousands of tutorials to do almost anything you can think of using their framework.

Thesis makes online publishing a reality without compromising the key elements of a website framework: search engine optimization, accessibility, usability, and exceptional support.

  • DIY Thesis Overall Value Rating: A++
  • DIY Thesis Customizability/Options Rating: A++
  • DIY Thesis User Experience Rating: A

PageLines WordPress Theme Framework

PageLines is another top premium theme framework that was built by Andrew Powers. In case you don’t know, PageLines started as a consulting business, helping small businesses to get amazing websites and then market them. In a recent interview, he outline…

PageLines started when we built a CMS theme framework for WordPress to use with our clients. At ?rst we gave this CMS theme away for free and people loved it. So we built a pro version and things started there. My personal business philosophy is all about creating good karma. I became passionate about doing this when I realized how we could help them, if we solved their website problem.

There are 4 different PageLines options to choose from: Framework Only (Professional/Personal and Developer/Business Edition) and Plus Membership (Professional/Personal and Developer/Business Edition). After installing and playing a little with PageLines, two things become clear: it is quick and extremely intuitive. It takes a short amount of time to become comfortable with this framework. And customization is made through drag & drop and options – and that’s a hit so far!

PageLines WordPress theme frameworks

» PageLines Framework Features

  • Responsive design – PageLines framework will dynamically respond to the resolution of your browser or device.
  • Drag & Drop design to set up your content layout dimensions. Then select each of your 5 layout options on a page-by-page basis.
  • Add and control page-layout, text, colours and choose from multiple drag & drop sections.
  • Section cloning. so you can duplicate sections to use them multiple times on the same page. Each section gets its own options and is controlled independently.
  • PageLines code is engineered specifically for SEO performance with tons of options for social/viral marketing.
  • Tons of addons inside PageLines Store to add sections, plugins, themes and more.
  • Extensive shortcode library for adding buttons, carousels, alerts, modals, and much more.
  • Select from over 50 web-safe and Google fonts. Completely change the look of your website’s typography in seconds.
  • Color control to change the palette of your site in seconds with point-and-click; you can also change layout modes and add background images.
  • Design and deploy child themes, with a powerful CSS engine and extensive docs.
  • Hundreds of hooks, filters, and actions to tweak out on.
  • Friendly community and unlimited access to the basic practices you’ll need.

PageLines support center assists all users in achieving their goals by delivering high-quality, hand-crafted resources right at their fingertips. It offers quick access to the PageLines documentation, technical support forum, help desk and more, covering every aspect of the PageLines experience. PageLines Plus members also get access to a live community chat room which is supported from 6am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Powered by Campfire, the chat room is a great way for customers to get priority support quickly and easily.

When you install PageLines Framework you get two themes: PageLines Framework and Base Theme (use this as a reference for building your own child themes for PageLines Store). You can make any change you need to the PageLines framework from a child theme without editing the framework. This way when PageLines updates the framework you won’t have to worry about losing any custom changes you’ve made.

Template files that are copied into the base theme will take precedence over the same file in the parent theme making it safe for editing, while the original code is still maintained.

» PageLines Great Moments

PageLines is especially useful when it comes to create the structure of your site because of it’s terrific Drag & Drop visual editor. However, using CSS3 and HTML5, PageLines can be used to create simple designs or complicated designs, corporate sites, blog designs or portfolios, just to name only a few. Your imagination is the limit to what you can achieve with it.

But the user friendly Drag & Drop system it isn’t a live editor so you will need to save changes and then reload your page to see them. It should only take you a few minutes to familiarize yourself with how it works and the whole process of designing your page is hassle free.

Compared to other WordPress frameworks, PageLines offers only basic functionality for customising the colour scheme of your website. Background colors, primary text and link colors can be changed. Beyond that, customising the color scheme is fairly limited however there is a special section that allows you to define CSS manually.

PageLines is a marvelous option for bloggers. The framework really excels when it comes to customising the look and layout of the page. Blog posts can be displayed in one column as normal or, alternatively, a magazine layout can be chosen. In the magazine layout one blog post is shown at normal at the top and all other posts are displayed underneath over two columns.

The PageLines Store offers sections, themes and plugins for PageLines users. These items expand the functionality of PageLines considerably, particularly when it comes to integration with other plugins and services. The store section within the admin area of PageLines does not simply link to products. Sections, plugins and themes can all be installed directly through your own website. Premium items can be purchased directly via your own website too. There are several premium designs to choose from.

If you like the look of PageLines, I encourage you to try out the FREE version (called PageLines Lite). Of course, it doesn’t have all the features of the premium version however it will help demonstrate how PageLines works. In the end, why should you choose PageLines over the alternatives? In my humble opinion, PageLines is an option that should be considered amongst the top competitions. It offers some truly unique features, such as it’s Drag & Drop interface and built extensions via the PageLines Store.

  • PageLines Overall Value Rating: A+
  • PageLines Customizability/Options Rating: A+
  • PageLines User Experience Rating: A+

Genesis WordPress Theme Framework

Genesis is a premium theme framework that was built by StudioPress. The Genesis Theme Framework is essentially a core WordPress theme that is highly optimized with state of the art code and smart design architecture. It has a mobile responsive design and also includes convenient inbuilt layout, design and SEO options. The theme has been fully search optimized, and the clean, efficient code ensures your website and it’s content will achieve the best possible rankings in the search engines

Genesis has a child theme marketplace where you can buy all additional child themes. Genesis has native support for search engine optimization. You can set all the options in the Genesis backend panel, just like with most good WordPress theme frameworks.

Genesis, along with a Child Theme such as Prose installed, has several custom options panels that allow you to tweak everything from layouts, custom feeds, navigation, archives, SEO settings and design settings such as font types and colors.

Genesis WordPress theme frameworks

» Genesis Framework Features

  • Search engine optimized, including Google Authorship identification (options related to SEO are integrated into the framework and you require absolutely no plugins).
  • Lots of great turn-key designs available (child themes).
  • Update Your Site Instantly, makes customizing your site incredibly easy
  • Responsive design – automatically adjusts to fit perfectly on all screen sizes and mobile devices.
  • Import/Export settings – the Genesis Theme and SEO settings are completely portable, so you can back up, restore, and transfer settings from one install to another.
  • State of the art security.
  • Custom widgets and layout options.
  • Integrated, single-click updates to both Genesis and WordPress that are fully tested and supported.
  • Theme options include font size and choice, default layout, custom fields, header settings, navigation settings, and much more.
  • Post and Page Tracking/Conversion Code box.
  • Unlimited support, updates, and websites.

Get help with the Genesis Framework and child themes Genesis support Forums. There are also some basic tutorials on the StudioPress website. They also provide video tutorials, which are great and easy to follow, and they will surely help you get going with the framework after you have purchased it. Also there are many developers that you can hire if you have extra coins in your pocket!

Their are hundreds of hooks and filters in genesis theme, all these helps you and developers design and develop new child theme without writing complete new coding. In order to be safe with your blog, you can just install Genesis simple hook and with this plugin you can play around with more than 80 customization’s.

With WordPress being so popular, it can become a security target. Genesis was designed to be as secure as possible. So you could be sure that your site won’t be vulnerable to any known security loopholes.

» Genesis Child Themes

Building a custom designed child theme and just need the framework? Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation for custom child themes. Genesis Child Theme Marketplace where developers from around the community sell their work. All of the child themes you find here are built upon the Genesis Framework and are documented and supported by the developers themselves. These themes are not included in the Pro Plus All-Themes package, but we assure you that the design and coding of the themes are top-notch.

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis is another framework that’s well-suited to both developers and designers as well as end-users. The number of child themes available makes it an affordable option for those who don’t want a completely custom design.

Genesis along with a Child Theme is a great way to go. It provides a solid and secure base to tweak and customize your website or blog. The 35+ child themes available give you the ability to skin the site to look just about any way you want.

The Genesis Theme framework also gives you a full-featured options page where you can change your Theme’s settings from the comfort of your WordPress control panel. Turn you navigation menu on or off, exclude specific categories from your blog, and enable breadcrumbs on specific pages can all be done here.

Sites powered by the Genesis Theme Framework are search engine optimized automatically. This means you don’t have to download any third party SEO plugins, because Genesis allows you to change all your important SEO options inside its well document SEO settings page.

You absolutely must have a development team behind the framework cranking out awesome sauce updates on a regular basis. Genesis has a great team behind it. With people like Brian Gardner, Nathan Rice, and company you know you’re in good hands going forward.

StudioPress also offers Genesis plugins that can extend the functionality of your website in various ways. These plugins have been thoroughly tested and integrate very well with the Genesis Framework and child themes.

The Genesis Framework by StudioPress is suitable for all existing and would-be WordPress website and blog owners. It will allow you to get started very quickly, to create attractive and safe website and blogs, to customize as little or as much as you want!

  • Genesis Overall Value Rating: A
  • Genesis Customizability/Options Rating: A
  • Genesis User Experience Rating: A+

Catalyst WordPress Theme Framework

Catalyst Theme is a simple and easy to use framework to create a website with absolutely no coding skills – it can fulfill the requirements of users who want fully-functional websites, both rapidly and without much effort. The Catalyst WordPress framework is also different from most other WordPress theme frameworks because of the fact that it gives lots of customization. Catalyst Theme is a feature packed, extremely powerful WordPress framework with amazing flexibility and a Dynamic Child Theme that provides 600+ no-coding design options giving a vast amount of design control.

Catalyst WordPress framework

» Catalyst Framework Features

  • Unlimited custom layouts, 22 custom skins and hook boxes
  • The dynamik child theme provides over 800+ no-coding design options
  • Create your own custom child themes with a single mouse click
  • Custom CSS building tool that writes custom code for you
  • Font control – integrated with the Google Font directory API, and third-party fonts services
  • Full SEO options: with in-post/in-page and homepage title, description, keyword and meta control
  • Fast, efficient, HTML5 and CSS3 validating code
  • Image uploader built into the dynamic child theme
  • Page templates from powerful to simply essential
  • Full Import/Export of all your Catalyst and dynamic options
  • Custom widgets: excerpt widget, author bio widget, ad widget and a PHP text widget
  • Add your own custom Favicon and Avatar to your site
  • Fully compatible with WordPress MU (multi-site)
  • A pure framework filled with hooks and filters galore
  • Comprehensive documentation
  • Auto-Update feature

For creating your own website using Catalyst, you go through simple steps. First, build the site with the help of the theme layout options and start customizing it with the controls. You can also drop some preset options into the mix for an interesting look.

You’ve got 800 options to tweak the design of your site, coupled with the skinning ability – you can customize almost every aspect of your site. The layout option gives you the ability to position your sidebars, header, body and navigation. You can create your own text-based logo with the branding option. Also, you can upload them. The theme has two navigation bars, which is tremendous in case you decide to add a nav-bar into the footer, or anywhere else for that matter.

The design option has everything you need to give your site the look you want when it comes to colors and fonts, plus borders and spacing. Sometimes it’s the way colors are combined on your site that has the biggest impact on the visitor, sometimes it’s the fonts. Using CSS builder you create custom styles for a lot of aspects like fonts, backgrounds, borders, margins and padding.

Catalyst presents you with the ability to customize the aspects of any websites. There are ten tabs (Core Options) for you to choose from: info, SEO, header, navbars, content, excerpts, comment, footer, scripts and import/export.

Dynamik is a child theme that comes bundled with Catalyst theme. Catalyst provides all of the core functionality for the website, and Dynamik provides the design. When you download and install Catalyst, it is recommended that you activate Dynamik. This will give you lots of design options to help you build a website.

The tabs used are as follows: body, wrap, header, navbar 1, navbar 2, content, comments, sidebars, footer, widths, EZ, widgets, search, crumbs, author, post nav, hide, responsive, images, and import/export. With the Advanced Options you can unleash the full power of Catalyst by applying custom layouts, custom widget areas, custom hook boxes, and activating the custom CSS builder on the front-end.

Catalyst theme comes with some really solid SEO features. You can add title and description to every post, page and category but also I have noticed that the code is clean and optimized for performance. This is always a big plus when you want a well optimized theme for SEO. And it’s also fully responsive. Optimized plugins for search engine optimization, social media marketing and WordPress MU will give you an added advantage.

Catalyst members enjoy the same benefits: unlimited websites, lifetime updates, access to the Catalyst documentation, the Support Forum, and Free Marketplace Products. These Marketplace Products include Dynamic Skins, Child Themes, Plugins and Custom Graphics. Catalyst also is one of the best in the field for theme support, it’s knowledgeable support group is active and offer you quick advice if you run into problems.

Catalyst is a great framework – the structure of the website is build by pointing-and-clicking core and advanced options. Catalyst is for both newbies and professionals, business owners eager to get their online business up and rolling without needing to get the drawn-out road of building a website from scratch.

  • Catalyst Overall Value Rating: A
  • Catalyst Customizability/Options Rating: A-
  • Catalyst User Experience Rating: B+

Headway WordPress Theme Framework

Headway Themes Framework include tons of features for both developers and designers, and can be customized without coding knowledge. While it’s definitely among the more expensive premium frameworks out there, it’s also among the most fully-featured and user-friendly.

Headway Framework come in two versions: Base and Developer. The good news is that you can use the framework on unlimited sites, but… you get only one year of supports and updates (all licenses require renewal after one calendar year – but you get them all at discount prices). You’re also free to remove Headway link from footer.

Headway WordPress theme frameworks

» Headway Framework Features

  • Intuitive Visual Editor.
  • Create Beautiful Webpage Designs Without Writing Code.
  • Powerful Developer Tools.
  • Live CSS Editor.
  • Professional Search Engine Optimization.
  • Visual Editor and Layout Grid.
  • Professional Support.
  • Plain English Documentation.

Created by Grant and Clay Griffiths (father and son), Headway Themes will do the job through a drag and drop “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) visual editor. There are two primary features that make this possible. They are:

The Headway Grid – Build virtually any layout you can think of. It utilizes a block system. You have access to eight standard block types and an abundance of third party blocks including a header, navigation, content and footers.

The Design Editor – This is where it gets really fun! You can add colors, background images, and design features (like rounded corners, shadows). You can make your website look exactly like you want it to.

One of the things that I love the most about Headway is that you can have as many different page layouts as you can imagine. I knew you wanted some basic one-sidebar pages for a blog, but you might want to break out of the mold with a service page, a free training page, a shop page… you name it.

Headway WordPress theme allows those layouts in a simple manner, without coding. Few other themes allow those changes, but you need to code for that, and for me, less code is better. Or if you can afford it, you need to add skins or child themes to accomplish those functions, at extra costs.

Headway Base comes with 9 core blocks: Header, Navigation, Breadcrumbs, Content, Widget Area, Footer, Slider, Custom Code and Text. You don’t need using additional SEO plugins, because Headway takes care of this theme with preset values (customizable too). If you activate the Responsive Grid, your mobile visitors can view your site in a mobile-friendly way. Your visitor will have at the footer, a link to go back to the desktop version if they want to. Your website will automatically resize to the correspondent device.

Headway benefits include a great interface for non-developers allowing you to design in a visual way, with the less code possible. Save time and dedicate your time to other tasks that your site or blog, deserves like writing, social media, etcetera. This framework allows you to create new skins or child themes which act as a separate theme. Now in order to accomplish this task one will need to be a PHP and CSS developer. Actually you need to think otherwise, instead of creating new skins or child themes in Headway, you get an option to buy Headway skins from many online theme stores and even from Headway official store itself.

One feature of Headway’s SEO settings is the inclusion of a 301 redirection field (instead of using a separate plugin). Using this feature you can redirect users from a WordPress page to any external or internal link. This is particularly useful for those looking to create “pretty” affiliate links without a plugin or trying to manipulate the main htaccess file.

Headway offers support in the form of a forum. Users can pose questions and get replies from other users and official moderators – Headway’s founders and lead developers are also active on the forum. Questions get answered quickly and the forums are searchable for existing problems which have already been resolved. The Headway team is working day and night to release constant updates, fixing bugs and adding new stuff in each of them, so this is a good signal from the point of view of a user. There are lots of documentation, videos and a codex with detailed explanations.

Developers looking to make money can have their addons added to the Headway Extend marketplace. In addition to gaining more exposure for selling your products, Headway will setup a forum where you can direct customers for support and usually send out an email notification about the availability of your add-on to their customers.

Headway features drag and drop simplicity, offers a great deal of options, and is infinitely customizable. You really get to choose your own level of difficulty, but 90% of the functions are right at your fingertips in the WP Admin pages. Headway’s not just a WordPress theme. It’s a total website design tool. You’re not stuck with someone else’s design, so create anything you want. Websites, blogs, landing pages, online magazines – Headway Themes framework does it all. Types of businesses that could find the Headway Themes appealing: real estate, wedding planners, designers, photography, travel, blog, speaker or public personality.

  • Headway Overall Value Rating: A
  • Headway Customizability/Options Rating: A-
  • Headway User Experience Rating: B+

Gantry WordPress Theme Framework

Gantry is another free WordPress theme framework made by RocketTheme. This time, the Gantry framework is available for WordPress and Joomla. Gantry is highly customizable, and you have to install Gantry framework and also use child themes available from RocketTheme – a developer of free and premium WordPress themes.

Gantry WordPress theme framework

» Gantry Framework Features

  • 960 Grid System (12 and 16 column support).
  • Stunning interface to control all aspects of the design.
  • XML driven and with overrides for unprecedented levels of customization.
  • Layouts, colors, features, etc can all be different for any part of your site content.
  • Preset any combination of configuration parameters, and save custom presets.
  • Right-to-Left (RTL) language support (use language such as Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, etc).
  • Built-in widgets and gizmos such as font-sizer, Google Analytics, IE6 warning message.
  • Flexible grid layout system for control over block sizes.
  • 65 base widget positions and 38 possible layout combinations for main body and sidebars.
  • Ability to force ‘blank’ widget positions for even more advanced layout customization.
  • Automatic per-browser-level CSS and JS control.

Gantry is a set of building blocks to enable the rapid development of a design into a flexible and hefty web platform theme. One of the key concepts that make Gantry so powerful is that it provides a wealth of functionality that can easily be accessed by the WordPress theme. This makes it easier for you, the theme developer, to write cleaner code.

The framework is free to download, and supports custom theme development, along with support for child themes. It’s great in terms of layout and design flexibility and offers a rapid theme development platform. You can customize the layout by using the widget ready spaces, and can use the theme options to change the design elements per your necessity. The widget spaces are collapsible, so you can also choose to hide them in your page.

The availability of many widget areas along with multiple variations for each widget gives you a wide range of options for designing your pages. This is one of the reasons why many of the their themes are versatile and can be used for any niche.

Gantry gives you a perfect control on your theme by it’s easy to use interface, and doesn’t restrict you to just a small set of customizable spaces. You can use the color picker for creating your own color scheme, can choose between various menu options such as Fusion, Megamenu and Splitmenu systems, and can add widgets from various Rocket theme plugins.

Gantry have written extensive documentation that covers a full range of topics from installation to advanced concepts such as custom features. If you find your question cannot be found in the provided documentation. Gantry have recently created three Google Groups that support threaded discussion as well as a mailing list for getting help and advice on various aspects of the Gantry framework.

Gantry-specific forum is available to all active RocketTheme members. If you are already a RocketTheme member, you can can go directly to the forum. If you do not have a current membership, you should consider joining one of RocketTheme’s club offerings as you will get access to some great templates, themes, and styles for a variety of platforms. Your membership also helps to pay for further development of Gantry.

  • Gantry Overall Value Rating: B++
  • Gantry Customizability/Options Rating: B+
  • Gantry User Experience Rating: B+

» Final Thoughts

I know – when it comes to chose something, in our case a WordPress theme framework, everyone has their favorites. Some prefer frameworks that keep things simple while others, with more development skills, want even more than standard functions. But to get the most out of any WordPress framework my friend, you need to understand how it works and that takes time.

After reviewing these WordPress theme frameworks, I hope you knew what to start using – and perhaps this guide will make that decision much easier for you. Final selection will depend upon your needs, tastes and instincts.

Now, that you read all, I thought I’d ask you – which framework would you use? If you have an opinion, please take part in the poll…

Which Theme Framework Would You Use?

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1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (19 votes, average: 4.89 out of 5)
Val Popescu

SEO Consultant and Inbound Marketer
Owner of The Internet Marketing Profits Center

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