Learning by doing is probably one of the best methods of self-preparation. Many WordPress experts started their trade with testing the features of themes and plugins. Step by step, feature by feature, they learned the ins and outs of complex themes and plugins. Next, some of them made contributions by reporting a bug, sending feedback to the creators, or changing a few lines of code. Self-taught developers were born in this way.
Learning to code may sound frightening to WordPress users, but most of them are receptive to the idea of building themes or plugins. Currently, the average WordPress user with limited coding knowledge can create a decent WordPress theme by using a theme framework.
If you are interested in transforming yourself into a user who knows how to do more than test a theme’s options, this article is for you! You will learn what a WordPress theme framework, a parent theme, and a child theme are. As a bonus, we will feature a few theme frameworks to test their capabilities.
What Is a WordPress Theme Framework?
According to the WordPress Codex, a framework is a “set of standards for theme developers to use in creating their own themes.” The technology evolved, and some frameworks took the shape of plugins that allows users to create themes by dragging and dropping building items. Others are similar to multipurpose themes that give the users endless customization options.
A parent theme and a framework have many overlapping features that can trouble users. A parent theme is the default theme that is fully functional and allows users to set customization options. A child theme declares a certain theme as its parent; the child theme inherits the functionality and styling of the parent theme.
So what is the difference between a framework and a parent theme? In plain English, each framework can be a parent theme, but not all parent themes are frameworks. Think of parent themes as default solutions while frameworks are used mostly as a template to create themes.
You will better understand the potential of a framework once you test a few of them. But before installing a framework, let’s look at its advantages and disadvantages.
- Solid Foundation – Most frameworks are genuinely helpful in speeding up theme development. They contain the code and design items needed to craft a WordPress theme. Instead of writing code or searching for snippets, a framework contains all of it, and you can focus on creating a refreshing user experience.
- Time Saver – The more themes and sites you create, the more you will appreciate the arsenal of a framework. It saves your time by avoiding repetitive tasks. Regardless if you are developing an e-commerce platform or a portfolio theme, a framework has the needed items to develop that theme.
- Compliant Code – Popular frameworks are written by respecting WordPress’s coding standards. The themes developed with these frameworks will adhere to these standards. Clients and search engine spiders appreciated the clean code, so the chances are that you will maintain a loyal base of customers.
- Support and a Helpful Community – Not all frameworks have a large community around them, but most of them are the core of a group of users. You can ask for help and provide guidance when others face issues you have already resolved. The majority of frameworks creators also provide support, so you can ask for help if you are stuck in a seemingly unsolvable situation.
- Learning Curve – Each framework comes with its particular learning curve. The onboarding process varies depending on each framework’s complexity. It’s not profitable to purchase a framework to use only for your site. The time invested in learning how to use it doesn’t pay off for your site alone. Mastering a framework requires strong commitment and a lot of time spent testing all its features.
- Price – There are a few top-notch frameworks that are free of charge. Still, if you want a powerful and reliable framework, you will have to pay. Most frameworks use the subscription model, but there are a few that only require a one-time fee. No matter the pricing model, you will have to pay to get a quality framework.
Now that you have an idea of what frameworks are and their pros and cons, let’s take a look at our recommendations:
ThemeFuse developed Unyson, a free framework that takes the shape of a visual builder. Install it, and you will be able to create outstanding pages with the help of a builder. Go to Pages > Add New and click on Visual Page Builder. You will then see three panels: Layout Elements, Content Elements, and Media Elements.
Layout Elements lets you decide on the layout structure, and Content Elements consists of 20+ items (Accordion, Flip Box, Map, Tabs, Widget Area, etc.) to insert into pages. Media Elements is the panel from which you can add videos and images.
Unyson impresses with its countless customization options; practically every pixel is tailorable. Without a doubt, this framework fits like a glove for people who have limited coding knowledge. Still, designers can use it to create stellar themes.
The Codestar framework is lightweight but powerful—this combination works as a magnet for most developers. Bear in mind that it’s free, so you won’t waste any hard-earned dollars by testing this framework’s potential. Unfortunately, however, support isn’t the strongest aspect of Codestar.
Gantry is a free open-source framework that is featured in the WordPress Codex. It’s lightweight and fast, so working with it will be a pleasure. The interface is user-friendly, and developing a theme is intuitive; the layout manager is genuinely powerful and simple to use.
Even though you may not have been interested in WordPress frameworks, you have probably heard about Genesis. It’s probably the most famous framework, and there are a couple of reasons for this. First, the code is well-written and bug-free. Many top-class developers use Genesis, and they speak highly about its robust code. Second, you get significant value for the price you pay.
Currently, Genesis costs a one–time fee of $59.95, and you benefit from detailed tutorials and unlimited support and updates. Third, a large community of users centered around Genesis, and you can get help from them.
Genesis is powerful and reliable, but less experienced users won’t get the most from it. If you have a limited coding knowledge, Dynamik is the proper tool for you. Dynamik is labeled as a Genesis child theme on its presentation page. Unlike Genesis, this framework is targeted at all users, including amateur WordPress users.
Dynamik is robust and powerful, and it significantly streamlines theme development. It’s a framework that combines ease-of-use with abundant design options.
A WordPress Theme Framework is an efficient tool that helps developers. The market for frameworks is growing, and there is enough room for improvement. Expect new players or notably better versions sometime this year.
In this article, I have only scratched the surface. WordPress Theme Frameworks are complex and mighty tools. Are you interested in reading more posts about WordPress frameworks? What do you think about them? Would you take a look at our suggested frameworks, or do you have another favorite? Leave a comment and engage with us!
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