The WordPress Theme Frameworks - ultimate guide for starter

WordPress is one of the magnificent open-source web software that you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. In the beginning days of WordPress, there were some horrible problems with the way how themes were developed and maintained. There was no good way of upgrading WordPress themes without losing all the custom styling options. There was no way to prevent copying and

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pasting of the same functionality code in all themes. But now, creating custom WordPress themes is exceptionally instinctive and relatively easy using the WordPress application programming interface (API).

If you’re going to design a WordPress site, there are a few ways you can start:
  • Start with an HTML template & then add the WordPress code. 
  • Start with the basic WordPress code and design around that. 
  • Start with a starter theme or framework.

 Most of the designers begin with a starter theme or framework which is arguably the most efficient way to create a WordPress theme.

What is a Theme Framework?

From the introduction of the article, we can get the basic knowledge of the WordPress Theme Framework. But ‘WordPress Codex” states the term “Theme Framework” as:
 A “drop-in” code library that is used to facilitate the 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.
Manually, A theme framework is an advanced kind of WordPress theme with extra features allowing users to customize, adjust, and develop it. Frameworks are designed to work as parent themes, which means that when using one to build a site, you’d normally use a child theme. You might buy or download your child theme from the framework developer (or a third party) or manufacture one yourself.
According to the framework you’re using, the systems of customizing a site running on a framework may vary. Some include a range of customization you can make via options screens in the dashboard, while others will require you to code. This means that a framework can include some or all of:

  • Dashboard screens, which let you customize the content, outline, design, format, and layout of your site.
  • Widget areas in multiple locations on the page or in different template files.
  • A range of template files (some frameworks include a small number while others have dozens)
  • APIs including hooks and functions you can access in your child theme or plugins.
  • Add-ons in the form of plugins designed to work with the framework.

This method allows you to keep the “framework” of your site strong without modifying how it looks.

Why will we use Theme Framework?

The great reason for using Theme Framework is- Users can take profit from this without know good coding. That means, User can speed up their development. These frameworks drastically reduce 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 themselves. Besides this:

  • 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.
  • The Theme Frame can be modified anytime the user wants.
  • The parent's themes are well coded and any types of bugs can be solved within the update.
  • Most of the theme frameworks include support from the theme developer or from a community of users. If this is important to you, check what’s available and how much it will cost, as this varies.
  • Some frameworks come with flexibility in the form of options screens which you can use to customize your layout, design, and more, and some have APIs which means you can extend the framework however you need to.
  • The user is assured of excellent support from the parent themes.
  • So, without any doubt, Theme Framework is the best option for creating a magnificent website on customer demand. 

5 Most Popular Theme Frameworks in detail:

There are two types of frameworks as Free & Paid. As we’ll see from examining some frameworks in detail, the features can vary significantly between them so it pays to identify what your requirements are before you pick one.


The Genesis framework is probably the most popular premium framework available right now. It has a large community of users and developers and a wide range of child themes available. Its API includes over 50 action hooks and 60 filters but if you're not a coder you can use its dashboard screens or a child theme to create a great website. And unlike other premium frameworks, you only have to pay for it once.

PRICE: $59.95
  • Extensive feature set
  • SEO based
  • HTML5 coded using
  • Great support & update
  • Secure
  • Extensive API
  • Custom widgets and layouts
  • One-off purchase fee
  • Large user and developer community
  • Suitable for both coders & non-coders
  • Great child themes & cleanly written
  • Need more time to learn
  • Huge code base

Customizability: B
For developers: A-
For non-coders: A
UX Rating: A
Overall Rating: B+

Cherry Framework

The Cherry Framework includes a responsive layout and Bootstrap integration. The Framework itself is free with a range of premium child themes sold via a theme club. While its lack of API will limit its usefulness to developers, the fact that the framework is free with three child themes and that a large library of premium child themes is offered will make it very tempting for non-coders.
  • Large feature set
  • Multiple template files
  • Automatic updates
  • A great combination to framework-to-child theme
  • Backup and restore the framework
  • Bootstrap based
  • Easiest to use as free
  • Responsive
  • Different pricing options for child themes
  • Huge ranges of child themes including three free ones
  • Disadvantages:
  • No API
  • Slideshow system challenging for new user
  • Huge code based

Customizability: B+For developers: C+
For non-coders: A
UX Rating: C+
Overall Rating: B-


Headway is a framework with a drag and drop interface that replaces the relevant WordPress dashboard screens and looks very different from a normal theme options screen. However, the interface isn't very intuitive for non-technical users. It does have an API though with action and filter hooks which developers can tap into in child themes.

  • Easy to customize landing pages
  • SEO based page
  • HTML5 and CSS3 coded
  • Easy to navigate drag-and-drop interface
  • Grid layout
  • Sleek performance-wise
  • The drag-and-drop interface means non-coders can make changes to default templates
  • Additional options via extension blocks
  • Layouts become responsive when a checkbox is ticked
  • API includes
  • For access to updates and ongoing support, you’ll have to subscribe each year
  • A limited number of child themes
  • Confusing to use a standard WordPress dashboard.
Customizability: A-
For developers: B
For non-coder: A
UX Rating: C+
Overall Rating: B+


Ultimatum includes everything you need to build your own custom theme using WordPress. The tool comes with a powerful form builder, a range of sliders for creating post and image slideshows, is fully WooCommerce compatible, and comes bundled with the powerful Visual Composer drag and drop page builder plugin. This last inclusion means that creating custom layouts for individual posts and pages is very straightforward and produces some great results.

PRICE: $65-$125 Pro License
  •  Layer slider
  •  Amazing form builder
  •  Cool slideshow
  •  Short-codes
  •  Visual composer page builder
  •  Revolution slider
  •  ShowBiz Carousels
  •  WooComerce integration
  •  Post ordering
  •  Post galleries
  •  Customize design
  •  Drag-and-drop interface
  •  More templates file
  •  Boostrap added
  •  Configurable setting
  •  Steep learning curve
  •  Complex for non-coders
Customizability: A-
For developers: A
For non-coders: A
UX Rating: B-
Overall Rating: A


The thesis has a terminology all of its own, which can be confusing for anyone who’s familiar with WordPress terms. It uses a system of boxes, skins, and site tools, which are the equivalent of widgets, child themes, and plugins. It's available by annual subscription with subscriptions varying for different packages.

PRICE: $87 basic
  • The community of developers and users
  • Custom 404 error
  • Bundled plugins
  • Great landing pages that convert
  • Customizable Typography

  •  Low cost for one site with support
  •  Expensive packages with more plugins
  •  Thesis 2.0 SEO built
  •  Boxes not available as standalone
  •  Confusing terminology
  •  Limited range of skins/child themes
  •  No API
Customizability: B-
For developers: C+
For non-coders: B-
UX Rating: C+
Overall Rating: C+

Whichever you pick needs to be the privileged one as indicated by your own criteria, so truly it’s dependent upon you!  I hope that this article helps you understand what is a WordPress Theme Framework, and if you should use it or not. If you think I missed something or made it wrong, then please let me know in the comments. If you are using a framework on your site, then let me know in the comments which one. Why do you prefer to use the framework that you do? Looking forward to hearing your responses. Thank you!

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