The thing I enjoy the most about being an online business owner is this: Nobody can take away what I have built with SBI! - John Shank, SBI! member since 2003

Key Benefits of Using a WordPress Theme Framework

Written By: SiteSell in How Solopreneurs Build Their Business, WordPress | November 24, 2014

Key Benefits of Using a WordPress Theme Framework

Fortunately for most of us, the days of hand-coding an entire website from scratch ended when WordPress was launched and the concept of a “theme” was introduced. A WordPress theme controls both the functionality and the stylistic features of a website.

You can configure and customize a theme (ex., colors, fonts, logo, header image, layout) making it unique from others using the same theme. You may need some coding knowledge to properly customize a theme, but there are also web designers (including SiteSell Professionals) who offer customization services at reasonable rates.

Because WordPress themes control both functionality and style elements, this can present a problem for the website owner whenever the theme is updated. Unless customizations are performed correctly using the theme options provided, theme updates will revert the theme back to the “defaults” set by the theme developer.

If you want to customize a WordPress theme, you should create a “child” of the theme and then apply changes to the “child” thus separating theme developer updates (parent) from updates and customizations based on the website owner’s requirements (child).

Or…

You can use a WordPress theme framework.

A WordPress framework operates like a “parent” to control the functionality of your site without affecting its stylistic features. A framework controls things like navigation and content layouts, and may even offer additional administration controls (ex., drag and drop design). The framework may also include custom content types (ex., a product item if using an e-commerce type framework). However, the framework would not control the color or font used throughout your site. This is reserved for the “theme.”

Framework developers offer themes designed to work with their framework. A framework theme is essentially a “child.”

Key Benefits of Using a WordPress Framework Theme

Many users find framework themes easier and faster to work with than standard themes. If you want to develop a highly technical site without spending a lot of time working out the kinks and learning how to create advanced features on your web pages, a framework that offers many of the features you want will save you a lot of time.

WordPress updates occur on a frequent basis, sometimes as much as ten times throughout the year. Each of these updates has the potential to break a theme or plugin. Frameworks often avoid that problem because they are constantly supervised and improved by developers. The developers will quickly release updates for the theme when a new version of WordPress is released, thus allowing site owners to keep their sites operational without any problems or the need for a complete theme change.

Should You Use a WordPress Framework?

There are several WordPress frameworks available, but they don’t all work in the same way. While one type of framework may fit your needs and technical knowledge perfectly, another may leave you scratching your head in confusion. In some cases, you may not benefit from running a parent theme or framework on your site at all.

However, here are some reasons that you may want to consider using one:

  • No Coding Skills: If you don’t know much about site coding and don’t want to spend time learning, many frameworks include tools and widgets that will make it faster and easier to establish a site that looks professional. You don’t need any coding knowledge to use these frameworks, and in a reasonable length of time you can create a functional WordPress site that viewers and search engines value.
  • Some Coding Skills: If you have some coding skills and want a highly functional, advanced site with a unique look and feel, using a code library or base framework theme will allow you to create your site just as you envision it. You will have the ability to change your color scheme or other stylistic details over time without completely redoing the entire design, and you’ll have greater flexibility when creating an amazing site unique to your brand.
  • Better Security: If you’re concerned about security, paying for a high-quality framework that’s updated regularly by developers is always safer than a free standalone theme. The updates will offer patches and fixes for any weaknesses that have been identified by users. A developer offering a popular framework for a fee is also not inclined to include malware in the download, which is a problem with some free themes.
  • Flexibility: The simplest reason to use a framework rather than a standard theme is to ensure that you can change the site’s style over time without losing every setting stored on your site. The ability to purchase a new child theme at any time is very convenient and can save you a lot of time as you manage your site over a period of years.
  • Performance: Good site performance is important for your visitors (who wants to wait for a web page to load?) and improves your rankings with the search engines. Framework developers understand the importance of clean and fast code, therefore sites built using frameworks tend to outperform their theme-only” competition.
  • Professional Support: WordPress frameworks aren’t free. They require a modest investment, therefore creating a commercial product. With paying customers who have a number of options to spend money elsewhere, framework developers usually have better than average support structures in place.
  • Simple and Extensible: WordPress frameworks may include features and functionality normally found in plugins, therefore reducing the dependence on additional plugins that “bloat” your WordPress site.

Stand-Alone Themes vs. Framework Themes

As great as framework themes seem, there are some advantages to using a stand-alone theme as well. You can get a site up and running quickly and easily when you select one theme that controls all aspects of site design. Some paid themes are monitored by skilled developers just like paid framework themes, so you can expect new versions from them whenever WordPress releases an update. Some also make it simple to establish a site that looks professional even if you know little to nothing about coding.

So how do you decide? Here are some things to consider:

Stand-alone free themes are a good choice if you’re on a limited budget and just want to get your site started. Be careful though. Free themes may not be updated regularly, can have security issues, and lack technical support options when they fail you.

If you choose a free theme to start, you may want to upgrade to something better as soon as you have the means to protect your site, your content and your brand. This article will guide you in choosing a suitable theme.

Think about your long-term plans for the site that you’re creating. If you want to create an authority site that’s popular for many years to come, then it makes sense to invest your time and money in a high-quality framework theme or supported theme. This will make it much easier to keep your site in line with the changing versions of WordPress, and current with the latest HTML and CSS standards.

However, if your goal is to throw up a quick web page on an unused domain that you don’t plan on using for years to come, then it isn’t worth the investment that a framework requires. You can use a free or cheap theme that gives the look and functionality that you need for this short-term project. If you decide later on that you want to use the site for a longer period of time, you can always switch over to a framework if it seems worth the time and money.

If you look through the many stand-alone themes offered and do not find anything that looks like the site you want to create, then a framework will give you the flexibility needed to create your site just as you want it to be. The framework you select will depend largely on how much you know about coding, what features you want, and how much time you want to spend customizing your site design.

At the very least, look for a framework or stand-alone theme that’s supported by a reputable developer or group of developers. They often allow you to ask questions through online forums and get design ideas from others using their themes. These communities are invaluable sources of help for someone new to web design, and they’re tremendous resources when you have questions or come across a problem with your theme.

One caution if you decide to invest in a WordPress framework – make sure you stick with it for the long term. Switching frameworks can be a time-consuming, complex and costly activity. In some frameworks, custom content types are created that have no “equivalent” in other frameworks or themes. This can create “content orphans.” That is, content that appears in your WordPress database but not on your site or in your dashboard.

WordPress Frameworks Reviewed

The SiteSell team reviewed a number of popular WordPress frameworks. In the table below we’ve summarized our findings to help you make a more informed decision.

Review CriteriaGenesisThesisPagelinesHeadwayWoo
Themes
Elegant Themes
Child Theme – AvailabilityYesNoYesYesYesNo
Child Theme – QualityGoodN/A – Thesis uses “Skins”GoodGoodGoodN/A
Specialized PluginsYesN/A – Thesis uses “Boxes”YesYesYesYes
Mobile / Responsive ThemesSomeYesYesSomeSomeSome
Site PerformanceGoodGoodVery GoodBestVery GoodGood
PriceOne time fee: $59.95 for base theme.Pro-package available for all themesOne time fee: Starts at $87$97 plus monthly feeStarts at $59requires yearly renewalSingle site license starts at $129plus a monthly fee$69 for regular subscriptionand $89 for developers subscription,renewed annually
Install on Multiple Sites?YesDevelopers License onlyDevelopers License onlyYesYesYes
Number of Customers78,000+/td>46,000+UndisclosedUndisclosed255,000+133,000+
Demo AvailabilityYesNoYesYesYesYes
Customer ExamplesYesYesYesYesYesYes
TutorialsYesYesYesYesYesYes
Refund Policy30-day money back guarantee30-day money back guarantee30-day money back guaranteeNo RefundsNo Refunds30-day money back guarantee
Auto UpdatesYesComing soonYesYesYesNo
Community SupportYesYesYesYesYesYes
Live Chat / Email SupportNoYesYesNoNoNo
Ease of UseYesSome coding skills requiredYesYesYesSome coding skills required

For more tips about WordPress and building a profitable website based business, please subscribe to the SiteSell Newsletter.

 

SBI! for WP
Save 33% On Your Online Business!
SiteSell
SiteSell is a privately held Canadian-based company that helps everyday people start profitable online businesses.
  • Michael Thompson

    I appreciate your research, very good explanation on key benefits of using a WordPress frameworks. I use Multiple Frameworks but I think “TemplateToaster”
    framework is easy to use.

  • George Fleming

    WordPress frameworks always help, especially when you are beginners and you don’t understand the concept of basic CSS/HTML. These frameworks like Genesis/TemplateToaster/Themler etc. can be quite helpful for not only beginners as well as professionals.

Join The Solo Build It! Community

Get the latest in best-practices and advice for your online business. Let each new article be delivered to your Inbox for free.