WordPress frameworks are a web designing building block that gives you a standard set of code to help you build out your website. Unlike a standard theme, frameworks helps WordPress adapt to be more flexible or simply to provide a base of code to help you start your site.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Simplifies setting up basic code
  • Saves time
  • Adds functionality to WordPress
  • Uses up-to-date CSS & HTML techniques
  • Easy to update

Cons

  • Another learning curve added to WordPress
  • Sometimes they cost more than they’re worth
  • Sometimes frameworks can limit developers

Where do you begin?

Once you have decided you need a WordPress framework, where do you start to look? We have put together a list of the most popular free and commercial frameworks available for WordPress.

Genesis

Genesis.jpg

Website: http://my.studiopress.com/themes/genesis/

Developed by StudioPress
Age: 3 years

Genesis gives you easy to use features with plenty of customizable options for your site. All themes used with Genesis are child themes which means the core of Genesis and WordPress remain untouched when you customize the design. Updating the core framework and WordPress is very easy and keeps your site secure.

Key Features

  • SEO Features: smart design architecture & new Google Authorship markup
  • Uses child themes that can be customized on the fly
  • Unlimited support, updates, and unlimited website usage
  • Follows WordPress security ‘best practices’
  • Easy WordPress core and Genesis updates
  • Genesis custom widgets
  • Theme options: font size, colors, categories displayed, etc…

Pros

  • Easy stylesheet updating
  • Useful SEO integration
  • Versatile design

Cons

  • Using child themes only limits functionality

Our Take

Our experience has been that Genesis simplifies some aspects of WordPress while making others more complicated. Its easy to add their custom widgets, change theme options and update the framework.

Pricing

  • Genesis Framework: $59.95
  • Genesis + every theme available: $349.95

Thesis

Thesis.jpg

Website: http://diythemes.com/

Developed by DIY Themes
Age: 6 years

Thesis approaches WordPress a little differently. It has three distinct features called boxes (similar to widgets), skins (similar to themes), and packages (extra CSS bundles) which enhance the way you use WordPress. Thesis comes with a Visual Design Template Editor which allows you to control the look and feel of each page with a drag-n-drop system. SEO is simplified for every page giving you more control over how your website is seen by search engines. Integration to Google Authorship and Analytics is simple with a text field for entering in your ID numbers.

Key Features

  • Skins: pre-made themes that work with the thesis framework’s template editor
  • Visual Design Template Editor lets you drag-n-drop customize with typography, SEO, layout and more
  • Display custom templates created by the visual design template editor on select pages
  • Boxes: adds much more functionality to the widgets
  • Boxes are drag and drop in the Visual Design Template Editor which can be displayed on select pages
  • Packages: adds more options to your pages by uploading predesigned packages with the code you need
  • SEO: Fast loading PHP, CSS, and HTML, page meta titles and descriptions, builtin schema

Pros

  • Skins, boxes, and packages help users overcome some of WordPress’ limitations
  • Drag and drop visual editor for easy of use
  • SEO features are helpful

Cons

  • Does not use original WordPress widgets or themes

Our Take

Thesis 1 was great. Thesis 2 is bad.

Prices

  • Thesis Basic : $89
  • Thesis Basic Plus: $164
  • Thesis Professional: $197

PageLines

PageLines.jpg

Website: http://www.pagelines.com/

Developed by PageLines
Age: 9 years

PageLines expands the formatting options and design of your entire site. WordPress gives you basic functionality, but PageLines increases your choices about layout design, page types, fonts, and spaces. Members get access to exclusive PageLine apps and themes available through the store that builtin to the framework. PageLines explained

Key Features

  • Naturally responsive design
  • Layout control – 5 options for any page on your site
  • Use sections multiple times on one page by cloning them
  • Easy typography with 50+ Google fonts and web-safe fonts
  • Select special page types like blog, archive, category, search, tag, and author pages
  • Change colors with easy – background, fonts and more
  • Free and paid store plugins exclusively for PageLines
  • Support – Live chat, forums and email

Pros

  • Enhances WordPress without changing much code
  • Layouts and page types gives users tons of control
  • Design elements are easy to change

Cons

  • No SEO feature builtin

Our Take

Page lines gave us exactly what we needed. Something easy to use and offers the tools to change WordPress without altering any of the core.

Prices

  • Framework Only: $139
  • Framework Only Business License: $239
  • Framework + Membership: $97 + $14/Month membership fee
  • Framework + Membership: $197 + 19/Month membership fee

Gantry

Gantry.jpg

Website: http://www.gantry-framework.org/

Developed by RocketTheme
Age: 3.5 years

Gantry was developed by the RocketTheme by their team of expert WordPress theme builders and designers. It adds functionality to WordPress making it easier to use and more rigid. Gantry encompasses all of the universal elements RocketTheme puts in all of their themes.

Key Features

  • Intuitive administrator interface
  • Layouts, colors, features can all be different on any part of your site
  • Save presets for custom configurations for later use
  • Builtin CSS and JS compression and combination
  • Optimized codebase performs better than other themes
  • 65 widget positions, 38 possible layout combinations, 960 Grid system

Pros

  • Lots of theme options for pages and posts
  • Select when and where a widget displays

Cons

  • Can not use other themes on top of this theme

Price

Gantry Framework: Free

WooFramework

WooFramework.jpg

Website: http://www.woothemes.com/wooframework/

Developed by WooThemes

WooFramework simplifies the WordPress design process by giving users a standard set of features that is available to all WooThemes. The Framework gives you simple yet power control. Change colors, page templates, choose where widgets display, upgrade with one click, add custom branding and more.

Key Features

  • Consistent code structure
  • One click upgrades
  • Custom branding – remove WooThemes references
  • Shortcodes built into the content editor
  • Backend theme options – Colors, fonts, Google Analytics code etc…
  • Cross-browser compatible
  • Custom page templates
  • Choose where widgets display

Pros

Cons

Our Take

Prices

  • Standard Club Subscription: Startup Fee – $125 + Monthly $20
  • Develop Club Subscription: Startup Fee – $200 + Monthly $25

Steven Johnson, a WP Hosting Reviews senior editor, works from Atlanta and covers all things related to WordPress and Hosting. He graduated from Georgia Tech in Chemical Engineering, has managed hosting companies and now builds WordPress and Joomla Websites for small to medium companies full time.

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