Over a year ago, I was among those that speculated on custom widgets and their role in the future of WordPress themes. One thing that wasn’t speculated on, however, was the rise of WordPress theme frameworks. Now, just over a year later, many of the leaders in the premium themes market are building their own internal frameworks which are used as the backbone to design their premium WordPress themes. For example, Woo Themes now has their own Woo Framework. Brian Gardner of StudioPress also recently informed me that he is also developing a framework for his StudioPress themes.
Premium theme designers are not the only ones using frameworks these days, however, and a few can actually be used by anyone in the development of their own personal themes! As with traditional WordPress themes, WordPress theme frameworks have free options, as well as paid alternatives. In the post below, I’ve collected the five major theme frameworks, and I intend to update this post as I learn of more WordPress theme frameworks.
Note: If these theme frameworks look a little plain, that is intentional. Frameworks are designed for someone to use as a building point, so they lack a lot of images and design elements. Once downloaded (or purchased), you can then build upon the framework to make your design. Many of these frameworks also include child themes, which allow you to quickly convert your framework into a ready to use design.
Thematic WordPress Theme (FREE)
Thematic is a free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework featuring 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for popular plugins, and a whole community behind it. It’s perfect for beginner bloggers and WordPress development professionals.
Thematic Framework | Live Demo
WP Framework (FREE)
WP Framework is a blank WordPress theme framework by Ptah Dunbar, which aims to cut down on your theme development time. It gives you a solid theme foundation to build your project on top of so you can focus on project-specific features right from the git-go.
WP Unlimited Framework (Single-Use $59.00 | Developer’s Pack $150.00)
The WP Unlimited theme has a fairly simple design but a very complex control panel, allowing the user to set up their blog without touching any code. Once the functionality is in place, then you can easily customize the design to meet your personal needs. Here is a screen shot of the control panel:
Thesis Theme Framework (Single-Use $87.00 | Developer’s Pack $164.00)
The Thesis theme framework is the most popular theme framework which has a cost associated with it and has built a loyal cult following. Among those followers are some very high profile WordPress sites built upon the Thesis framework, then customized for their personal needs. You can look through a list of these clients on their homepage.
Among the reasons people love Thesis is their attention to SEO techniques and the complex control panel:
One Theme Framework + One Panel (Single-Use $60.00 | Multiple-Use $110.00+)
By default, One Theme offers a variety of styles/looks to choose from and a complex control panel to get your site setup without having to hard code anything. The One Theme also features several child themes to give the user more customization options.
In addition to the design, you get their comprehensive control panel which they call One Panel:
One Panel Control Panel
Know of a WordPress theme framework we are missing? Please leave a comment or let us know about it!