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-theme

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

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 Framework | Live Demo

WP Unlimited Framework (Single-Use $59.00 | Developer’s Pack $150.00)

wp-unlimited-theme

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:

wpunlimited-layout-options

WP Unlimited | Live Demo

Thesis Theme Framework (Single-Use $87.00  | Developer’s Pack $164.00)

thesis-theme

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:

thesis-options

Thesis Theme | Live Demo

One Theme Framework + One Panel (Single-Use $60.00 | Multiple-Use $110.00+)

one-theme

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

one-panel

One Theme Framework | Live Demo

Know of a WordPress theme framework we are missing?  Please leave a comment or let us know about it!

Kyle Eslick is WordPress enthusiast who took his passion for WordPress to the next level in 2007 by launching WPHacks.com as a place to share hacks, tutorials, etc. Connect with Kyle on Twitter or Google+!

  1. Paritosh says:

    Frameworks are good but they need someone with great knowledge of CSS and php. It is a headache of those who have never heard of there terms !

  2. Lio says:

    I think I’ll start working with a Framework on my next WordPress design… It seems interesting. VERY!

  3. Hirvesh says:

    Nice reviews! If you want to get more choice for theme frameworks, make sure you check out my post.

  4. Danny Brown says:

    Great collection of frameworks – I see more and more blogs using this now.

    One that was just released is the Headway premium theme from Clay Griffiths. Not only is it great for CSS and HTML whizkids, it also has a really cool drag-and-drop feature for non-coders to make their theme sing with.

    You can check it out here.

  5. Dan Harrison says:

    The only trouble with frameworks is some sites look very similar if the user doesn’t bother doing anything with the customisation.

    Great for creating structure and doing some of the design work, but it’s the CSS tweaks and browser compatibility that takes the time. If any of the frameworks handle the latter, then they’ll save me time.

    Dan

  6. PJ says:

    Nice roundup of frameworks, but you’ve left out the new Headway theme.

    Hirvesh’s post is a comprehensive list of all the frameworks out there at the moment, with a couple I hadn’t seen before.

    As an end user I’m still more comfortable with using normal themes, but I’m open to the potential of frameworks. I still can’t wrap my head fully around action hooks and filters, which seem like a big part of the power of frameworks.

  7. Kyle Eslick says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the Headway theme. :)

  8. ComputeLive says:

    Frameworks are really nice if one is looking for some simple themes…

  9. WebDev says:

    Great collection of frameworks! However, one great framework you just forgot is Sandbox, http://www.plaintxt.org/themes/sandbox/ .

  10. Tim Bednar says:

    I just posted a new release of a Free WordPress framework called Ashford.

    http://ashford.turtleinteractive.com

    Try it out before you buy.

  11. Kaitlin says:

    I’d say you’re missing one of the major players in this arena, Justin Tadlock’s Hybrid framework (themehybrid.com).

  12. mike says:

    Nice detailed post on frameworks…..i have seen mostly WP themes coming via framework which is good thing for bloggers

  13. Phil says:

    I just posted a new release of a Free WordPress framework called Ashford.

    Nice roundup of frameworks, but you’ve left out the new Headway .

  14. Nick says:

    Great collection of frameworks! …Great for creating structure and doing some of the design work….The only trouble with frameworks is some sites look very similar if the user doesn’t bother doing anything with the customization.

    but AT ALL great work…..thanks…

  15. Harly Warner says:

    Nice collection of the frameworks it looks awesome. But some time the sites looks same with their frameworks. But you have great collection i will try the framework.

  16. Brad says:

    Word Press frameworks often give you one or more starter themes that usually just work as is, plus an infrastructure that allows you to quickly customize the design for yourself or a client. Thematic is another free framework that offers some great features, including gorgeous tables, callouts, multi-page posts and support for displaying programming code.

  17. sam says:

    Great for creating structure and doing some of the design work with the help of css.it also has a really cool drag-and-drop feature for non-coders to make their theme sing with.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks »

Leave a Reply