Theme Frameworks Explained [Animated Infographic]

What is a theme framework?

According to WordPress.org:

The term “Theme Framework” currently has two meanings:

  1. “drop-in” code library that is used to facilitate development of a Theme
  2. 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

Wrapping your head around exactly what that means can be kind of hard, so I made this animated infographic to help explain what WordPress theme frameworks are.

Hopefully this clears up any remaining ambiguity 🙂

So in summary:

  • Child themes are used to make modifications to parent themes without directly modifying the parent theme’s code.  This way, the updates are future-proof
  • Frameworks like Genesis offer more functionality and layout options than most parent themes (more robust).  However, they often outsource more design to child themes
  • Drop-in frameworks add functionality and/or layout options to a parent theme.  Like a child theme, the parent theme never modifies the drop-in framework so that the framework can be updated and the theme stays future-proof
  • Using a framework of any kind is going to decrease your development time and open up access to a community.
  • Most Drag-and-drop frameworks work the same as normal frameworks, but have a drag-and-drop system for building the layout and designing the parent.

Brian Krogsgard has a more detailed exposé on the use of the term “framework” you should check out if you want to get more in-depth with theme frameworks.

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2 Comments
  1. Daniel Brown Daniel Brown

    I have a one question. Which is a best theme framework for WordPress to use?
    Genesis/ Themler / TemplateToaster ?

    • Hi Daniel, I’ve always liked Genesis personally. It’s hard to say which is best without knowing what your goals for your site are, but Genesis has the biggest community.

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