What is a WordPress Framework?

A WordPress framework is similar to any normal theme in WordPress. The major difference between the two is that a framework requires a child theme to add custom styles. A custom style adds new code with the intent of changing the look and feel of the theme you choose. Basically, a WordPress framework takes care of the functionality and holds onto the basic code, and it requires a child theme for additional styling.

Wondering how to use a framework and a child theme? It’s as simple as uploading the files of your chosen framework into your themes  via FTP. Then you just have to upload your desired theme and set it as active. That’s all there is to it. The order of these steps is important. If your framework isn’t uploaded prior to your theme, the components may not work correctly.

Two examples of WordPress frameworks Genesis and Cherry.
Two popular WordPress frameworks, Genesis and Cherry

Advantages of WordPress Frameworks

  • WordPress frameworks speed up the web development process because you will already have the basic structure of the site. As a developer you just need to pick a theme on that framework and modify the look and feel based on your needs.
  • Frameworks experience faster load times when compared to normal WordPress themes. This is because it is free both of junk code and heavy graphics. Most framework themes must meet certain standards in order to be released for use.
  • Frameworks are frequently updated, and you will always receive the latest features. This is the advantage that initially sold me on frameworks. Theme frameworks rely on child themes, which means when you upgrade you will keep all of your custom changes. You will never have to change what you did a month ago because of an update!
  • If you choose to use a popular theme framework, it will have a huge community behind it which you can use as you develop your business online. Having a community behind you is always a huge plus.
  • There are many different kinds of frameworks available to fit your needs and degree of programming knowledge. You can use a free framework, or you can go with a paid option. There are frameworks with drag-and-drop interfaces as well as those that are strictly programmer-based (see below).
programmer-based wordpress frameworks
Interface of a programmer-based framework. This type is very different from more user-friendly frameworks
  • If you are constantly updating your website, then you likely understand the value of SEO. Most frameworks come with built-in options for SEO and/or are optimized for search engines.

As you might expect, nothing is perfect in the world of web technology. Below are a few of the disadvantages of using WordPress frameworks.

Disadvantages of WordPress Frameworks

  • As mentioned above, some of these frameworks do cost money. Two examples of the most popular paid frameworks are Genesis and Thesis. Unfortunately, most of the feature-packed frameworks are not free. Some of them cost a one-time or recurring fee. In some cases you’ll have to pay for additional upgrades as well. This reinforces the need to conduct research based on the functionality you’re looking for and deciding which option is best for your business.
  • As also mentioned above, working with frameworks has a bit of a learning curve. All frameworks are coded differently, and if it has a unique interface, it will take time to learn. After you allocate some time to learn the framework you picked, however, it will actually save a lot of time going forward.
  • Nothing is perfect, and frameworks are no exception. They might force you to overwrite core files in WordPress, and you need to be aware of this when you’re looking for a framework to use. Most of the time, you’ll receive a warning from the framework if it’s replacing WordPress files. We highly recommend making regular WordPress backups just in case.

Overall, the pros definitely outweigh the cons for WordPress frameworks. While we were hesitant at first to use frameworks, we now love using them. After getting used to using the framework, it nearly cut our development process in half.  As you get started in WordPress, hopefully you’ll give frameworks a try. In our experience, they can definitely make things more efficient (and save a few headaches as well). We’ll be covering more on frameworks in the future, so stay tuned!

Have a question about WordPress frameworks? Ask away in the comments below!

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