The theme is the foundation of any WordPress website. General looks, site layout, aesthetic impressions and functionalities are all informed by the theme of your choice, which is why choosing a theme, or developing a customized one either from the ground up or from an existing theme, is usually the first and primary a decision in web development. The thing is, the catch-all nature of a WordPress theme could lead to some difficulties in the long run.
A WordPress theme is essentially putting all of your eggs in one basket and when that basket ultimately outlives their usefulness, it’s your eggs that will suffer the consequences. Updating or upgrading a theme can be a hassle and if ever there comes a time that your old theme become aesthetically outdated, and you know it will, switching from one them to another can be a difficult process. Luckily though, we’ve got WordPress theme frameworks to solve the issues mentioned above.
WordPress theme framework overview
Do you know that a lot of different cars you see on the road today shares a lot of similarities under the hood? I’m not kidding; the diminutive Volkswagen Polo for example shares the same basic underpinnings with the luxurious Arteon and the Tiguan crossover, among other things. In automotive parlance, this underpinning is referred to as a platform (the VW example is called the MQB platform), where a modular base could be used as a base of a diversified category of vehicles.
The objective, first and foremost, is to decrease manufacturing costs, since a considerable amount of internal parts and components can be shared between vehicles while still looking monumentally different from the outside. WordPress theme framework works under the same basic principle. All of the functionalities and codes are pushed to the framework or the parent theme itself (the vehicle platform) while any stylistical choices are contained within the child theme (the car exterior).
The Advantages of WordPress theme framework
This modular approach makes sense. Cars really aren’t that different from each other and making it so that they share the highest possible amount of components as possible is an economically beneficial approach. WordPress themes might look different from one another but if 80% of their codes are exactly the same, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to be based around the same code? It definitely would and going with this approach has several key benefits, which are:
- Easier and faster development
Customizing a WordPress theme of your own so that you could have one that perfectly matches the vision you have for your website is time consuming because WordPress themes is by design comprehensive. Messing around with a child theme from a framework is considerably easier in comparison, most frameworks allows you to customize the design using a completely code-free drag & drop editor. This makes WordPress more in line with actual web builders like Wix and Squarespace.
- Flexible and accommodating with upgrades and changes
By keeping the functionality within the framework independent of the child themes, updates made to the framework or the WordPress platform itself won’t undo all of the customization you’ve made to the design of your website. Conversely, you can edit the looks of your website as much as you want to without ever worrying about breaking your website since any changes to the child theme won’t interfere with the framework. Alternatively, you can easily switch theme on the fly as long as you’re sticking with the same framework.
- Extensive built-in functionality with support for plug-ins
WordPress theme frameworks offer users features from full-on web builders like Wix while still keeping WordPress’ customization potential. They are not a compromise, they represent the best of both worlds. That means, more built-in functionalities within the framework and drag & drop editor for the child themes. Additionally, WordPress theme frameworks still offer users the choice of accessing WordPress’ extensive library of plug-ins if it hasn’t been covered inside the framework.
- Quality codes and extensive support
Even though they’re mostly easy to use, WordPress theme framework is a pretty complicated beast by itself and as such, most framework available online is developed by professional organizations. The problem with WordPress themes is that the promise support and the quality of the underlying code is far from a guarantee. One of the more popular frameworks, Genesis, offers a lot of features that went far beyond what themes are capable of for example.
Do you need a theme framework?
No, you don’t but should you use one? Definitely. If you’re used to dealing with themes, adapting to how frameworks function might take some getting used to but once the initial shock wears off, you’d find that they’re much easier to manage compared to conventional themes. This benefit isn’t strictly limited to those averse to code, even experienced web developers could hardly find fault with the modular approach that framework offers.