Are you looking for a WordPress Theme design, but just can’t find the perfect “pre-built” theme out there? Or maybe you’re a designer or developer looking for a good foundation to use for the majority of your client base?
You’ve come to the right place. As I’m sure you already know, WordPress is just the software that helps store, organize and manage your website content in a database – and WordPress Themes give you the look or design that visitors see. Even though there is a huge market for free and premium themes, you can’t always find the perfect fit – especially if you’re developing a custom website.
But building a theme from scratch can be time-consuming and not-so-economical for most clients.
And that’s where theme frameworks come in. They do the heavy lifting of the theme so that you or the designer/developer can focus on features and design. It’s like buying the foundation and frame of a house that’s already got the rough electrical and plumbing done. But when you use a WordPress theme framework for developing a website, the framework has all the hooks, filters, grids, etc so that you can quickly apply your custom design elements or snippets of code to make the site look just right.
It’s a win all around. You get the well-written code that you need from the beginning, faster site development, flexibility to make modifications to your own site – all without compromising on the actual design that you are looking for.
Another thing that you might find useful: a WordPress theme framework generally means one of two things:
- It’s an internal theme framework developed by a specific theme seller or marketplace like Divi by Elegant Themes. All of Elegant Themes’ themes are built on the same solid foundation – so practically all of their functionality will be the same. Note – you may or may not be able to purchase a framework like this independently…it just depends on the particular company or developer.
- It’s an independent framework that anyone can use as their project foundation. For example, you can purchase a framework like Genesis by itself and build up your own design/theme. Or you can buy Genesis along with a theme and go from there.
All that said, frameworks are brilliant and incredibly useful for everyone. Here’s a collection of 13+ Premium Theme Frameworks for WordPress (with paid support) so you can design a custom website quickly without breaking your budget.
Disclosure – this website receives customer referral fees from companies and products mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on ShivarWeb staff’s independent research and professional judgement.
WordPress Theme Frameworks
According to some, Genesis was the original WordPress theme framework. It has amazing features, and many WordPress developers swear by it – all because it truly follows best practices in every way. You can do practically anything you want with it. In fact, this site is built on Genesis! It also has a huge selection of pre-built child themes if that’s what you’re looking for. See Genesis here.
This is the latest release of Thesis, which is a well-thought out frameworks that has amazing SEO, great markup, and infinite possibilities. It has a drag and drop style creator, so you can technically design pages with coding. A lot of bloggers love this framework because it comes packaged with email subscription and social media integration. Check out Thesis 2.0 here.
WooThemes is one of the most popular premium theme providers for WordPress – and almost all their themes are built on WooFramework 6. It’s really flexible and powerful, plus they just added some great features that really improve the experience for you and your clients. It’s a great choice for eCommerce sites. Their library of themes is pretty versatile. Check out WooThemes built on WooFramework here.
Canvas is a specific theme by WooThemes that functions as a framework. Several of WooThemes’ designs are child-themes of this one – and it allows you to modify practically everything from within your Theme Options panel. It’s a great choice for beginners or developers alike. See Canvas by WooThemes here.
PageLines has an awesome drag and drop builder that makes the design work so easy! Rather than having whole themes to choose from, they offer some great layouts and page templates to give you something to work with. They also have some helpful, well-coded extensions that may also increase their usability for your specific project. Check out PageLines here.
Elegant Themes’ setup is similar to that of WooThemes. All of their themes are built on a powerful, versatile framework – Divi 3.0 – and you automatically have access to it along with all of their themes upon purchase of a membership. It’s drag and drop, incredibly easy to use & can really produce some amazing custom websites. See Divi by Elegant Themes here.
Headway is another great choice when it comes to a solid WordPress framework. It has an easy drag and drop editor, but you can easily start editing code to get a more precise design if you need to. The grid setup allows you to create anything you can dream up, and the framework uses “Blocks” to extend and add different functions to your design. Check out Headway Framework here.
One of the oldest frameworks out there, Builder is still famous for usability among all site creators – techie or not. The layout editor is easy to use, and you can choose from an assortment of pre-built child themes. It also has the ability to add on specific functions (like a restaurant menu). Check out Builder here.
YooTheme is actually primarily a Joomla developer, but they did something awesome by coming out with YooTheme Pro for WordPress. As advertised, you really can put your site together “brick by brick”, creating the site you had in your mind’s eye. You can also choose from any of their ready-made designs for a solid website design. See YooTheme Pro here.
This drag and drop framework is a great option for those of you wanting a blank slate to create something amazing. Or you can start from one of their templates. Either way, Ultimatum gives you freedom to configure or create anything and everything – including custom post types and taxonomies. Pretty great choice. Check out Ultimatum here.
Themify is an incredibly easy framework to start off with because of it’s drag and drop + live preview feature. You can control all the different elements of the theme design and have confidence that your foundation will hold up. It’s a great choice for designers who don’t want to worry about the coding aspect – but like all good frameworks, you can edit the code it need be. See the Themify framework here.
Seed is another incredibly organized, well-built framework. It’s the perfect foundation for a great website because of its versatility and customization options. It’s also compatible with WooCommerce – so it’ll work well for eCommerce sites. A great choice for the modern, sleek website. Check out Seed here.
Like Elegant Themes, WPzoom is a well-established WordPress theme marketplace. Zoom is the framework for all of their themes. It’s powerful and well-built, plus it’s easy to use! It’s SEO friendly and works well for the expert and the beginner. You can’t go wrong by choosing Zoom as your foundation. Check out Zoom and all the WPzoom Themes here.
For the Beginner: Avada Multipurpose Theme (an almost-framework)
If you aren’t sure you want to go with a full-on theme framework, Avada might be the perfect choice for you. It’s technically a theme, but it has a lot of the capabilities that a framework offers. Let’s consider it an almost-framework. It’s a powerful, multipurpose theme that has a ton of pre-built “demos” that you can customize according to your preference. It mimics the framework experience because you can do some serious customization – but you can’t really change or add code like you can with a framework. It’s a nice option to have if you don’t want to commit to a theme framework yet. Check Avada out here.
For the Expert: Cobalt Apps Genesis Extender
Genesis by itself is a pretty amazing – I am truly a fan. But you may be looking for a bit of extra functionality that either it doesn’t offer or you don’t want to create yourself. Enter the Genesis Extender by Cobalt Apps. This will allow you to make Genesis even more powerful than it already is. It has capabilities like a custom CSS Editor & Building Tool, unlimited labels and conditioners, a theme update proofer, and a whole lot more! Check out the Genesis Extender here.
Whether you are a beginner to all things WordPress, a developer, or a designer – WordPress theme frameworks are definitely an option to look into. It gives you the freedom to create a custom website with more precision than your typical theme, and really enables you to take it to the next level.
If you’re looking for more comparisons and info on frameworks, be sure to check out this Ultimate Guide by WPMUdev .