If you have attended any of our Las Vegas WordPress Meet Ups inside the Usr/Lib, you know that John Hawkins and the entire team (WPVEGAS.COM) that puts the meet ups together, are huge fans of the Genesis Framework. For many reasons besides the obvious, it’s amazing! It’s taken over as a top framework to use, much like WordPress has become the standard in website content management systems.
What you might not know is that 80% of themes built for WP use a very basic framework like Hybrid. Then they are edited beyond belief to make an amazing/dynamic theme for anyone to purchase and use. Every designer or programmer has their own reasons for using one, maybe two, specific frameworks. So in this article, we are going to talk about why you should experiment with many frameworks before deciding which to use in your theme.
Frameworks allow designers to edit a framework using a child theme system for the most part. There are themes from WooThemes that allow you to edit the original css sheet and update the framework with out having to reconfigure. Why should you use a child theme based off of a framework? Using the framework allows you to add a style sheet to load, and several other options as well, before the rest of the theme is displayed. This way, when the framework is updated in your dashboard or downloaded from the authors site to be uploaded into your themes root folder (wp-content/theme), your site does not have to then be reconfigured to make your site look the same as before. Anyone who has done that will tell you it is not fun and is very time consuming, myself included.
See a lot of themes contain their own tab in the dashboard sidebar that allows you to modify your theme. Then a new release of the theme comes out and is installed by the admin of the site, only to find out that you must make the same changes over and over again. In the current world of fast moving technology we currently live in, an update could be released weekly, if not monthly. So by using a framework, you are eliminating that extra work all together. So now that our readers know why it’s important to use a framework, lets talk about the benefits you get by taking this step.
Using another person(s) framework is not admitting that the end user or designer couldn’t develop their own framework. It simply states that what others are doing fits into your criteria for the site you are building. Then you make your changes using custom post types, maybe adding in short codes every now and again, and even meta boxes resulting in a finished product that the designer and client both agree on. You can even toss in the argument that using a framework “as is” solves more problems than using a theme from a third party site like Themeforest could ever accomplish. I’d agree to that, but that’s personally my opinion. My argument is that using a third party theme allows you to grow as a designer/developer in many aspects. When a person uses those types of themes, you are allowing yourself to learn what others are doing out in the world, making that person more adaptable to change over time.
Before Genesis was released to the world, only a few, maybe less than 15 frameworks were in existence. That is why we have seen many changes over the last year and a half in the way that WordPress sites look and function. Here is a short list of frameworks that most of the older themes are based off. My personal favorite is Hybrid Core. I like this framework because of the drop down box located at the very top that is used as a place to put your sign up or login forms inside of and a place for social media buttons to live in that allow your footer or header files to be less cluttered or more organized.
Many times I refer new users of WordPress to check out the list of frameworks to get an understanding of what WP was actually intended for. They get an understanding that WordPress was basically a stream of posts put together in a way that makes up your blog. It was not until mid 2009 (roughly) that many developers started building themes that mimic a newspaper design, magazine theme or portfolio style using custom categories to be displayed in a different section on the main page, instead of using the stream approach that only displayed each new post on top of older entries. Each display usually only shows the most recent post in a specific category. That way it looks like your site is pulling information into the main page from the blog, to get people to head over to that section of your site. That is basically what a newspaper’s website does. They display the most recent stories, or top stories on the main page. When you click on a story and read the article you will usually find a feed at the bottom of “Similar Postings” that are recommended to readers allowing them to stay on a specific topic. The framework is the glue that holds all of this together.
So in closing, using many different frameworks from many different designers will allow anyone who is building a WordPress site to expand their imagination and create new and exciting lines of code to share with the world. It’s ok to know more than one or two sets of frameworks. Some frameworks only give you a certain amount of options before you have to cut in your own lines of code. Some frameworks provide more than enough options or lines of code to give your site more functionality than you could ever imagine. Some frameworks allow you to have an amazing site and work well with the SEO PLUGINS you might be using.