How many times have you been amazed by the visual presentation, as well as smoothness and speed, of a random website. Contemplating about it, you imagine that the developers must have made it using ingenious html coding, to achieve such a high quality website.
Only later, you would perceive the small imprint on the bottom saying “Powered by (insert a name WordPress theme)”. Indeed, WordPress templates have come a long way, and now enable their users to produce top-notch websites. But, again, someone is making these templates, so these guys must be the html/php coding gurus?
Answer is yes and no. WordPress platform too has come a long way since it humble beginnings. Now there are well developed WordPress frameworks, with ready-to-go website elements that will enable users to build theme templates, and though you need some shortcode and small html and php knowledge, you do not need to be a html guru to do it.
WordPress framework know-how
Develop WordPress theme templates quickly, while keeping high quality and efficiency. We need to keep in mind that WordPress themes will be making a certain number of server requests to be able to display the website content. When your main goal is to keep high quality and efficiency, to do that you will want a framework that follows some crucial standards, such as well written and error-free PHP and HTML code in-line with WordPress Coding Standards with clean CSS coding. Obviously, we want the number of requests to the server, to be as low as possible.
Another important thing to note is that a WordPress theme will separate the presentation and template files, from the system files, so upgrading your website will not incur drastic changes to the presentation. The Theme itself will be contained in subdirectories of your website WordPress and cannot be moved. The general rule of thumb demands that there are not numbers in a theme name as it can deny it being displayed in the theme list.
Choosing the right framework for your needs
Bootstrap – one of the elementary WordPress frameworks what enables you to build a website template with only the parts your future website needs. It is the base that is used for hundreds of themes, designed for responsive websites that actually have a mobile presence as a main target. However, it does not include PHP but provides a framework of styles and (Java)scripts. The main downside to it is that it requires you to take considerable time to learn it, to be able to use it extensively. The design it offers is clean and attractive, but it is not customisable in terms of visual and user interface changes to the elements Bootstrap provides. Did I mention it is an open source project?
Wonderflux – another open source framework made for responsive websites and aimed at professional and advanced developers. Themes made with it are lightweight, with 1 file minimum (style.css). It is possible to extend them easily with hooks which allow you to interact with the code without any modifications, which will enable filters and advanced theme modifications to selected areas of your website theme.
Unyson – yet another free and open source framework, though it is a bit more developed with finished, ready-to-go elements, such as mega menus, sliders, and breadcrumbs, Visual Layout Editor for every page, and it is possible to change the design without knowing coding. However, the main drawback is, that it is a sort of a plugin, so you will still need a basic theme.
Genesis – one of the more powerful frameworks with custom page templates and extensive feature set. It is suitable for coders as well as non-coders. The community around it is large and it is still growing with users and developers alike. Though you have to pay for it, it is an affordable one-off purchase fee. The drawback with it is that it has a huge code base, so it may not be suitable for simple websites.
Ultimatum – drag and drop layout building framework with easy to use and flexible interface. Many features including extra widgets and Google fonts support, drag and drop slideshows. CSS editor offers easy style changes. It supports Bootstrap 3.0 for making WordPress themes quickly, with just a few clicks. Integrated premium plugins, such as Visual Composer, Slider Revolution, Essential Grid … etc. deliver unmatched value, though the overall pricing plan is not really cheap.
Small and fast or feature-rich and robust
While there are many more frameworks that can be favored by a developer for their personal preference, the mentioned ones represent a good option for certain types of website themes.
While Bootstrap and Wonderflux are better for smaller, fast loading websites, Unyson, Genesis or Ultimatum are leaning more toward making a feature-rich and robust WordPress themes. Depending on your project preference you will choose one or the other that is more suitable.
On the last note, another thing to keep in mind is the website hosting that is used to deliver the website to end-user. Though a theme framework is efficient and functional, with a wide selection of hosting offers, it would be a shame to choose a hosting plan that will impede website loading time. Therefore, image and visual elements rich website may benefit greatly with a top-notch SSD hosting that runs scripts fast, so be sure to get one for yourself.