Sep 172010
 

Now there are some very powerful WordPress theme frameworks that enable you to build custom layouts in various WYSIWYG visual editor fashion! This makes WordPress themes more dynamic, because now you can click and drag to create columns and/or boxes where you want them, colors, fonts, or whatever.

This new genre of WordPress theme frameworks take it up another level beyond customizable WordPress themes where you might be able to choose from a color scheme, or a set number of layouts, or add widgets, or use various functions. And, these theme frameworks have functionality to customize design without having to touch code (cf. ThematicAshfordWP FrameworkTheme HybridSandbox) and you don’t have to build and develop a child theme, plus (most have) dynamic layout! (you don’t have to be constrained to choosing from a few or even a handful options)

Each theme framwork has its own way of managing functions and features, and one may be easier to use depending on your intuitive sense. Here are the ones currently available (at time of this writing, in no particular order):

  • Genesis by StudioPress. $59.95. “… built on a simple, vanilla blog-type parent theme, and can be extended with the use of child themes… the first commercially developed theme to include automatic updates… BuddyPress compatible…”
  • Headway by Headway Themes. $87 or $164. “… ease of the drag and drop layout editor and the vast amount of options. Besides having superb design options, developers will be able to style everything with their own CSS and custom hooks. …” [reviews: wptavern]
  • Thesis by DIYthemes. $87 or $164. “… remarkably efficient HTML + CSS + PHP framework and easy-to-use controls that you can use to fine-tune each and every page of your site with a tactical precision…”
  • iTheme Builder ” $297 to $497. iThemes Builder is a powerful, flexible, easy-to-use WordPress theme designed to allow you to quickly build websites and blogs with WordPress. With Builder’s innovative Layout Engine, you can build almost any layout you’d like within minutes. Then bling out your site with graphics and styling.
  • We created Builder for ourselves … so we could rapidly build customized client sites. We think it’s the premiere tool for web designers who don’t want to mess with code … so you can focus on design and content…” [reviews:wptavern]
  • Carrington Build by Crowd Favorite. $149 to $499. “… Developers love the reduced reliance on custom code and the resulting ease of site maintenance and upkeep. Designers love being able to apply different visual treatments to different areas or the site and specific pieces of site content without having to write any PHP code.”
  • Elemental by Pro Theme Design. $59.99 or $149.99. “… packed with options to make your life easier, including customizable layouts, typography settings, navigation, widgets, custom page templates and everything else you need to make the theme your own.”
  • Canvas by Woo Themes. $70 or $150. “…Every element of Canvas is highly customizable through our options panel, so you can make the design, layout and typography exactly like you want.”

More commentary about WordPress theme frameworks at sixrevisions,  CMScriticmostinspiredWordPress Codexbloggersbasetechnosailor.

I don’t have the money or time to try each of these theme frameworks thoroughly. A comparison chart of the various features and usability of these would certainly be most helpful.

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