WordPress is a great content management system with plenty of free and paid themes to choose from. But what do you do if none of the free themes rock your boat and you do not want to pay for a professionally developed theme? You create your own. It is not as hard as you might think.
If you’re an advanced WordPress user, you should be able to create your own theme simply by copying a free theme and then modifying the files that come with it. For example, you can modify the style.css file to change fonts and colours. However, this solution is not workable for the vast majority of WordPress users. They have chosen WordPress specifically because they have no knowledge of coding. Well no worries; there’s a solution for them too.
New themes can be created without any knowledge of coding using something known as a framework. The best way to explain frameworks is to describe them as generic themes with all the most basic components already written into them. Users can then build on these frameworks to create new themes that are perfectly suited to their own requirements.
The advantages of creating themes through frameworks are numerous:
- It is easier to create numerous themes for seasonal switching
- Frameworks make theme design faster and more efficient
- Frameworks are supported throughout the WordPress community
- Most frameworks are already SEO, CSS, and HTML optimized
- Framework code is written according to WordPress standards and best practices.
There are disadvantages to frameworks as well, including the fact that there is a learning curve. If it took you a while to really get the hang of WordPress, it is going to take a while to get used to frameworks. But you will be off and running once you figure out the basics.
Free and Paid Frameworks
The one thing you can always count on with WordPress is the availability of both free and paid options. Frameworks certainly lives up to that. Common sense dictates that users new to the whole frameworks philosophy start out with a free product first. There’s no point in investing a lot of money in a paid product if you don’t know whether you will continue developing your own themes.
One of the more common free frameworks out there is an open source project known as ‘Thematic’. This project is the brainchild of a team of WordPress enthusiasts who originally intended it to be for professionals just beginning to learn WordPress theme development.
Thematic has been around since 2010. In its current form it includes more than a dozen widget-ready areas, layout samples, a number of excellent plugins, and more. The base framework can be used as-is or built on top of to create a customized theme.
If you can’t find a free or paid theme that tickles your fancy, it might be time to build your own. You can do so fairly easily with a frameworks package designed with beginners in mind.