In the olden days a theme was a theme. You either found a free one, or you purchased a fancier theme with more features and options, uploaded and activated it on your blog, then configured it the way you wanted it. Of course these themes could be modified, but once modified they couldn’t be updated without your beautiful changes being overwritten.
I believe the first real framework theme was Thesis. While they didn’t have child themes right away, Thesis did offer a custom CSS page that could be edited and saved so that the theme could continue to be updated to keep up with WordPress changes, all whilst keeping your modifications in tact.
Then Headway came out with a sort of drag and drop approach to theme building. They too offered a custom CSS option for edits.
However, both of these new approaches to WordPress themes were buggy, sluggish and quite heavy. Even today, these frameworks for WordPress are among some of the worst I have ever dealt with and I’ve modified and used hundreds of themes.
Genesis Changes Everything
StudioPress and Copyblogger have been on the scene for a long time and StudioPress themes have been extremely popular and well respected for many years, even before these two companies came together to bring us the Genesis framework and child themes. Because the developers of this framework are also on the WordPress development team, the Genesis framework is kept up to date and continues to be one of the most used and respected frameworks on the market.
WooThemes Joins the Ranks
Another great brand of WordPress themes is WooThemes. Once again, been here forever, always evolving and author of the very familiar ecommerce plugin, WooCommerce, Woo has recently launched a framework of its own. I have no personal experience with their framework, but I do know I’m not as big a fan of their themes as I am of those from StudioPress.
How Do a Framework & Child Theme Work?
A framework is actually a full fledged theme. Usually it can be used on it’s own. It will be very plain, but have all of the tools needed to display a site or blog. Think of it as a brand new house that is liveable, but has all white walls and the same carpet throughout. There is no personality, color, or pretty trim.
A child theme is usually 3-4 files that define how the framework should display your site. They are the decor and style! A child theme cannot stand alone. It has to refer to the framework for structure.
Why is this beautiful?
If you’re using a framework like Genesis and WordPress releases an update, the Genesis developers can update the framework to comply and push the upgrade to you where you can click a link in your WordPress dashboard to install the upgrade and any design changes you’ve made to your child theme go untouched! Your blog stays up to date and compatible with the latest version of WordPress!
Why choose Genesis?
Most of the developer types in HBN will tell you to choose Genesis. We all like this framework the best because it is fast, light and it WORKS. It comes with it’s own special widgets, an SEO system built in so you don’t need additional plugins, and you can get a whole host of very nice plugins built just for the Genesis framework. The customer support at StudioPress is phenomenal and there are several websites where you can buy gorgeous child themes for the framework!
Where to buy Genesis Child Themes
StudioPress (of course!)