What is a Theme Framework? Or, How to Turn Your Blog into a Super Hero

superheroesWordPress theme framework… just what is that, exactly? And how is it different than a normal WordPress theme?

And the really important question: should you bother with one?

Normal WordPress Themes are like Playing Dress Up

To understand theme frameworks, you need to know how normal WordPress themes work. A WordPress theme is a collection of PHP and CSS files that change the appearance of your blog without changing the actual content of it.

Think of it like changing outfits but your body is still the same (and in my case, I would add unfortunately to that). One normal WordPress theme may be like a business suit. Another may be more like running sweats. And another may be more like something a rock star would wear onstage.

Essentially, all you’re doing is playing “dress-up” with your blog.

Theme Frameworks are like having a Super Hero Outfit

But what if, instead of ordinary clothes, you could have a super hero outfit with special powers? What if you could fly, shoot laser beams from your wrist guards and shield yourself from bullets with your cape?

That’s what a theme framework is like.

Instead of just changing the appearance of your site, a theme framework gives your blog extra “super powers,” such as:

  • Search engine optimization capabilities without the need for additional plugins, making your site load faster (lots of plugins slow it down). For example, the Headway theme framework actually lets you preview what your blog post will look like as a search result.
  • Unique content tools that do things WordPress alone can’t unless you have a myriad of plugins installed. With the Headway theme framework, you can create these nifty content boxes (called leafs) that do all kinds of cool stuff like create a slideshow, pull in headlines from any RSS feed you want or show blog posts using many different filters for total customization.
  • Visual design tools to let you customize the appearance of your blog. The default WordPress theme is barely customizable. Theme frameworks take this a huge leap farther by incorporating visual customization controls. Even though that sounds awesome, none hold a candle to Headway’s Visual Editor. The Visual Editor makes Headway not just a theme framework, but a theme design tool. It’s why, unlike other theme frameworks, most Headway-powered sites look unique instead of all looking the same.

Your Utility Belt – Custom Leaf Plugins

Here’s something no other theme framework has: a utility belt. What do I mean? Batman had his utility belt which carried an assortment of crime-fighting tools. He could swap out tools and weapons on it as needed.

So, if Headway is like having a super hero outfit for your blog, Headway Custom Leaf Plugins are like adding a utility belt. How? With custom leaf plugins. Leafs are the content “boxes” in Headway. You can add custom leafs which are installed as WordPress plugins.

The Excerpts+ Leaf v2 is an excellent example. This custom leaf plugin gives you nearly infinite control over how excerpts are displayed on your blog if you have the Headway theme framework.

Another example is the Custom Navigation Leaf. This custom leaf lets you add addition navigation menus and navigation bars anywhere you like in your Headway-powered site.

Why Settle for Normal when You can have Awesome

Most normal WordPress themes are free, but what you get is what you’d expect for free. And if something goes wrong, it’s not like you can demand help or get your money back.

Commercial theme frameworks like Headway give you incredible value for your money:

  • Support from professional staff as well as a large, friendly and helpful community
  • Free updates and one-click upgrades when new versions are released
  • The control and flexibility you want

If you’ve been wearing ordinary clothing on your blog, consider giving yourself some super powers today.

Image by valentinapowers

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3 Responses

  1. Someone just answered my novice question yesterday with ‘framework’ as a major part of the answer. Thanks to your clear and complete explanation, now I know what it means!

    We love, love geeks, but if they could check their verbals for words foreign to the rest of us we would be happy, happy.

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