Best WordPress Theme Frameworks in 2016

Since WordPress is a most popular CMS platform today, there are thousands of readily available themes and plugins available for making your site’s look unique. There are also many theme frameworks available these days, which you can use to create custom themes. Although some of these frameworks can be used only by developers, there are some which can be used by anyone with little or no coding skills.

How does a framework work?

The traditional way of developing a WordPress theme is to create an HTML first and then integrate it into any WordPress theme. This process is really complicated as theme developer has to simply start everything from scratch. Other the other hand theme frameworks are mostly themes or some of them are just a set of functions to help theme developer create unique themes. There have pre-built set of codes or functions to make theme development process a lot easier.

Some frameworks help create child themes so user need to install both framework and child theme. There are both free and commercial theme frameworks available today. So what are these top theme frameworks? Let’s take a look at some top frameworks available today.

1. Genesis


Genesis is a commercial theme framework and widely popular among users. They offer unlimited support and updates as well as many features compared to other frameworks. It can be used by anyone and has many documentations to help you customizing. Some of the top features include Child theme support, SEO friendly, secure, auto resized images and much more.

You can buy framework stand-alone version, buy it with a child theme or pro-pack which offers more than 35 child themes built by them.

2. Thesis


Thesis is a drag-and-drop WordPress theme builder which can be used to build a theme. This is one of the oldest and regularly updated framework. It comes with a basic responsive skin which you can use to customize with various design controls and elements they have to offer. Anyone can customize theme regardless of experience in coding. You may need to go through all the documents they have to offer. There is a colorpicker feature (which they call patent pending) to allow you to choose unlimited color schemes. Other features includes built-in SEO for better search engine exposure.

3. Divi


The Divi is a drag-and-drop theme framework with 18 pre-made layouts, responsive design and Divi builder. There are 46 content modules to help you contract various sections of WordPress themes with ease. The customizer offers live preview so you can make changes in your theme live. Apart from that, you can use your custom CSS to design your own elements.

Elegant theme has been already a leading theme vendor and Divi is a part of their theme bundle. The framework can be downloaded as a part of their theme bundle.

4. Cherry


Cherry is a free framework which offers 100+ elements to use in the theme. With these elements you can easily design the appearance of the theme. It also supports shortcodes and comes with 80+ shortcodes. It offers features such as advanced typography, sliders, unlimited colors, responsive layouts, theme customizer, advanced data management, SEO and translation support.

5. Beans


Beans is a framework which can be used to make lightweight and responsive WordPress themes.  It is using UIKit front-end framework and offers Api as well as child theme support to design powerful themes. There is also a code snippets library to easily modify theme features.

The most of changes in theme can be made using functions.php file. There is also a detailed documentation which is ideal for even a beginner to experienced user. It follows all the WP standards and thus ideal to make a theme which is compatible with any Plugin.

6. Redux Framework


This is an Opensource framework to build themes that are 100% responsive and cross browser compatible. Some of the features it offers includes import/export, custom error handling, custom field & validation types. Here is a demo of the basic theme ( There are also several free and paid extensions developer can use to enhance the functionality.

As a side note, This framework offers Setting API based option panel. The current version of framework doesn’t support WordPress customizer but they seem to have a new version coming to help with this.

7. Headway


Headway is a drag-and-drop WordPress theme builder to create a theme with any layout and make changes in theme fast. Just like any other popular framework, it offers clear code and responsive layout designs. This is also a commercial plugin which you can use as a stand-alone version or bundled with other child themes.

8. Gantry

Gantry has been yet another open-source theme framework which you can use to build powerful WordPress themes. It can be downloaded with MIT and GPL license, which you can use to build your personal or commercial theme. The framework can help create fast and lightweight WordPress theme. Some of the top features include layout manager (with drag-and-drop support), Ajax Admin panel, LESS and SCSS support, Mega Menu support, Menu editor and much more. It is regularly updated and loved by many developers and users.

9. Underscore

Underscore is a starter theme which you can use to build a custom theme. Unlike some other framework mentioned here, Underscore is not for everyone and especially beginners. It is ideal for developers who wants to develop a standalone WordPress theme. Underscore is offered from Automattic itself and thus ideal to create a WordPress theme based on latest WordPress standards.

10. Sage

Just like Underscore, Sage is also a start theme which offers plenty of pre-build features, functions and snippets to help developers build a custom theme. It comes with latest version of Bootstrap for front-end and you can use Soil plugin to add some other features.

11. Options Framework

This framework is released under GPLv2 license. You can download it from Github or through their official site. It can be used to build a full featured Option panel. The framework has two different version Themed version and Plugin version. The Plugin version can be used to directly build theme. Since it is a GPLv2 license, use can use it for building personal as well as commercial products. It should be noted that this framework doesn’t support WordPress Customizer which is a standard nowadays.

These are some of the widely used Frameworks. Some of them are ideal for developers who want to create commercial themes or for client projects while the others can help to build a theme custom looking theme from scratch without any coding knowledge.

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