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WordPress: Frameworks and Child Themes

WordPress is a great way to develop webpages, no doubt about it. It allows you to quickly and easily add content and with the introduction of widgets there is even more customization available for designers. But what if you want that to take it that step further and design your own theme? This article will talk about using a WordPress framework (specifically the Thematic framework) to design a child theme.

So in case you don’t know what child themes and wordpress frameworks are, let me try to explain. Child themes are those who are based on a parent theme. Basically, you can take the parent theme and build upon it. All the features are inherited but any changes you make override those of the parent. One of the advantages of creating a child theme, instead of directly editing the parent, is that the child will still receive updates from the parent when they are released so that you can stay up-to-date.

A framework is a theme that is specifically designed to be used as a parent. It allows you to build on the work of others so that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time you want a new theme, thereby saving you a great deal of time and effort. A good framework is flexible and comes packed with lots of options for you to tinker with. I’m going to be talking about the Thematic framework, a very flexible parent theme designed by Ian Stewart. There are several other useful frameworks out there, such as WP Framework, Hyrbid and Carrington.

So what’s so great about the Thematic theme? Well…

  • It contains 13 widget ready areas (very useful)
  • It’s well coded for search engine optimization
  • It comes with multiple column layouts to choose from
  • It has dynamic CSS id and class placement for precision customization

Thematic on its own isn’t much to look at, but then that’s the point: it’s there for you to build on. It’s a blank canvas for you to get started on. If you don’t know a lot about PHP coding and just want to change the basic appearance then you can go ahead and play around with the CSS. If, however, you are more familiar with the way WordPress works then you can utilize some of the many useful hooks and filters in place for you. It’s really up to you.

Keep your eye out for more WordPress related posts. I hope to go into more detail about¬†Wordpress theme elements such as hooks, filters and ‘the loop’. I’ll also talk about how you can edit the CSS to make the design more to your liking.

If you’re looking for some books to read up on WordPress theme design then I would recommend ‘Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes‘. The ‘WordPress Bible‘ is another good one, although you should be aware that the code they provide doesn’t always work correctly :S


Author: Graham

My name is Graham and I'm a Scottish web developer living in California. I love working with clean code to make attractive and usable websites. I'm also interested in cooking, gardening, and taekwondo.

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