WordPress Frameworks Reviewed: Who’s the Winner?

WordPress Frameworks

Frameworks in the WordPress world can be seen as starter themes or theme builders. They provide a foundation for creating your own themes. Using a WordPress framework decreases the time needed to design and code a WordPress theme. For most frameworks, the framework itself can be seen as the parent theme, the theme you create is a child theme.

Let’s take a look at five of the most popular frameworks: Thesis, Genesis, Headway, Carrington, and Pagelines. We’ll also include a demo of Pagelines most recent release.


Pagelines most recent release focuses on drag and drop functionality, making it quick and easy to create customized themes. Pagelines incorporates the use of sections to give you full layout control.  It includes 30+ drag and drop sections, built-in SEO, typography customization, and a Pagelines Store that lets you share, sell, or purchase sections, themes, and plugins. Preview this video to get started with Pagelines framework:

Price: $197-$397

Showcase Gallery

UPDATE: Check out the new Pagelines Framework 2.2, just released.


Another framework that incorporates drag and drop functionality is Headway. Headway’s visual editor and layout grid gives you complete visual design control. Headway includes a drag and drop method of creating header, footer, navigation, content, widget, and custom code areas. They make it easy to customize CSS. The framework includes built-in SEO. They also have a strong support community. This theme framework is among the most fully-featured and user-friendly available, and a strong competitor to Pagelines Framework.

Price: $68-$587

Showcase Gallery


Thesis is one of the most popular theme frameworks. Thesis allows for simple, powerful customization without having a vast knowledge of HTML and CSS. Thesis allows a ton of customization through their admin panel. The layout generator comes with 1, 2, and 3 column design options. It includes built in SEO, point-and-click design and font controls.

Showcase Gallery

Price: $87 (single license), $164 (unlimited use)


The Genesis theme framework makes customizing your site incredibly easy. The framework comes with custom widgets and layout options, built-in search engine optimization, and security. Because of the popularity of Genesis, there are many great looking turn-key designs available. The number of child themes available makes it an affordable options for those not necessarily wanting a fully customized design. Genesis also has a huge community of developers, designers, and bloggers.

Showcase Gallery

Price: $59.95 – $349.95


The Carrington framework makes it easy to create unique looks for different categories, posts and comments by creating custom templates. Carrington is a suite of starter themes including a blog theme, a mobile theme, a business theme, etc. Carrington makes it easy to create different visual styles for different areas of your sites. It is undoubtedly complex and has endless features and options.

Showcase Gallery

Price: Free to $149+

Have you tried any of these frameworks? What do you think of them?

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About Carma Leichty

Carma Leichty is a trainer in WordPress and web design. A converted Dreamweaver user, she is crazy about WordPress. She's done websites for the past upteen years and most enjoys helping others promote their Creative Work.

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10 Responses

  1. FxB
    FxB June 20, 2012 at 16:41 | | Reply

    Great post, but what about Hybrid Core by Justin Tadlock, i’m using it, it’s free to download, the help forum is not, check it out here http://themehybrid.com/hybrid-core

  2. Mike Zielonka
    Mike Zielonka June 21, 2012 at 07:32 | | Reply

    I am a huge fan of PageLines and proclaim them the winner. 🙂

    In all seriousness you could be a developer built custom drag able sections right into your website or you could be a blogger that could add a feature slider on their home page in 2 mins.

    Tweet me if u have questions @mikezielonka or head over to http://iamMike.co/

    1. Jean Galea
      Jean Galea June 21, 2012 at 08:26 | | Reply

      Agreed, I’m testing Framework 2.2 and its’ just amazing, way better than anything else I’ve tried including Headway.

  3. Siggi
    Siggi June 21, 2012 at 21:57 | | Reply

    Whats about Themeframe? http://themeframe.com/

    1. Jean Galea
      Jean Galea June 22, 2012 at 09:09 | | Reply

      Seems interesting, I think it’s the first one I’ve seen which is desktop-based. What is your experience with it?

      1. Siggi
        Siggi June 22, 2012 at 11:52 | | Reply

        Not much. But if its functioning as demonstrated I have to test/buy it. There are some features which incorporated into Headway would reduce the need to write CSS to a very minimum.

  4. Grant Griffiths
    Grant Griffiths June 21, 2012 at 23:15 | | Reply


    Thanks so much for including our framework, Headway Themes in your post. I would say we are in outstanding company.

    What is so great about this is that fact the WordPress community has a great selection to pick from. And they can find just the right framework to do what they want and need.

    The true winners are all of our users and the fact they do have so many great choices.

    Thanks again.

  5. Jack
    Jack November 25, 2012 at 09:59 | | Reply

    Here’s another cool new framework: http://wpjumpstart.com

  6. Davis Brown
    Davis Brown March 8, 2016 at 00:17 | | Reply

    You would like to review about this latest WordPress theme framework http://templatetoaster.com

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