That move was not the first time I had made such a change and, if you’ve read the previous 3 articles I wrote on the subject, you’ll see that I’ve been on a journey to find a flexible and powerful theme framework that meets specific criteria that I don’t think are commonly addressed or even talked about in most theme review posts you may have read in the past. The most important of those for me has become stability, both for the product and the vendor.
This post has been a long time coming! If you’ve known me for a while on social or from this site, you’ll know I have published similar posts before 🙂 I have tried reviving this blog a couple times in the past and circumstances just prevented me from putting time into it. But the thing is, this site has never been my only focus anyway and I’ve never made a real effort to monetize it. But I’ve never “neglected” it as long as I have in the last 3 years. Yes, my last published post here was in June 2014. That IS a long time! But I want that to change…
I will soon be writing reviews for some of the main WordPress plugins and theme frameworks that I use in my client projects. But before I do that, I wanted to write a post explaining the basic criteria I use to evaluate a theme because they are not necessarily the same you’ll read about in most other reviews out there that focus on workflow features alone. I’ve read many theme framework reviews in the last 3 years and I found most of them to be lacking in substance. That’s not because they were bad reviews or because the people writing them were doing a bad job, they were just aimed at a specific kind of user (non-coders, beginners or casual users) and limited themselves to what I consider “surface” criteria that become far less relevant when you build Web sites with WordPress for a living. When your business and reputation depend on the quality of the themes and other products you install on client sites, “features” like drag and drop and especially “no coding required” quickly take a second or third seat to more important matters like performance, stability and flexibility.
So here I’ll explain 4 of the basic criteria I use to evaluate a theme framework’s suitability for inclusion in my workflow to be used on specific projects. I’m concentrating on issues I rarely if ever see mentioned in theme reviews so I won’t talk about things like ease of use or flexibility of any workflow related features here. Those things will be included in my specific theme framework reviews. I hope this article will help you make more informed decisions if you are looking for a theme framework to use on a client site and are not sure which one would be the best fit for your workflow and your client’s needs.
When I wrote the 2012 version of this post last year, I did not expect it to become the most commented post on this blog ever. It made me realize that there is a real hunger for information about premium WordPress themes and frameworks out there, a need for opinions from people working with some of these products every day and who are not afraid to speak their mind. I like to think I do that here.
I also try to make a distinction between what frameworks would work well for professional WordPress designers and developers versus casual users. The former is what interests me and most reviews out there are targeted at the latter. Also, you often get a review from someone who tinkered with a framework on a test site for a few minutes or hours. I work with the themes I mention here all the time. Testing a theme framework for a couple hours will not give you a perspective on things like:
- How well do upgrades and updates work? Do updates typically break client sites layouts? Do you need to tweak your child themes every time you upgrade the parent theme?
- How does the framework perform on a real live site with real traffic? Is the site slower or faster with this framework compared to others?
- How does the developer handle support? How fast, how helpful are they. This is key when your client work depends on a theme framework so heavily.
This post is also a kind of intro to other posts I’ll write in the coming weeks and months where I explain in more detail the reasons I’d choose a WordPress theme framework over others and I’ll finally write some real in-depth theme framework reviews based on these criteria. That is already started.
But for now, here’s the state of my 2013 WordPress themes toolset…