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Top Open-Source WordPress Theme Frameworks

One of the key challenges facing web developers today is the process of selecting the right WordPress theme. Sometimes a good looking theme can still generate poorly coded HTML that can affect your website’s search rankings. This often results in developers searching for alternative methods e.g. writing, from scratch, the entire code or simply shaping the ready-made one. 

Instead of reinventing the wheel, why not rely on the WordPress frameworks. With frameworks, you can spend the time on…something else. Something more fun like web design. 

By the end of this article, you will have an accurate picture of WordPress frameworks and be able to choose the right one for your website.

What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

The term often relates to a code library (foundation) that facilitates the development process of a WordPress theme. Typically, a framework is a code that contains the basic theme design and functionality. This base is later modified with additional design and function elements to create a complete product. 

There are two main categories of WordPress theme frameworks. First, there are frameworks that are built specifically for in-house or commercial public use; then, there are frameworks that are free to download. These are widely popular themes that everyone with Internet access can use as a basis for their website development projects. 

The following is our selection of the most popular frameworks, their features and how they relate in WordPress. 

Cherry Framework by TemplateMonster

Cherry Framework
Cherry Framework

The first on our list is Cherry Framework built by TemplateMonster. Enhanced with BootsTrap, the quick Cherry framework and its child themes are a great example of a highly-developed and fully responsive theme. With the latest version, 4.0, you can showcase any type of your portfolio. TemplateMonster’s developers used their best efforts to provide users with a complete instruction manual for each module of the framework. It also contains tools and functionality that are used within the WordPress website. 

To help users keep up with the transformation of technology and improve the efficiency of their work, the tool is updated on a frequent basis. The list below represents the main plugin and framework updates of Cherry. 

Theme functionality features include:

  • Simplified Plugin Installation.
  • Enhanced Compatibility.
  • Independent module components. Pre-built modules allow you to start in your plugin quickly. 
  • Child theme. With the parent theme, you get the possibility to create a child theme. It is noteworthy that you can modify its innate functionality without changing the parent theme. 
  • Shortcode Template Editor plugin. The plugin allows you to design your own markup and customize display parameters without code.  
  • Static Area Builder tool. The tool allows you to arrange site options using drag-and-drop features. 
  • CSS Minifier tool. It optimizes the size of your CSS files without changing their functionality. 
  • Backup Option. With Cherry Data Management plugin, you can keep your data safe and easily fall-back to the default setting. 
  • Plugins are built into every Cherry theme to enhance the inherent CMS features. Some plugins are designed to import/export features, add sidebars, mega menu and post types for services, team, and portfolio. 
  • Responsive theme & WPML features make it easy to build multilingual WordPress sites and run them on both desktops and portable devices. 

The Hybrid Core Framework by ThemeHybrid

Hybrid Core is an open-source WordPress framework that simplifies the theme-building process of modern PHP code. Similarly to Cherry Framework, it integrates the core code features and design elements. Hybrid Core does not fit into the “parent theme” framework category but rather acts as a Code Library which assists the progress of the development of a Theme.  

The Hybrid Core Framework
The Hybrid Core Framework

The framework has high UX and SEO optimization techniques, which make improving web performance easier for both devs and clients. The following is a small list of modular framework’s key features. 

Hybrid Core features include:

  • Breadcrumbs Script. The framework’s developers put emphasis on the Breadcrumb Trail script, the type of WordPress plugin developed for handling any type of set-up provided that the site supports 
  • Cleaner Gallery. It provides authentic XHTML solutions to devs and gives total control over the WordPress gallery.  
  • Media Grabber. A custom-built media grabber enables media extraction e.g. video and audio files, images, etc directly from your posts. This was specifically created as a complement function to WordPress’ post format. 
  • Post Templates use a custom-specific approach to enable template alignment with the type of post. 
  • Numbered Pagination is a helper used to show the total number of blog and archive pages, and paginated links. 
  • Translation-Friendliness is a hybrid method that automatically translates your site and thus increases its online visibility.

Gantry by RocketTheme

Gantry was created by blending the core functionalities of Grav and Joomla themes. As a result, RocketTheme devs have gained a unique powerful framework with WordPress-based designs. Boosted by Bootstrap, Gantry 5 comprises design-oriented programming features to facilitate the development of layouts. Let’s take a look at some recent updates of the latest version, i.e. Gantry 5. 

Gantry 5 Key Features include:

  • Layout Manager features drag-n-drop capabilities to quickly set up custom layouts. 
  • Particle System resembles the functionality of WordPress modules, allowing for seamless content configuration on the back end. 
  • Visual Menu Editor helps users to arrange the menu options.
  • Mega Menu is an extension of the menu which provides additional navigation components of the standard menu. 
  • Administrative Interface is intended to set up and configure a theme e.g. deal with error pages and website backend at terminal velocity.
  • Twig Templating System is a template engine designed to replace or convert existing functions inside HTML.

Including the above-listed characteristics, it should be noted that the WordPress theme framework contains a responsive layout system, intuitive YAML-driven configuration, off-canvas panel, and cross-platform support. 

Runway by Parallelus

Runway is an open-source WordPress Framework built to facilitate the creation of WordPress themes. By virtue of its functionality, you can use your themes independently. Runaway has become popular for its unique white label solutions developed to represent your theme as your independent work built without relying on third-party solutions. Read further to find out more about framework features and their functionalities. 

Runway Key Features include:

Child Theme Generator is intended to modify and design themes, add or edit innate functionality. When it comes to customization, the Child Theme Generator update allows you to edit other power theme sites, enter the name of the parent theme, an appropriate slug of your child theme, descriptions, admin panels, etc.

Theme Options Builder allows you to create admin pages directly in the theme options panel and generate UI builders to save theme options being moved as the draggable features. 

Modular Structure. You can add functions by clicking the “Add” button.  

Wonderflux by Jonny Allbut

We proceed with another open-source framework called Wonderflux. This powered WordPress code library will save you time and headaches. Check out the following features it offers. 

Wonderflux Open-Source

WordPress Framework Features:

Responsive CSS Layout System is responsible for themes’ responsiveness to all hand-held devices. 

Flexible Layout Options can help you modify the view size of a layout, resize positions in blocks, or even remove it completely. 

A Set of 100+ Code Hooks allow you to integrate hook functions in your child theme. 

Simple Admin Options implements your preferred configuration on the site. 

Compatibility with WordPress Plugins gives access to additional potentials of admin interface with enhanced APIs. 

Valid Markup checks markup validity and complies with commonly accepted web standards. 

Unyson by ThemeFuse

Unyson is one of the most referenced frameworks online, which is widely used within devs and end-users. It has many customizations tools that ease the process of designing your website. The most significant features include Backup & Demo Content, Built-In Option Types,  and Live Preview A Control. The latest enables users to view the script changes before submission e.g. display a custom piece of HTML in the admin panel. 

Let’s take a closer look at these and other framework extensions. 

unyson free wordpress framework

Unyson Built-In Extensions & Options :

  • With the help of Drag-and-Drop Page Builder, you can build countless pages using content shortcodes. 
  • Content Demo Install allows you to back up an entire site or install demo content packages.
  • 20+ Built-In Option Types will come in handy for generating boxes, tabs and form inputs for admin pages.
  • Sidebar Module this tool incorporates sidebars directly to your pages with dynamic. 
  • Each page can contain different sidebars. 
  • Automatic Backup is a great backup and restores solution built-in your WordPress control panel. It offers a proper backup of your database and files, blog posts, comments, and the options you set in the admin area. 
  • Breadcrumbs Extension contributes to smooth navigation of any URL and allows to display of a user’s location on the website. 
  • Easy-to-Implement Sliders are a great way to create a competition. You can use them to customize the look and functionality of your webpage. 

Apart from those included in the list, this open-source WordPress theme framework encompasses many customization options. Some of the core features are a standard set of Layout elements, Slider extension, Styling, etc. What is more, Unyson is packed with multiple widgets for social media integration, Flickr and blog tabs.


PressWork is a very popular framework among WordPress developers and users. This is primarily because the devs based their efforts on the ultimate HTML5 and CSS3 layouts. Let’s take a closer look at this outstanding framework and learn about its major functionalities. 

presswork free wordpress framework

PressWork Key Features Include:

  • Front-End Editor acts as a visual editor of your site and simplified with drag-n-drop functionality. 
  • BriefCase helps you to adjust the theme’s functionality so that you can squeeze the whole potential of your website. 
  • The Media Queries feature provides enhanced responsiveness to your website to enable a smooth and optimized experience based on screen size and platform
  • PSD File is a design feature that helps you create and customize dynamic web pages theme in Photoshop e.g. change its logo, graphic elements, etc.

We hope you find this guide helpful and that it helped you select the right theme for your WordPress site. Enjoy the full range of WordPress theme frameworks and their individual advantages. 

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