Overview of WordPress Theme Frameworks – the 2014 Edition

WordPress Theme Frameworks 2014

It is almost two years ago that I published Taking Stock on WordPress Theme Frameworks. Time for an update. Especially since “overhaul” might be a better word, than update.

The first edition included all WordPress related frameworks that I came across. Whether the product was still actively maintained, or that the development had been already ceased; it was included in the very first stock taking. With, of course, a remark concerning the status of the project.

For this overview, I decided to limit myself to products that meet the following requirements:

  1. actual WordPress Theme Frameworks
  2. available as an independent product
  3. still alive and kicking

First and foremost, it has to be possible to drop the product right into the WordPress themes folder and simply activate it. This requirement excludes theme components. Think of theme cores like Hybrid Core, and options frameworks like the UpThemes Framework.

The WooFramework and the Themify Framework are both very powerful frameworks. However, these theme frameworks, are not available as a standalone product, but rather a platform for WooThemes and Themify to create themes – and therefor only appear as a theme.

Last but not least, all the WordPress Theme Framework included here are still in active development. From my point of view, when a product has not been updated for a year or beyond, it is no longer maintained. Especially since WordPress has two major releases a year.

WordPress Theme Frameworks Changelog

Let us first have a look at the products that pass the requirements number #1 and #2, but fail the third one.

The announcement, last year July, that the development of Catalyst was ceased in favor of the Dynamik Website Builder was definitely a big surprise.

Customers of Catalyst received the Dynamik Website Builder for free and a 50% coupon for the Genesis Framework.

In addition, existing users of Catalyst still get support for this framework until the end of this year, giving them about a year and a half to replace the Catalyst Theme Framework.

Another surprise was the sudden replacement of the PageLines Framework by DMS, the Design Management System.

Ashford, Elemental, ThemeFrame, Themnific, and WhiteBoard, have been removed. You can still download or even purchase these products. However, I have not been able to trace any signs on the website – including the blog – that these frameworks are still under development.

Other products that have been removed are Bibliotheca 2, Buddymatic, Buffet Framework, Gravy, MultiToool, OnePress, PressWork, rtPanel, Startbox, SWFPress. WordPress Theme Framework, WP Framework, and, WPUnlimited.

Some of these products had already been ceased when I published the first stock taking. Others, like for example Multitoool, have been discontinued since.

Despite this shake out, there are still 23 WordPress Theme Frameworks included in this overview.

That is including a six newcomers. These newly added products are Cherry Framework, DMS, Pro Framework, Simon WP Framework, Skematik, and the Vertex Framework.

When you stumble into a WordPress Theme Framework that has been listed here, please do not hesitate and let me know. It will be my pleasure to include it.


ColorLabs BackboneBackbone from ColorLabs is WordPress theme framework with a responsive design. It comes with a comprehensive options panel and several pre-made homepage layouts, including (photo) blog, magazine, portfolio, and business website.

The ColorLabs Backbone framework is available with two price tags:

  • Standard Pack $59
  • Developer Pack $127

In both cases you get lifetime support and updates. The Developer Pack entitles you to support for an unlimited number of websites. Backbone was released in January 2012. Last January, Backbone was updated to version

A review of the ColorLabs Backbone is available on WPReviewLab.com.


Graph Paper Press Base Theme Framework
Base is a theme framework by Graph Paper Press released December 2010. Themes by Graph Paper Press have a strong focus on multi-media and photography – the company has been founded by Thad Allender, a photographer.

Themes and theme frameworks by Graph Paper Press are available as single theme and with a subscription plan:

  • Single Theme $79
  • Forever Plan $299

The Forever Plan not only includes Base, but all themes (49 to date) from Graph Paper Press.

The current version 3.0.2. was release last December.

A review of the Graph Paper Press Base is available on WPReviewLab.com.


iThemes Builder

Builder from iThemes is a theme framework. The Builder Layout Engine lets you create custom WordPress themes, while you can style the layouts with the Style Manager.

Builder comes with three purchase options:

  • Builder Foundation $80
  • Builder Developer Pack $150
  • All-Access Pass $197

Builder Foundation comes with 6 child themes, while you get 60+ child themes plus Loopbuddy and the Boombar with the Developer Pack.

The All-Access Pass adds 80+ classic themes (non-Builder child themes) to the Builder Developer Pack.

In all three situations, you get one year of support and updates. The current version is 5.0.23.

A review of iThemes Builder is available here on wilwebs.com.

Carrington Build

Carrington Build

Carrington Build from Crowd Favorite is a drag-and-drop framework for creating WordPress based websites. The pricing structure of Carrington Build offers two options:

  • Single Site $299
  • Unlimited Sites $999

Both plans include one year of upgrades and support. The renewal fees are $99, respectively $250, per year.


CherryFramework – The Best WordPress Framework

The CherryFramework is a bit of an odd framework.First starters, it activates with six custom post types. In addition, it requires the installation of the Contact Form 7 plugin.

That is not all, it also installs with nine custom widgets; from Ads to vCard. What I usually like about WordPress theme frameworks is that I am the one to decide what and how to do it.

The latest version, 3.1.0, was released last January. You can download the framework for FREE from the website or GitHub.


PageLines DMS

DMS, short for Design Management System, is a drag & drop framework and the successor of PageLines.

There is a free version of DMS available in the WordPress Theme Directory. The Pro version comes with support and adds extra functionality with the DMS Pro Tools plugin.

You can choose from three plans, when you want to upgrade to the professional version

  • Personal $8 per month
  • Business $16 per month
  • Developer $24 per month

The amounts are valid when billed annually, add 20% in case of monthly payments.

The current version of DMS is 1.1.5 and of the Pro Tools 1.5.

Dynamik Website Builder

Dynamik Design Body wilwebs.com

The Dynamik Website Builder is a WordPress theme framework by CobaltApps, the creators of the Catalyst WordPress Framework. Last year, CobaltApps decided to cease the Catalyst WordPress Framework in favor of the Dynamik Website Builder.

Dynamik is available for a one-time fee of $79.95.

Dynamik is a Genesis Child theme that allows you to create your own custom Genesis Child theme. Hence, you also need a license of the Genesis Framework. The Genesis Framework, that comes with a sample child theme, has a one- time fee of $59.95.

An in-depth review of the Dynamik Website Builder is here available on wilwebs.com; The Dynamik Website Builder for Genesis – A First Look.

Version 1.0 of the Dynamik Website Builder was released in June 2012. The current version is 1.4.2, release last January.


What Is Gantry

The Gantry Framework is based on Twitter Bootstrap. Gantry and created by RocketTheme to simplify the development process of their own premium themes for Joomla and WordPress.

Consequently, Gantry is available for both content management systems. You can downloaded Gantry for free, just make sure you pick the correct edition.

The current version for WordPress is 4.1.1, which was released January 2014.


Getting Started with GenesisThe Genesis Framework from StudioPress offers a powerful foundation to create yout own Genesis child themes. Next to that, Besides the StudioPress offers child themes for the Genesis Framework.

The Genesis Framework, including the with Sample child theme, is available for $59.95 and child themes from $24.95.

An in-depth review of the Genesis Framework is available here on wilwebs.com: The Genesis Framework by StudioPress – A First Look.

Please note that in order to create your own child themes with the Genesis Framework, you will have to dabble with PHP and CSS. When you prefer to create you Genesis child theme by point and click, please add the already mentioned Dynamik Website Builder to it.


Headway Drag and Drop WordPress Website Builder
Headway Themes offers a WordPress theme framework incorporating a visual editor that allows you to create web layouts by drag-and-drop.

When you make changes to the style sheet with the Live CSS, the effect of these changes become visible instantly. A review is available here.

Headway is available with three plans:
  • $59 Headway Personal
  • $99 Headway Business
  • $199 Headway Developer

The Personal Plan allows you to use Headway on one site. Next to the Headway framework (Headway Base), you also get the Whiteboard starter template.

Headway Business includes Headway Base, the Whiteboard template, and one official Headway template of your choice. In addition, the Business plan entitles you to use Headway on three sites.

With Headway Developer you get Headway Base, all official Headway templates, and the Community Builder.

Official templates are Headway templates created by Headway Themes itself, so excluding the Community templates. The Community templates are created by Headway specialized developers and design agencies.

All three plans include one year of support and updates. After the first years can renew your license with another year. Renewals are only 50% of the initial price.

Howling Dog Theme Framework

Howlng Dog Theme Framework K9 Control Panel
The Howling Dog Theme Frawework allows you to create child themes for the Howling Dog Theme Framework (HDT). In order to create HDT child themes you need K9 Canvas.
You can choose from two plans, both include the HDT and K9 Canvas to build your custom theme:

  • HDT Pro $51
  • HDT Pro Plus $199

HDT Pro comes with one year of support and upgrades, while the Plus version entitles you to ongoing support and upgrades.

The current version is 2.0.2. There is also a free download available from the homepage that contains version 1.5.2 of the HDT K9 Canvas and Parent theme.


Modularity photo & multimedia theme framework

Modularity is a multimedia theme framework by Graph Paper Press initially released August, 2008. Just like the newer Base from the same company, Modularity can be used to develop child themes, but also as a theme on itself.

Themes and theme frameworks by Graph Paper Press are available as single theme and with a subscription plan:

  • Single Theme $79
  • Forever Plan $299

The Forever Plan not only includes Base, but all themes (49 to date) from Graph Paper Press.

The current version 4.0.3, released earlier this month.

Pro Framework

Pro FrameworkThis product is named Pro Framework, although it is described as “an incredible WordPress theme that offers hundreds of visual and general options”. My mind wanders towards WooThemes Canvas or ElegantThemes Divi.

The Pro Framework has a price tag of $64.95. This is a one-time payment, so you are entitled to lifetime updates and support.

The current version is, which was released earlier this month.


Reverie Framework

Reverie is a FREE HTML5 WordPress Framework. based on ZURB’s Foundation, from ThemeFortress.

You can use Reverie as either a starter theme for your project, or as a parent theme to design your own child theme.

Reverie can be downloaded for FREE from the ThemeFortress website or Github.

Simon WP FrameworkSimon WP Framework

Simon WP Framework is a WordPress theme and framework. It has been developed by Simon Urbina.

You can download it from the author’s website, but that requires that you go through a $0 checkout procedure. Simon WP Framework is also available from the WordPress Theme Directory.

The current version 2.1.9, was released last December.


Skematik WordPress Theme Framework

The Skematik Theme is a development of StoreFront Themes. The main motivation was to streamline the codebase for existing and future themes of StoreFront.

Skematik is based on Twitter Bootstrap. You can use Skematik as a parent theme and framework to create your own themes.

For a one-time fee of $59, you get Skematik plus lifetime support and updates. The current version is, released April 2013.



Thematic is a creation of Ian Stewart who works for Themeshaper – Automattic’s Theme Team. Thematic is a FREE WordPress theme framework, downloadable from the WordPress Themes Directory.

Support is available through the Thematic Forums. The current version is 1.0.4, released April 2013.

Thesis 2

Thesis 2Thesis 2 by DIYThemes is a theme framework allowing non-coders to design any kind of website. Unfortunately, I was not able to trace a preview of Thesis on the DIYThemes website. However, there is a showcase displaying customizations from the Thesis Community.

The Thesis website framework is available with three plans:

  • Thesis Basic $87
  • Thesis Basic Plus $87
  • Thesis Developer $197

The two Thesis Basic licenses allow you to use Thesis on one website. Compared to the Thesis Basic, the Plus version adds MailChimp and Aweber email signup boxes (plugins) and the Social Triggers Skin and Pearsonified Skin.

Thesis Developer comes with additional extensions, and allows you to use Thesis on any domains that you own. For client websites, you need to purchase a Client Site Option, starting at $40 for 1 client’s website.

All plans include lifetime support and updates. The current version is 2.1.6, released last December.

A review of the Thesis Theme is available here on wilwebs.com: The Thesis 2.0 Framework for WordPress – A First Look


Ultimatum Layout Settings HostingCaddie

Ultimatum is a WordPress theme framework incorporating a Drag-and-Drop Layout Builder and Style Editor. According to Ultimatum it is more than a WordPress theme or framework. It positions itself as a total design suite for beginning WordPress enthusiasts, giving them total control of any aspect of the website without coding.

The Ultimatum Theme comes in three flavors:

  • Starter License $65
  • Developer’s License $125
  • Designer’s License $170

The Starter License gives you a lifetime membership and support for one site. The Developer’s License entitles you to support for an unlimited number of sites, WordPress multisite support, and the ability to export templates. The Designer’s License adds the right to sell your templates to the Ultimatum Template Market. More details are available on the Ultimatum pricing page .

An in-depth review of the Thesis Theme is available here on wilwebs.com: Ultimatum Theme – A First Look.

Vertex Framework

Vertex Framework for WordPress

The Vertex Framework by Shape5 is available for Joomla and WordPress. Downloading the FREE framework requires registration, which makes you a free member.

In case you want to upgrade your free membership, you can choose for:

  • Basic $49.99 – 2 months access, 1 domain
  • Best Vaue $79.99 – 1 year, 3 domains
  • Unlimited $109.99 – 1 year, unlimited domains that you own
  • Developer $249.99 – 1 year, unlimited domains, including client sites

All paid memberships, also include acces to Club Templates and Extensions.

The current version is of the free Vertex Framework for WordPress is 2.0, probably around since May 2012. Browsing the blog, I noticed that the Joomla versions (3.4 for Joomla 3.x and 2.5 for Joomla 1.6 to 2.5) are a bit ahead of the WordPress version.


Wonderflux v1.1 – free, open source WordPress theme framework

The Wonderflux theme framework was released March 11, 2012. The current version 1.1, is from September 2013.

The Wonderfulx as well as the Girder child theme are available for FREE from GitHub.

WP Sumo

WPSumo Framework Home Page

WPSumo is a mobile ready theme framework built by bloggers for bloggers.

Apparently, the Standard License is no longer available, and the Developer License has been reduced to $99.

As far as I can verify, the last version 1.1.8 was released February 16, 2013 – so just over a year ago…

Xtreme One

Xtreme One screenshot

The Xtreme One WordPress Framework is based on the YAML CSS Framework. December 2012, Inspyde became the new owner of Xtreme One, and the framework and its child themes found a new home at MarketPress.

The Xtreme One theme framework is now available with three plans:

  • Standard $75
  • Business $95
  • Developer $190

These licenses allow you to apply the theme one respectively 1, 5 and 10 domans. All prices are including 19% VAT, and entitle you to support and updates for one year.

The current version 1.5.5, while for customers the RC2 of 1.6 is available download from the MarketPress Dashboard.

A review of Xtreme One is available here on wilwebs.com: The Xtreme One WordPress Theme Framework – A First Look.

Final Words

It is not possible to examine the ins and outs of every WordPress theme framework in one single post. Some frameworks have already been reviewed here. Some will be updates, others added. When you have a specific question regarding one of the WordPress Theme Frameworks listed, or frameworks in general, just let me know.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click an affiliate link and purchase the item regarding, WPfy.me may receive a compensation.

WPfy.me runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

Genesis empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress.

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned developer, Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With the life-time updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.


  1. says

    Hi there Wil

    Thank you for taking the time to list all these WordPress Theme Frameworks available on the internet for people to us when building a website.

    I have been using Ultimatum now for over two years, and all I can say is it is great for building any web design a client wants. We work from a PSD File and make that into a WordPress Theme using Ultimatum within a few hours.

    Over the last year the guys behind it have been working very hard to make a good product a great product.

    If you are looking for a Framework, take a good look at Ultimatum, it really can do what ever you want it to do.

    Kind regards

    • says

      Hello John,

      Thanks for your kind words and your vote in favor of Ultimatum. It is true that Ultimatum keeps improving, especially since 2.5 of August last. Guess the version numbering should make bigger leaps to reflect those improvements.

      Take care,


    • says

      Thanks, Joe.

      Please let me know when you stumble into a WordPress theme framework that has not been included here. It will be my pleasure to add it to this list.


  2. Eric Bacon says

    Nice theme generator collection. Thanks for a share. I found many other excellent WordPress template generators and have been using TemplateToaster. It is worth to design superb themes. I suggest it must be added to best WordPress theme generators list.

    • says

      Dear Eric,

      Amazing that you have been able to create a product that generates themes and templates for WordPress, Joomla, Magento, Drupal, e107, and VirtueMart. Unfortunately, TempateToaster does not meet the requirements for this overview; TemplateToaster downloads as a Windows executive, not as a WordPress themeframework activated from the themes folder.

      Wil Ransz

  3. says

    I’m confused by your review of Thematic. You’ve listed it as a free framework, and yet also remark that “A lifetime license costs $60, however you will only get updates and access to the member’s forum for one year. So in case you want your ThemeFrame to stay up to date, you will have to pay this fee annually.”

    Come again?

    I’ve built child themes for Thematic, and never once did I see anything about a) lifetime licenses or b) anything called ThemeFrame. Also, your links are rusted; Thematic’s site is http://thematictheme.com/ and the forums are at http://thematictheme.com/forums/


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