Premium WordPress theme frameworks are solid starter themes and/or powerful theme systems with a lot of in-built features and functionality that make it easy for anyone to built a professional, customized blog or website. These WordPress template frameworks offer a huge amount of built-in control and flexibility allowing you to create many different styles and layouts, and easily customize the template to build a professional and unique looking website. The theme frameworks below are for users of all levels.
A simple screen shot of the basic homepage of these themes often does not do them justice, because they have a lot of features, functions and layout options that can’t be fully shown here. So try the demos, watch the videos, and read the detailed features on the release pages to fully understand and appreciate these premium theme frameworks.
Below are the best premium WordPress theme frameworks available.
[Updated: 1 October, 2014]
Genesis WordPress Theme Framework
Genesis is an advanced, fast, flexible and secure WordPress theme framework from StudioPress with lots of great turn-key designs (child themes) available for it.
The Genesis Theme Framework is essentially a core WordPress theme that is highly optimized with state of the art code and smart design architecture. It has a mobile responsive design and also includes convenient inbuilt layout, design and SEO options. The theme has been fully search optimized, and the clean, efficient code ensures your website and its content will achieve the best possible rankings in the search engines. Genesis also follows all WordPress security best practices and is audited by the WordPress Lead Developer to ensure it has the best security possible.
The Genesis theme can be used as is for a clean minimalist website, or extended with the many beautiful child themes (designs) available for a sleek professional look without paying a fortune. Check out all the available child themes here. Using a framework / child theme system is smart from a “future proofing” and SEO perspective because you can radically change the look of your site, every week if you want to, and you’ll never lose your content or hurt your search engine rankings because the design is kept completely separate from the core theme framework code.
Genesis also makes it easy to customise and manage your site with lots of inbuilt features such as mix-and-match layout options for individual pages or posts, custom widgets, automatic framework updates, comprehensive theme options panel, custom widgets and much more.
Developer You Can Trust
When selecting a WordPress theme framework (or any theme for that matter) it’s important to choose one you know has been built by a developer or company you can trust, and is high quality. StudioPress is the pioneer ‘premium WordPress theme’ company and has been creating top quality products since 2007. Many top websites choose to build on Genesis and you can be sure it’s an optimized, secure and flexible foundation for your website you can trust.
Genesis is fantastic value because StudioPress gives you unlimited everything in the onetime purchase price. They provide unlimited support, updates, and domains you can built which makes for unparalleled value.
Key Features of the Genesis Framework
- Responsive Design – automatically adjusts to fit perfectly on all screen sizes and mobile devices
- Automatic Updates – easy upgrade similar to the way that WordPress itself (and plugins) are handled
- 6 Layout Options – selectable site wide or for individual post/page
- Theme Options – many settings that let you fine-tune the way your site looks
- Custom Hooks (40+) – a hook is a piece of code written into the theme that allows you to attach additional content to the theme itself
- Custom Widgets (MyTweets, User Profile, eNews & Updates, Featured Posts, Featured Pages)
- Lots of great turn-key designs available (child themes)
- State of the art security
- Import / Export Settings – the Genesis Theme and SEO settings are completely portable, so you can back up, restore, and transfer settings from one install to another
- User Control System – allows admin to turn on/off theme settings, layouts and SEO option availability for users on a per user basis
- Author Box – display per page option
- Register / Unregister Layouts
- Dynamic Text / Image Logo option
- Navigation menu controls
- Drop down navigation menu
- Post Thumbnails
- Auto sized featured images
- Custom Widgets
- Search Engine Optimised
- SEO Options (site wide and individual page/post controls)
- Post and Page Tracking/Conversion Code box
- Ready for advertising
- Breadcrumb navigation
- Integrated Blog
- BuddyPress Compatibility
- Developed for Localization
Genesis Theme Framework: $59.95
Pro Plus All-Theme Package: $349.95 (Genesis Framework and all child themes)
Headway WordPress Theme
Headway is a flexible and powerful premium WordPress theme framework that gives you total control of your websites design with its intuitive drag and drop layout creator. Headway has over 700 code free options and features and its exclusive Visual Layout Editor gives you a true “what you see is what you get” designing experience. The Headway theme allows you to create any layout and website imaginable from a standard blog, to landing pages, to membership sites, business or ecommerce websites.
Other features include a Quick Start Wizard that guides you smoothly through the set up and design process, extensive style editor, automatic colour scheme generator based on the header image, built in SEO options and much more.
- Visual Layout Editor – allows you to design your blog visually by giving you the power to create and rearrange the layout without touching a line of code. Lets you to build your site live and see the changes take place right on the page you are working on.
- Create Any Layout Imaginable – using the Headway Visual Editor, you can do anything from a standard blog, to landing pages, to membership sites, to e-commerce sites
- Quick Start Wizard – The wizard will guide you step-by-step through choosing your layout, uploading your header image, building your site’s color scheme (it’ll even detect colors from your header image!), and selecting fonts. At the end, you’ll click a button to build your site and it’ll all be done in a snap!
- Styles and Design Editor – allows you to fine-tune the visual design elements in the theme. Properties you can control on selected elements include: colours, font / typeface, font size, line height, font styling, capitalisation, text alignment, letter spacing etc.
- Layout Editor –gives you unprecedented control over the visual placement and dimensions of page content with drag and drop control of content boxes. You get to decide what goes into the box, where the box goes on the page, and how big the box is.
- Column System – allows you to arrange and resize columns. Select 1 to 4 columns and easily adjust each column width
- Header Panel – easily customise the header properties and location with drag and drop ease
- Customizable navigation, footer and body
- Site Dimensions Panel – allows you to easily adjust certain dimensions of your site. With a built in slider, you can first adjust Wrapper width, vertical margins and even have rounders corners
- Easy Hooks and Filters – lets you insert custom content at will wherever you like on any page without messing with PHP or CSS
- Configuration Panel – gives you complete control of the settings that are behind the scenes. Add universal analytics or opt-in form scripts, set detailed options for post meta information (publication dates, author, etc.), integrate FeedBurner, add a favicon, and much more
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – complete set of search engine optimization features without needing any additional plugins. You can manage various kinds of page titles, description meta tags, nofollow settings, noindex settings, breadcrumbs and more to boost your search engine rankings
- Automatic Upgrades – upgrade straight from within your WordPress admin
- WordPress Multi-site Support WPML compatibility
- Friendly and Helpful Support Community
- Tutorials and Documentation in Plain English
The Builder theme from iThemes is a powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use responsive WordPress theme framework that allows you to quickly build websites and blogs with WordPress. Builder includes an innovative layout engine allowing you to build almost any layout you like and easy manage the theme graphics and styling. The iThemes Builder developer package includes 60+ child themes, which span a wide range of looks and styles for different niches, with more child theme being added all the time.
- Responsive Support – uses responsive design, so your site will respond to different screen sizes like phones and tablets
- Layout Engine – build almost any kind of layout or page template you want (without knowing code)
- Style Manager – easily tweak the CSS without needing to touch the code
- Infinite Widget Areas
- Blocks – blocks are special functionality add-ons for specific content types
- Simple Layout Control
- Use one theme to build a website with multiple layouts and individual looks for each (each layout can have its own CSS)
- Assign specific layouts to certain WP Views (specific layouts for blogs, pages, posts, and categories)
- Create new widgets areas layouts or sidecars on the fly
- Custom Landing Pages – squeeze pages, email opt in pages, feed pages, portfolio pages etc
- WordPress 3.0+ Custom Menu integration
- Advanced SEO options – lets you choose between basic or advanced SEO options
- BuddyPress integration
- Billboard & Rotating Images plugins
- 60+ Child Themes
Foundation Pack: $80 (Builder Core Theme + 5 Foundation themes)
Developer Pack: $150 (Builder Core Theme + All 60+ Builder child themes)
Ultimatum is an extremely powerful and feature packed drag and drop responsive WordPress theme builder. Ultimatum isn’t just a WordPress theme or framework, but a total design suite that puts you in total control of every aspect of your WordPress site without requiring any coding skills.
Ultimatum has an innovative layout builder that lets you easily create your own layouts via drag and drop functions. It lets you create complex and professional layouts without having to know or understand any code. Ultimatum’s CSS editors also make it easy to set your desired styling. Every element in the theme can be styled via the inbuilt options, colour pickers etc. There is no need to get into the CSS files to make your styling changes.
Innovative Layout Builder
CSS Style Editors
Ultimatum is mobile ready and lets you create beautiful responsive websites that will work for any device. The Pro version also gives you ability to create dedicated mobile web apps. Ultimatum includes the classic 12 column grid system from 960.gs as well as the hugely popular Bootstrap with 12 bootswatches. It’s written in HTML5 and CSS3 so your websites will be ready for the future.
In additional to the core layout and design functionality Ultimatum integrates a number of great premium plugins for enhanced functionality. These include: 3 different sliders, a visual composer (for pages), easy forms, Font Library (600+ Google fonts), 7 menu systems, shortcodes, slideshow generator, custom post type creator, custom widgets, front end CSS editing and live preview, WooCommerce ecommerce support and more.
If you have a specific design in mind and want to create your own WordPress theme then Ultimatum puts you in total control and lets you be your own web developer and designer. It’s a powerful, customisable and complete all-in-one WordPress solution.
- Innovative Layout Builder – comes with a unique layout builder where you are able to drag and drop native WordPress widgets. You’re not bound to specific add-ons and can use any plugin and widget in Ultimatum with just dragging and dropping them in to your desired layout position
- Easy Styling – you can easily set your desired styling with ease using Ultimatum’s CSS editors. Each element defined in the back-end can be styled with just filling the forms and setting the options
- Mobile Ready – Ultimatum creates beautiful responsive websites for any device. It’s also possible to create mobile web apps with Ultimatum in matters of few clicks
- Bootstrap and Bootswatches – option to use the classic 12 column grid system from 960.gs or Bootstrap with 12 integrated bootswatches
- For Non Coders – Ultimatum’s state of art technologies give you total control of most common elements on a web site with simple click drag and drop functions. You can create a fully professional look with Ultimatum without coding a single line
- For Coders / Developers Also – Ultimatum is also great for code-savvy designers. Ultimatum brings freedom to ones who love to code with hooks and filters so you can hook into any place of the site and set your own functions with ease
- Premium Plugins – Ultimatum includes integrated premium plugins for optional enhanced features and functionality
- Visual Composer – provides drag and drop editing for your pages
- Sliders – a number of sliders are bundled including: Layer Slider, Slider Revolution and Showbiz Slider
- Easy Forms – drag and drop form builder
- Font Library – gives you access to the whole Google Font Directory (600+ fonts)
- Slideshow Generator – create Slideshows from any content in your site with simple drag and drop actions
- Ultimatum Shortcodes – for things like columns, toggles, tabs, google maps, buttons, tabs etc
- Seven Menus – seven different menu types you can from to use anywhere. Horizontal menus, vertical menus, mega menus, Bootstrap menus etc.
- Custom Widgets – comes with lots of custom menus
- Front End CSS Editing – edit your CSS live from front-end and se results before you click submit
- Import / Export Designs – export your design with on click and import it in another site again with one click
- Countless Hooks – Ultimatum has many hooks and actions
- Custom Post Types – lets you create your own post types and organise your content with ease
- WooCommerce Support – Ultimatum is designed to work with WooCommerce flawlessly so you can easily set up a ecommerce store or a section to sell products
Starter License: $65
Pro License: $125
One Time Payment Lifetime Updates – Ultimatum membership is for life time without any hidden or recurring fees
Thesis is a powerful, high quality WordPress master framework that makes it easy for anyone to run a professional, customized blog or website. In addition to excelling at critical tasks like SEO, site speed, and layout flexibility, Thesis comes with one of the most comprehensive Option Panels that allows you to easily control and customize almost every aspect of the framework with ease. You can select the font style and sizes, colours for most elements, the number of columns (1, 2 or 3 columns), the order of those columns and the exact width of each individual column – all without having to dig into the pages of code. Thesis also boats the strongest SEO of any WordPress theme.
Thesis 2.0 was released on October 1, 2012 after 2 years of development with claims the totally rebuilt theme is a “new website engine that will define the future”.
Thesis 2.0 is not just an updated version of the Thesis 1.8.x theme, it’s been totally rebuilt from the ground up into an entirely new engine. DIY Themes claims when you use the Thesis framework for WordPress, you can completely customize your theme without digging into ANY code. The new version has 3 main new features:
- Thesis Skins and Skins Editor – Thesis 2 has a visual skin editor for building templates and managing your design. The Thesis Skin Editor lets you “see” HTML and allows you to click on, move and interact with the elements of your website.
- Thesis Boxes – add-on functionality with drag and drop, point and click ease, without the hassle of writing your own code.
- Thesis Packages – allow you to deploy complicated CSS without writing any code while leaving you to interface with the stuff you actually care about—colours, fonts, and other simple properties.
Thesis Skin Editor
Drag and drop layout editor lets you click on, move, and interact with the elements of your website and “see the HTML”
Point and click options to customise the CSS
Create and customise your pages individually
Some of the other features of Thesis 2.0 include the ability to create pixel perfect typography (without any coding), options to create your own custom 404 page in a few clicks, and a template editor that lets you make unique landing pages, or any other page specific web design without needing to get into the code.
BootStart: Bootstrap WordPress Theme Framework
BootStart is a responsive WordPress theme framework or starter theme built with Twitter Bootstrap. The premium theme from Gabfire has a minimalist design but with lots of great in-built options to easily customise your site. BootStart can be used as-is for a nice minimal looking site, or as a foundation framework or starter theme for rapid website development. It fits right in the middle between a theme framework and a starter theme because it doesn’t include the entire kitchen sink of bloat, but has a balance between the must have options and templates, and lean easy to use extendibility.
Being built on Twitters Bootstrap the theme is of course mobile ready with a responsive design. The layout seamlessly scales to fit on all browser windows, tablets, mobile phones and other mobile devices (in landscape and portrait modes).
Some of the other features in BootStart include: Font Awesome font icons, fluid or boxed layouts, 4 single post templates, 6 page templates, 4 category templates, a pricing table template, shortcodes, multi-site and localisation support, options panel and more.
- Mobile Responsive Design – has a responsive design that seamlessly scales to fit browser windows, tablets, mobile phones and all mobile devices
- Framework / Starter Theme – BootStart can be used as a framework or a starter theme because it doesn’t include the entire kitchen sink of bloat, but has a balance between the must have options and templates and extendibility
- Font Awesome – comes ready with 361 font icons by Font Awesome that gives you scalable vector icons that can instantly be customized — size, colour, drop shadow, and anything that can be done with CSS
- Fixed or Fluid Layout – select from either a boxed or full width layout from the options panel
- 4 Single Post Templates
- Right Sidebar Post Template
- Left Sidebar Post Template
- Big Picture Post Template
- No Sidebar Post Template
- 6 Page Templates
- Pricing Table Page Template
- Blog Page Template
- No Sidebar Page Template
- Left Sidebar Page Template
- Archives Page Template
- Sitemap Page Template
- 4 Category Templates
- Default Category Template
- 2 Column Category Template
- 3 Column Category Template
- 4 Column Category Template
- Pricing Table – lets you create pricing tables you can style as you wish
- Shortcodes – lets you style basic elements without having to wrestle tons of code
- Theme Control Panel – lets you change settings quickly through the control panel
- SEO Optimized – designed with search engine optimization in mind
- Media Module – includes a media module that makes embedding picture, video and other media simple
- Localization Support – can be translated into any language
- WordPress Multi-Site – compatible with standard or multi-site installs
Seed Responsive WordPress Framework Theme
The Seed Theme is a powerful, customisable and versatile WordPress theme that makes an ideal framework for any WordPress website project. The carefully developed theme from Organic Themes has well organized and documented code, and contains all the functionality you need for creating a beautiful WordPress theme. It doesn’t however have any of the unnecessary features often found in premium themes now that can bloat, slow down and really just make it a pain to actually develop a website with. Seed can be used as a solid base foundation for any new WordPress theme project, or used as is out of the box for a clean and professional website.
Seed contains all the best features of previous Organic themes, and will form the foundation for all future themes and updates from Organic Themes. Some of the features found in the Seed theme include: HTML5 / CSS3 construction, font icons, shortcodes, options panel and customisation options, page templates, portfolio template, a HTML5 audio player, WooCommerce and Gravity Forms compatibility and much more.
Seed has a fully responsive framework that automatically adapts to fit all mobile devices perfectly, and is retina optimised so will look great on high resolution displays like the iPhone and retina MacBook etc.
You can see all the other Organic Themes here.
- Options Framework
- Responsive Framework – this theme adapts to fit mobile devices perfectly
- Retina Optimized
- WooCommerce Compatible – allows you to sell products using the free WooCommerce ecommerce plugin
- Portfolio Template – contains a portfolio and slideshow page template
- HTML5 and CSS3
- HTML5 Audio Player
- Post Formats
- Google Fonts
- Social Media Buttons
- Custom Header
- Custom Background
- Custom Menu
- Customisation Options – change link and highlight colours etc with ease
- Featured Images
- Featured Videos
- Custom Page Templates
- Slideshow Page Template
- Numbered Pagination
- Multiple Sidebars
- Multiple Column Layouts
- Widget Ready
- Photoshop Design File
- Gravity Forms Styling – fully compatible with the Gravity Forms plugin
PageLines DMS 2
PageLines Design Management System (DMS) is a drag and drop design tool for WordPress that lets you create your own professional looking, mobile friendly website design quickly and easily without coding.
DMS 2 is not really a WordPress theme framework or a theme builder as such, but a modular drag and drop design management system for WordPress. It allows you to drag and drop modules of pre-defined professional web design around your site and place it however you want to build pretty much any layout and design you would like to create. You can move modules around, edit and customise it all from the front end. So it’s a great tool for beginners and developers alike who want to create their own website designs without having to get into the code. You just drag then drop; point and click. PageLines also have a range of child themes and extension available for purchase if you don’t want to design everything yourself.
DMS 2 is powered by WordPress and supports all the standard WordPress plugins and functionality. So you can use all the popular WordPress SEO, forum, ecommerce and all other plugins.
DMS 2 Features
- Drag & Drop Builder – easily build and save any type of page layout using the PageLines drag & drop builder. Create unlimited layouts for all your pages
- Responsive Design – DMS is fully responsive no matter how you decide to build your pages. Create layouts that your visitors can enjoy on any device
- Options Galore – everything is customizable with point & click options. Change colours, fonts, and everything else.
- Unlimited Page Layouts – unlimited colour options, page layouts, fonts and animations. You’ll love the endless possibilities of DMS
- Preloaded Page Templates – ready with built-in pages, no need to import files so your theme installation is smooth and hassle free
- WooCommerce Capability – designed & extended to fit the WooCommerce plugin which allows you to sell products on your site
- SEO Standards – DMS was building with close attention to SEO. Your site must look good and rank well on search results
- 50+ Sections – 50+ sections to insert into your pages so you can create amazing layouts. More added all the time with updates
- Boxed or Fullwidth Layouts – quickly switch between boxed or fullwidth layout. No need to dig into the stylesheet to get the layout you need
- Portfolios – create any type of portfolio to showcase your work
- Shortcodes – to easily add buttons, labels, tooltips and quotes, maps and charts, accordion and toggles and more
- Clean & Minimal – a clean and minimal design, not only will it look good for different niches it is also easy to customize
- Clean Code – well commented and clean code makes it easy for you to tweak the theme and also keeps it well optimize and expandable
- HTML5 – the theme uses HTML5 so the code is up to the latest standards
- CSS3 – bringing you the best coding standards as well as some cool new tricks such as element animation on page scroll
- 360+ Icons – insert icons anywhere you want via the built-in Font Awesome icon options
- Video and Image Parallax Backgrounds – easily upload your own background video .mp4 file or image for a beautiful parallax background
- Stunning Typography – easily switch fonts for all text elements through the options panel. Choose from 600+ free Google web fonts
- Embedded Video Support – Embed any number of videos into your pages. You can choose any column width and also display self hosted html5 videos
- Search Social and Local – cutting edge techniques and technology for your web presence