Building a Custom WordPress Theme Framework

If you’ve been involved in WordPress theme development project, then you’ll realize that you need to reuse same code across your project. Besides, you might even use the same starter or base theme, when starting a project for developing a theme. Additionally, you might be using a common set of plugins and widgets in your projects. Wouldn’t it be great if you could access all the needed functionality for theme development from a centralized location? This is where WordPress theme frameworks comes in handy.

A WordPress theme framework is referred to as a code library that assists in the development of a theme. The theme can be either be a starter/base theme that is needed to be forked into any other WordPress theme, or it can be used a parent theme template. There is plenty of free and premium theme frameworks available online. However, you can even choose to create a custom theme framework by combining tools you’re aware of, such as Bootstrap and Underscores.

Through this post, I would like to throw light upon using Bootstrap and Underscores as the main components of your custom theme framework. Furthermore, we’ll cover why you need a WordPress theme framework, and the advantages of building a custom one.

Why You Should Use WordPress Theme Frameworks?

People use a WP theme framework because of the following reasons:

1. Accelerate theme development: Theme frameworks provide a lot of functionality and customization options, saving users from writing all the code themselves. This helps in reducing the theme development time.

2. Eliminate Writing Code Repetitively: A theme framework contains plenty of code, you tend to use repetitively throughout your theme. And so, save you from the hassle of writing the same code again and again.

3. Adhere to Coding Standards: Most of the frameworks follows best coding standards, ensuring that your final theme is standards compliant.

4. Community Support: Every framework is backed by a community of users, sharing tips and useful resources essential for developing a theme.

Understanding the Need to Build Your Own Theme Framework

With a plethora of theme frameworks out there, you might wonder, “Why you should bother to build a framework on your own? To obtain the answer, let’s first have a quick glance at the cons of using any standard theme framework:

• Learning Curve: When starting with a theme development framework, you need to become familiar with it, which can be a time-consuming task and may seem frustrating (especially to beginners).

• Complexity: With the growth in your users’ needs, frameworks also grow with time. More and more features are being added to the frameworks, which eventually makes them complex to operate. This often acts as a barrier for beginners preventing them from completing their development project.

• Cost: While some frameworks are available free of cost, some others come with a price tag. But, at times you even need to bear the cost for using additional components when choosing a theme framework based on the “freemium” model.

Building a theme framework on your own will help you overcome all of the above discussed disadvantages. Let us now look at some reasons that will help you understand why building your own theme framework is a better choice than using a ready-made one:

• Since you’re developing it yourself, you’ll become acquainted with how the framework works. And so, in case the users of your theme framework face any issues, you will be able to provide the needed support.

• You will most likely avoid adding unnecessary code in your framework, in fact, you’ll keep the code clean, resulting in fast loading speed of your site.

• It’s obvious, you don’t have to necessarily pay anything for developing a theme framework on your own. Or you might only have to spend a little in the beginning of the project; but it will balance out as a custom theme framework will help develop a vast number of themes faster compared to the pre-built frameworks.

• Lastly, creating a framework on your own will let you have better control over it.

Using Bootstrap and Underscore as a Base/Starter Theme

A base/starter theme is the one that lays down the foundation to build a theme on your own. In fact, a theme framework comprises of a starter theme and some code (or let’s say functionality) required for developing WordPress themes.

Bootstrap helps in building responsive themes based on mobile-first approach. What’s more? It comes with plenty of reusable components and plugins that helps make the WordPress theme development process faster and easier.

On the other hand, “Underscores(_s)” was designed by team to be used a starter theme. It helps in eliminating the need to write the same code again and again. In addition, it adheres to WordPress Coding Standards and follows best theme development practices.

Since both Bootstrap and Underscores are important for theme development, combining them for creating a custom theme framework will ensure that the framework:

• Responsive
• Follows best practices
• Is Standards-compliant
• Is Flexible
• Is Well-documented
• Is Up-to-date


In this post, we provided an introduction to the WordPress theme framework, its need, and why you should consider creating a framework on your own. Most importantly, we discussed about combining Bootstrap and Underscores(_s) tools for developing a theme framework.

Author Bio :
Sophia Phillips is a WordPress developer working at WordPress web development Company. And she also loves writing blog providing useful information about WordPress best practices and benefits it provides.

One thought to “Building a Custom WordPress Theme Framework”

  1. Nice article thanks. I’ve always started with the basic WordPress themes when building out sites. Do you think using one of the frameworks you discussed offers much more as a starting point that make them worth considering? Which do you feel offers the best mobile experience?

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