WordPress Theme Framework Explained
Recently, one of our users asked us the question what is a WordPress theme framework? Before answering her question we did a quick search, and the results were surprising. There was not a single comprehensive article that explained what is a WordPress theme framework. Majority of the articles were sites listing the top free WordPress theme frameworks or WordPress theme frameworks compared etc. Then there were some theme framework websites ranking among the top. In this article, we will do our best to answer questions like what is a WordPress theme framework, what type of theme frameworks exist, why do people use WordPress theme frameworks, advantages and disadvantages of using a theme framework, should you use a theme framework, and lastly what is our pick for the best WordPress theme framework. What is a WordPress Theme Framework? The term WordPress theme framework often refers to a code library that is used to facilitate development of a theme. In the old days of WordPress, there were some crucial problems with the way how themes were developed and maintained. There was no good way of upgrading WordPress themes without losing all the custom styling options. There was no way to prevent copying and pasting of the same functionality code in all themes. While these two issues might not seem like a problem to an average user, these can be disastrous for a few reasons. What if you realized that the same code that you had been using in all of your themes had a security exploit. Even more important, what if this theme was something that you publicly released for others to download and customize. Yes, that’s chaos waiting to happen. The core team and community decided to fix the issues mentioned above by introducing the concept of Parent Theme and Child Theme. WordPress theme frameworks are intended to be used as a parent theme template where all the functionality resides. Developers can then create a child theme to add custom styling while leaving the functionality aspects of it to the framework. This allows for a centralized location where all the functions are hosted. If the core development team decide to deprecate a WordPress function, or there is a bug found in a specific theme framework, then it is extremely easy to push out an update without modifying anything the child theme has. This method allows you to keep the “framework” of your site strong without modifying how it looks. What type of Theme Frameworks exist? Well there are Free one and paid ones… Ok seriously, there are a few type of frameworks that exist. There are complete drag & drop frameworks like Headway Themes that empower users to create everything visually without any knowledge of code. Then there are pseduo-drag drop frameworks like Pagelines and Thesis. These frameworks allow users to drag and drop pre-define sections (similar to how WordPress widgets work). Obviously anyone can define custom sections using the available hooks and filters offered by the frameworks. Then there are theme frameworks that are full of options. Themify and most others fall in this category. Lastly, there are the theme frameworks that are built for developers to get a head start without the clutter and bloat like Genesis by...read more
Linux vs. Windows Web Hosting, Does it Make a Difference?
One of the most confusing decisions someone new to web hosting will have to make is which platform their server should be on. There are a number of different choices out there but the main two are Linux and Windows web servers. There are also a lot of sources of information about hosting, but the majority of them are tainted by the author’s biased personal opinion unfortunately confusing the issue. Having just put in some solid hours researching the topic I have come to the conclusion that in general it quite probably does not matter which server you use. For the majority of people it will be far more important to choose a really good web host than to worry about the server-type that they implement. Microsoft developed and owns the Windows operating system. Linux is open source and generally free. This means it can often be more expensive to set up and run a Windows server. However, this fact doesn’t really affect you unless you are actually setting up a server for yourself and if you’re reading this article then I’m guessing that it’s safe to assume you’re not. This article is going to offer information for those trying to decide which hosting company to go with. The cost involved in running a server does not affect the cost of a web-hosting package as much as you may think. Despite the general opinion that Windows servers are more expensive to run, buying a Windows hosting package can often turn out to be just as cheap or even cheaper than an equivalent Linux hosting package. Some people naturally assume that because their PC runs Windows they need to buy a Windows hosting package. This isn’t true. Access to your web account will most likely be through FTP or a control panel and both servers support these methods. The main difference is that some of the FTP commands are slightly different between Linux and Windows and some FTP programs will be designed with one or the other in mind. This means you may occasionally find that when you try and get your FTP program to do something it returns an error message, but it won’t happen very often. Your choice of server platforms should be dictated by the use to which you intend to put it. The majority of web features run fine on both platforms including PHP, mySQL, POP3 etc. If you intend to create your site using ASP, FrontPage, the .NET environment, Windows Streaming Media, Access, MSSQL, or any of the other Microsoft proprietary technologies then you probably need to use a Windows host. There is limited support for a number of these technologies in Linux, but they can be expensive and are usually lacking in features. It is probably worth considering the fact that if you use server specific technologies and then change hosts you’ll have a much harder time of it than if you use technologies that can be run on any system. Having it run generic technologies removes the need to focus on specifics and allows you to focus on the quality of service itself. The reliability and stability of the different platforms have been the topic of many long arguments. The main reason that Windows is seen as being insecure is that it is...read more
The Importance Of Content – Adding A Weblog To Your Site
Continuing my theme of how as a small business you can improve your search engine results. In a previous article I extolled the virtues of article writing and in this one I shall consider the practicalities and usefulness of adding a weblog to your site in order to drive more traffic to your web pages. I am presuming that you have optimised your site, added numerous pages of content and update or add to that content at least on a weekly basis. All of this I did with our own website but still the search engines only visited the site about every 4 – 6 weeks. So although our content was being added to sometimes on a daily basis I couldn’t induce the Google spider in particular to visit the site more often even though I was submitting sitemaps to Google.which informed it of these updates. I then started reading about the benefits to businesses of having a weblog attached to the site. SEO’s were and still do wax lyrical about how search engines just love weblogs. On this basis I decided to give it a go and looked around at the various free blog sites and finally settled on http://www.blogger.com as this site allowed the blog to be integrated into the website and offered a multitude of templates to choose from. So I chose my template and went through the process of integration with the website which is a very simple and easy process to follow. The next step was to start writing the blog. Very quickly I discovered that it was the ideal vehicle for announcing new services, new products and new branch openings as well as informing the readers of our day to day activities and experiences. All of it is excellent content and the SEO’s were quite correct in that the search engine spiders do love it. So much so that the googlebot spider visits everyday to update the web pages and the weblog. This now means that when my content changes or new pages are added they are immediately indexed by Google. This has done wonders for the search engine placement of the site. The second benefit that SEO’s talked about was the increased number of links that having a blog would bring in. This part I didn’t quite believe as I couldn’t see how it would do this. I am still not certain of how and why it does attract links but the truth of the matter is that it does. The articles and the weblog seem to inhabit a world of their own and they certainly take on a life which you have no control over. However the combined effect is to boost your own content, attract search engines to visit your site frequently, increase the number of backlinks to your site and increase the number of visitors. All of which are of tremendous benefit to you as a business. The latest figures I saw published for the number of businesses with weblogs was only 2%. So all you small businesses out there with a website, get writing articles and add a weblog to your site. Keep that updated, preferably on a daily basis, and you will soon see dramatic effects both on your visitor numbers and your search engine...read more
Top Tips for Web Design
Content is King. The most important thing to remember about popular web sites is that they are always rich in content. Stick to your subject. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Keep your goal in mind. Creating a web site is challenging and fun. The temptation to put as many bells and whistles as you can on a page is almost overwhelming. But unless your site is involved with bells and whistles, don’t do it! The purpose of designing a site carefully is not to make it look cool, or win awards. It’s to accomplish the intended goal of the site. It’s a good idea to write down the goal of your the site before starting any design work. It will help you make design designs for the site as a whole. First impressions count! Think about the message you are sending to your customer. The first page of your web site should be a concise description of the website. Don’t make this page too busy – entice visitors to dig deeper into your site through the use of inviting text and interesting graphics. If you are serious about your business, buy your own domain name and don’t use a “free” hosting service. Design sites, not pages. Your primary concern should be the site’s overall design. When starting to design a new site from scratch, you should try to create a design that will make sense to users, has a consistent look and feel, and is not to difficult to extend in the future. The consistency of design of a site is one of the factors that differentiates amateur sites from professional ones. Make it easy to get around your site. Your customer should be able to easily navigate to any page in your web from any page in your page. It’s important to link in a consistent, well thought out manner that users can learn to navigate. Have clear links to your pages and, if are selling a product, make it easy for people to buy it! Show your business name, address, phone number and E-mail address on each an every page. Invite customers to contact you with their questions or comments. Add links to other sites only when necessary, or on a special links page at the end of your site. You want visitors to go through your site before surfing off to another! View your site through the eyes of a stranger. Once you have completed you site outline, view it in other browsers. Does it look like you wanted it to look? Don’t forget to tell the world about your new site. Make sure that your URL is on all your company business cards, letter heads, brochures, phone systems, etc. Swap links with other related web sites and consider banner advertising. List your site with the major search engines, but read their rules of submission first! Keep your site current. Come up with a reason for people to visit and revisit your pages and recommend them to their friends. This could be a series of articles giving tips, a daily cartoon, or other attention catching event. The words most likely to attract visitors are: Free and Special. Be sure you offer something of value if you uses these words! Survey says… Ask...read more