WordPress Theme vs Framework vs Child Theme

Every WordPress user should know the differences between WordPress Theme vs Framework vs Child Theme and which one to use on their blog or website. Here is a detailed info on each of them and the examples considered are really useful to know the differences easily. If you are in a  confusion on which one to use, you will get to a conclusion once after finished reading this article.


What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is basically a design that outputs the desired look and feel by taking advantage of core WordPress elements. In other Words, a theme is a set of files that helps to get a desired layout to your WordPress website. There are many free themes available for download at official WordPress Repository.


Any free or premium WordPress theme can be considered as an example. Default WordPress themes Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are popular ones. Recently, WordPress announced new default theme for 2012 and is named as Twenty Twelve.

What is a WordPress Theme Framework?

A theme framework is a theme with additional functions that gives developer the flexibility to design. Generally, a theme framework includes an options panel, custom action hooks, custom filter hooks and integration of some scripts library, plugins etc. Theme development will be really easy when we properly make use of a framework.

Definitive guide on How to Choose WordPress Theme


Here are some popular Rock-solid core theme frameworks, one can easily built a WordPress theme without having much knowledge on coding. These frameworks are supported by developers and contributors from WordPress Community.

Thesis and Genesis are premium theme frameworks with many unique functions. We have been writing some tutorials on customizing them. You can check these links – Thesis Customization Tutorials  and Genesis Customization Tutorials.

What is a WordPress Child Theme?

A child theme inherits all functionality from Parent Theme and is used to create custom design. The main purpose of using Child Themes is to update parent themes without losing the customization done on your website . A child theme should contain a functions file and a style sheet only. Apart from this remaining things should be included with parent theme, otherwise child themes will also need an update in future.


There are many child theme available, that are build around many popular themes like Thesis and Genesis. You can check mobile responsive child themes from StudioPress.

WordPress Theme vs Framework vs Child Theme

Now its time to conclude things and you have already got some information of what is a WordPress Theme, a framework and a child theme. Coming to their comparison, themes and frameworks are under same page while child themes are a bit away from them. Our recommendation is to use a child theme on well designed theme or framework and that way you can make the best out of your design and performance.

Further Resources:

Here are some other views by experts in WordPress Community and you can know the differences between WordPress Theme, Framework, Child Theme and Grand Child theme.

We would like to hear from you, share your views and thoughts on WordPress Theme vs Framework through comments.


  1. says

    Hybrid Core is not a theme as you’ve stated. You cannot build child themes for it. You cannot install it into WordPress and use it as a theme.

    Hybrid Core is a true development framework for building WordPress themes. Even grouping a framework like Hybrid Core with Thematic, Genesis, and Thesis is incorrect. They are totally different things.

    • WPSquare says

      Hi Justin thanks for dropping by. After reading your comment and after a bit of research I came to know that, I did a bad thing by grouping Hybrid Core with other themes. Personally I’m a big fan of Hybrid Core and I think removing it from this article is not a solution. Rather, I would like to update this article with more information on it, so that many others can experiment and build themes using Hybrid Core.

  2. says

    Hi Justin, thanks for the correction because I am also confuse, I like this blog because I found it very helpful in customizing my wp themes. I am now trying to understand more about child theme because I always experiencing timely updates from the theme I am using.

    • WPSquare says

      Thanks for your comment Neu and yes WordPress users should know the difference between Framework, Themes and Child Themes.

  3. Dave says

    Can you recommend any proficient Genesis designers who can utilise a Child theme like Optimal
    I want a new website using Genesis certainly but open on Child theme
    Will need landing page and forms too as Genesis does not include them
    I am in the construction business so my website will be picture & floorplan intensive

    • WPSquare says

      Hi Akram, thanks for dropping by. You are looking for more details, can you please specify things exactly, so that I can update this article with more useful content…

  4. says

    I was wondering, what is the difference between a WordPress theme and a WordPress Website? I ask because I have seen developers offering both services but the cost differs. Also can you develop a WordPress Site by using a framework like Genesis or Thesis? Thanks for your advice

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