This topic should be discussed because of many reasons. One is that once you start using one platform you will probably stay with that, so you have to think it through before making a decision. Every technology has it’s advantages and disadvantages, whether it’s a blogging system, a full content management system or just a script.
Negatives and positives can be related to usability, security, flexibility, SEO friendliness, costs and the future of that certain system.
I think that many who are familiar with WordPress would agree that this platform can be outstanding regarding the mentioned points. This system was originally created for blogging purposes but as I see it by now it has grown into a whole content management system. So now besides quality blogs there are other types of sites created with this system.
It is easier by the day to create more and more advanced sites with WordPress, because of it’s popularity the demand for development is huge, and in response they are improving it fast, stretching the possibilities.
WordPress works in a theming system. Basically a theme gives the look and the functionality of a website, so choosing the right template is another important decision to make. Some are better, some are worse. This comes from the way they look and the way they are coded. Speaking about coding and looks, we cannot go further without talking about frameworks.
Frameworks are template systems that are created somewhat different than everyday WordPress themes. There are many different frameworks, but they have something in common. One thing is that usually they have the option to use child themes.
Now what are child themes? Child themes are themes that inherit the functionality of the mother theme (the framework theme), but they have a customized look. As a consequence, we cannot use child themes without the framework being installed on our WordPress powered site no matter what framework we are using (speaking about the well-known ones).
Why would anyone use frameworks? Frameworks are usually coded very well, which is good for SEO purposes as robots can find content easier. If we use a decent framework we know that we have a great system to run on, and it was not created by amateurs.
Search engines tend to appreciate standardized systems more, and some frameworks have this feature. We cannot say that themes created by other individuals cannot be good, it’s just if the markup of the site sucks big time, then don’t expect good results.
If you are involved in the web thing yourself you already know that we are rocking the Genesis framework on this site. This framework has a state of the art secure code, SEO optimised and it offers several free themes by Studiopress (who created Genesis) and from independent developers too.
The other most widely used framework is Thesis. These two are not for free, but if you’re low on cash, you can find quite good free ones too, like Thematic or Bones.
Not all frameworks offer free child themes, thus if you don’t know how to code, you might want to try a simple WordPress theme or choose one of the frameworks that have the ability to offer a great deal of customization tools without coding. Some examples: Pagelines, Catalyst, Headway.
Personally I have tried all of them, and I have mixed feelings. If I would have to choose from the three I’d go with Headway, and the second would be Catalyst. The reason for this is that Catalyst includes automatic updates, and it is fairly usable but it felt like using Headway was easier from a “no coder” view point. But that’s just my experience, the next guy will probably tell you otherwise.
Another great thing about WordPress is the option to add plugins, which can we install from the plugin’s directory and add more functionality to a website.
An example: suppose you want to sell something from your site, and you want our buyer(s) to pay you via PayPal. For that you can download a plugin which will provide a segment in our site containing the purchased item, price, and a tab which they can click on to pay. The tab link will get them to Paypal.com, they pay, then they can be redirected to a custom thank you page. All this with a simple plugin which can be configured with a few clicks.
So as you can see, with plugins one can turn a site into any kind of site. Well almost, but you get the picture.
If one googles WordPress themes, there will be hundreds and thousands of sites who are selling WordPress themes or offering free themes. WordPress has a huge collection of themes that can be used free of charge by anyone who uses the platform.
If you want to buy professional looking themes, then a good place to start out is Themeforest.