If you haven’t heard of the Hybrid Theme Framework for WordPress or even WordPress Theme Frameworks, in general, let me tell you a little bit about them and why you should be using one.
To start off with, there’s a number of Theme Frameworks for WordPress including Theme Hybrid, Thematic, Carrington, Sandbox, WP Framework, and the Buffet Network. I’ve personally tried all of these to varying extents. From my experience, I probably wouldn’t bother with using any of them with the exceptions being Thematic by Ian Stewart and Hybrid by Justin Tadlock.
[box type="important"]What is a Theme Framework? In a nutshell, instead of simply using the one click installation of a new WordPress Theme, this is split into a parent them and a child theme. Yes, this does mean that there’s an extra step involved in the installation process.[/box]
However, this makes development of Child themes far more accessible which removes much of the need for programming knowledge. Without any prior background in theme development, PHP, and nothing more than some basic CSS knowledge, even I was able to create a child theme based on the Hybrid Framework. It was that easy. You can download my child theme here: Creatine WordPress Theme, or see it featured as a user submitted theme at Theme Hybrid.
With the theme being split into parent theme and a child theme, it also makes updating theme software much easier. For example, because you install Hybird (parent theme) and Creatine, for example (the child theme), when new versions of Hybrid are released, you can update your version of Hybrid without losing any of the configuration or styling of your child theme.
For some background, Theme Hybrid was designed and is currently updated and maintained by Justin Tadlock. Justin Tadlock is a WordPress developer who’s created a number of popular themes including Options, Structure, and Visionary among others. He’s also developed a number of various WordPress plugins that are available from the WordPress plugin repository. Currently, I would argue that Theme Hybrid is the little-known secret of many DIYers and developers who do custom work. I’m sure that if more people knew about it, there would be even more users than there currently are today.
1. Support – Though the theme framework is open-source (read free), you can purchase a full year of support at the Hybrid Support Forum for a mere $25.00. No, I’m not joking, you get a full year of support at the forum with support provided by the actual designer of the Theme Framework, Justin Tadlock. I’ve never used Thesis for WordPress, but there have been people switching over from Thesis to Theme Hybrid because they’ve complained about the level of support for Thesis.
2. SEO – If you’re looking for a theme and search Google, chance are that you’ve found many themes, some free, which claim to be “SEO Optimized.” Well, pretty much any theme can make that claim, but what does it really mean?
3. Widgets – Ever decided that you want to put a widget before or after a single post, but couldn’t figure out how to do this? No problem, Hybrid allows you to put widgets in areas that I haven’t seen on most if any other themes.
That’s not enough? You want to be able to put a widget practically anywhere on your blog? Okay, there’s an iPhone App Hybrid Plugin for that. With the Hybrid Hooks plugin installed on the Hybrid Framework, you can add widget areas nearly anywhere that you could imagine on your blog. Need an ad widget before the blog Header or underneath your blog’s footer, no problem.
4. Pages – As I mentioned before, the Hybrid Framework includes a number of unique pre-made page templates and you can easily upload and add even more.
5. Child Themes – Depending on your skill level, Hybrid also includes the Skeleton Theme which allows you to develop your own theme based on the template from scratch (with a big head-start over developing a WordPress theme from scratch), or you can use one of the several pre-made child themes.
Though the Child themes are one of my top 5 reasons to use this framework, I’ve been open and vocal about Hybrid needing more child themes before over at the Theme Hybrid Forum. From what I understand, there are a number of developers at the forum who will be releasing even more Child Themes in the near future now that WordPress 3.0 has been released.
As well, Justin’s recently offered to convert a WordPress PSD template to the Hybrid Framework if this is your area of expertise–all for free if he likes your design.
If 5 reasons to use the Hybrid Framework for WordPress just aren’t enough for you, you can find 5 more reasons to use the Hybrid Framework for WordPress by following the link.
Note: Don’t forget that if you want all of the features of Hybrid, but want a custom child theme to suit your needs, there are also theme designers who will do custom work to make a theme that suits your needs using the Hybrid Framework.