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What are WordPress Frameworks, and Child Themes, and 3 Reasons Why You Should Care

A photo of an open laptop that has an abstract wallpaper on its screen

“Here we go again,” Nick muttered. “Should I use WordPress?”

Last month, Nick decided to offer detailing service at his auto body shop. He hired someone new, and cleared out a section of his garage where the service will happen.

Now he just needs to get the word out. And this is where everything grinds to halt.

You see, a few years ago, Nick hired a web developer to put together a site for him. It was an excruciating experience: it cost him thousands of dollars, took four months longer than it was supposed to, and ate up more of his time than he cares to admit.

But in the end, he had a website. And that was more than he’d had before.

That was three years ago.

Related: How to Publish an Amazing Minimum Viable Website in a Week

A lot has happened since then. Nick has updated his prices, added staff, and changed his hours. Every time he made a change, he had to go back to his web developer and submit the revision so it could be implemented on his website.

Then he’d wait. Finally, a week to ten days later, the change would be made. And he’d get the invoice, which was always remarkably steep for what seemed like a minor text change.

But what choice did he have? He wasn’t a web developer and certainly didn’t have time to do the work himself. So he’d pay the bill, and move on.

And now it was time for a major change.

He needed to add a page to his site with the detailing service. He wanted to add a few photos, too. And the new page needed to appear in the navigation menu at the top of his site.

He wasn’t looking forward to the meetings, phone calls, and big invoice that would come with this update to his website.

Related: How Can I Make My Own Website Rock?

WordPress screen shot.

What if Nick’s site was on WordPress?

Nick’s heard about WordPress, but doesn’t really “get” what it does. He vaguely understands that it’s supposed to be easy, and that some of the largest websites in the world use it.

He’s heard something about “theme frameworks” and “child themes,” but doesn’t understand how they all fit together.

At any rate, he’s pretty sure WordPress is a blogging tool, and he doesn’t want a blog. So he doesn’t pay much attention, and continues to use a developer to maintain his website.

Nick’s writing it off, and that’s a shame.

Let’s explain WordPress, theme frameworks and child themes in terms that make sense to Nick.

WordPress is the engine that drives your site

WordPress is sometimes called a “Content Management System.” This is a fancy term for a structure that allows you to organize and present the information on your site easily.

Read on to learn more about how it works.

There are two types of WordPress:

  • Websites that are hosted by WordPress itself on These are great for personal sites and non-commercial uses.
  • Self-hosted WordPress sites. These are perfect for business use as there are no restrictions on what you can do with your site. You install the free software on your web host’s server and you’re ready to go. (Sound complicated? It’s usually a one-click process.)

WordPress helps you organize and present information. Your site can consist of 1 page, 5 pages, or 500 pages and more. If you want to have a blog on your site, WordPress makes it easy. But you can have purely informational pages, too: it’s up to you.

It’s is easy to use. The editing features are designed to make updating and adding information to your site easy for everyone, even if you know nothing about web coding. Ever formatted text with a word processor? If so, you can handle WordPress.

Let’s move on to those other concepts that have Nick confused: the “theme framework” and the “child theme.”

Theme frameworks are like the body of the car: they give it shape and form

Theme frameworks are where your site begins to actually look like something useable.

A good theme framework provides search engine optimization that makes your website easier to find.

It provides the basic structure and functionality of your site. Its code is streamlined — like a good car body — to provide a frictionless experience when using the site.

But by itself, it doesn’t look like much. That’s where child themes come in.

Child themes are like the custom paint job that’s applied to the body of the car

Child themes give your site a visual style. This is where fonts and colors are applied. Child themes take your site from plain to “wow.”

If I was advising Nick, I’d recommend he look for a child theme with design controls.

But Nick’s not a designer. He’d probably push back on that recommendation. If he did, here’s what I’d tell him:

  • Child themes with design controls give you a dashboard that allows you to fully control the appearance of your site by pushing a few buttons.
  • Design controls give you instant gratification. It’s like sitting inside your car, flipping a switch and changing the paint job. Really.
  • Design controls put the power in your hands. Nick doesn’t need to contact a developer to make tweaks to his site. When he uses a theme with design controls, he can make changes by himself.

Related: Homepage Design Ideas: How to Make Money from “Hello”

Related: Are You Making These 5 Easily Fixed Website Mistakes?

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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