This is a run down on why I chose the free Buffet Framework WordPress Theme by Melvin Lee of zy.sg as my very first WordPress theme.
When I first started Code My Own Road I was fairly new to WordPress and hadn’t really looked into the different array of themes available.
This is around the time when the Thesis theme was just starting to pick up steam and get popular around the internet. Because I was aiming to keep my costs low I wanted to look around for a lower cost alternative.
Although I’m not currently using Buffet Framework anymore, I originally chose The Buffet Framework for a number of reasons which are still quite valid today.
Hopefully it can be as great a start in your WordPress theme development as it was for me.
Here’s some cool features of the Buffet Framework:
Easy To Administer Stylesheet
Access to the CSS stylesheet can be via ftp or the WordPress admin editor. I really like this because I can tweak my design while I’m away from my development computer.
I hate noticing things that are out of alignment, or just look messy. It sooths my inner impatient child to be able to edit things right away from within the WordPress administration panel.
The Admin Panel
This is probably where The Buffet Framework gets let down a little as it’s not as comprehensive as a pay theme such as the Thesis Framework. However! With that being said, it’s still quite powerful.
The admin panel for The Buffet Framework (located under Appearance->Options) allows you to customize RSS feed settings, feature categories and news categories, navigation, and layout.
I find the navigation particularly useful and it’s not something that you would normally find in every framework.
To create your menu, simply create a Link category and call it “menu” or something similar. Add your desired pages, to your menu category and change the Link Category section in your Navigation settings located unto the admin page.
This is a great way to offer maximum control over the contents of your menu, and in particular, it’s useful for highlighting any squeeze pages or series of posts.
Clean PHP Code
The php code featured in The Buffet Framework is of a great standard. It’s easy to follow, and mostly follows accepted coding practises. Function names are appropriately named, and it’s easy to follow the execution path of any part of the code.
I have had to make a few customizations, especially to the header code and other parts where it wasn’t quite what I was after, but that is the whole point of using a framework – to extend it into something of your own.
It seems to be designed for people who are too lazy to create a theme right from scratch, but would still like to create something unique by extending the code that is already there.
All the outputted HTML seems quite SEO friendly. It plays nicely with the All-In-One SEO plugin because, again, unlike some paid themes this is really barebones when it comes to fancy add ons like SEO control settings.
One thing to note in that the Buffet Framework is quite light weight and therefore page loads are quite fast if you don’t load up with too many plugins.
One of the advantages of having just a framework and building your own customized theme around it is that your site will start out loading extremely fast. This makes it simple to discover if any of your changes effect performance unsatisfactorily. Something that I’m very mindful of when altering the theme code.
The Buffet Framework supports uses default WordPress actions and filters which allows developers to use child themes. You can learn more about child theme basics here. As mentioned on Melvin’s site, here are some of the most notable of features of this framework:
- Search Engine Optimization – includes many SEO features such as breadcrumbs, headings, canonical URLs
- Support for Microformats – compatible with some of the microformats like hAtom, hCard and XOXO
- jQuery Powered – comments form validation, SuperSleight for IE6, Superfish menus, jBreadcrumb included
- Packaged with CSS Frameworks – comes with 960gs and Blueprint CSS
- Action & Filter Hooks – using the parent-child theme concept (with inline documentation)
- Theme Options – organized in tabs, with features such as custom RSS feed links and custom footer messages
- Theme Extensions – allow end-users to enable/disable features using the extensions feature
- Plugin Compatibility – works with WP-PageNavi, WP-Print, Subscribe to Comments and more
- Localization – fully localized, ready for translation
- Free, Open Source – under the General Public License (GPL) v3
I’ve got to hand it to Melvin. He has put together a nice, lightweight framework that is easy to develop with. I give it a thumbs up as a great alternative to paid frameworks. My only words of caution are that you might been to know a little PHP and CSS in order to get the most out of this theme.
For more reviews and roundups like this, sign up for the Code My Own Road RSS feed!