The Canvas theme
Canvas describes itself as: “a clean, minimalistic and beautiful WordPress theme framework or so called starter theme that you can use as-is or customize it via Theme Options. Canvas Theme Options provides with over 100 different values you can tweak to change font size, color, background, widget styling, layout width, featured image size and way how they are generated. Nothing is impossible here. If something can’t be done via Theme Options you can easily create your own Child Theme. Code is well commented and documented so it will be very easy to get started with it.” (WooThemes)
Canvas is a theme framework, that is aimed at developers as well as site owners. Being a framework means, that the theme in itself is very clean and the user customizes it with his own design preferences and wishes. Yet, Canvas is also option based. It has its own admin area to adjust colors, fonts, layout parameters, etc. – basically every element can be customized.
The theme offers advanced layout controls (where one cannot only adjust the site width, but has a layout manager to enable more columns and layouts), a fully responsive design, easy WooCommerce integration, Google Fonts Support plus the ability to upload any other font and is child theme friendly. These are abilities, that already make it preferable. But most of the benefits come from the framework possibilities.
Why choosing with a theme framework?
The benefit of working with a theme framework is that the starting point is a more or less blanc page. This means, one doesn’t need to worry about removing unnecessary design details premium themes usually bring with them. The website itself is often faster, as there is less code and less admin options, that only few users would need anyways. And for sure, the design can be much more unique and taylor made for each project.
The framework helps, to not actually start coding from scratch with every new design, but to use the basic elements and then start adjusting the new needs. A theme framework therefore get’s you great quality results while saving time creating them.
The biggest advantage in my daily work though is, that due to the simpler coding and less design pre-installed, there are less plugin conflicts. One can use basically any plugin without problems. Also, none of the options are limited, as one can just install any plugin and additional code with it. Premium themes often limit possibilities and you can search trough their code forever, to just change the layout of a column or showing the title of an image, for example. Using Canvas, this never happened to me so far.
How to design everything without having to code?
As the design of Canvas itself is rather clean and “boxed”, it’s understandable it doesn’t actually get much attention as a theme. But, there are enough ways to get the style wanted without buying a ready-made theme.
This is, where all the plugins and child theme options come to play. First of all, I love working with Visual Composer. It’s easy to understand and use, and as it writes into the editor, there are usually no conflicts with other plugins. And it allows basically endless styling possibilities, by itself and by using one of the many add-ons there are to be found. For example, the Massive Add-Ons, who even come with downloadable looks, just like premium themes. The combination of Canvas and Visual Composer (and maybe a few lines of custom css) let’s me style a page in every way I want.
As there are many Canvas users and not everybody wants to invent the wheel, others have published plugins, that help to change the look of Canvas. Pootlepress for example, has a collection of extensions, that helps tweaking the menu or the footer for example – the two options I like changing the most, as they cannot be touched by Visual Composer. They also offer their own page and post builders, though in my opinion they are not anywhere close to Visual Composer.
Overall, Canvas offers a range of advantages and the combination with Visual Composer (which is used by many premium themes anyways) let’s anybody style anything. As soon, as you which to stop depending on theme developers options and start wanting to be able to change a few things, this is the best option I found so far.