In this post, I will share with you my honest and completely unbiased review of Genesis Theme Framework. As a long-time user of Genesis, I’ve had plenty of hands-on experience with the software. So, this 2018 review, will hopefully help you to decide whether Genesis is for you or not.
Let me start by sharing with you my Genesis theme framework journey, so far.
When I first started my blogging venture back in 2010, among many of the website tools I discovered for the first time, other than WordPress, was Thesis and Genesis Theme Framework.
I tried Thesis for a little while, a similar framework to Genesis. And whilst it was a great theme platform at the time, it really doesn’t compare much with Genesis today, especially when it comes to ease-of-use and customizability.
I decided to switch from Thesis to Genesis in 2011 and I never looked back since.
Since those early years, I’m proud to say that I’m still using Genesis to power all of my websites today, including Magnet4Blogging, my main online business property.
I also use Genesis on a daily basis to work on my client website projects.
Genesis simply works for me, and as I go through this review with you, I’ll reveal how it works for me so that you can decide if whether Genesis will work for you too, or not, OK?
Right, let’s start from complete scratch.
What is Genesis theme framework?
So for those of you still learning about WordPress, themes, and plugins, perhaps you’re completely new to theme frameworks, let me explain briefly what Genesis actually is.
Genesis is a premium quality theme framework that works with WordPress (Open source WordPress and not WordPress.com websites).
The software was created by StudioPress, a digital products company created and managed by CopyBlogger Media.
Genesis, by itself, is the Parent Theme. You can, and I would always recommend, that you use something called a Child Theme in conjunction with the parent theme.
OK, let me explain.
So, one of the BIGGEST benefits of using a parent theme and a child theme together, for instance, let’s say you want to add some of your own modifications and customizations to your theme.
Well, you can do this in either your child theme’s stylesheet (style.css file), or functions.php file if you’re adding some new functions.
So this means that if, or, when a new update comes out for Genesis or your child theme, you won’t lose any of your customizations because they are stored in separate files.
Many other premium quality themes do not use child themes, which can be a pain when customizing them, as it means every time a new update becomes available for that theme, you could potentially lose all of your modifications, as the new updated theme files would override your customizations.
That being said, the Genesis theme framework (parent) can actually be used as a stand-alone active theme, however, you hit massive limitations when it comes to customization, as I mentioned above, and so I wouldn’t recommend modifying or customizing the parent theme files at all.
The solution? Always use a child theme where ever possible.
Currently, there are over 60 professionally built child themes available to choose from at StudioPress, and that’s not including all of the third-party child themes.
Using a child theme with Genesis will give your WordPress website a more unique look and feel.
A child theme is all about aesthetics and usability, moreover, you can customize a child theme to give your website a more unique identity, maybe use your own branding colors, logo, etc.
For Magnet4Blogging, I created a custom child theme which I called Sennen Pro using the Sample Child Theme as the base theme.
Child Themer IDE Plugin available from Cobalt Apps
Dedicated plugins available for Genesis
In addition to the child themes, there’s also a host of useful plugins available from both the WordPress repository and the StudioPress Marketplace.
These plugins can be used to add functionality to your Genesis site without having to embed more code or scripts to your theme.
Here are a few of my favorite ones:
Genesis Simple Hooks – Gives you easy access to over 50 action hooks inside the Genesis child Theme, perfect for adding functionality to your WordPress site without having to install additional plugins.
Genesis Simple Edits – Lets you edit the three most commonly modified areas in any Genesis child theme: the post-info, the post-meta, and the footer area.
Genesis Design Palette Pro – A premium quality plugin that allows you to easily style your Genesis child theme’s font style, size, and color, as well as background colors, paddings, and margins, all without touching a single line of code.
Genesis eNews Extended – Allows you to easily add an email signup form to your Genesis site’s sidebar, footer, or homepage, without pulling your hair out. However, I would highly recommend you take a look at the Thrive Leads plugin for capturing email leads.
Genesis Extender Plugin – A third-party plugin created by CobaltApps which will give you incredible control and power over the customization of your entire child theme.
OK, so I hope so far you’ve gotten a better understanding of what Genesis theme framework is, now let’s look at some of the reasons why YOU might want to invest your money in a Genesis theme for your personal brand website, small business website, or blog.
8 Reasons why you should choose Genesis theme framework
#1. Layout options (Complete ease-of-use) – Genesis is incredibly easy to use.
In fact, anyone starting out for the first time can have Genesis set up on their WordPress website and instantly look like a professional.
Who needs to hire a web designer, right?
Over the years, I’ve played around with a lot of themes and frameworks, including Thesis and Headway.
I keep coming back to Genesis because editing, even simple preferences, is much easier.
Each Genesis child theme comes with its own unique settings, and making changes to those settings is just a case of ticking a few boxes, entering some basic information in the fields provided, switching a few slider buttons over, placing ready-widgets inside the columns and footer section and you’re done.
There’s really no need to mess around with theme files, or adding bits of code or scripts or anything else, however, I will talk more about advanced customization later on in this post.
The layout options are already there for you to make changes to, such as color style, default layout, navigation, breadcrumbs, blog page template, etc.
Moreover, many of the settings in Genesis can now be configured using the Live Preview.
#2. Robust and reliable – When it comes to performance and reliability for your WordPress theme, I can only think of a few names in the WordPress theme industry, and Genesis ranks at the top for me.
The folks over at StudioPress have no doubt spent a lot of time researching, designing, and developing their child themes carefully.
Having used many child themes over the years, I can safely say that never once have I experienced any glitches or annoying errors with Genesis themes.
Without sounding biassed, that’ what you get with a well-coded theme framework like Genesis.
Many of the child themes developed by StudioPress are lightweight when it comes to the code and number of files. This certainly helps to improve page speed load times.
The child theme I use for Magnet4Blogging is a custom theme based on the Sample child theme. And whilst most of the code is custom, I’ve also added some additional files to the theme as well. Despite this, here is my page speed result. Not bad, I think.
Affordable – Genesis won’t cost you the earth. In fact, there are so many competitors out there, and yes, you can probably find cheaper themes, however, remember that you get what you pay for.
Genesis Framework will set you back $59.95. It has been that price for many years, in fact, it was that price when I originally purchased my copy of Genesis back in 2010.
Then you have the cost of a child theme should you wish to invest in one as well, and these can vary in price.
If you’re a first time user, you can buy Genesis and a child theme package for around $99.95, there’s plenty to choose from in the StudioPress shop.
#3. Expandable – Yes, Genesis is expandable, and as I mentioned at the start of this review you can expand the functionality of your Genesis website using plugins.
If you’re savvy with HTML, PHP, and CSS, however, you can take your theme customization a step further.
This is not to say that you need to be a developer or coding expert to use Genesis, I’m simply saying that if you have some coding skills you can really make your Genesis site more unique to you and your brand, etc. in terms of both design and functionality.
#4. First class support & unlimited updates forever – Support is top-notch with StudioPress. As a lifetime member, you get premium support as and when you need it, including lifetime updates on all your purchased themes.
Now, this is something to really consider when thinking about investing in a new premium theme.
A lot of theme creators will have some kind of annual membership fee setup, like Thrive Themes, for example. Although Thrive Themes offer more than just themes these days.
But with StudioPress, when you buy the Genesis theme, you become a lifetime member, no need to keep paying an annual fee.
#5. Built-in security – When it comes to security for your website, you can’t afford to be cheap, especially if you’re wanting to build a business with your website project.
Genesis Theme Framework and each Child theme are coded with security in mind, and moreover, you can combine this with your own security measures, resulting in not just a robust and reliable website, but a very secured one too.
Now, I fully appreciate the fact that no matter how many security measures you put in place, your website will always be at risk, but keeping those nasty bots and hackers at bay, and of course, having that complete peace of mind as well is important, do you agree?
#6. Built-in SEO – A lot of premium quality themes do not offer Built-in SEO tools, Genesis, however, do.
And whilst it’s not the most comprehensive SEO tools, it’s lightweight enough so that you don’t have to install additional SEO plugins to get your content SEO’d up.
Genesis allows you to add –
- Document title
- Meta Descriptions
- Meta Keywords
- Canonical URL
- Custom redirect URL
- Robots Meta Settings
If you wish to use a third-party SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast, or SEOPressor Connect, it’s entirely up to you.
#7. Mobile responsive design, ready with HTML5 markup – Genesis Framework and all of the StudioPress child themes is now fully optimized for mobile browsing.
If you have no idea what that means, even now, it simply means that your WordPress site will look great and be user-friendly when viewed on Smartphones and tablet computers.
Is this really important?
Yes, it is VERY important. And with the way things are going, and how Google is giving content that is mobile-friendly top priority in search, it is imperative that your website is mobile responsive.
So, those are just some of the major factors to consider when purchasing the industry standard for WordPress that is, Genesis theme framework.Genesis Framework is considered to be the industry standard for WordPress.Click To Tweet
I want to talk a little bit about customizing a Genesis child theme in more detail now.
If you have the money, and time, of course, you can go beyond the ready-made child themes and pay for a developer to either customize or create a unique child theme to work with Genesis.
If you don’t have the money to do this, as I mentioned earlier, you can use a premium WordPress plugin called Genesis Design Palette Pro, or the Genesis Extender plugin, which will both make it very easy for you to add some personalization to your Genesis theme.
If you need help with customizing your Genesis site design, click this link to see how I can help you.
Installing and setting up Genesis on your WordPress site
If you’ve recently purchased Genesis, I have a short tutorial video showing you how to install the software on your site.
In the video, you’ll see I install the parent theme first, and then the child theme.
Just to warn you, though, the video is a good few years old now, but the installation process hasn’t changed one single bit.
Pros and Cons
OK, it’s now time to look at some of the pros and cons of using Genesis Framework on your WordPress site.
- Simple options for customization using Customizer Live Preview
- High-quality, robust, premium theme framework built on its reputation.
- Great security.
- Affordable, one-time payment.
- Lightweight and easy to install.
- Simple layout and settings.
- A wide range of StudioPress and third-party child themes to choose from.
- Lifetime membership, no annual fee, ever.
- Lifetime updates, and there’s lots of it.
- Great tech support, help, forum, blog, community.
- SEO, mobile responsive, and HTML5 markup built right in.
- Google AdSense support.
- Not the easiest theme to add more advanced customization to, without using additional plugins.
- Requires additional plugins to increase some functionality, or, hacking into the theme itself.
- No built-in social sharing buttons.
Final conclusion on Genesis Theme Framework
So, hopefully, you’ve found value in reading this little review.
I’ve tried to cover as much as I can, without talking too much about features. The biggest benefits of using Genesis, for me, has been several –
- I love the fact that I’ve paid for this theme framework way back in 2010, and here I am using it in 2018 and I’m still getting free updates without paying a penny more.
- I love having peace of mind security with my WordPress theme.
- I love the fact that I can comfortably customize my child theme, without having to fear that any of it will be overwritten by updates.
Would I recommend using Genesis?
I work with Genesis every single day, both for personal and client web design projects.
Yes, I would highly recommend it to anyone serious enough about building a robust website that they can manage themselves, and one that can withstand the test of time.