Last Updated on September 25, 2019 by Fabrizio Van Marciano
Yes, yes, I'm well aware we're still in 2019, but 2020 will soon come around, and I'm updating this post in late September, anyway. As a long-time user of Genesis Framework (since 2010), I feel I've had enough hands-on experience using the software to write a detailed and non-biased review. So, here goes.
Let me start by sharing with you my Genesis theme framework journey, so far.
I began my blogging journey back in 2010, and among the few website building tools, I discovered at the time, other than WordPress, of course, was Thesis and the Genesis Theme Framework platform.
The Thesis theme was quite popular and used by many bloggers. I did attempt to try Thesis for a while, which is kind of a similar framework to Genesis, a real competitor in its time, actually. However, I couldn't really get to grips with it.
Besides, these days I really don't think you can compare Thesis with Genesis as StuioPress have done a fantastic job improving their products over the years.
Since discovering Genesis back in 2010, I'm proud to say that I've built many websites, both personal and client sites using the software.
I'm still very much using Genesis today both in my own business and for building out client websites.
As I said, plenty has changed with the software, it used to be great but I really feel it's now even better than ever.
There's a host of benefits when it comes to using the Genesis platform in your website, and as you read through this review you'll hopefully discover some of these benefits for yourself, as well as learn more about the themes.
OK, so let's roll it right back from the very start.
For those of you still learning about WordPress, the various themes and plugins, etc. Perhaps you're completely new to theme frameworks too, so let me explain briefly what Genesis actually is, and how it works.
Genesis is a premium quality theme framework that works with WordPress (Open source WordPress and not WordPress.com websites).
The software was originally created by StudioPress, a software company created and managed by CopyBlogger Media.
Recently, however, StudioPress was acquired by WordPress hosting company, WPEngine.
Genesis, by itself, is the Parent-Theme framework. It works perfectly fine on its own out of the box. However, to make the most of Genesis, you'll need to use something called a Child theme with it.
Don't worry, I'll try to explain how this works.
One of the main benefits of using a child theme with Genesis comes down to customization.
Let's say you want to make changes to the menu area, background, font style, color, etc. Well, you can do this in either your child theme's stylesheet (style.css file) or functions.php file if you're adding some additional functions to your site.
So, this means that if, or, when a new update becomes available for Genesis (parent), or your child theme, you will not lose any of the customizations you made because they are stored in separate files.
Many other premium quality themes do not use child themes, which can be a real pain when customizing them, as it means every time a new update becomes available for that theme, you could potentially lose all of your customizations and have to start from scratch, because new updated theme files would override them.
Like I said, you can use the Genesis theme framework parent theme as a stand-alone theme, however, you hit some pretty big limitations and run the risk of creating problems when it comes to customization, as I mentioned above.
The solution? Always use a child theme where ever possible.
Currently, there are over 60 professionally designed child themes available to choose from the StudioPress Theme Shop, and that's not including all of the third-party child themes built for Genesis.
Using a child theme with Genesis will give your WordPress website a more professional look.
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, icons, images, etc.
I used to use the Business Pro theme for Magnet4Blogging before I switched the design over to Oxygen Builder.
I also run and manage an eCommerce WordPress website where I use the Genesis framework with the Maker Pro child theme. See below.
In addition to the child themes, there's also a host of powerful plugins available both from the WordPress repository and the StudioPress Marketplace.
Some of these plugins are free, whilst some are premium and third-party plugins.
Plugins can be used to add functionality to your Genesis site without having to embed more code or scripts into 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 plugin that allows you to easily style your Genesis child theme's typeface, 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 my Thrive Leads plugin review list building.
Genesis Extender Plugin - Another third-party plugin created by CobaltApps which will give you incredible control and power over the customization of your entire child theme using front-end CSS editing.
Child Themer IDE Plugin for Genesis, available from Cobalt Apps
I hope so far that 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 package for your business website project.
Genesis is incredibly easy to use, once you have mastered where everything is.
In fact, anyone starting out for the very first time can have Genesis set up on their WordPress website and instantly look like a pro.
You can use Genesis right out of the box and add your own content and images.
Over the last 9 years, I've played around with a lot of themes and frameworks. Yet I keep coming back to Genesis because customizing is simple and quick.
Each Genesis child theme comes with its own unique settings, and making changes to those settings is just a case of checking a few boxes and entering some basic information in the fields provided. You can use the option toggles to make further customization, and even place some widgets inside the columns and footer section to add your custom content, and you're done, for the most part.
With Genesis, you're not having to mess about with theme files, however, if you are familiar with even the basics of CSS, you can add a lot more customizations to your Genesis powered site.
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. See below.
When it comes to performance and reliability for your WordPress website, I can only think of a few names in the WordPress theme industry, and Genesis ranks of them, for me at least.
The folks over at StudioPress have no doubt spent a lot of time researching, designing, and developing their child themes carefully.
That said, having developed child themes from complete scratch myself, I can safely say that Genesis is a very stable platform to work with.
I've never once experienced any glitches or critical errors working with the Genesis framework or themes.
I know, I'm probably sounding very biassed towards Genesis right now, but on all serious notes, you get what you pay for with Genesis, and what I see is a well-coded, robust, and reliable theme framework.
Look, I've worked with this software for almost 10 years, and I'm being as honest as I can as I write about Genesis here.
Right then, let's quickly talk about speed and performance.
Many of the child themes developed by StudioPress are lightweight when it comes to the code and number of files bundled together. This certainly helps towards improving page speed load times.
Once again, the child theme I use for my website Van Marciano Paintings is a customized theme based on the Maker Pro child theme. And, whilst most of the CSS code for styling is my own, I've also added some additional files, and scripts to the site, as well as a custom 404-error page.
Despite these additional features, extra CSS, JS, etc. my page load time and performance grade is kind of OK. When I say kind of OK, I mean it could be improved, though, and I can make most of these improvements myself.
Here's a screenshot of my page performance for the site running the modified Maker Pro child theme.
It's important to keep in mind that website performance and page speed also largely depends on the hosting provider, the number of resource-dependent plugins installed, optimized content, images, etc.
A well-coded theme with performance in mind is just the start.
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 in the end.
Genesis Framework will set you back $59.95. It has been that price for many years, in fact, it was that very 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 from around $99.95, there's plenty to choose from in the StudioPress marketplace.
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, you can take your theme customization a step further.
This is not to say that you need to be a developer or a coding expert to use Genesis, I'm simply saying that if you have some development experience you can really make your Genesis powered website more unique to you and your brand, etc. in terms of both design and functionality.
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.
But with StudioPress, when you buy the Genesis theme software, you become a lifetime member, no need to keep paying an annual fee for your updates.
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.
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 to some degree.
But, keeping those nasty bots and hackers at bay, and of course, having that complete peace of mind as well, is important and lets you get one with what you really care about, growing your online business or blog, don't you agree?
A lot of premium quality themes do not offer Built-in SEO tools, Genesis do.
And whilst it's not the most comprehensive SEO tools in the world, 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 -
If you wish to use a third-party SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast, or SEOPressor Connect, it's entirely up to you.
Genesis Framework and all of the StudioPress child themes are now fully optimized for mobile screen devices.
If you have no idea what that means, 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 EXTREMELY important.
And where things are heading, and how Google is giving mobile-friendly content top priority in search, and how 80% of all internet usage is expected to be mobile by the end of this year (2019), it is imperative that your website is mobile responsive.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Genesis over the years as a freelance web designer and developer.
I should have highlighted something very important with regards to the price. There is no developer fee when you pay for Genesis, you are granted developer rights automatically.
This means you can use Genesis and the child themes on an unlimited number of client projects, and still receive unlimited updates and support, which to me sounds just perfect!
So, those are just some of the major factors to consider when purchasing the industry standard for WordPress that is, Genesis theme framework.
I want to talk a little bit MORE about customization when working with Genesis child themes.
If you have the money to invest, and the 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 edit and add some advanced customizations to your Genesis theme without touching any code whatsoever.
If you've recently purchased Genesis, I have a short tutorial video showing you how to install the software on your WordPress site.
In the video, you'll see that I install the parent theme first, and then the child theme. This is important.
Just to warn you, though, the video is almost 8 years old, but the installation process hasn't changed one single bit.
OK, it's now time for me to share with you some of the pros and cons of using Genesis Framework on your WordPress site, from my experience.
So, hopefully, you've found incredible value in reading my review of Genesis Theme Framework.
If you haven't, then please let me know! I try my best to provide insightful reviews that are informative.
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. Let me list them below -
I work with Genesis one a daily basis, again, both for personal and client web design projects.
Yes, I would absolutely highly recommend it to anyone serious enough about building a robust, secure, professional-looking website that they can manage themselves.