Genesis Framework remains one of my most used WordPress theme solution to create niche sites. If you are thinking about buying the Genesis Framework, read on this review to understand the features and benefits of it.
First of all, I am with Genesis Framework from 2011 onward when I purchased a bundle of child theme and framework. In 2012, I have moved to the StudioPress Pro package and haven’t regretted the decision yet. I have used their child theme on many of my sites and still using them to create good looking WordPress sites quickly.
This has turned out to be a single most useful investment I have made for my online presence. You can check the official site for StudioPress for details on Genesis Framework.
Genesis Framework Review
Most of the WordPress theme contains two parts of the code, one which interacts with WordPress and gets the data and second which contains the layout/design of the elements. Without both the part working together, you can’t create a good design for the users.
What is a Genesis Framework?
Genesis Framework is the part that interacts with WordPress and generates the data to be displayed on the page or post. Now I know it sounds like a very simple thing but it does a lot of other things like making your site SEO friendly, handling different layouts, security and most importantly – speed improvements.
The framework is also very customizable which allows you to add your functionality at almost any place with the help of hooks and filters.
Hooks – It allows you to hook specific functions to a specific action. It is useful when you want to add new things to any specific place. Here is a list of the hooks supported by the framework.
Filter – Allows you to modify the output/content of existing functions. It is useful when you want to change the existing output at any specific place. Here is a list of all the filters supported by the framework.
Now, hooks and filter is nothing new, WordPress comes with its own set of hooks and filters. Genesis expands those to include its own hooks and filter. Its close integration with WordPress is one of the prime reasons for its efficiency.
Do I Need A Child Theme?
The simple answer to the question is YES.
You need both the parts to render the webpage correctly. Genesis Framework will provide the data which will be displayed and the child theme will put that data into the layout.
All of their child themes are responsive, which means they will work fine on the desktop as well as on mobile and tablets. Being responsive is one of the most important aspects as more and more people have started to browse the internet from their mobile devices. Also, Google has launched a mobile-first search index to give priority to sites that work on multiple platforms.
So, if you are looking to buy it for the first time, you need to buy a bundle of Genesis Framework and Child Theme. After that, you can just buy the Child Theme and use if with the existing Genesis Framework.
Why is Genesis different?
There is a benefit of dividing the workload into two different things, it makes the core framework independent of your site layout. It means that you can get all the core updates without worry about all the customizations on your site.
Their turn-key design allows you to enable and disable elements very easily, not only that you can swap themes with a good speed.
Everyone likes to customize the look and style of their site and you can do that with ease on Child Themes. As you are just changing the look and feel not the way you receive the data, updates to Genesis Framework will not break anything on your site.
That why Genesis is a little different than other themes in the market. You will get all the timely security updates, optimization, latest WordPress support without worrying about anything breaking on your site.
Genesis Theme Features
Let’s take a look at some of the best features of the Genesis Framework and Child Theme set up. Though it’s hard to cover all the features in a single post, I will try to cover what you should look for and why you should think about giving a pass to Genesis Framework.
Genesis Theme Settings are integrated with WordPress Customizer. You can easily set the Child Theme while checking the impact on the front end of the site.
If you are creating a fresh site, Genesis Child Themes comes with one-click site setup. You can load the demo content and required plugins from the Genesis Child Theme setup and you will have a site that looks as good as demo sites on StudioPress. This is a good way to start a site setup, you will have a site up and running under 5-min.
Genesis Framework comes with all the basic settings like Header and Footer Scripts, Breadcrumbs, Site Layout, etc.
Genesis development team has started moving some of the basic design changes away from Action & Hooks. Like, you can customize the post byline and site footer from the Customizer itself. Earlier you needed to update the function.php file for making these changes.
If you like the child theme design, there is enough flexibility in the theme settings to change the colors, header, footer, single page, archive pages to customize the site.
Genesis framework has been built keeping speed and SEO in mind. It comes with pre-built SEO support which can do all the basic SEO work.
Not only that, it integrates well with Yoast for SEO, one of the must-have SEO plugins for me. If you have Yoast for SEO installed, it hides most of its SEO settings which are a duplicate of the plugin. This way you only set it in one place and do not get confused with extra boxes in the panels. Yoast himself has talked about Genesis doing a much better job than other WordPress themes.
Genesis Framework also compatible with Schema.org and generates most of the common metadata automatically. If you want to add the additional metadata, that can be done easily with filters or hooks. This way your results are shown correctly on the search result pages. I have not seen any schema.org errors on this site, though I have not added any additional metadata, most of the common metadata is displayed correctly.
Though the theme provides basic SEO settings, it’s always recommended to use an SEO plugin. Yoast for SEO is one of the preferred plugins and you should use it to enhance your SEO efforts.
Now I have told earlier that Genesis Framework is built keeping SEO and speed in mind. Page loading speed is one of the important factors for search engine rankings and Genesis makes sure that your site remains fast.
Their core framework is optimized for fast loading and they have also partnered with leading caching plugin providers W3 Edge.
You can enable the fragment cache in the W3 Total Cache plugin to get 30-60% speed improvements. Genesis Framework is optimized for fragment cache, so no other changes are required. You need to enable the Pro mode in W3 Total Cache for getting the Genesis Extension.
The Core also comes with the support of Google Native Lazy-Loading for images. You can easily enable the Lazy-Loading of the images with one line of code in function.php.
add_theme_support( 'genesis-lazy-load-images' );
StudioPress themes come with an unlimited usage license. It also comes with a Developer license, so if you are selling website design services, you can use it on your client site also.
There is almost no restriction in terms of usage of the Genesis Framework and Themes. I have even sold sites build with Genesis Framework with no issues.
Community and Free Resources
Genesis has a very big community and support forum, where you can find almost any help needed. It also has the backing of a big developer community, so it will be easy to hire freelancers.
You can also reach people based on hashtags, just look at the hashtag #GenesisWP on Twitter. If you need some help, use the tag and many people should let you lend a hand. Even their support forum is also very active, so you can just go and search there, most probably you will find the solution.
StudioPress has a very well written support documentation and they also provide step by step setup guide for each theme. These are very extensive and well-written document so should be easy to follow and set up your site.
Genesis covers most of the functionality through core framework and child themes, for any additional functionalities, there are many free and paid plugins.
Here are some of the best free plugins for Genesis Framework which will help you set it up correctly:
- Genesis Visual Hook Guide – This plugin will show the actual location of Hooks, Filters, and Markup in your theme. So that you can make the right choice while customizing themes.
- Genesis Simple Hooks – This plugin adds a new setting page where you can make the edit to any of the hooks for the Genesis Framework.
- Genesis Layout Extras – It allows you to modify your layout for the homepage, archive pages or single pages.
There are so many other plugins available which can increase the ease of use, just choose accordingly.
Their customer support is very good and they treat their returning customers with extra goodies. When I purchased the Pro Plus package third party themes were not part of the package. Later on, when they decided to add the third party themes, I got it for free. So you can rely on them to provide more and more value over time.
I have used their hosting solution for almost a year and contacted their support team multiple times. Every time their response was prompt and they have resolved the issues adequately.
StudioPress has been bought by WP-Engine some time back and is part of WP-Engine offerings. So if you are using WP-Engine hosting services, you can use StudioPress Themes and Genesis Framework free of cost.
Though, StudioPress still offers the Framework and Child Themes as a separate purchase from their site. You can buy the themes independently or lifetime license to get all the offered themes at a single price.
Why You Should Avoid Genesis Framework
Now if everything is so rosy, why on earth everybody is not buying Genesis Framework?
A single theme or framework can’t be suitable for everyone in the world, so there are certain things that you need to keep in mind.
There are plugins available to customize but the true power of the Genesis Framework is in Child Theme function.php and style.css. If you have never worked with PHP or CSS before, or you do not have any exposure to coding and debugging small problems, you might want to give it a skip.
You can skip updating the files with the help of some premium plugin but you will have to spend extra money for them or hire an experienced developer for Genesis Framework.
For setting up the child themes, please follow the setup guidelines. Each and every theme comes with a very well documented setup instructions.
You can contact me in case you still have any questions about the Genesis Framework or ask in the comments below.