Genesis Framework Review: The Best Framework for WordPress?

Genesis Framework
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.5 stars
$59.95
  • 80%

  • Genesis Framework
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: September 14, 2014
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 90%
  • Functionality
    Editor: 80%
  • Value for Money
    Editor: 90%
  • Documentation and Support
    Editor: 90%

Genesis Framework ReviewActivating the Genesis Framework on your WordPress site gives you the ability to choose from a large selection of high quality themes that have been built especially for the framework. Not only that, but Genesis is highly flexible and allows developers and power users alike to customise the existing themes, or create their own in order to build their ideal website.

The developers of Genesis use a great analogy to illustrate the relationship between WordPress, the framework, and its child themes; with WordPress described as the engine of your car, Genesis as the frame and body, and the child themes as the paint job.

The Genesis Framework sits atop of WordPress and contains the code that governs the underlying additional design, features, and functionality of your website, while its child themes inherit those properties and contain the visual design elements that create the front end of your website that your visitors see.

In this review we will take a detailed look at who can get the most from the Genesis Framework, what makes it so popular, some of its drawbacks, its best child themes, and a selection of the third party products that make up the growing ecosystem that has built up around it.

Who is the Genesis Framework For?

There are two main types of WordPress user who will appreciate the Genesis Framework:

  • Those looking for a premium off the shelf WordPress theme
  • Developers seeking a platform to build their custom themes on

The WordPress Beginner

The first core group are those looking for an easy to use, well supported and documented WordPress theme that will give their website a high quality, professional makeover with just a few clicks.

The fact that the Genesis Framework is renowned for its fast loading code and SEO focused structure also means that you will not only have a user friendly website, but that its chances of being found in the search engines are greatly improved.

The WordPress Developer

The second group of users who will find the Genesis Framework particularly appealing are those looking for a solid foundation to build their own custom theme designs on.

Due to the clean and easy to read code of the framework, building your own child themes on top of Genesis saves you a lot of time and effort, as opposed to starting from scratch. By using this framework for your own designs, you can piggyback on the thousands of hours that have already been spent building, refining, and updating Genesis to get it to where it is today.

There is also a large development community that has built up around Genesis, which makes finding code snippets, tutorials, and advice very easy.

The Power User

A third group, who sits somewhere between the two, are those that are not developers, and are happy to use an off the shelf Genesis child theme. However, they might also want to make a few changes to their chosen theme, and perhaps pick up some coding skills along the way.

With the Genesis customization tools available (which we will get to shortly) non-developers can make a lot of changes to the appearance of their website, without directly editing any code.  While those who are a little more inquisitive can turn to the online community and pick up bits and pieces of code in order to make the desired tweaks and customisations to their child theme of choice.

With a great selection of ready to go child themes and its developer friendly nature, Genesis appeals to a range of different types of WordPress user, for a number of different reasons.

The abundance of freelance developers well versed in the Genesis Framework also makes it very easy to find someone to carry out customizations on your website, no matter how big or small.

However, this framework isn't the best option for everyone, so keep reading to find out why Genesis might not be the right choice for you.

What’s So Special about the Genesis Framework

There are many reasons why the Genesis Framework has claimed the position it has today in the WordPress ecosystem. Here are some of the highlights as to why it has become the framework of choice for many different types of website owners and developers.

The Trust Factor

The Genesis Framework is produced by StudioPress (Copyblogger Media) and their team of professional developers. StudioPress is a high profile company that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Lifetime Customer Support and Unlimited Usage

Once you become a Genesis user and purchase the framework, you get unlimited access to the support for an unlimited number of sites you choose to use the framework on.

Each theme includes detailed setup instructions which make it easy to get your site up and running with the desired look. The StudioPress website hosts a library of useful code snippets and tutorials, as well as a curated list of external resources for making changes to your website’s appearance or structure.

If you have any specific questions or need for support, the busy community forums are the ideal place to post a question and await a response from the experienced members and moderators that frequent the forums.

Customers can also open a support ticket through their account area, where they can expect a response within 24 hours on a weekday, and 48 during weekends and holidays.

High Quality Code

As Genesis is well coded, making any changes to the underlying code is relatively straightforward. Even if you don’t plan on editing the underling code of the framework, the clean and optimised code results in a fast loading website.

Developer Friendliness

The clean code used to build the Genesis Framework and its child themes makes it a very developer friendly platform. The comprehensive use of hooks is another aspect of the framework that helps boost its developer friendly credentials.

With names like genesis_before_header and genesis_after_sidebar_widget_area, hooks make it possible to insert custom code into your theme templates files in exactly the location you were intending.

Guide to Genesis Hooks
Thanks to Genesis Tutorials

By using hooks you can create separate PHP function files in your theme folder that contain the necessary code to add the element you want to your site, and then instruct the theme to execute the function at the appropriate location.

The benefit of this is that you can create the code for the new functionality once, and then hook it into your theme in multiple locations. If you need to update that new functionality, you only need to edit it in one place, with the updated version being executed the next time the theme loads.

The Community

Genesis users form one of the largest communities within the wider WordPress community. This means there are countless bloggers and users sharing their tips and advice on getting the most out of the framework.

There are also a large number of developers who specialise in Genesis theme customisations and builds, meaning you are never short of people to turn to for professional support and services.

Value for Money

While the Genesis Framework and its child themes are separate entities, they can be purchased together for a single price. The cost of the two items varies, with $99.95 being the typical price of a recently released StudioPress child theme and the framework.

Those creating their own child themes, or using one created by a third party can purchase the Genesis Framework on its own for $59. Returning customers purchasing additional child themes get a discount, with newly released child themes available for around $30, and older themes for much less.

For the bargain hunters, the Pro Plus All-Theme Package represents excellent value, and includes the Genesis Framework and all themes created by StudioPress so far, plus all future releases, for one low price. This package offers a massive saving over buying the themes and framework individually.

As you can use the framework and each purchased theme on any number of websites, the cost per site goes down with each new installation, making this powerful framework and its child themes a great value proposition.

The Downsides of the Genesis Framework

Despite its popularity, Genesis isn’t the right choice for everyone and for some users another framework or theme might be a better option. To help you make the right decision here are some points to consider when evaluating the Genesis Framework and its child themes.

Lack of Customisation Options

The Genesis child themes from StudioPress often include a number of colour skin options, such as red, blue, green, etc., that change the overall colour scheme of the site. However, you don’t get access to the granular controls for customising the colours of the individual aspects of your theme as is the case with some other themes and frameworks.

Of course you can edit the underlying CSS stylesheets to make these changes, or install a third party visual editor such as the Genesis Design Palette Pro plugin.

However, if you want a visual interface built into the theme dashboard that allows you to change the fonts, colours, and other page elements, Genesis will disappoint.

It’s worth noting that the lack of theme options and customisation panels results in less bloat and a faster loading website than would be the case otherwise.

Relative Lack of Features and Uses

If you are shopping around for a WordPress theme then you will have probably come across some of the current best-selling themes such as the X theme or Divi. These themes are not only highly configurable, but also include a wealth of features including drag and drop page builders, image sliders, libraries of modules and page elements, plus a whole lot more.

These themes allow you to create almost any type of website thanks to their extensive and multi layered theme option control panels. However, the StudioPress themes tend to take the opposite approach, with each child theme being built for a specific purpose or type of website.

It’s up to you to decide whether you would prefer a theme that can be configured to create any type of website, or one that has been built for a specific purpose, and is therefore easier to setup.

Not Flexible For Everyone

The Genesis Framework and its child themes are often promoted as being highly flexible and vastly customisable.

While this is the case for those with development skills, an average WordPress user probably won’t be able to make wide reaching changes to the appearance of their website and their chosen child theme (unless they delve into the code).

The lack of customisation options and control panels on the dashboard, as mentioned above, does mean less flexibility for non-coders, but the benefit is reduced bloat, and a faster loading website that takes less time to set up out of the box.

Now that we've covered some of the drawbacks of the framework, lets take a look at one of its main selling points.

Child Themes for the Genesis Framework

One of the key attractions of the Genesis Framework is the large number of highly attractive child themes that are available for it.

Leaving all the other positive aspects of the framework aside, such as its developer friendliness, enthusiastic and supportive community, and value for money, the child themes alone are often enough to persuade WordPress users to also become Genesis users.

Once you’ve installed the Genesis Framework on your WordPress site you can then use one of the many child themes that are available for this framework. These child themes use the core code, features, and functionality of the framework, but bring their own distinctive designs and layouts to your site, allowing you to build almost any type of website with WordPress.

Of course you are free to create your own child theme, using the sample template that comes with the framework, but for those who prefer an off the shelf option, there are plenty of impressive looking Genesis child themes to choose from.

Here is just a small sample of some of the themes you can apply to your WordPress website once you choose the Genesis Framework:

Metro Pro

Metro Pro Child Theme

Metro Pro is a stunning magazine style WordPress theme that makes a real impact.

Agency Pro

Agency Pro Child Theme

If you are building a website to promote yourself, your business, or agency then Agency Pro has been made just for you.

Parallax Pro

Parallax Pro Child Theme

Parallax Pro is an impressive one page WordPress theme with a fluid and responsive layout.

Daily Dish Pro

Daily Dish Child Theme

The Daily Dish Pro theme is the ideal choice for anyone looking for a clean and crisp template to showcase their eye catching photos, whether food related or not.

AgentPress Pro

AgentPress Pro Child Theme

AgentPress Pro is the ideal choice for building a real estate website with WordPress. Read our review of this Genesis child theme.

While some child themes are created by StudioPress, the developers of the Genesis Framework, others are produced by independent theme developers and distributed from their own websites for use with the framework.

View the current list of Genesis child themes from StudioPress.

Using the Genesis Framework

To use the Genesis Framework and one of its child themes you must upload both the framework files and the child theme files to your WordPress site. Carrying out both steps is the same as uploading a regular premium theme and you can either upload the files directly to your server via FTP or through the WordPress admin dashboard in just a few clicks of the mouse.

Activate the Genesis Framework

Once the framework and child theme have been uploaded, you must then activate the child theme, leaving the framework as it as.

After activating a child theme, a new menu item is added to the dashboard sidebar menu entitled Genesis, from where you can access the theme settings.

Choose your layout

Through the theme settings you can customise the following options:

  • Enable automatic updates and email notifications
  • Choose a colour style (options vary depending on the child theme in use)
  • Enter custom feed URLs
  • Chose a default content and sidebar layout
  • Enable breadcrumbs
  • Enable comments and trackbacks (on posts and pages)
  • Content archive options: display post content or excerpt
  • Configure the blog page template
  • Enter and header and footer scripts

Content Archive Settings

The Genesis Framework and its child themes are also well regarded for their SEO credentials, with the framework including a set of SEO options. However, if you install the popular and highly recommended WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, the Genesis SEO features are deactivated allowing you to use the features of that free plugin instead.

Genesis also includes the ability to easily export and import the settings for your site. This tool will generate a data file (.json) that can be downloaded to your computer and then imported into other sites running the framework. This saves you time and effort, allowing you to quickly deploy your preferences to another site.

When it comes to customising a website using the Genesis Framework, a lot of the options available will depend on the child theme in use. As anyone can create a child theme for the framework, the options available can vary considerably.

However, child themes from StudioPress, the creators of Genesis, tend to allow you to make some changes to the appearance of the theme through the WordPress Customizer tool.

Genesis Theme Customizer

While the options that are available to you through the customizer vary depending on the child theme, they can allow you to change the following aspects of your website:

  • Images: header and background
  • Navigation menus
  • Widgets
  • Colour scheme
  • Home page content
  • Layout

The WordPress theme customizer gives you a live preview, allowing you to see how your decisions will look to your visitors as you make them.

Again depending on your chosen theme, you may have a selection of page templates to choose from, custom widgets, and more. Some niche specific child themes include additional features which are added to your site by installing a plugin rather than hard coding them into the theme. One example of this is the AgentPress Pro theme which allows you to build a fully functioning real estate website using WordPress, Genesis, the child theme, and a purpose built plugin.

Due to the simplicity of many of the Genesis child themes, especially those from StudioPress, setting up a WordPress website using the framework is straightforward.

Tools for Extending the Genesis Framework and Child Themes

As mentioned earlier, there are some great tools that have been created by third party developers which make it even easier to customise the appearance of your Genesis powered WordPress website.

These tools allow non-developers to make big and small changes to the styling, layout, and functionality of their website, whether they are using an off the shelf child theme or a custom built one. Developers can also benefit from these tools due to their ability to speed up their work rate and simplify many complex tasks.

Design Palette Pro

Design Palette Pro

Design Palette Pro solves the problem of making changes to the appearance of a theme for those who don’t want to edit any code.

The plugin adds a set of customisation options to your WordPress site that allows you to change many visual properties of your site. This includes fonts, colours, images, backgrounds, margins and padding.

Changes can be made to the individual sections of your website, such as the header, navigation, content area, and sidebar,

Genesis Design Palette Pro adds all the options needed to make basic code free customisations to the appearance of a Genesis child theme.

To find out more read the full Genesis Design Palette Pro review.

Dynamik Website Builder

Dynamik Website Builder Review

Dynamik Website Builder is a child theme for Genesis. However, it’s not your typical child theme and its one that contains all the design options and controls for creating your own custom WordPress theme, without directly editing any code.

Dynamik allows you to choose your own grid and column structures for your pages, add widget areas, and a whole lot more in order to create just the right layout for your website. Each element can be thoroughly customised using a visual editor.

If you want full control over how your Genesis powered website looks, without having to edit any code, then the Dynamik Website Builder gives you all the tools you need. For developers is an effective way to speed up the theme creation process and while also giving you the ability to export your designs as stand-alone child themes.

To find our more read the full Dynamik Website Builder review.

Genesis Extender Plugin

Genesis Extender Plugin

The Genesis Extender Plugin has been created by the same team behind the Dynamik Website Builder and it adds a similar set of design options and controls to your website.

However, unlike Dynamik, this plugin isn’t a child theme, and will work on top of any Genesis child theme, allowing you to fully customise that theme. Again, non-coders are well catered to thanks to the visual controls and menus for making changes, while developers will benefit from the reduction in time it takes them to make modifications and customisations to existing child themes.

Customising the appearance of the site, creating multi column and row layouts, and writing custom PHP and CSS all make up the functionality of the Genesis Extender Plugin. This makes it an indispensable tool for those making small tweaks, those overhauling an entire website, and everyone in between.

To find out more read our full Genesis Extender Plugin review.

Resources for Genesis Users

With such a large community of users, there are plenty of places to turn to when it comes to getting support for using Genesis. Whether you are just installing the framework on your website for the first time, creating premium child themes to sell, or building custom client websites running on the framework, there are plenty of places to learn more and improve your skills.

Here is a quick rundown of resources for Genesis users, where you can find tips, tutorials, and general advice:

Don’t forget to follow the #genesiswp Twitter hashtag for all the latest Genesis related tweets.

Genesis Review Conclusion

There are many good reasons why Genesis is one of the most, if not the most well respected and popular theme framework for WordPress. This in turn means that there are many good reasons to choose this framework for your WordPress website.

The steady stream of high quality Genesis child themes from StudioPress – the developers of the framework – has surely helped cement its position as the framework to turn to for those looking for the best off the shelf WordPress themes, not to mention all the third party child themes developed elsewhere.

The developer friendliness of the framework and the large community that has grown up around Genesis has also helped to make it the platform of choice for many theme developers that are looking to build their designs upon a solid and well supported foundation.

Another reason to choose this framework is the ecosystem that has developed around it. Countless third party developers release their own child themes and free and premium plugins for the platform which help to make it even more useful.

Also the number of those marketing themselves primarily as Genesis developers means you will never be short of options when it comes to finding someone to customise your chosen child theme or build a new one from scratch.

The Genesis Framework and its child themes do lack the multi functionality and heavy feature sets of some of the other best-selling premium WordPress themes out there. But instead they focus on simplicity, ease of use, clean designs, and fast loading and efficient code. Site owners still have the option of adding more features of their choice via the large library of WordPress plugins, rather than having them forced upon them by theme developers.

If you like the look of the Genesis child themes from StudioPress and other developers, and would like to use them on your website, then this framework won’t disappoint.

If you want to be able to change the appearance and functionality of your theme and don’t mind interacting with the underlying code, either directly or by using a third party plugin, then Genesis is again a great choice. Those seeking a foundation to build their own custom design on also will find a great solution in the Genesis Framework.

In short, if you don’t want all the bells and whistles of a feature packed multipurpose theme, and would rather a fast loading, well supported option, with plenty of attractive child themes to choose from and a community and ecosystem to support it, then the Genesis Framework is the way to go.

Pros

  • Excellent selection of child themes
  • Extensive ecosystem and community
  • Clean and efficient code for fast loading pages
  • Developer friendly
  • Search engine optimized
  • Unlimited support
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not as feature packed as some themes
  • Less customization options for non-coders

Genesis Framework

Summary: The Genesis Framework is one of the most popular theme frameworks for WordPress.

Its large number of high quality child themes, vibrant community, and third party plugins and products have helped it become the success it is today.

$59.95
Rating
Rated 4.5 stars

Joe Fylan

Joe has been using WordPress for many years, building many different types of websites along the way. Joe now enjoys working as a freelance content writer and is available for hire.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click on one of the links and purchase an item, we may receive a commission. All opinions however are our own and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

3 comments

  1. Thank you for this detailed review. I have decided to go ahead with Genesis Framework. Can I simply purchase the framework and use the default theme ? Do I get any discount on a child theme if I purchase the framework ?

    1. Hi Arpit,
      Yes you can purchase the framework and use the default theme without buying a child theme.

      And yes, returning customers do get a discount on any of the child themes available from StudioPress (listed on their website).

      From the article:
      “Returning customers purchasing additional child themes get a discount, with newly released child themes available for around $30, and older themes for much less.”

      Hope this helps.

      Joe

  2. This was a very useful review, thanks – I would fit in between Beginner and a Power user – I am happy modifying CSS and even a little PHP. But I’m wondering about Page speed.

    The Genesis Framework is supposed to be fast, but when I run the demo sites and some showcase sites through Google Page Speed Insights, Pingdom and GT Metrics, these sites don’t seem to be any faster than others – e.g. none out of eight got a score above 90 on any of these tests except one site on Pingdom. Likewise only one site loaded below 2 secs on both Pingdom and GT metrics, although several others did on one but not both.

    I’m sure there are ways to streamline – e.g. all three test sites suggested delaying javascript loading and making graphics more efficient – but I wonder (1) If Genesis is so good, why doesn’t it streamline the javascript, and (2) are there any objective stats to back up the claimed fast times?

    I am not being pedantic, I am about to upgrade to a new theme, and I want to get one that is fast. Thanks.

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