Both solutions were designed to do different things. Genesis is a minimal WordPress framework that makes it easy for developers to create custom WordPress themes. Whereas Divi is an all in one solution that lets anyone design a custom design, regardless of their technical experience.
Due to their popularity, many WordPress users narrow their options down to either Genesis or Divi. Over the last few months, we have reviewed both Genesis and Divi, however in this article I would like to talk about where their strengths and weaknesses lie. This will help you make an informed decision on which theme is best for you.
The Genesis WordPress Framework
Theme frameworks are normally used as a template to create custom WordPress themes. While some people do simply modify a framework for a custom design, it is more practical to use the framework as the parent theme and create a child theme for the custom design. This setup allows the framework to be updated independently of the child theme; therefore updating is easier.
If you go back a few years, frameworks were mainly used by developers. They did not have many user friendly features for non technical users. The default theme that was included with the framework was basic too.
Genesis is different. Not only does it have an easy to use options panel, the default design that is included with the framework looks great. It has a clean minimal design and uses beautiful fonts. All you need to do is change some colors and add your logo to have a professional looking website design.
Let's take a look at other great Genesis features.
An Easy to Use Options Panel
In general, WordPress frameworks are not known for offering many options in the admin area. Genesis still keeps things simple, however it does have many useful fields and options.
The main options page offers support for a third party RSS feed service such as FeedBlitz or Feedburner. Different layouts can be chosen in the options page too. The number of layouts that are available depends on the Genesis child theme you are using. Most will offer at least the option of a left sidebar, right sidebar, or no sidebar. Some themes also support two sidebars.
Additional options include navigation, breadcrumbs, comments and trackbacks, archives, and the blog template settings. Code can be inserted into the header and footer at the bottom too.
The process of creating multiple websites with Genesis is made simpler due to import and export functionality. The framework comes with some useful custom widgets as well.
Compatibility with WordPress Plugins
In general, the more features and options you add to a WordPress theme, the easier it is for non technical users to use the theme. Unfortunately, adding more features to a WordPress theme also increases the chance of the theme conflicting with other WordPress plugins.
One of the benefits of a minimal framework such as Genesis is that there is less risk of plugin conflictions. In my three years of using Genesis, I have never experienced an error due to Genesis and a plugin clashing.
An Emphasis on Security
The Genesis framework is well regarded among WordPress developers for being one of the most secure WordPress solutions available online.
To ensure they follow recommended WordPress security practices, StudioPress hire WordPress Lead Developer Mark Jaquith to test their framework thoroughly by performing a security review.
“StudioPress reached out to me to do a security review before Genesis was even released, and I did another review for Genesis 1.7. They were very responsive to my suggestions, and the result is a framework that follows all the WordPress security best practices. It’s clear StudioPress made security a priority when developing Genesis and from a security standpoint, Genesis 1.7 is at the top of its class.” – Mark Jaquith
Mark gave the above quote four years ago after reviewing Genesis 1.3; however he continues to test every new StudioPress release.
As I am sure you aware, security is not something to take lightly. There are over one hundred thousand successful hack attempts on WordPress websites every year and 29% of those attempts are caused by an insecure WordPress theme. It is good to know that if you use the Genesis framework, you do not need to worry about your WordPress theme being exploited.
Huge Selection of Child Themes
Non technical users find it difficult to get the most out of WordPress frameworks as they cannot change features and styling themselves. This means that their final design does not look any different from the default design that is provided with the framework.
That is not a big problem for Genesis users as there are over 100 beautiful Genesis child themes available online. In total, there are 43 child themes on offer from StudioPress and many more from third party designers.
There are Genesis child themes available for every type of website including business, magazine, blog, real estate, and photography designs. The standard of designs is very high. They are all designed using the same standards as the Genesis framework.
Check out the StudioPress Showcase page to see examples of child themes in action.
Fast, Responsive, and Professional Coded
The Genesis framework was designed using HTML5 and adheres to recommended W3 web standards. Therefore, you will not have any trouble validating your website.
All theme files are cleanly coded and have comments throughout to help you understand what each part of the file is for.
The framework is also responsive. This ensures that your website looks great, whether you are viewing it on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Since Genesis child themes are powered by Genesis, they are responsive too.
Optimized for Search Engines
Genesis has some fantastic SEO features. Once you have activated Genesis on your website, Genesis will add an area underneath each post and page for entering SEO details about your article. This includes the page title, description, and keywords.
The main SEO settings page allows you to integrate Google+ and configure your home page SEO settings, document head, robots meta, and archive settings.
The best thing about Genesis is that it if you activate a WordPress SEO plugin such as WordPress SEO by Yoast or All in One SEO Pack, Genesis will completely remove its own SEO functionality. The SEO settings page and the SEO box underneath posts and pages will disappear. This ensures that Genesis's built in SEO functionality does not clash with your chosen SEO plugin.
I usually remove Genesis's SEO functionality and used WordPress SEO instead, however there are those who believe that Genesis's built in SEO functionality is better than any WordPress SEO plugin solution.
The Genesis framework is built with dozens of hooks. These are located in multiple locations on your pages. By calling a hook, you can insert anything you want into your website using a custom function or a plugin.
StudioPress have a large reference of Genesis hooks on their website. There are useful visual guides available for hooks too that help you see exactly where hooks are located. A visual guide is also available as a plugin
Support, Tutorials, and Updates
StudioPress continue to update Genesis regularly to ensure it works with the latest version of WordPress and is bug free. Therefore, you needn't worry about your website being out of date.
You get a lot of support for Genesis too. In addition to tutorials and code snippets, StudioPress have a support forum that is checked every day by staff. I have always had an answer to any question I asked within a few hours.
It Just Works
I have been using Genesis for over three years. Before that, I had used several other WordPress frameworks. The fact that I am still using Genesis after all of this time is testament to how much I value the Genesis framework.
I have used a couple of different WordPress themes during that time, but they have all been Genesis child themes. Once you have configured your website using Genesis, you can switch to another child theme in just a minutes. There is next to no further configuration necessary.
That is what I love about it. Genesis does not have the bells and whistles of most other WordPress themes, however it does everything I need it to. Its simplicity is what keeps me using it.
The Divi WordPress Theme
Divi was released at the end of 2013 to a lot of praise from the WordPress community. The praise was deserved as Divi is a fantastic WordPress theme.
Many WordPress theme stores have been trying to build an all in one WordPress solution for years, but few developers got it right. Then Divi was released. It was beautiful, it was practical, and it was affordable.
Elegant Themes knew they had developed something special and have worked tirelessly over the last eight months to add more features to the theme.
Let us take a closer look at what makes Divi so special.
The Drag and Drop Page Builder
The Divi builder is a visual page builder that allows you to design your own pages by simply dragging and dropping modules into the area you want. This allows you to build complex pages easily in minutes.
You can create new rows and columns in seconds and move modules around with ease. A total of 32 modules are currently available. This includes sidebars, portfolios, maps, contact forms, sliders, videos, images, pricing tables, and more. Each module can be configured in just a few seconds with your data.
Once you have created a layout, you can save it and use it on other pages. They can even be exported to another website you own.
The possibilities with the Divi page builder are endless. There is little it cannot do. Once you are familiar with how the module system works, you will be able to create unique page designs very quickly. Without doubt, it is one of the biggest selling points of Divi.
Support for the WordPress Theme Customizer
Divi has fantastic support for the WordPress Theme Customizer. It can be used to change colors, fonts, navigation, widgets, and more.
Divi uses the Elegant Themes ePanel options page too. From there you can upload your logo, integrate advertisements, and define SEO settings. The panel is starting to look its age, but it remains useful for making essential changes to your website.
18 Pre-Made Layouts
If you are struggling for ideas on how to create layouts using Divi, don't worry. Divi comes packaged with 18 pre-made layouts. To get started, all you need to do is choose a layout you like and customize it as you see fit.
Without these layouts, I believe a lot of users would have struggled to get the most out of Divi, therefore Elegant Themes should be applauded for including them. Layouts can be used as a starter layout for your own custom design or simply to help you familiarize yourself with Divi.
Like Genesis, Divi looks great on tablets and smartphones. It will automatically change the look and feel of your design when someone visits your website on a mobile device. All modules are mobile friendly so your website will look great however you create your pages.
Post Format Support
Post formats were introduced at the beginning of 2011 in WordPress 3.1. In my opinion, they are one of the best features added to WordPress in recent years as they allow you to add all types of blog posts including quotes, images, and videos.
Sadly, despite all recent default WordPress themes supporting post formats, very few theme developers have added support for post formats to their themes. Only dedicated blogging WordPress themes tend to have post format support.
That it is why Elegant Themes need to be commended for including post format support in Divi. It means that Divi can be used to develop any type of blog; whether it be for a personal blog, portfolio blog, or corporate blog.
Support, Tutorials, and Updates
Elegant Themes have released many significant upgrades to Divi since it was released. This illustrates that the theme is a big part of their future strategy. It also illustrates that Divi is going to get bigger and better over the next few years.
In contrast, in my three years of using Genesis, only one or two new features have been introduced. Obviously, this is by design, as Genesis is a minimal WordPress framework, however it does illustrate the difference between the two themes.
Elegant Themes have published an extensive amount of documentation on using Divi. Each tutorial features screenshots and video walkthroughs. You can also get answers to questions via the Elegant Themes support forum.
Divi Can Do…Well, Pretty Much Everything
Divi is an all in one theme solution. It allows anyone, regardless of their technical knowledge and experience, to create beautiful, complex, and professional looking website designs. And it allows you to do all of this in minutes.
I love the Genesis framework, which is why I currently use it on my blog. I noted before that I love the way that I can activate a Genesis child theme and just start working. That is true, however if I ever need to change the way my blog works, I need to use a custom function or activate a different child theme.
With Divi, I can create unique layouts in minutes using a practical drag and drop page builder. I can easily change from a blog layout to a magazine layout. And then switch to a business layout. It offers me a lot of options that other themes cannot.
It should take you no longer than an hour to familiarize yourself with how Divi works. Once you do, you will be surprised at what you can do with Divi.
The Cons of Using Genesis and Divi
No WordPress theme can claim to be perfect. Genesis and Divi both excel in a number of areas, however they are limited in some ways. Ironically, their strengths are also their weaknesses.
One of the greatest strength's of Genesis is its minimal approach to features. It is one of the reasons why it is so popular with developers.
The options panel, for example, allows you to change the featured image size, choose the default layout, and insert code into the header and footer. However, if you want to change a font, change the color of an element, or change the width of a certain area, you need to modify the theme stylesheet.
Ideally, a future version of Genesis will allow you to do this via the WordPress theme customizer. The theme customizer currently lets you insert menus, add widgets, change your website layout, and more. However, styling options are very limited. For example, I currently use the Genesis Child theme Minimum Pro. There is an option in the customizer to change the background color, yet when I modify the color, nothing changes in my design.
In a future version of Genesis I would like to see options to choose background colors, font colors, font types, font sizes, and more.
If have experience using HTML and CSS, this will not be a problem, however non technical users will find it difficult to change Genesis from the default layout.
Making small changes to the way your website is structured can be more difficult too. With one of the default WordPress themes, such as Twenty Fourteen, you can make template changes very easily by simply modifying one of your theme templates. However, making the same change in Genesis usually requires adding a custom function to your theme functions.php template.
It can be frustrating to have to add a custom function to make a basic modification to your website. In other WordPress themes, you can upload your website logo in seconds via the options panel. You can do this in Genesis using the WordPress custom header, but it does not work as well as a logo upload would. Normally, you need to modify your stylesheet or functions.php to ensure your logo is aligned properly.
Thankfully, Genesis offers a lot of tutorials on how to make changes to your website. The most common customizations are listed on their code snippets page. StudioPress always respond to queries on their support forum quickly, therefore if there is no code snippet published in their documentation area, post a question there 🙂
The complex nature of Divi means that there is more chance of it clashing with plugins that offer similar functionality. That is a problem that all advanced WordPress themes experience. To their credit, Elegant Themes do their utmost to ensure that popular plugins work well with Divi.
Divi gives you a huge amount of control over your website. This makes it very simple to customize the way your website looks and feels. However, if you want to change Divi in a different way than it was originally intended, you may find it difficult. To some of you, this may sound like nitpicking, however I am sure it will frustrate developers who want to create something truly unique.
You may find the documentation for developers lacking too. The documentation for Divi is very extensive, but it is geared towards beginners. The tutorials focus on how you can use Divi. Unlike Genesis, there are not many developers creating custom solutions for Divi. Therefore, you will find customizing Divi in a unique way difficult.
For most WordPress users, these limitations are not an issue. Genesis is a framework. Divi is not. That is why so many developers use Genesis to design custom themes. Divi was developed to create good looking websites quickly and effectively. Without doubt, they have succeeded in doing that. I have spoken with many website designers who now use Divi almost exclusively to build websites for clients as the theme is so versatile. Therefore, the need to change the way that Divi works is rare.
One thing that is currently lacking from the current version of Divi is support for the page builder with custom post types. At the moment, you can only use the page builder to create stylish pages with WordPress pages. It cannot be used with blog posts and other custom post types. Hopefully, this something that Elegant Themes will address in the future.
Which is Cheaper?
StudioPress and Elegant Themes use different pricing schemes for their products.
The Genesis framework is available for $59.95. This includes a professional looking sample design which you can customize. For non designers, it makes more sense to purchase a StudioPress theme. This can be purchased together with the Genesis framework for $99.95.
On their own, StudioPress designs cost $44.95. StudioPress do not offer any discount codes, however they automatically apply a 25% discount to their themes to existing customers. Therefore, once you have purchased the Genesis framework, the real price of their themes is $33.71
This means that the true cost of Genesis and a child theme is $93.66 if you buy Genesis first; however StudioPress charge $99.95 if you buy both together initially.
StudioPress offer a Pro Plus plan $399.95 that includes all 43 existing StudioPress Genesis child themes. If you are a developer that is creating websites for customers frequently, you may want to consider the pro plus plan as it could potentially save you over one thousand dollars.
The pro plus plan is eligible for StudioPress's 25% returning customer discount. Therefore, if you have already purchased Genesis, you can purchase all themes for $299.96. You can therefore save $40.04 on the pro plus plan by purchasing Genesis first.
All StudioPress products are available as a one time purchase fee. Once you have purchased an item, you are eligible for unlimited support and updates forever. Their license allows you to use their themes on an unlimited number of websites; whether these websites are your own or whether you are designing them for clients. Essentially, all of their licenses are developer licenses.
Divi is included as part of the Elegant Themes membership. Their membership currently includes 87 WordPress themes. Some of their older WordPress themes are starting to look their age, however all of the designs released over the last year or so have been great. They are currently working on a beautiful magazine design entitled Extra.
Three membership plans are available. Their entry level personal license retails at $69 per year and provides access to all WordPress themes, support, and theme updates. Despite its name, the personal license has all the benefits of a developer license. You can use it on an unlimited number of websites and even use their themes to build websites for clients.
For $20 more, you can upgrade to their developer license at $89 per year. In addition to all WordPress themes, this license also gives you access to their 4 WordPress plugins and all original layered Photoshop files. The photoshop files will make it easier to customize their designs.
Their lifetime license offers the same features as their developer license, however it is available as a one off fee of $249. If you see yourself renewing your Elegant Themes membership more than twice, the lifetime license makes sense.
Don't worry if you are not sure about which license to choose as Elegant Themes allow you to upgrade your licence at any time.
You have probably realized by now that I love Genesis and Divi for different reasons. If you are a developer, Genesis is the most practical choice if you need to create something truly unique. However, you may find Divi a more practical solution for creating great looking websites quickly on a regular basis.
If you do not have any experience designing websites, Divi is probably the best solution as it gives you the freedom to create many interesting layouts, but if you love the look of a Genesis design, do not hesitate to buy it. You will not be disappointed.
Thanks for reading 🙂