Genesis Framework Review – The Pros, The Cons and Why I Use It

Genesis FrameworkYou know back then when I was using the Blogger platform, I didn’t think moving to WordPress was worth it. But once I switched, it didn’t take long to see the benefits that WordPress brought to the table.

  • The first and best benefit was that my blog was now ACTUALLY mine and I didn’t have to worry about the Blogger team deciding to remove my content for some reason.
  • Secondly there were the plugins – you literally have millions of ways to improve the functionality of your blog and mostly for free.
  • Thirdly there was the design standpoint – WordPress allows huge room for customizations. And with the right theme in place you can create the layout that you want.

And the third point is namely the topic of today’s article.

So in the beginning I found a free WordPress theme that I used for a couple of months. Back then I didn’t feel any need for switching to anything premium and I thought that investing money wasn’t worth it. 

It was all good until I started running into problems a few weeks later. Every now and then my blog would behave weirdly. I’d see glitches, wrong loading of the elements and occasional crashes. Add to that the fact there was no one to contact with my issue and it felt like I just had to start researching on the available premium themes.

In the end I went for the Genesis Framework.

In the next paragraphs I’m going to explain why namely the Genesis Framework was my pick. I will go through both the pros and the cons of this premium theme and all this based on my almost six-month experience.

Keep reading if you are interested to see what the Genesis Framework has to offer:

NOTE: There are affiliate links included in this post.

Pro #1: Reasonably Priced


Well first off, most people’s concern when deciding to buy a product is of course that product’s price. Before choosing to settle with the Genesis Framework, as greedy as it might seem, my goal was to invest as little money as possible.

It’s not as much about buying cheap, but more about spending your money wise i.e. getting the most functional product for what you are paying.

And to help you see why I believe the Genesis Framework is reasonably priced I made a bit of a comparison between two other premium themes – Thesis and Elegant Themes:

Price Comparison Between Premium Themes

So above from left to right we can see the cheapest plans for the Elegant Themes, Thesis (or DIY Themes) and Studiopress’ Genesis Framework.

  • First off we have only 39$ PER YEAR for the Elegant Themes. If that was a one-time fee, it would certainly have been the lowest price for a premium theme. The good thing is you get access to all available themes, which is good if you aren’t quite sure how you want your blog to look like. If you would however like to receive lifetime access to all features, you would have to pay a hefty 249$ fee.
  • Secondly we have Thesis. The price of 87$ is certainly steeper than the one Elegant Themes offers. And we have a problem – for 87$ you will only get free updates for a year and aside from that you can only use the installation on one sever. If you want Thesis for unlimited number of sites, you would have to say goodbye to 164$.
  • Lastly let’s take a look at Genesis. The good thing about it is that the price of 79.95$ that you see is a one time fee and you get unlimited updates and support. If you want you can also use the theme on unlimited number of either client sites or your own sites. For the price you also get to choose a theme. If you only want the Framework without a child theme, you will only pay 59.95$

Pro #2: Big Variety of Themes to Choose From


The good thing about Genesis is that aside from purchasing the framework, you can also buy a child theme to make it all look professional. Otherwise you still have a functional theme, which you might leave up to a designer to add the eye-candy necessary.

But it’s good news if you don’t want to spend money on a custom design since the Genesis marketplace offers a solid selection. The variety of themes is pretty good.

Filter Themes to Find the Theme that Suits YouIf you go to the Shop for Themes page, you get to find the theme that best suits you by choosing a category (e.g. business, ecommerce, photography, etc.), then choosing the theme features and the layout (e.g. one column, two column, three column).

As of now there are 43 themes and chances are with a bit of searching around, you are sure to find the one you are looking for.

Pro #3: Top Notch Support Team


Getting Technical SupportSupport is an important factor in pretty much every online purchase. You need to be sure that once you spend those hundred bucks, you won’t have to solve any future problems on your own. You need to be certain that every potential glitch and bug will be fixed in the shortest of times possible.

And that is where the Genesis Framework really shines for me.

You know I’m not the kind of guy who’d simply buy a theme and leave it as is. Nope. I am the kind of guy who likes to not only look at code, but also modify code. And although most modifications work like a charm (not that I want to brag lol), there are those times when something goes wrong big time.

When that happens, you have to get in touch with the support team and resolve your issue as soon as possible!

I generally get a reply within 30-40 minutes of sending my issue report. And once I get a reply by email, it can really turn into a chat. The support team is ready to answer even the dumbest of questions in the hope to make you feel satisfied. And the cool thing is it doesn’t feel like you are chatting with a one of those bots. It’s a real conversation and not the same reply thrown at you over and over.

Pro #4: Mobile Friendly Design


With the introduction of ever-more sophisticated tablets and smartphones, mobile traffic has been gaining a lot of strength over the last few years. And you HAVE to adapt if you want to make the most out of your online undertaking. You have to put effort towards every possibility.

Reviewz N Tips Mobile TrafficSome two years ago the mobile traffic that Reviewz N Tips received was a little over 10% of the total traffic, which although a number worth taking into consideration, isn’t THAT much. To date that number has increased to almost 30%. And whatever you tell me several thousand monthly visits are a significant number.

And what’s the cool thing about the Genesis Framework? 

That almost all themes are suited for optimal work with mobile devices.

How is that achieved? 

With the use of media queries, which specify different “behaviour” for different resolutions and different pixel ratios.

How does all of this work in your favor? 

First off it results in faster loading. The media queries disable specific desktop elements from appearing (and hence having to be loaded) on a mobile device. Other elements like font sizes and dimensions are corrected for specific type of displays. The idea of all of this is to make the most use of the smaller displays and thus reduce bounce rates, increase the time visitors spend on site and improve conversion rates.

Pro #5: Handful of Useful Features


Aside from all the above, Genesis offers a lot of small but useful features that bloggers can certainly find useful. And here are some of the more important ones:

  • Custom layout settings - that option can be found under the post editor and it allows you to change the layout for a specific blog post. For instance you can remove the sidebar, move it to the left or add a secondary sidebar if your theme allows it. There’s also the feature to add a custom class for your post, meaning you can apply specific modifications to specific posts. For instance you can create a predefined class with a different background color and you can set it to display for some types of posts (for instance based on category).
    Genesis Framework Layout Settings
  • Tutorials, Get Help, Code SnippetsIn depth tutorials - From the simplest of things as installing the Genesis Framework and adding child themes to understanding how hooks work and what difference the various SEO settings available make.
  • Genesis Specific Plugins and code snippets – Once you buy the Genesis Framework, you gain access to a whole directory of plugins, which only work with Genesis. Some of them allow you to easily modify your theme’s elements (like comments, sidebars, etc), others help you add social icons. On the other hand the authors have taken the time to build a comprehensive list of code snippets to help you add or remove various elements to your theme.
  • Header and footer scripts - One of the coolest things about Genesis is that it allows you to add scripts to the wp_head(): and wp_footer(): straight from the WordPress Dashboard. That is really useful since you don’t have to open up the functions.php and edit directly. The latter can result in some nasty crashes that take time to fix. Header and Footer Scripts

Con #1: Slower Loading Speed


Moving on to the cons…

The biggest issue is definitely loading speed. Since the Genesis Framework uses advanced techniques for the layouts, you will have to deal with a little slower loading time.

That’s just the way it is and there’s not much you can do. Of course there are various techniques like not using too many plugins, having a caching plugin and using a CDN (CloudFlare is the free alternative), but still chances are a Genesis themes will be slower than standard themes with the same tips utilized.

Actually Studiopress, the authors of the Genesis Framework have developed their own hosting service called Synthesis. Synthesis is designed almost solely with WordPress blogs in mind, so it is sure to provide rock-solid performance. The small problem is that the pricing starts at 27$ a month – quite some cash for the average blogger and compared to the 4$ a month that other hosting providers charge.

Here’s a screenshot from Pingdom with my blog’s loading speed right now:

Loading Speed Test

Con #2: Learning Curve for Developers


If you are into doing serious modifications on the theme you bought or you’d like to create a custom theme for the Genesis Framework, you will certainly have a harder time at the beginning.

Although I was able to make huge modifications to my theme, most of it is simply CSS changes. Just for the record here’s a comparison between the stock theme and my modification:

Stock vs Modified Theme

So, designing in terms of CSS isn’t any different. The problem is when you want to do more serious structural modifications to your theme. That is mostly achieved via the so called hooks. The Genesis team has come up with a plugin called Simple Hooks, which allows easier modifications. But then again you still have to spend a couple of days learning the ropes.

Get the Genesis Framework


I really hope you found my review useful friends. If you believe you will find the Genesis Framework useful, make sure to also check the official site for more information.

Now I’d like to hear your thoughts! 

When it comes to blogging is WordPress really the best? Are you using a free or a premium theme? What do you think of Genesis compared to the other options in the premium theme market? 

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  1. Genesis user here.
    I’ve been using Genesis for about 3 years and have developed many child themes for clients and never look back. True, there was some learning curve. Back then there were very few Genesis-specific tutorials and luckily now there are LOTS of tutorial available for Genesis.

  2. Stephen Gardner says:

    How have you found the framework when they release upgrades? Are you fixing things often?

    • Hey Stephen,

      What do you mean by fixing things?

      When updates come, they are like updates for any other WordPress theme or plugin. You get a notification on your dashboard, you click on it and proceed to instal the update. Simple as that.

      Daniel

  3. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality
    writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

  4. I just switched from Thesis 2 to Genesis, at least temporarily. I just want to see if there is any improvement in terms of SEO traffic (haven’t seen any yet). Both have strength in their own ways.

    Harder to take a grasp of Thesis 2 but once you’ve got a hang of it, it rocks. Genesis is easier and faster to setup + I like the themes!

    Did notice Google complaining of a lower speed compared to Thesis (on the Google AdSense panel)

  5. Frankly speaking Thesis theme by DIY is just Sh*t. In the past I used Thesis for 5 months and the below listed things happened and vanish my blog’s traffic. Its just a silent killer.
    1: Thesis has built in option to add my meta tags and meta tags saved in many of my posts got disappeared.
    2: 1 day i saved changes to my admin panel of theme settings and posts excerpt from my blog’s homepage got disappeared.
    3: No cool child skins are available for this framework.
    After using thesis, i migrated on genesis and its really advance theme with cool child themes.

  6. Hi Danial,

    Nice writing. I’m a huge Genesis fan and even using the pro package. Never regretted it at all! Learning curve is moderate but I have yet to modify my theme yet. Still using Magazine. Maybe I’m lazy?

    I feel you did great with the CSS thingy and keep it up. Do you mind me asking if you have any personal CSS guide to help me get started with modifying? :)

    As for the speed thingy, I noticed using Genesis is faster than the rest. Of course, Thesis hit it by a mere 1/10 I think. But overall, with Hostgator, I could hit 1.7 sec average on loading. Hmm!

    Nonetheless, I love Genesis and would always be.

    Reginald

  7. hey Daniel, longest time! Pls Dan, how do i get this your kind of theme plus what name does it carry? Thanks. Hat off brother!

    • Hey Sam, the theme I use is called Mocha and can be found in Genesis’ theme finder. ;)

      • Hey Dani, I’m glad to he here again and thanks for re-posting it on twitter. :)

        Awwwh…thanks for sharing this with me..imma try to get it.

        I also would like to know something. If I have genesis installed already, do I still need to pay for this Mocha?

        Thanks bro for replying, will wait to get a reply in this too.

        Sam

  8. What’s up Daniel, glad you decided to make the change it’s well worth it. As for the themes, StudioPress has some great ones to choose from not to mention the discounts we get as members.

    What themes are you currently using? hey let me know if there’s anything I can do ok….talk to you soon.

    • Hey Rob,

      Yeah, quite some time since I moved and I am definitely happy for making the move. Seems like I missed to mention the additional discounts in the post – they are great indeed. I haven’t taken advantage yet though.

      As for the theme, I am using highly-modified Mocha theme.

      Thank you for stopping by! :D
      Daniel

  9. Hi Daniel,
    thanks for this great review! I’m also working with wordpress via my own domain and I won’t miss it ;-) I tried a couple of themes, some for free and also some premium themes.
    Guess, I will also have a look on this Genesis stuff – sounds perfect!
    Concerning Elegant Themes, there are many themes in responsive design available, they also have a very good support, you have a big range of possibilities to modify your theme and (if you don’t want to work in the psd files) there’s no need to pay more than these $ 39 per year. But, if you’ll take a look at my website, at last I decided to use a free theme, which is easy to use and modify: SimpleCorp from S5Themes – I love the look and feel. It’s also responisve design, but from time to time it seems to have issues to propper show on a mobile device… Maybe time to overthink?

    Thanks,
    Friederike

    • Hey Frederike,

      Thank you for shedding more light on Elegant Themes! And as far as the price goes it’s still 39 bucks PER year. On the other hand Genesis requires only a one-time fee.

      As for the free themes you mentioned, that’s exactly the problem I’m referring to. Sometimes there are weird glitches that can prove a nightmare when you are trying to fix them. From that perspective a premium theme is worth it.

      Daniel

  10. Really a honest review of Genesis fans as I am, I never noticed how cheap Genesis is before i read this post.

    Thanks for sharing Daniel.
    Kamtiyono

  11. Great review of your experience. Not much different from my own :) After developing websites since 1995, WordPress was a huge relief and add the Genesis framework, I feel like I’m living in a coders dreamworld . . .LOL. I like Genesis because it is consistent from one site to the next in the coding. I’ve tried modifying other programmer’s themes. It amazed me the variety of ways folks solved the same problems. In Genesis, there is a similarity which makes customizing so much easier. As I manage about 25 website for different clients, it is nice to no longer need to relearn someone else’s coding style every time I have to make a mod to the website. I’m so grateful for Genesis!

    • Hey Theresa,

      I haven’t really played around with different themes, but keeping in mind all themes are based on one framework, I believe that makes for the consistency you are talking about.

      I am glad you liked the review and thank you for sharing your two cents! :)
      Daniel

  12. Daniel,
    Nice article! Though you’re clearly a fan, just as I am, you did some good “cons” as well. Mentioning a learning curve is good, especially when I see so many people showing up on the Genesis public forum that were expecting Genesis to magically make them a designer and developer. Of course it won’t, and Studiopress doesn’t claim that.

    It is true that this type of framework will have some overhead, and could cause a speed hit. I would add that among frameworks, it’s one of the quickest. For instance, Woo Themes are very popular and pretty, but can be quite slow due to big database overhead. I have spoken with people who are against all WP frameworks. You’d add some speed avoiding any framework, but you’d give up a lot of convenience and development ease that a framework’s hooks, functions, and filters will give you, not to mention having some support.

    Thanks, Dave

    • Hey Dave,

      Yes, I am a fan – no denying there man!

      I actually never ran into that much problems to have to post on the forums, so I guess that’s a good thing. But then again there’s no denying that you need some time to understand how everything works with Genesis.

      As far as loading speeds go, at least for me the slower performance is worth the other benefits as you said. Often times to get something, you also have to give something away.

      Thank you for stopping by sir! :)
      Daniel