The Genesis Framework Is the Only WordPress Theme You Need

StudioPress - Genesis

image credit: studiopress.com/features/

I’ve been using Genesis since its inception in February, 2010. I honestly can’t remember if I was part of the beta testing, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find an old beta copy in my WordPress archives. For the next 18 months, I alternated projects between Genesis and another theme framework, as well as another couple of really good theme houses who made themes that more or less fit what particular clients wanted. Then I stopped jumping around cold turkey.

Why I cut down to one theme

Well, going all in on Genesis is one framework, but many, many child themes. Now I switch between modifying a child theme that already looks great but needs some customization for a client or starting with a blank slate. I’ve decided to concentrate on just the Genesis framework for several reasons:

  • The global network of support is unparalleled. My fellow preferred developers work together to solve problems, help each other, and even help with a project when someone is too booked to take a new project.
  • Since it’s the biggest player on the market, everyone who makes products that integrate into themes, they account for Genesis and support any issues that come up better with sites running on Genesis. People also write plugins and snippets specifically for Genesis, knowing a lot of people will use them.
  • I know the site will last through many WordPress and Genesis updates without a major overhaul to any modifications.
  • I can reuse most of the code I create or collect from the community of Genesis devs on many sites without creating code from scratch or heavily modifying it to work in a new environment.

Studies have shown that your greatest gains in life will come from improving your strengths, not your weaknesses. So, instead of becoming good at all themes/frameworks, I’m concentrating everything into one platform with one set of rules and putting them all on one host. For the same reason I chose to only use WordPress in 2006, I have chosen to only use Genesis.

Why Genesis instead of another framework

With those good reasons to consolidate efforts into one framework, I had to choose between frameworks. I’d been using both Genesis and Thesis in 2010 for a few months, choosing Thesis for blog-centric sites and Genesis for sites with a homepage because of the child themes with great homepages already framed. It didn’t take long for me to realize that wasn’t as efficient as using one exclusively, especially when it came to later support.

Once a Thesis site had been up for a few months after I’d made my shift to Genesis, it would take me a good 5-15 minutes to get my bearings of where certain settings were, differences in hooks, and some things that were so different that I made the suggestion on more than one occasion to convert to Genesis (which most clients happily did). On my server with 55 WordPress installs and counting, only 2 of them are not Genesis sites.

I can copy/paste functions like a beast when there is an improvement I’ve learned that I want everyone to have. I know where in stylesheets to find modifications I’ve made. With well over a dozen very good Genesis-specific plugins that add tremendous power and flexibility, I have no desire to work with any other code.

I literally shudder when I read some code in other themes, even some premium themes.

What do you use?

I know I’m not alone as a StudioPress/Genesis-only developer. What I don’t know is how many of there you are – I’d love to follow you on Twitter or Google+ if I’m not already (you can also find my personal Google+, but I use it mostly for photography). Do you still switch between themes to meet a functionality purpose or do you bend a framework to your will?

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  • http://twitter.com/ohhellodesigns Susan Nelson

    Count me in as another Genesis-only developer. I’ve got a beta copy from early 2010 lying around here somewhere. At one time I was creating my own themes from scratch, but I quickly realized that it would take me ages to make something as sturdy and secure as Genesis. I so appreciate their strict adherence to coding standards and I love knowing there are so many other users out there who are willing to lend a helping hand when needed.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog lately, Jesse. Looking forward to learning more!

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      Thank you, and pleased to meet you. Yes, their code is phenomenal and makes it very attractive to coders.

  • Jeff Sauer

    Hi Jesse. As of recently (last 5 sites or so) I have started to become a Genesis only developer. I am not sure that is enough history to really consider myself exclusive, but it is definitely leaning that way.

    I have enjoyed reading your past few articles (somehow just discovered your blog late in 2012) and hope to keep on reading more! I am pretty active on my newly created blog, but have many diverse interests that I’m afraid I may not be niche enough for everyone. We’ll see how it goes.

    Anyway, I’m on Twitter @jeffsauer and I’m using G+ to post this :).

    Speaking of G+, cool to see you talking about it in your posts. I don’t think it gets a lot of love, but I really love how it integrates with the social data hub in Google Analytics (Along with Disqus for that matter).

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      Thanks for commenting, Jeff. I’ll be sure to add you both places. My downside with G+ is that I have been added to over 1,100 circles as my personal self, but I just found out about connecting your site to your business page, which needs over 100 to get the vanity URL. Slow but steady.

      I was running a WooTheme for years and finally abandoned it to put some “good shoes on the cobbler’s kids’ feet” and start blogging about all of the stuff I’ve learned over the years that no one wants to read about on my personal sites, so that’s probably why you just found my blog – I only had 3 posts for 3 years. ;-)

      • Jeff Sauer

        Sounds like we have had a similar evolution. Long time practitioner, experimenters with our own blog but no commitment and now finally making the leap. You’re doing great so far at doing that!

        Added you back on G+ – looking forward to reading more and will try to comment as often as possible.

        • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

          Thanks. I’ll add you as soon as I can.

          From the people I’ve met at WordCamp, a lot of us are following similar tracks – we mostly differ in code/design abilities, growth, and who came first to certain parties. I’m here to help anyone coming after me as I’ve been helped by some before me.

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      Looks like you need to add me to your circles before I can add you. Good visibility, though. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/wmwebdes Keith Davis

    Preaching to the converted Jesse.
    I bought the Pro Plus package twelve months ago and I’ve never looked back.
    I started out using Elegant Themes then dabled with Headway and then… I found Genesis.
    I offer local businesses a fabulous looking, well optimised website at rock bottom prices.
    I can only do that because I use Genesis child themes with little customisation.
    Like I said Jesse – preaching to the converted.

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      I loved the look of so many of Elegant Themes’ themes, but 95% of the time I put them in a working install, it was more than just populating widgets to get the appearance in the demos like it was for Genesis. I’m glad you found them and it’s working you for you, too.

  • http://twitter.com/mttorley mttorley

    I also agree. However, I was tempted and took an hour looking through all things bootstrap over the weekend… Going to sit on my laurels and watch for the previews of genesis 2.0 :)

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      Bootstrap does some neat things, but I’ve had a bad experience with it already, so either I’m dense or the dev who came before me (I was hired to fix a mess) used it wrong. It was a constant battle between Genesis and Bootstrap to override with !important being required hundreds of times to do very basic things.

      It could be me – in this case it wouldn’t surprise me at all – but I don’t care to lose that design control.

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  • http://twitter.com/ravidreams Ravi

    //For the same reason I chose to only use WordPress in 2006, I have chosen to only use Genesis.//

    That is one great insight. I have wasted a lot of time and money trying almost all the theme shops out there. Time to stick with one framework and be a master of it.

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and working with one platform was a big saver. Glad you’re enjoying the same benefits I am.

  • http://twitter.com/rezzz Jason Resnick

    I’m curious to know if your clients manage their content or do you? If them, how do you give them the ability to create page items like columns, banners, etc without the having to know HTML

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com/ Jesse Petersen

      I don’t generally do any content. If they have content that already exists and they want it styled differently than comes with Genesis, then it is budgeted for. If they want to do columns, that’s a very simple read of any of the Genesis tuts on editing the paragraphs into columns. Not sure what a banner is, but if you’re referring to Minimum 2.0, that’s not HTML, it’s a featured image.

      Most of my clients either know enough to be dangerous and know small amounts of HTML to make links, but beyond that they usually just ping me and we do a quick task.

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  • Z Jacob

    ok – I’m about to take the leap & go WP + Genesis. Tx for your useful comments. Just need to choose a theme. I wondered if you have any comments about which low cost hosts are the most reliable in terms of speed, support, security & flexibility?

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com Jesse Petersen

      I don’t recommend any low-cost hosts. They just create costs when you get hacked and lose readers when traffic (or someone else’s traffic on the shared host) increases. I only use WP Engine. See the sidebar.

  • http://www.genesisclubpro.com Liz

    I am Genesis only too – I also used to just use Thesis, but changed to Genesis when Thesis when through its crises. We like it because apart from all the good reasons you’ve given, it is a stable and fun to use platform from which we can develop new services and plugins.

    I am interested that you chose WP Engine Jesse. Did you look at Web Synthesis? I am thinking about going to Pressable for small client sites and then passing the client directly to Synthesis when they outgrow Pressable.

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com Jesse Petersen

      I have and it doesn’t meet my requirements. I have over 80 sites and that’s not available in a developer or dedicated account, so I chose WP Engine and they’ve taken very good care of me.

  • http://playahealth.org Jorge Torres

    Hi Jesse,

    I am new to the world of blogging and since I want to start with the right foot I wish to learn how to implement genesis and build/customize child themes. Do I have to shut down my website to start experimenting around? Or can I try things out without messing my site?
    Thanks!

    • http://www.petersenmediagroup.com Jesse Petersen

      Create a new site. You aren’t going to learn customizing/building new child themes any time soon if you’re just starting out. You will seriously screw up your site if you try learning there – I ruined my first blog over 200 times learning in 2005-06.

      • http://playahealth.org Jorge Torres

        Thanks a lot for the advice Jesse!