Genesis Theme Framework Review: Is this Any Good?

Genesis Theme Review UPDATED July 1, 2012

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Genesis Framework by StudioPressIs the Genesis Framework good? Yes, but I do have some dislikes which I set out below as well.

I use the Genesis framework for most of my websites (including this very site – it’s the Magazine child theme). The flexibility, style and design (using child themes), functionality, features, attention to detail, and SEO integration are simply second-to-none.

I use the Enterprise child theme for my offline business website (which results in great conversion rates. I’ve even had competitors call me and tell me they’re impressed with my site and wonder who built it).

“I’ve been researching premium WP themes for a while and because of your posts, think I am going to go with Genesis.  Thanks for the info.”

- Rich at

Why Use a Premium Theme?

This article explains some of the downsides to using free themes. Besides, with a premium theme such as the Genesis Framework, you get much more customization options and functionality than using a free theme.

What is the Genesis Theme Framework by StudioPress?

Genesis Theme is StudioPress’ parent and child WordPress theme framework. This means theme upgrades are no hassle and you will see a lot of great new child theme designs.

Not sure what the parent and child theme concept is? Click here to read my article about parent and child themes or watch my Genesis theme parent/child theme installation video below.

Genesis Theme Parent/Child Theme Installation Video

The Genesis parent and child framework is so simple to use, and it lets you change your site’s theme with simply installing a new child theme of your choice. Once you install the Genesis theme (it’s the same process as installing any theme), then all you need to do is install and activate the child theme of your choice and your site is ready to go.

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, says the following about the Genesis Parent/Child Framework:

“Child themes are the only way you should build your WordPress site on top of a framework, and Genesis has great support for child themes and other WordPress functionality” (source: StudioPress).

Mashable rates the Genesis Theme as the best premium WordPress available.

“Thank you for a great site that explains the Genesis framework. As a newbie to on-line publishing (doesn’t that sound archaic these days!) I am extremely grateful to you and your tutorial delivery.I have bookmarked your page and look forward to your posts sent via email.   Once again, Thank You.”

- Regards, Phil Callinan Australia

FYI: There are NO more Genesis discount code OR any StudioPress discount codes!  StudioPress informed me they are no longer accepting any StudioPress or Genesis discount codes OR coupon codes.

Genesis Framework Features

You get all the great StudioPress features as before, plus more functionality and a LOT more themes to choose from. Key features include:

Genesis Framework Features

Style and Design
  • I remember like it was yesterday when I went shopping for my first premium WordPress theme. I stumbled on StudioPress and was sold. I really liked the crisp look their themes offered.
  • All the child themes are great-looking out-of-the-box. With a little know-how in CSS, you can totally customize any theme you like – but you don’t have to. The StudioPress theme showcase is pretty impressive with what some designers have done with StudioPress themes.
  • Slide-shows and sliders on many themes. I love home pages that have a slider or slide show above-the-fold. StudioPress offers many child themes with this feature.
Built-In SEO (no more SEO plugins)
  • I’m an SEO junkie. In fact, before I started building websites, I did a lot of SEO (off-site) for my business website. One nuisance with many other WordPress themes is the need for a 3rd party plugin in order to do on-site search engine optimization. Not with StudioPress.
  • The Genesis Framework has a comprehensive SEO panel where you have total control over the search engine optimization within your site – both for the site as a whole and individual posts and pages. You can even no-index and nofollow individual posts, pages, and archive pages (i.e. category listing pages to prevent the dreaded duplicate content). Click here to read my tutorial article on setting up the Genesis Framework SEO panel.
Sidebar Customization
  • Being able to build custom sidebars is very cool. You can install the Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin (it’s free) and then as easily as adding Categories, you can create new sidebars. Like the idiot I can be, I ignored this feature for a few months until I had my “aha” moment.
  • Think about this – you can have different sidebar content on different pages and posts. Whether you’re a business or affiliate marketer, this enables you to more precisely target advertising and opt-in forms depending on any given page’s or post’s topic.
  • Click here to read my Genesis Simple Sidebars tutorial article or watch my Genesis Simple Sidebars video tutorial below
My Genesis Simple Sidebars Video
Complete Menu Navigation Control
  • We all don’t want the same old navigation in our websites. With Genesis you have complete control over your menu set up – whether your menus contain pages, posts, OR BOTH. Yes, you can create menu bars that contain both pages and posts.
  • In order to maximize your menu customization, once Genesis is installed, install the “Genesis Simple Menu” plugin (it’s free). Once installed, you can totally customize your menus in the Genesis panel and WordPress menus panel (under Appearance).
Layout Options for Any Page and Post Traditionally, any theme you bought had a pre-defined layout for every page – whether a 1, 2, or 3 column layout. StudioPress changes this by offering 6 layout options FOR ANY PAGE OR POST. This means that some posts can have 2 columns and other posts 3 columns. The 6 page layouts you can choose from are as follows:

  • Content/Sidebar
  • Sidebar/Content
  • Content/Sidebar/Sidebar
  • Sidebar/Sidebar/Content
  • Sidebar/Content/Sidebar
  • Content (full width)

NOTE:  Some child themes have 6 layout options, while others have 3 (2 column options only).  Using this feature with the customized sidebar function means you can make every page unique – both in content and sidebar(s).  Watch my Genesis Theme layout selection video to see how easy it is to choose layouts site-wide and for individual posts and pages.

My Genesis Theme Layout Selection Video
Customized Footers & Headers
  • I can’t count how many times I’ve installed a theme and monkied around trying to customize the footer. More often than not I’m guessing with trial and error hoping I get it right. No more guessing with StudioPress themes.
  • Simply install the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin (free plugin) and you can easily write anything in the footer, including placing any links, you want without the need to know PHP coding.
  • Headers: You can easily have different headers on different pages within your website. Click here to read my tutorial for adding custom headers.
Loads of Widget Placement Options The number of widget options varies from child theme to child theme. However, every theme has the option to use widget placement for the home page content (and of course sidebars) except for Prose Theme. This gives you much more flexibility with the home page content and sidebars.
Featured Posts Function
StudioPress is well known for it’s ability to create excerpts of posts on the home page pulling in an image sized as a thumbnail. Well, you can now choose any category to list in batches as a featured posts section on the home page. Click here to read more about setting up Featured Posts in the Genesis Framework.
Clean CSS Style Sheet StudioPress lays out its CSS style sheets in a nicely organized format making it easy to edit and change your design. Each section has headings.
Decent Forum Support Have a question, it’s either been answered or will be on the StudioPress forum. That said, it’s not a free-for-all. If you have design questions, you may be kindly told to hire a StudioPress sanctioned coder.
Tutorials StudioPress has many tutorials for customizing pretty much every element of their themes.
Automatic Theme Upgrading
  • How often have you ignored updating your themes in the past? I’m guilty of this. I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle. With Genesis it’s no hassle. Because your theme’s design is on a child theme, you simply update Genesis and your site comes out unscathed.
  • To update: you just click the “update now”. See the “Genesis Upgrade” screenshot below.
Feedburner Subscription Integration You can easily add a subscriber feature integrating with Feedburner.  Set up a Feedburner account, grab your feed, and place it in the indicated area within the eNews and Updates widget.  Voila, you can now easily have readers of your website read posts via e-mail.
Need Help Setting Up Your Website?
Not interested in setting up your own website? StudioPress offers 3 website set up packages for you – all of which include the Genesis framework and one child theme. They are (NOTE – THESE ARE NOT THE THEME PRICES, BUT INSTEAD PRICING TO HIRE SOMEONE TO ACTUALLY SET UP YOUR WEBSITE THROUGH STUDIOPRESS):

  • Basic: $199.95 – WordPress installation and StudioPress recommended plugin installation.
  • Advanced: $299.95 – same as basic plus advanced search engine optimization configuration.
  • Premium: $499.95 – save as Basic plus premium SEO and a 1 hour consultation.
StudioPress or Genesis DISCOUNT CODE StudioPress is no longer accepting ANY StudioPress or Genesis discount codes or coupon codes.
Mobile Design (Responsive Design)
UPDATE MAR. 2/12:StudioPress child themes are being released coded with “responsive design.”  This means you can configure the theme to display differently on mobile devices.  This way your website will be easier to read and navigate on mobile devices (helping visitors avoid having to zoom in and out while browsing your site on a mobile device).I wrote about StudioPress Responsive Design here.
Add a Tabber Section to any Child Theme StudioPress developed the Genesis Tabs plugin which enables you to add a tabbed section to any of their child themes.  Now, if you want a tabbed box on your site, but the child theme you want doesn’t have it by default, you simply install the free Genesis Tabs plugin and you can add a tabbed section to any of the Genesis child themes.
Build an E-Commerce (Online Store) Website with Genesis UPDATE MAR. 2/12: 

  • Now you can build an online store with Genesis themes because Genesis (and child themes) integrate smoothly with the WooCommerce plugin.
  • Once you install Genesis and your child theme, install the WooCommerce plugin and build your store with a product catalog and full payment gateway.  It’s a great set up if you want an online store with your StudioPress website.
  • Click here to get my free video course showing you how to build an online store with the Genesis Framework.

  • UPDATE JULY 1/12
  • Turn Genesis Into a Drag and Drop Technology for Easy Customization
UPDATE: JULY 1, 2012:  The folks at Catalyst rolled out the Dynamik child theme for the Genesis framework.  Dynamik provides a ton of drag and drop menus that design many (and I’m talking about many) design elements of your Genesis website.

The best Dynamik feature for me is the 49 home page widget zone configurations you can choose from.  No longer are you bound to any one home page layout.

PLEASE NOTE:  Dynamik is not developed by StudioPress.  It’s a third party child theme.  Dynamik for Genesis is purchased separately here.  You must use it on the Genesis framework.

Watch my brief video below that provides a tour of the Dynamik child theme features.

Dynamik Child Theme Video Tour


UPDATE:  New Genesis Features with Genesis 1.5

StudioPress doesn’t relent.  They are continuously adding functionality to Genesis, which adds functionality to the child themes.  2 notable new features I like are:

  1. Up to 6 text columns within a page or post
  2. Easy website background customization in the WordPress dashboard.

1.  Up to 6 Text Columns within a Page or Post

I want to be clear here – this is different than the 6 website layout options you get with a Genesis website.  The “up to 6 text columns” features makes it easy for you to actually format individual posts and pages into columns – anywhere from 1 to 6 columns.  Rather than explain, take a look at the following screenshot:

Genesis Text Columns

You can format individual posts and pages so your text and images read in any of the above layouts.  Again, this is different than website layout.  If you choose a 6-column text option within a post, your website layout can also be customized by any of the following layouts:

  • Content / Sidebar
  • Sidebar / Content
  • Sidebar / Sidebar / Content
  • Content / Sidebar / Sidebar
  • Sidebar / Content / Sidebar
  • Full-Width layout

2.  Easy website background customization in the WordPress dashboard

Now you can easily change the color of your website background or easily upload a custom image for your backgroun in the WordPress dashboard.  Check it out:

Genesis Custom Background

April 10/12: UPDATE: Genesis 1.8

Genesis version 1.8 includes “Responsive Design.”

What’s Responsive Design?

It’s the ability to automatically create a mobile version of your website.  Mobile versions display your website in a more user-friendly version on mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android devices.

If you buy Genesis now, you’ll get the update for free (Genesis includes lifetime updates for free).


Child Theme Marketplace

Because child themes have much less code, developing new child themes is much simpler and faster. The result, many child themes to choose from including StudioPress’ classic themes. Click here to see all the child themes. More are rolled out all the time.

Migrating from another theme to Genesis

Leave it to StudioPress to make it easier on you to migrate from another theme to Genesis with respect to migrating your meta SEO data.

If you have meta data entered for individual pages and posts on any particular theme, either using the built-in SEO panel or an SEO plugin, when you switch to Genesis (or another theme), and you wish the SEO meta data be entered into the new theme’s SEO panel (database), you USED to have to re-enter it all (I’ve done this for hundreds of posts on a theme migration and it’s not fun at all).

StudioPress, with their free SEO Data Transporter plugin automatically transports your meta SEO data.  I’ve used it on a recent migration and it works like a charm.

Also, you don’t have to be migrating to Genesis.  It works between other themes and many popular SEO plugins.

Genesis Theme Benefits

1. Save a ton of money on building a new website.

For the price of a theme and the Genesis Framework ($79.95) you can build as many websites as you wish with that theme. Or get the Pro Plus Membership for $349.95 and have access to every theme now and released in the future (in my view the best premium WP theme deal available).

2. Build websites fast.

Once you become familiar with StudioPress themes, you can crank out sites in less than an hour (I do routinely). Of course, if you do some customization of the theme, more time is required.

3. Easy on-site SEO configuration.

If you’re tired of messing around with SEO plugins, then this theme framework is for you. You have total control of all the on-site configuration you wish and need for optimal search engine optimization.

4. Great all-theme pricing:

It didn’t take me long to pony up the full $349.95 for access to all the themes. Guess what? I never have to pay for another great theme again as long as StudioPress is in business. I have full access to all past and future child themes.

5. Great License granted

You’re not restricted to a set number of domains on which you can use your StudioPress theme purchase. You can build as many websites as you like for you and/or your clients.

6. Perfect for all kinds of websites such as:

  • commercial websites,
  • business,
  • e-commerce (Genesis integrates with the WooCommerce plugin to create a full online store as part or all of your Genesis framework website),
  • magazine and newspaper sites,
  • photography sites,
  • professional services websites such as attorneys, law firms, accountants, doctors, medical facilities, etc.
  • video blogs,
  • bands,
  • wedding websites,
  • affiliate websites,
  • realtor and real estate websites,
  • fitness and personal trainer websites,
  • hospitality business (restaurant, hotel, spa, etc.) websites,and
  • personal blogging sites.

Check out the themes and you’ll see they are very nicely designed for a variety of uses.

Genesis Theme Criticisms/Dislikes

  • Forum support doesn’t help out too much with customization. StudioPress could improve in this department.
  • StudioPress showcase should give a clearer disclaimer that many of the showcased websites were customized by people who knew coding. Most of the showcase themes could not be set up by beginners.
  • Prose Child Theme only offers a blog-format. This means there is not widget options on the home page (other than the sidebar). Since Prose is Genesis’ “design-from-the-ground-up” theme, in my view, it should have the option to be more than just a blog-format.

Genesis Theme Pricing

$59.95 for the Genesis framework, and then $24.95 per child theme ($79.95 for both 1 child theme and the Genesis Theme Framework).

If you become a Pro Plus All Theme Package Member by purchasing the all-theme package for $349.95, you get the following:

  • lifetime access to all present themes, AND
  • future themes, including child themes, AND
  • lifetime forum access.

If you buy a single theme license and wish to upgrade, no problem, you only pay the difference.

Is there a Genesis Discount Code or Coupon Code Available?

Regrettably StudioPress no longer accepts ANY Genesis discount code, coupon code or StudioPress discount codes!

- March 2, 2012 (most recent Genesis theme review update)

You may have seen Genesis discount codes and coupon codes published all over the web.  I’m informed by StudioPress that they are NO longer effective and that StudioPress is not accepting ANY StudioPress or Genesis discount code and coupon code offerings published on the Web.

If you’re curious why StudioPress isn’t accepting any discount or coupon codes, read my article Looking for a StudioPress Discount Code or Coupon Code?

License Granted with a Genesis Purchase

Plain English: as with all StudioPress themes, you can use the Genesis Theme to build as many sites as you want. You can sell those sites, and/or give away those sites. You can also customize the theme(s) as much as you want.

Technical terms: GPL license.

That concludes this Genesis Theme Review. Click below to test run this StudioPress offering.

Click Here to Buy the Genesis Theme or Learn More


Whirlwind Genesis WordPress Theme Video By Me (THIS IS MY OLD VIDEO – NEW VIDEO IS ABOVE).

>Click here to visit the Genesis Theme Website<

End of the StudioPress Genesis Theme Framework Review

Genesis Theme Framework Review: Is this Any Good? 4.71428571429Jon2010-01-30 21:53:00Genesis Theme Review UPDATED July 1, 2012

Editor's Rating
Template Selection

Is the Genesis Framework good? Yes, but I do have some dislikes which I set out below as…

StudioPress,Top ReviewsGenesis Theme Framework Review: Is this Any Good? Genesis Theme Review UPDATED July 1, 2012

Editor's Rating
Template Selection

Is the Genesis Framework good? Yes, but I do have some dislikes which I set out below as…