The Genesis Framework by Studiopress is one of the most popular WordPress frameworks around. And, after using it since 2011, it’s easy to see why: the code is solid, the supporting child themes are gorgeous and the technical support from Studiopress and the community is second to none.
Perhaps the real beauty of Genesis is its simplicity.
It’s really easy to setup, it comes with a range of additional features and layout options (which are described in detail further down the page), and straight out of the box, it’s SEO friendly.
On top of this, many Genesis developers/coders have released plugins which easily integrate into the package. These allow further customisation and personalisation.
Perhaps one of the best is Simple Sidebars, which creates custom sidebars for individual posts (which is perfect for controlling advertising or special offers on a post-by-post basis).
The Genesis Framework Theme Settings
Earlier in the review I mentioned child themes, these sit on top of the framework and change the look and feel of the site, but the general settings remain constant.
The framework is mobile responsive and supports HTML5 – so do most of the child themes (including older ones). Which is a major advantage in an era where more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access the web.
You can make great looking sites that function across all devices without learning the coding language that makes it happen. How cool is that?
There are a number of options in the setup area, here’s a little about each of them:
Many Studiopress themes have colour scheme options – blue, green, red, orange, which allow you to instantly change the colour scheme. There is always a default colour, but you can choose an alternative from the drop-down menu. And you can switch whenever you want:
If you use Feedburner to manage the RSS feed of your site you can force Genesis to use it too; just enter the Feedburner URI into the box, then, when you display the RSS feed icon on your site (using Genesis), it will link to the Feedburner feed.
If you tick the Redirect Feed box, WordPress should redirect anyone who lands on the default feed to the Feedburner feed.
This is a great feature of Genesis and perhaps one of the best reasons for buying and using it.
You set a default layout for the whole site, but you can change the layout on each post and page. This makes it super easy to experiment with different layouts to see which work best. It’s also useful if you want to switch off sidebars on certain pages or create page specific sidebars using the plugin I mentioned earlier.
There are six layout types available by default, but some child themes may vary:
Custom menus in WordPress are fantastic. They allow you to have full control over which categories, pages and custom links appear in your menus.
You can also choose to enable fancy dropdowns and secondary menus should you wish to use them.
When using the Genesis Framework you have to use at least the Primary Navigation Menu. In its default state it has a link to “home” and nothing else until you add some pages, categories or custom links.
You can also choose to enable one of the extras ‘on the right hand side’. The exact location on the right hand side of these items depends upon the theme. From the drop-down menu, choose which one, if any, you would like to use:
- Today’s date
- RSS feed links (posts and comments)
- Search form
- Twitter link
To set up the Twitter link just enter your username and the text you would like to display. StudioPress doesn’t access your Twitter account, it just links to your page.
If you take a look at the top of this page you will see breadcrumbs navigation: Home > Category > Page Title. I like breadcrumb navigation as it helps with SEO and it helps readers navigate around a site. In Genesis you can choose to have this on or off, and you can choose which pages or sections display breadcrumb menus.
Comments and Trackbacks
Control sitewide comments and trackbacks. Don’t feel obliged to allow comments on your blog or website just because most people say it is a good thing to do, it’s purely down to personal preference. This function enables to you make a decision at the top-level.
This is where you create the layout for your archive (this is ours) pages. There are several options available – choose to display the post excerpt or the content, include a featured image (and specify the size of the image) and select the post navigation wording – older/newer, previous/next or numeric.
Blog Page Template
Use a blog page template whenever you want to make a page out of a blog category.
Header and Footer Scripts
Almost everybody using Genesis adds at least a couple of scripts to their installation. It could be Google Analytics, a verification code or something else. These two boxes make it easy to add any scripts you use.
That just about covers it for the basic installation and set-up of the Genesis framework.
What the Genesis Framework, and at least one child theme gives you, is a fantastic looking and easily configurable website that doesn’t require you to mess with any code; everything is set-up through the admin area.
Compare that to the cost of hiring a professional web designer and waiting for him/her to come up with a concept and go through the build process, and the Genesis Framework really is a no-brainer. Spending a fortune on a fancy-dan website is not always cost-effective, especially when you can buy with something just as good and have it running in next to no time.
I’ve used Genesis for a long time now and I really can’t recommend it enough, especially for people like me, who have minimal graphic design or coding skills, but still want the ability to create websites that look great and provide a positive user experience.
I mainly create sites for myself, but I build for clients too.
I’ll often need to customise the sites. which requires hacking the functions.php file. Luckily, the Studiopress support site has all the code snippets you need to add, remove or change every page element such as the author name, publication date, category, tags etc.
If you are looking for a framework to use for your own sites or clients, then you should seriously consider this one.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section or get in touch through the contact form - I’ll do my best to answer them.