Let’s start by taking a look at Genesis Framework by StudioPress from a non-techie point of view.
Hopefully I can get you past the potentially off-putting term ‘framework’ and explain why Genesis could be the ideal solution for anyone looking for a premium theme (check out the list of WordPress premium theme shops). Especially freelancers and small businesses who want a simple website without spending a fortune.
So, what is the Genesis framework?
In simple terms, it’s the base for the 50+ child themes created by the StudioPress team and the third-party designers working alongside them. Without the framework, you can’t use any of the child themes.
How does Genesis work?
Think of your WordPress site in terms of layers.
WordPress creates the base layer. The Genesis framework sits on top, laying the foundation for the third and final layer, the one that makes your site look great – the child theme.
Each of these elements come together to make the site work.
The people at StudioPress have constantly updated the framework to align with WordPress updates. So, when you see the sometimes dreaded update notice, you know it’s safe to update Genesis without fear of breaking your site.
And, because the child theme is a separate entity to the main framework, you won’t break your site’s design if you’ve made any customisations because you’re updating the framework and not the child theme.
Easily switch themes
At some point during the lifetime of your website, you’ll switch to a new theme. You may switch several times.
Using a framework like Genesis ensures all the settings under the hood stay the same, we just change the way the site looks by installing and setting up a new theme.
Perfect if you don’t want to dig into code.
Besides that, there’s a growing collection of WordPress plugins which makes Genesis a superb framework for non-techies.
If you want to add some text to the footer of your site, use the Genesis Simple Edits plugin. Use the same plugin to add meta information (categories, tags, date, author’s name) before and after each post.
If you want to create multiple sidebars for your site, use the Simple Sidebars plugin. This gives you the ability to fine-tune the content of your sidebar – advertising, special offers or lead magnets for example – on specific pages.
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.
The theme settings area is where you make basic customisations…let’s look at each of the available options:
Many Studiopress themes have colour scheme options – blue, green, red, orange, which allow you to instantly change the colour scheme across your site. 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 (here’s ours) 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 by post, page or category. 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.
Some child themes have six layout options, and some have three.
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 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 (how to add Google Analytics to Genesis Framework), 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 know 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 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 who want a website that looks great and provide a positive user experience.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.
Want to know more? Check out Genesis.