Right about the time I started using WordPress to build websites, Brian Gardner was in full-swing with his Revolution 2 themes. There weren’t a ton of theme developers around at the time, and Brian’s approach to licensing was ideal for a small business creating websites for other small businesses. I used a few of the Revolution 2 themes and found them easy to work with. Plus, using pre-made themes meant savings for my employer and our clients. When Revolution rebranded to StudioPress, it was only natural that we stayed on board.
The creation of the Genesis framework was a game-changer for our workflow. We started off customizing off-the-shelf themes for clients, but it wasn’t long before we started building entirely custom child-themes to meet our needs.
Today, every website I create uses WordPress and Genesis as the foundation.
The Genesis Core
I’m not an expert in PHP, and I don’t have a great understanding of best practices when it comes to security and SEO. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really have any business messing around in the core functionality of WordPress or Genesis.
And that’s why I love Genesis. The folks at StudioPress handle all of the core functionality by maintaining Genesis, and I get to focus on what I do best: design. Being able to create websites on an existing foundation that is strong, stable and secure allows me to provide a better, yet still affordable, product for customers than if I were developing standalone WordPress themes.
Building child themes on Genesis is both quick and easy. When you purchase the Genesis framework you are also given access to a Sample Child Theme, a “blank canvas” that is a great starting point for building just about anything.
The available documentation on hooks, filters and custom functions can’t be beat, as StudioPress readily provides the information and code on both adding and removing functionality from child themes. And since every theme sold by StudioPress is a child theme for the Genesis Framework, the skills learned while working on one theme easily transfer over to any other Genesis child theme.
There are also top-notch support channels within the StudioPress Community. Purchasing the framework (or any theme) grants access to both support tickets and the community forum. If the answer you’re looking for can’t be found in the available documentation, there’s a good chance someone on the team, or another Genesis enthusiast, will be able to help.
(All of the above websites were scratch-built child themes on the Genesis Framework)
Off-The-Shelf Child Themes
Building custom themes on the Genesis framework is certainly not the only option. StudioPress has a massive number of child themes available for purchase that have been built by them or partnering third-party developers. They have made their child-themes so affordable and easy-to-use that anyone could purchase and have a respectable website completed within a few hours.
One of the things I like the most about the available child themes is that many of them direct their focus towards a specific market. Whether you’re a blogger, artist, business owner, church, real estate agent, etc., there’s a good chance StudioPress will have a child theme tailored a little more toward your particular niche.
Of course, any child theme can be customized to the fullest extent, but for people who don’t have that knowledge or don’t want to pay a developer for custom work, using an off-the-shelf child theme from StudioPress still allows for a lot of customization. Plus, complete documentation is available for every single child theme that explains how to set it up.
This approach to theming is a bit different than some of the “one size fits all” multi-purpose themes that are popular today (think Divi or Avada). While these WordPress themes are incredible, I’ve also found them to be extremely challenging to use and they tend to have way more functionality than needed (an unfortunate side-effect if you’re building themes that need to accommodate a wide variety of purposes).
It is my opinion that StudioPress takes a “less-is-more” approach with their child themes, meaning users end up with websites that have minimal bloat, are easy to use, and load quickly.
(Both of the above websites were lightly customized, pre-made child themes for the Genesis Framework)
The Future of Genesis
StudioPress and Genesis have been kind to me for nearly a decade. Genesis has been the foundation for how I’ve made a living. My knowledge and workflow is deeply embedded in Genesis and I have no plans on looking elsewhere for my WordPress website design needs.
The nature of WordPress, websites and technology as a whole means change is inevitable. The release of Gutenberg for WordPress is a perfect example. StudioPress made great efforts to ease the integration of Gutenberg and Genesis. This was good news for me. As someone who doesn’t necessarily embrace change as readily as most, Gutenberg created anxiety for me. While I am not a fan of Gutenburg, knowing I don’t have to worry about how Gutenberg gets along with the Genesis framework gives me peace of mind.
What do you use for developing websites on WordPress? Why?