I am a WordPress theme junkie and have bought several themes over the years. Having found out by sticking with free themes alone, I didn’t know what I was missing in website functionality.
“What you don’t know about, you don’t miss,” they say. But, what was I missing? I took action and investigated these two SEO friendly titans of design in the world of WordPress theme frameworks – it’s Genesis vs Thesis.
It’s About Frameworks
Free themes tend to have less functionality than paid ones. So, what I’m suggesting is that you move away from those lacklustre, poor functioning (often free) themes – and get responsive with HTML5! It’s now all about responsive themes – ones that change dimensions to fit automatically in different gadgets, such as mobiles, tablets, desktops, etc.
Not only could your website be dramatically improved by switching to a modern, responsive framework theme, but your rankings in the SERPS could rise too. Then an increase in traffic and your overall credibility should soon follow.
The term, WordPress theme framework, normally refers to a code library that enables easy development of a theme. What it comes down to is simply a Parent framework with a Child theme. The Parent encompasses all of the core functionality, whilst allowing developers and users to design child themes, which slot seamlessly into the framework, thus offering loads of extra styling options.
For years, the two contenders for top dog status in the framework stakes have been the Genesis Framework from StudioPress and the Thesis Framework from DIY Themes. Both have been battling it out for the title of best WordPress theme framework.
Why Do I Need a Framework?
I have been asked numerous times, “why do you need a framework in a WP theme?” Here are the main reasons why Genesis is my favorite:
Probably the major benefit is being able to style your site without ever worrying about the styling code and bespoke functions (CSS & PHP files) ever getting overwritten. When you update a WordPress theme, all the main files can get overwritten with the new code, so you could loose any custom styling you’ve already made.
Your website will now be broken!
Don’t take chances of losing important code that you may have spent ages creating, go the framework route. Never worry about any update – changes are made only to the files in the framework and NOT to your child theme.
GENESIS Theme Review
1. What You Get
The basic parent theme offers six layouts of one to three columns, including one with full-width-page layout. Headers, backgrounds and menus are all customizable, while there are other additional theme settings right from the Genesis section on the dashboard.
Genesis is well designed, and you will find it aesthetically good to use. The parent theme is elegant and crisp, and from the outset it doesn’t really require a child theme to make it look the part.
With regards to usability, Genesis is in a league of its own. Customizing features and other options are neatly accessible from the admin dashboard, which makes it extremely simple to start your bespoke styling immediately.
There are also a number of useful widgets, such as Featured Page, Featured Posts, User Profile, and eNews Extended which all help in creating a personal touch to your site. Updating is easy from within WordPress, so no need to worry about FTP access.
Different website themes are readily available, which includes Business, Enterprise, Magazine Style, Photography and Real Estate. Certain features within the themes are accessible too, like Color, Custom Header, HTML5 and Mobile Responsive.
All themes, irrespective of their diversity, maintain a high level of professionalism and elegance.
Find themes quickly with a useful Filter Themes function:
The Genesis Framework costs $59.95. However, if you buy any one of the StudioPress themes – they will automatically include the Genesis Framework by default, the cost is $99.95.
Once you have the Framework, you can then buy any theme at a reduced cost as you will be a returning customer, so sticking with Genesis has its advantages!
Genesis Pro Plus: You can add any child theme from the 43 Studiopress themes available or get them all for just $399.95, that’s under $10 per theme – not bad!
Also, a number of third party themes can be found and purchased.
THESIS Theme Review
1. What You Get
The Thesis Framework offers four skins with its parent theme. Above is the Classic Responsive theme, which is the one most associated with Thesis.
Some reviews talk about the elegant typography that Thesis uses as default – that is Georgia. To me this makes no difference at all as you can so easily use it in any child theme if you wish, whether you’re in Thesis, Genesis or any other theme.
However, Chris Pearson, the developer of Thesis and founder of DIYthemes, LLC promotes his new ‘Golden Ratio Typography‘. This GRT is a font calculator working within his themes to produce more attractive proportional font styling, a bit like the photographers Golden Ratio of Composition – for best positioning of subjects within the frame. He has his critics on how he devised the mathematical calculations – but, heck, it’s only for websites!
Thesis usability is not for the faint-hearted, there are a bunch of options, so you need to have a good understanding of what controls what. You may find that it would be a steep learning curve to get to grips with it – but if that doesn’t phase you, Thesis is a good general theme design to get your teeth into.
Your knowledge of CSS and HTML will come into play from the start as you will want to get your hands dirty on coding within the hooks that Thesis offers. If you’re used to building websites or are a seasoned pro, then this shouldn’t bother you at all, but if not, you might find this a step too far!
Thesis is certainly much duller in design than its Genesis parent counterpart. However the additional Promo, Pearsonified and Social Triggers skins liven the Thesis group up somewhat. The Promo skin is my favorite, and its simplicity of design makes it an effective base from where to begin.
The fact that this framework is targeted to seasoned users for professional customization, and with only four native skins, you will have to get your coding hands dirty in order to build your own super site. Most will relish the thought of this, but the few certainly won’t.
With three pricing options for the Thesis Framework, there is hopefully something suitable for everyone.
- I feel that Thesis Basic at $87 does not offer value for money. With just one skin and no updates after a year, that is not a good deal, especially as you can only use it on one website.
- The Thesis Basic Plus plan at $164 gets you all the Thesis skins, and also Mailchimp & Aweber opt-in boxes – these can be had by plugins, so no big deal! Again, can only be used on a single site.
- Thesis Professional at $197 is by far the best deal here. You get permission to use the Thesis framework on unlimited domains, and qualify for lifetime upgrades. Additionally, you get forum support, social media boxes and an advanced developers toolbox.
Which One is Best For You?
|Built-in SEO Features||x||x|
|Will Use Just Your Preferred SEO Plugin||x|
|Automatic Framework Updates*||x||x|
|Designs - Ready Made||x|
|Design Options Panel - in Dashboard||x|
|Header and Footer Scripts - Available via Dashboard||x||x|
|Breadcrumbs - Insert via Dashboard||x|
|Upload Header - via Dashboard||x||x|
|Upload Background - via Dashboard||x|
|Upload Favicon - via Dashboard||x|
|Add Featured Post Image - via Dashboard||x||x|
|Specialty Widgets - Developed In-House||x|
|Tutorials - Developed In-House||x||x|
|Add Author Bio Boxes - via Dashboard||x|
|Create Custom Functions with Hooks||x||x|
|Add After Post Features with Widgets||x|
|Add Google+ URL in Dashboard (w/o code)||x|
|Change Specific Page Layout (w/o code)||x|
|Change Specific Post Layout (w/o code)||x|
|Lifetime Updates with Minimum Package||x|
|Lifetime Support with Minimum Package||x||x|
|Framework Only Cost||$59.95||$87|
* Thesis 2.0 has automatic updates, but prior versions do not.
** Thesis Basic Plus ($164) includes one ready-made design. Thesis Professional ($197) includes two ready-made designs.
Both these frameworks are excellent, and both offer a ton of great features. In my opinion, Genesis wins the battle hands down. Not only does it offer better value for money, it also packs in a load of extras. You’ll find out more about them when you try it out!
Genesis offers a bigger selection of themes with more bells and whistles than you would get by going for a host of other themes. What I like particularly about Genesis is that you get fast performance, loads of support, choice of code snippets, great security and lifetime updates – all at no extra cost!
Do you use either of these frameworks? If so, what are your opinions? Are there any issues or features that you specifically like about your favorite one?
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