Why We Moved to the Genesis Framework

Genesis Lifestyle ThemeAnyone who has read our blog over the years knows that we love the Flexsqueeze theme…and that hasn’t changed. We’ve been using it for years and think it is awesome and we will continue to recommend it, particularly to newbies because it makes changing and editing a theme super simple. It’s extremely powerful and has some amazing features.

However, just lately we have been using the Genesis Framework by Studiopress on one of our other sites and have started to get a real liking for it. It’s not as user friendly as the Flexsqueeze theme in terms of making changes to a site but it looks really clean and we like it.

We’ve  been having problems with this site for some time now. For some reason it seems to crash frequently and Hostgator keeps shutting the site down because they tell us it is using too many resources. So thats when we decided to upload the Genesis Framework because it is very lightweight (or so they say), so hopefully it will speed things up a bit.

Speaking of Hostgator shutting down the site, the last time they did it, they forgot to put it back up again. So for a few weeks this site was gone completely. We thought it was up, because they had given us access to the site in order to make changes but no one else could see it. We didn’t realize until one of our readers  emailed us about it.

We moved from Bluehost to Hostgator in June because we thought that the problems of our site crashing was a Bluehost problem. But that wasn’t the case…the site still crashed with Hostgator. The only difference between the two is that Bluehost didn’t shut down our site – but Hostgator did.

Either way, there is something wrong with this site to make it repeatedly crash, so we uploaded the Genesis framework, not that there is anything to suggest that the theme was the problem, and we have also removed a multitude of plugins. We’ve had this site since 2008 and over that time have uploaded a lot of different plugins, some we didn’t even know if we needed anymore but were too afraid to remove in case they actually did something on the site. So hopefully this will do the trick.

What is the Genesis Framework?

The Genesis framework is essentially a WordPress theme – or the framework of a WordPress theme. Actually it’s both. It can work as a theme on it’s own, although it is pretty basic. So what you need is a Child Theme to go with it. The framework, in the words of the Studiopress team “…acts as a design, security and SEO foundation for your website.” and the child theme is the “pure design element that rests on top of the framework”. It’s what makes it look pretty.

The child theme we use for this website is the Lifestyle Theme. I like it. It’s clean and it can work for any niche. It’s also quite easy to change the color of the theme. They give you a number of different options in the theme settings including teal, blue, charcoal, grey, green, pink, purple, tan and yellow.

How Does it Work?

In order to get the Genesis themes working,  both the Genesis framework and a Child Theme need to be uploaded to the Themes section of a WordPress blog. Once both are uploaded it’s the child theme that needs to be activated.

Layouts

You can change the layout of the site pretty easily with Genesis. It comes with a number of default layouts that you can apply to the entire site under the Theme Settings section.  Plus you can also change the  layout for each individual post or page if you like.

Default Layout Settings in Genesis

Using Hooks

What’s my opinion on hooks?…they’re great if you know what you are doing but not that easy if you don’t. Hooks are what some themes use to allow you to add content to certain parts of the theme that you may not have had the ability to do with a regular theme. For example, if I wanted to add a text box at the end of every post I could do that with a hook. Or I could add a content area just under my header that appears on every page of my site, or just on one page only.

What makes using Hooks a lot easier is a free plugin called Genesis Simple Hooks. It’s a must if you have a Genesis theme.

Everything Just Seems to Work

My favourite thing about Genesis is that everything just seems to work with it. For example, you see the Amazonian Profit Plan image in the sidebar?…that is a text widget and it has some code in there with a link to the image so that it all shows up. Now all I did when we upgraded to the Genesis theme was put that old code back in. I was expecting the image to be too big for the sidebar and I’d have to tweak it to fit…but I didn’t have to do a thing. It just went in and adjusted it all to fit.

It all just seems to look good without much effort.

What I didn’t like was the default font. It’s way too small and a strain on the eyes to read so we upped the font size for both the paragraph text and the post titles. We had to do that in the stylesheet which brings me to another point that if we are comparing this theme to the Flexsqueeze theme in terms of ease of use, I would go with Flexsqueeze every time. If I want to change the font in a Flexsqueeze theme I don’t have to look at any code. I just click a tab and type in the size of the font and it’s done.

Other Features

  • Mobile Responsive – This is pretty much a necessity these days. You want your site to look good on any device.
  • HTML5 Ready – HTML is the code used to create websites and it keeps evolving and changing. HTML5 is the next revision and the Genesis theme is ready for it.
  • Schema Microdata – You would have seen schema when you have done a search in Google. Those search results that show a video or author thumbnail are examples of schema. Now I’m still researching this bit but from my basic understanding it seems that you have to do a bit of work first to get this going.
  • Child Themes – The beauty of the Genesis framework is there are a lot of different themes to choose from. As we mentioned previously, we went with the Lifestyle Theme but there are plenty of others. If you have multiple websites, then you might even want to invest in their unlimited pack which includes every theme they make plus any new ones added in the future. We are considering this ourselves.
  • Unlimited websites and developer license – What I really love about Genesis themes are that you can use them on as many websites as you like. There is no extra cost for this. Plus, if you are a developer and want to create websites for others, you don’t need to buy a developers license.
  • Good code – I’ve seen a lot of reviews for this theme and many mention how well written the code is. They try to keep the theme as lightweight as possible to make it very quick and responsive.
  • SEO Settings – Genesis includes it’s own SEO settings but if you have another SEO plugin of some sort, it will automatically turn them off to allow your other plugin to work.

Our Final Word

This is an excellent theme and one we would highly recommend. I’m loving it more and more. However, if you aren’t comfortable with code and are looking for something super simple to use then go with the Flexsqueeze theme. Don’t get me wrong, the Genesis Framework is simple to use straight out of the box but if you want to start making changes and you have never played with your stylesheet or functions.php or any of those things then you might struggle until you become familiar with the workings of the theme.