One very important aspect of building a site with WordPress is the theme you choose to use.
It’s not just about how pretty it looks. There are other reasons why you should choose your theme carefully such as security, site loading speed, functionality and how it evolves in terms of new technological advances.
On this website you’re reading right now, I’m using the Genesis Theme framework from Studiopress with a child theme called Prose.
In fact, I use the Genesis framework for all my websites and in this review I’m going to tell you why.
My Search for a Premium WordPress Theme
When I started using WordPress to build my websites, I guess like most people, I just used free themes from the WordPress repository. I always asked myself why anyone would pay for a theme when there are so many great looking free themes.
The problem was that I would try to make these themes better by editing the theme files. When WordPress updated I would lose all my customizations which was frustrating because I had to start all over again. This meant that I had to remember my customizations and how I implemented them. Ugh.
Then I found out about child themes and frameworks from Theme Hybrid and used that for a while. Some other themes came after like Woo Themes, Vigilance by Theme Foundry (another favorite of mine) and Elegant Themes.
Since then I’ve never used a free theme again.
I had looked at the Studiopress website on a number of occasions while searching for themes and was impressed by the way the themes looked. I had seen it being used on Copyblogger and other sites by some big names in blogging.
It was not until I got a contract to build a local real estate site that I decided to use the AgentPress theme for the job. The firm loved the site and I fell in love with Genesis.
Here’s Why I Use the Genesis Framework
Using Genesis from Studiopress gives you a lot of advantages over using free themes and even using other premium themes. Among my favorite reasons are:
Built in SEO
Genesis has built in SEO features which means that you’ve just eliminated the need for an SEO plugin like the popular All In One SEO. The less plugins I have to use on a site, the better.
On all pages and posts, there’s a section where you can fill in the SEO title, description and keywords. You can also choose to no follow, no index or no archive the page or post.
The theme options also have some general SEO settings where you can set up the home page meta settings as well as choosing the robots meta settings for archives.
Using the theme also lets you have a field in the user profile for adding your Google+ profile link so that you can set up authorship which is a great touch. That’s another plugin that I don’t have to use again.
Has Clean Code
I don’t know a lot about code so I’ll take their word for it. This promise however is enough for me to trust that I’m using a great theme framework that allows my sites to load faster.
Genesis 2.0 also uses HTML5 coding instead of the older XHTML code giving them a technological advantage over themes that still use older code.
There are quite a bit of customization options for your themes if you want to change the look of your site. You won’t have to touch a single line of code.
For one, most themes usually come with a few color options. So if the theme is pink, then you could chose to change it to a blue colored theme. This is in addition to the global theme design settings in the theme options section where you can choose which aspect of the site you would like to customize and change it there.
There a custom code section where you can edit your functions.php without worrying about upgrading the theme and losing your customizations.
Genesis also has a bit of custom widgets and some themes have widgetized home pages so you can build a static home page using widgets instead of choosing a static front page.
I haven’t seen many themes with this feature. Genesis child themes lets you have a few layout options. Besides choosing between different sidebar options, you can have a landing page (a dedicated page of your site with no distractions where you can sell your services or products).
Lots of Great Looking Child Themes
This is what attracted me to Genesis in the first place. The designers at Studiopress are really talented and come up with lots of really great looking child themes plus there are what you would call community themes which are produced on the Genesis framework by community members.
This means you have lots of themes to choose from so your sites can look more unique with your own customizations.
Themes are Responsive
When I check out my site on my mobile phone, I don’t have to zoom all over the site to see what I’m looking for.
The theme is responsive to it adjusts the size and layout to fit the screen.
My site looks great on a mobile phone and I can imagine it looks great on an iPad as well.
When you buy a Studiopress theme, you get access to the My Studiopress community where you can get support for all theme questions. There are also lots of tutorials from customizing the footer to building a widgetized home page and everything in between.
I had a few questions when I first used Genesis to build a real estate site and those were answered by the knowledgeable community at Studiopress. Whenever I do have a question, I can always do a search first and most of the times I find my answer since other people usually have the same trouble.
And if these aren’t great reasons for why I use Genesis, consider that Matt Cutts, who is head of Google’s web spam team and a much respected and high profile person in the online business community, switched from using Thesis and chose to go with Genesis.
There are a lot of great themes out there and some that might look great on the surface but when you use a theme that seems almost perfect, you have to give props where props is due.
Give Genesis Theme framework a go if you’re looking for a new premium theme to build your next WordPress site or update your current theme.