This is something that I’ve been putting aside for a while now, but I managed to find the time and write a review about the StudioPress Genesis Theme Framework (aff) for WordPress from Studiopress.
At the beginning, it was intended to be just a tutorial on how to install and upgrade the Genesis Theme, but then I decided to highlight some of it main features, too.
Ultimately, I ended up writing the main reasons why you should choose the Genesis Theme, highlighted some of its main features and added a small tutorial about installing and upgrading the theme.
Now, here is what this article covers:
- Features Highlights
- How to Install Genesis Framework
- How to Upgrade Genesis Framework
- Theme Settings
- SEO Settings
This is not only a review of the Genesis Framework (aff), but also a tutorial that will help you get started with it.
To start off, let me tell you a little bit more about what is needed for a paid WordPress Theme/Framework to be remarkable, useful and a good investment.
For a WordPress Framework to stand out, it needs to comply with the following:
- Have a clean code to help search engines index your blog more easily
- Possess a smart design architecture to make the customization part easier for you
- Offer at least some basic options for SEO
- Have an outstanding support team
These are just a just some of the main features for which you should look when choosing a paid WordPress Theme/Framework.
Below, I will try to highlight some of the main features of the Genesis theme, present you with the benefits of choosing it and let you decide whether to go for it or not.
The Genesis Framework for WordPress is packed with some great features that will help you manage more easily the core and the design of your website front end (the interface that your visitors see).
If you will head over to the features page of the StudioPress website, you will see a list with the main benefits that Genesis offers you and why the Genesis theme can actually be the foundation of your WordPress design.
But to save you some time, here is what I like most about Genesis:
SEO out of the box – It has advanced SEO settings out of the box. This means that you do not need to install other plugins in order to optimize for search engines.
The only plugin that I recommend and believe will really help you improve your search engines rankings with Genesis is Scribe SEO.
Ready to use design with child themes – Once you get Genesis with a child theme, your can immediately start blogging without any further customizations. However, if you are looking to add some bits and pieces to the design, that can be done very easily.
Custom widgets – Genesis doesn’t offer widgets only for your sidebar, but allows you to add widgets on multiple areas of your website, such as the header, footer, featured posts, featured pages and much more.
Instant updates – If you think that updates are a pain, your are wrong. Unlike other WordPress Frameworks, Genesis offers you updates with a push of a button. And child themes will ensure that your design stays the same after the update without any other backups.
Enhanced security – Security expert and core WordPress developer, Mark Jaquith, ensures that Genesis provides great security and keeps you hacker-free.
How to Install Genesis Theme Framework
The Genesis Framework can be easily installed just as any other WordPress theme on a self hosted WordPress blog. If you haven’t installed a theme yet, you can check my tutorial on how to install a WordPress theme.
First you will have to download the installation package from the StudioPress website. You will receive instructions on where to download it immediately after you make the purchase.
Then, just go with the automatic WordPress theme installation, choose the upload option and install the package.
How to Upgrade Genesis Framework
If you already have the Genesis Framework installed, I strongly recommend you to keep it up to date. When new updates are available, you will see a notification at the top of your WordPress admin panel.
To update it, just click the “update now” link and you will be all set. But be aware that this operation will override the version of the Genesis theme that you already have installed.
This is the reason why you should use a child theme to make all the theme customizations.
Now that the Genesis Theme Framework is installed and up to date, let’s dig into the settings you have available. Just as I said before, Genesis is packed with great features and I will try to cover the most of them.
I will also give you as many details as possible about each of them.
This section allows you to enable the ability to display theme information in the document source. If you do, this will help diagnose any issues that may occur with your theme.
It will also allow you to enable automatic updates and provide an email address to receive notifications when a new version of the Genesis Theme is available.
The [General Settings] section lets you select whether to display a dynamic text in your header or an image logo. If you’ve got a fancy logo or header designed, you can use the image logo. Otherwise, stick with the dynamic text.
It also lets you widgetize the right side of header where you can add any available widgets and choose the layout of your site. The layout of you site is something important, because this affects how the site looks and its impact on your visitors.
These options allow you to include the primary navigation menu in your site design and enable fancy dropdowns.
You can choose whether to use the WordPress custom menu, list of pages, or a list of categories sorted by different criteria. Additionally, you can choose to include or exclude specific ID’s to the menu.
To get the ID of a post or category just check the URL of the post/cateory when editing it and note down the number between “post=” and “&action=edit” for posts. As for categories note down the number after “tag_ID=”.
This way, you can include or exclude specific pages/categories to your menu similar to the way you are doing it for the WordPress custom menu.
Primary Navigation Extras
This section let’s you add to the menu one of the following options: today’s date, RSS feed link, a search form or your Twitter link. Most people will go for a Twitter link, but the link to your RSS feed is also important.
However, this option depends entirely on the rest of your Genesis design. If you have other places where you will make your Twitter and RSS feed links more visible, then you can add the search box and vice-versa.
The [Secondary Navigation] section allows you to make the same settings as for the primary navigation, but lets you add a second menu to your site design.
The second menu can be really useful when you want to add specific categories to your menu and there is no room for them in the main menu.
This section allows you to enable or disable comments and trackbacks for pages and/or posts. However, comments and trackbacks can also be disabled when you create or edit a post/page.
Personally, I have disabled comments and trackbacks from my pages, because I can’t see the point of having them, but it is entirely up to you whether to enable them or not.
The [Custom Feeds] section lets you add and redirect your custom feed or comments custom feed to you site design. But be aware that if the custom feeds are not handled by Feedburner the redirect options will not work properly.
You need to be careful here with the redirection, because it might get into a continuous loop and your subscribers will not get your latest posts. I saw this happening to someone using Genesis recently.
This section allows you to enable or disable Breadcrumbs for different areas of your website. Just as the note says, breadcrumbs help your visitors more easily easier check where they are on your website and navigate around it.
If you have a fairly small website, Breadcrumbs will not make a huge difference, but as it grows, they are really helpful for your visitors.
The [Content Archives] section allows you to customize the look of your archives pages. Among the options, you can choose to display the entire posts or just excerpts of them.
You can also limit the content to a specific number of characters or select posts navigation technique.
Another option here would be the ability to choose to include featured images and select their size. I haven’t paid that much attention to my archives pages, but it’s worth improving their design especially if you have a rich archive.
This section will let you select which categories to display on the blog page, how many posts to show or exclude some categories.
So, in case you have some categories that you would not want included in your blog page, Genesis helps you easily achieve this by excluding specific categories.
The [Header/Footer Scripts] allows you to add on all the pages/posts of your blog scripts or codes from applications such as Google Analytics, Advanced Web Stats or Website Optimizer.
Choosing where to add the code is also an important decision. In my FREE Google Analytics course I have more details about this, but it matters also where the provider recommends you to add them: within the <head> tag or before the </body> tag.
The Genesis Theme offers some great features to help you better optimize your blog for search engines. Apart from the inpost/page settings that allow you to add title, meta description, canonnical URLs, create 301 redirects etc, it has some neat SEO Settings, too.
The title of web pages is a very high influencer of search engine rankings and the the title is set by the meta title tag.
That is why my recommendation would be to leave the “Doctitle Settings” as default and create a custom title for each of your posts/pages. Just add the keywords you are targeting at the beginning of the title. You can do this, while writing your posts/pages.
In this section, I would recommend you add a custom title and meta description for your homepage.
Additionally, you can select “noindex”, “nofollow” or “noarchive” to your homepage, but only if you know what you are doing and you have a very good reason to do it.
Just as the descriptions says, this option will allow you to point search engines to the first page of an archive if the search engines reach a paginated page.
Document Head Settings
The “Document Head Settings” lets you enable some tags from the “<head>” section of your website. These tags are sometimes unnecessary and they do not have SEO value. That is why the Genesis Theme removes them, but gives you the option to enable them if they are needed.
Robots Meta Settings
These settings allow you to add the “noindex” and “noarchive” tags for some sections of your website. Additionally, you can select to to apply “noodp” and “noydir” to your site.
The last two will not allow search engines to use the title and meta description tags of your website information from the Yahoo Directory and DMOZ (Open Directory Project).
The “noindex” HTML tag will tell search engines not to index specific pages of your website. But be careful with these, because it may harm your rankings. If search engines can’t index your website, they will not include them into their search engines results.
I would recommend applying “noindex” to sections of your website that contain duplicate content, such as archives. Sometimes other pages tend to rank higher than the pages you want. For example, you will not want your archives page to outrank a blog post, because is not such a good landing page.
The “noarchive” HTML tag will tell search engines to not cache your website (keep a copy of it on their servers). Unless you have a very good reason to do it, I would strongly recommend you to not use this option.
I am saying this because search engines prefer sites to allow them to display a cache version. That is because in case a search result can have the server down and in this case search engines can display a cached version for the visitor.
If you are not very familiar with these settings, I would recommend you to use the default ones.
The [Import/Export] section of the Genesis Theme Framework will let you export or import your Genesis settings files. Features like this are very handy when you are looking to easily migrate your website (move hosting) or apply the same Genesis settings to another website.
Over to you
Now, what do you like/dislike about the Genesis Theme? Are you looking to buy it? Have you encountered any issues with it? Questions? Just let us know in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links.