Genesis is one of the few brands in WordPress that have managed to create a separate identity of its own. If you have some experience of creating custom themes for clients or commercial purpose, then you know how difficult it is to develop a theme from scratch. This is where WordPress theme frameworks come handy. They provide a reliable base for creating your custom themes.
Today, I will introduce you to Genesis; that is if you haven’t met already. And if you are already familiar with it, I hope this will act as a refresher for you. Let’s start with the complete beginners. I guess one of their first questions would be what is Genesis actually?
What is Genesis?
Well, Genesis is one of the most popular frameworks for creating custom themes. I will not remain one-sided here and mention that, Thesis is the strongest competitor of Genesis. Now, if you don’t have any idea about what a theme framework is or what it does, check out this article.
According to the Genesis pavilion, this framework comes with less clutter and more power to the users. The simple yet robust framework does not force anything on the users, but let them do anything they want.
Brian Gardner, the creator of Genesis, is a well-respected person in the WordPress community. Before creating this framework, he developed a lot of free WordPress themes. Therefore, he knows what the developers want, and he ensured that his framework includes these.
Why Use Genesis?
If you have come to Genesis from other theme frameworks, the first thing you will notice is it will decrease your development time significantly. Though there is a small learning curve at the beginning, you will have to go through it at any framework. However, once you get past these steps, you will be rocking Genesis in no time.
The structure is very intuitive and user-friendly. That is why Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress and other prominent members of the WordPress community including Chris Brogan, Mark Jaquith and Darren Rowseback up this framework.
Genesis provides a secure and search engine friendly platform for developing websites. It comes with powerful features like custom body post classes for each post, multiple layouts, breadcrumbs, numeric navigation and lots of others. Another great advantage of Genesis is the abundance of child themes.
At this moment, Genesis has more than 50 official child themes. And additionally, lots of developers create custom child themes for Genesis. And if you have enough confidence, you can develop a child theme of your own too.
Genesis could be used in both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress websites. If you have a site in WordPress.com, you can buy genesis themes for your website here.
That does not mean that you are restricted to WordPress.com only. If you later decide to move your site to another host, StudioPress will provide you with a copy of the theme you purchased in WordPress.com along with the Genesis framework.
Using Genesis in Your Website
Contrary to popular belief, using Genesis is very simple. Here, I am assuming that you have already bought Genesis from StudioPress, if not; you can do it from this link. Once you have purchased and downloaded the genesis theme, extract the archive to your desktop.
You will get a new folder titled “Genesis”. Now, open up your favourite FTP client. I am using Filezilla.
Connect to your FTP account and go to wp-content/themes/. Upload the genesis folder we extracted earlier to this directory.
We are not finished actually. We need to upload a child theme for the framework. You may wonder why do we need a child theme here? Well, if you compare the Genesis framework to a picture stand, then Genesis theme is the frame only. You need to provide a picture; I mean the theme in the frame.
Only after you put a picture in the frame, that means a child theme in Genesis framework, you will be able to enjoy the framework entirely. As I said earlier, child themes are available at StudioPress, other places, or you can build a child theme of your own. You can modify the child theme to create a custom look for your website.
If you want to develop your child theme for Genesis, then StudioPress has you covered. They provide a sample child theme for free in their website. It comes with all the essential and necessary code to run a website. But, that’s it.
There is no excessive styling or anything fancy. In order to customize it, you need to edit the functions.php and the styles.css files. This child theme is completely responsive too.
Setting up Genesis
Once you have installed and activated Genesis in your site, you will find a new menu titled “Genesis” in the dashboard. The menu comes with two sub-menus – Theme Settings and Import / Export.
In Theme Settings, the first option is a checkbox titled “Enable Automatic Updates”. Check this box if you want to update Genesis automatically. You will be notified about the updates before they are installed.
If you check the box, a new filed titled “Notify” will appear along with a field for email address. This will send you an email whenever a new version of the framework is available.
Next is the “Custom Feeds” section. If you use dedicated services like Feedblitz or Feedburner to manage your RSS feed, then you can use these options. If you check the “Redirect Feed”? box, then the default feed links will be redirected to your custom links. However, if you want to use the default WordPress feeds, leave the boxes empty.
Next is the “Header” section. There are two options available – Dynamic Text and Image Logo. Among them, Dynamic Text will be set based on the site title and site description you provided. And the Image Logo will use the image you have set in the Custom Header section of Appearance.
If you want to display some extra option in the main navigation menu, you have to go to the “Navigation” section. Here, the “Primary Navigation Extras” provides some default options including a search form, RSS links, etc. By default, the extras will appear on the right of the primary navigation area.
Usually, the primary navigation appears right after the header. And the secondary navigation menu is located just below the primary navigation. However, your child theme may have different arrangements.
Next is “Breadcrumbs”. From this section, you can enable breadcrumbs for your homepage, posts, pages, archive, 404 page and the attachment pages. Breadcrumb helps the reader to identify where they are in the site and quickly navigate backwards with exact precision.
Comments and Trackbacks
In the “Comments and Trackbacks” section, you can enable or disable comments and trackbacks for posts and pages. If the comments and trackbacks are disabled here, you won’t be able to enable them in single posts or pages.
“Content Archives” is the next section. The first options of the section will allow you to choose how to display contents in your site. If you choose “Display post content”, you will have an additional option of limiting the characters to a certain number of characters. Provide the number of characters in the following field. There is another option titled “Display post excerpts”. If you select this option, only the first 55 characters of the posts will be shown.
“Include the Featured Image?” will allow you to choose whether you want to display the featured image or not. If you enable the option, you will have an additional option titled “Image Size”. The available options will depend on the image sizes defined in your theme.
The last option of this section is “Select Post Navigation Technique”. You can set it to Numeric or Previous / Next. The links will be applied in archive, author, blog, category, search, and tag pages.
Blog Page Template
Next section is the “Blog Page Template” section. From this section, you can define which category should be displayed in the blog page. You can choose to display all categories too. There is an option to exclude categories from the blog page. You can also choose how many posts should be displayed in the blog page.
Header and Footer Scripts
And the last option of Genesis Theme Settings is the “Header and Footer Scripts” section. This section will allow you to execute any file specifically on the header and footer areas. This is useful for statistical tools and some third-party applications. For instance, you need to add the code for Google Analytics in the head.
I admit Genesis fells short compared to Thesis in regards to theme options. And a sitemap generator would have complemented the framework significantly. However, nothing is complete and final in the world of technology. So, maybe Genesis will have all the options we want someday.
You would be glad to know that you won’t need an extra license to use Genesis in more than one website. And you will also see that Genesis is a very secure and developer-friendly framework.
In today’s post, I have tried to get you started with Genesis. If you were with me, I think you already got a basic idea about the framework. Now explore the powers of Genesis and customize it according to your needs. You may also want to checkout our best collections of other themes.