I’ve been using the Genesis premium WordPress theme for about 4 months now. I was previously using Thesis. I don’t want to bash Thesis, but being honest, I really haven’t missed it at all. Making the transition to Genesis has been very easy for me as the two themes are very similar. I’ve found that due to the number of Genesis child themes available, I can get a very professional looking site up and and running in a couple of hours instead of days. That time savings alone has justified the switch and the cost.
I’ve played around with and used many of the various Genesis child themes (affiliate link) as I’ve built out sites for clients and built out niche sites for myself. Through using these various child themes, I’ve started to favor three of them and continue to use these three more and more often:
Updated 9 /3/2013: Since this article was originally written, Genesis 2.0 was released, along with a few of “Pro” Themes, including Metro Pro and Eleven 40 Pro. The Pro themes are HTML 5 based, support schema.org and cleaner. These are 2 of the latest and greatest Genesis child themes available and take advantage of all the new Genesis 2.0 features. I’ve updated the content below to reflect the new Pro themes.
Metro Pro Genesis Child Theme
Hands down, my favorite Genesis child them is Metro Pro. Metro Pro is a magazine style theme, that without any modifications, looks clean and professional. The Metro child theme comes with five prebuilt color schemes (Blue, Green, Orange, Pink and Red), 6 layout options, custom background and header, a landing template page, and the best part? Metro is a responsive theme, meaning it will scale itself to work on various devices and still look great.
I’ve used Metro Pro to build out 4 different niche sites over the past month and the more I use it, the more I like it.
Here are just a things I particularly like about it:
- Lots of Sidebar choices, so placing ads and customizing the site is easy.
- Widget enabled footer that looks nice even when widgets aren’t used.
- Support for large featured images – which is great for building out product based niche sites.
- Clean and well organized CSS
- Looks great on all devices, without any PHP or CSS changes
- HTML 5 based – the newest and most powerful HTML language
- supports schema.org mark-up for enhanced SEO
There are two things that I don’t particularly care for:
- Default styling and all caps text header. I’ve actually created a custom version of the theme that reduces the text to mixed case, and changes the header formatting.
- The included colors are just ok. I would prefer the default colors to be a little more vivid, and pop a little more. The Red color is particularly bad, almost the color of tomato soup. Again though, easily solved with a single CSS change.
Eleven 40 Genesis Child Theme
- 4 color themes (Blue, Green, Orange, and Red)
- 6 Layout options
- Support for footer widgets
- Support for threaded comments
I like Eleven 40 due to it’s clean and easy to follow design The typography uses a mainly a serif font, which I’m typically not a big fan of, but I’ve found it works well and looks really good in Eleven 40.
I have found it to not be as flexible as Metro, especially if you want to make customizations within the WordPress admin console. Eleven 40 doesn’t have as many widget options as Metro, and can cause a little headache when trying to insert header ads or if you have a long site name.
Where Eleven shines is in it’s use of color. The colors are vivid and bright, but not overly so. I’ve created a few sites using this child theme, and have used the default colors. That’s rare for me. I like the subtle use of “jeans” patterns in the theme too, very tastefully done.
Eleven 40 Pro is HTML 5 based and supports schema.org mark-up for enhanced SEO. Both new features found in Genesis 2.0.
Eleven 40 is still one of my favorite themes. You can see of a demo of Eleven 40 Pro here.
LifeStyle Genesis Child Theme
There aren’t many cases where I would recommend using a none responsive theme, but LifeStyle is one of them. Lifestyle is one of the hidden gems in the numerous genesis child themes. Lifestyle at first glance looks like it’s geared primarily at females and more feminine targetted web sites, but Lifestyle very usable for other sites as well.
The default colors (there are 10) for the most part of made up of light pastels: light green, pink, light blue, purple, etc. But, there are a few really nice looking darker colors such as: charcoal, tan and gray.
Here’s what I like about LifeStyle:
- Magazine style layout
- Variety of colors
- Support for header images and background
- Tons of widget options out of the box
- Many display options, including a nice looking excerpt post option that uses your feature image
- Great looking and well designed menus
There are only two downsides:
- The theme is not responsive, which I prefer. The theme does still seem display very well on various devices even though it’s not responsive. I’m hoping to see an update from StudioPress making this theme responsive soon.
- The CSS is large. I actually go in and remove all of the CSS for colors I’m not using, just to clear out the excess CSS.
Default Genesis Theme
While not one of my favorite Genesis child themes, the default theme is my theme of choice when implementing a highly custom Genesis child theme. I do this mainly for clients that want a theme unique to their site for branding. The default Genesis theme is a great basic theme that makes for a feature rich baseline to build from. This strategy is for developers experienced with PHP, CSS and WordPress and is not recommended for the casual user. Child themes are much better options for people that are less technical.
While I have built a few custom child themes using Genesis child themes as a baseline, I typically use the Genesis base theme as it’s easier to build from.
The only big issue I have with the genesis default theme, that I hope Genesis 2.0 resolves is that the base theme is not responsive, and that support has to added. Fortunately that code can be easily grabbed from the Metro child theme and works with just a few changes.
The default Genesis 2.0 theme is now responsive and supports both HTML 5 and schema.org markup. The theme has also been updated and looks far more professional.
Genesis is a powerful and well designed WordPress theme framework, and by itself is one of the best premium WordPress themes available. Add in the numerous child themes available from StudioPress, and you get a great combination that allows you to create high quality sites, extremely quickly. As a result, Genesis has become my theme of choice for building WordPress based sites.
Interested in purchasing Genesis and using these Genesis child themes? The best Genesis deal is to purchase their StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme package. This gives you the base Genesis theme, all of the existing child themes, and access to any future child themes developed. This the option I purchased, and found having access to all the different child themes extremely helpful and gives me a great deal of flexibility and choice when building out sites.