The Genesis Framework has been regarded as one of the absolute best WordPress themes on the market. As a web designer, there are many reasons why I have decided to use the framework in a number of both my personal and professional projects.
It's great for SEO, has solid and secure code and it's easy to customize, (if you're familiar with CSS) just to name a few of those reasons. However, even as an avid user, I'll admit that the Genesis Framework is not the only big gun out there.
In recent months, Elegant Themes has released a new theme called, Divi, that will undoubtedly become a shining star on the WordPress market. The review of these two products will not be to sell you on one product over the other.
Instead, I'm going to break down the advantages and disadvantages of both of these from the standpoint of a developer/designer, and someone with little or no knowledge of code. This way, you can get a rounded idea of what each product offers and then decide for yourself which you would like to use.
Let's start with the Genesis Framework.
The Genesis Framework by StudioPress
StudioPress boasts over 100,000 sites powered by their signature framework. Not only do they have their framework, but they have a whole slew of Child Themes to choose from with pre designed layouts to help start you off in the direction that you would like your web site to go.
I have used Genesis for a while now, and as a web designer, there are quite a few reasons why I chose to use it. As a framework, Genesis lays an amazing foundation to build on.
- It has clean that Search Engines like Google loves, which means it's great for SEO
- It's been coded by one of WordPress' core developers to make sure the framework has amazing security to help prevent hacking
- It is responsive and look great across all devices
- Great for Child Themes
- Integrates with WooCommerce via Genesis Connect Plugin
- Great support
- Unlimited Sites and Updates
- Recognition and possible leads.
These are some of the huge advantages for me and what sold me on on it. To be able to work with a single solid product that supports e-commerce means that I can deliver a high quality product to my clients.
But even though these things are important to me, there were other contributing factors that lead me to choose this framework over others on the market.
One thing I looked at was, who uses Genesis and, why do they use it? I found that many of the blogs that I read and viewed with a certain authority, were using the Genesis Framework for their sites.
- 87Studios.net (Yes, even the very site you're on right now is using Genesis!)
As a rule, I tend to disregard a lot of reviews about things that I know have an Affiliate Program program attached to them. Much of what is said in such reviews are biased and really try to push you into purchasing the product so that the person that is writing about it can gain a commission. (We all hate that, and I'm no different.)
However, when you weigh in who uses/knows the product and what they say, it helps you make a good choice.
When someone like Matt Mullenweg -the brain behind the very WordPress we've come to love-boasts about the theme that StudioPress has created, you start to get the idea that this is a solid product and worth your time using.
Frameworks like this one also support child themes. Developers and designers who use WordPress know the importance of such child themes. Even the minds at WordPress encourage the use of these Parent/Child theme pairings.
If you're new to the concept behind child themes, be sure to read the articles below to get an idea of what they are and why you should be using them.
From a designer's perspective, frameworks one are a godsend. They speed up your development, and let's face it... Time is money, no matter who you are.
Another thing that is nice for a designer to have at their disposal is the ability to display your work to a large audience that may push work in your direction. If your work is good and grabs attention, you may have your work displayed on the StudioPress Showcase. If you're really, really good, (please know this chance in slim) you may have a shot at getting one of their list of recommended developers.
However, with all that being said, the Framework may not be for everyone.
- The Framework and Child Theme Bundles are a bit on the pricey side.
- Learning Curve: Customizing the themes requires CSS coding knowledge which can be hard if you're not a designer.
The price for just the Framework isn't too bad. It is just under $60 and is a one time fee for a license with unlimited uses. To couple the Framework with a child theme is close to $100, and if you're ready to jump in the deep end and want the whole enchilada, you can buy all their Pro themes for $399.95. (This price doesn't include 3rd Party Themes... Annoying, but that's in their disclaimer so don't forget to read the fine print.)
There are other places that sell Genesis child themes as well, so you're not limited to StudioPress when it comes to finding the right child theme for you. And there is a pretty decent selection of free child themes on the web too. You won't get the Framework with any of these though, so you'll have to purchase that to use them, but the free themes may be a nice option for those on a tight budget.
A framework, like Genesis, is easy to customize the look and layout using some CSS here and some Hooks there. However, for someone who has little or no coding knowledge, changing the overall look and feel of your site will prove to be challenging if you try to do it on your own. Not impossible, just challenging.
Also, don't be scared away by the idea of 'coding'. It only takes a few simple CSS snippets to take a turn a pre-designed Child Theme into something a little more, you. And even now, with the WordPress 3.9, customizing the content on your Home Page is easier than ever before, as you can now add widgets in real time.
Even if you know nothing about code, StudioPress has an online forum where you can pose your questions, and others from the community will answer your questions to help solve your design dilemma. In fact, your questions may already have been posted by someone else who had it answered, so you won't have to wait around for the solution.
If you want to learn some CSS basics, here are some articles to get you started.
Not looking to spend time learning this? No worries! StudioPress has a wide selection of handpicked of developers and designers who have proven their salt when it comes to customizing and designing websites with this framework.
If you have the money to spend and you're serious about your online business, hiring a designer is a great way to go.
The Genesis Framework and Child Themes are amazing. I use it because, I love it. But my reasons for using it may be different than yours. It is good to consider your personal reasons before buying it.
Now, let's look at the Divi Theme!
The Divi Theme By Elegant Themes
The themes by Elegant Themes, have over a whopping 230,000 customers that use their products and it's easy to see why.
They have a huge variety of of theme styles and great support. However, the minds at Elegant Themes decided it was time to shake things up a bit and they recently released, Divi. And boy, does it pack a punch!
- Easy to navigate and learn
- Divi Builder, which allows you to visually design each page as desired (also come with 18 pre-designed templates you can play with)
- Responsive and looks great across all devices
- Easily change Color and Font
- Easily integrates with WooCommerce and MailChimp
- Reasonably priced with a 30-day money back guarantee
There is a lot to love about drag and drop web design, and Divi really shines when it comes to this. The Divi Builder allows you to build your pages (it only works on Pages, not Posts) to look almost any way you like.
Do you want a slider at the top of your page? Add it with a few simple clicks. Want a slick looking portfolio? Choose from a few different layouts and build it to your desired look.
If you're a designer, the time it would take to design a site from scratch using Divi can literally be cut in half, if not more so. Many of the changes you would make through CSS, like font and active link color, can be changed from the Customize Option in your WordPress dashboard and viewed in real time. (you can see in the picture below)
For someone who doesn't know how to code a site or who doesn't have the time to spend on learning how to, Divi may just be the best option. It's still going to take time for you to get a real feel on how to use it and add the desired elements, but it won't take as long as starting from scratch with Genesis.
Divi isn't completely lacking when it comes to SEO either, however, you have to make sure you access the Elegant Themes ePanel in WordPress and set things up properly or you may be missing out.
Price for Divi starts at $69 and comes with 18 pre-designed layouts that can kick start your designs. But this isn't the price for the single theme and layouts. You get all the themes on Elegant Themes for this price!
Plus, if you don't like it as much as you thought you might, you can get your money back if it's within 3o days of purchasing.
- The price is based on an Annual Subscription (Yes, you pay $69 a year to use it.)
- The Divi Builder only works in the back-end and not on the visual page itself
- Easy to build means easy to mess up
- Still need CSS to give a fully customized look and feel
The pricing on Elegant Themes can be a little misleading. It's true, the price to get Divi and all the themes starts at $69, but you have to pay that price every year. And if you think you can just buy the themes and then cancel your subscription and continue using the themes, think again.
Don't get me wrong, you can do this if you want to, but you will be cut off from being able to update the themes as needed. This is a BIG no-no as theme updates are a large part of securing your website.
Elegant Themes has recently made it easier to update their themes from the WordPress Dashboard, but you need an API key to do so, which you won't have without a subscription. (They have this down to a science, so don't look for loopholes. There aren't any.)
The $69 that you pay doesn't include the plugins that Elegant Themes offers either. If you want all the themes and all the plugins without paying a yearly fee, you can purchase the Lifetime Access membership for $249.
This will include everything that the price of $69 gives you, but you get the plugins along with the PSD files and no yearly fees.
The Divi Builder is nice, however, I found it a bit underwhelming and not very unique when compared to what other drag and drop editors offer. Unlike the page builder that Themify offers, the Divi Builder only allows you to build the page from within the Page Edit area in your WordPress dashboard. (see below)
Even though it is easy to use, it's not all that great to look at. You won't really be able to get the full effect of what your page will look like until you preview your changes.
This isn't really that big of a deal as you have to do the same thing when using CSS, but I thought it good to mention.
From a designers perspective, even though I see this as a great way to speed up production of a website, I would be still worried when handing the site over to my client to fully manage on their own. I have two reasons for this.
The first would be, if they accessed the Dashboard they are free to change things if they wish. This is completely fine and doesn't bug me all that much.
WordPress is pretty easy to figure out and I like to give clients a run down of how to WordPress anyway so that things go smoothly when the site is theirs. However, with something like the Divi Builder, they could very easily delete an entire module by accident and are then left with the panic of trying to fix the mistake.
The other thing is that Divi is simply a theme and it's not sold with a child theme. I'm not entirely sure what would happen to my customized designs if a theme or WordPress update came along.
Often times, these updates reset a theme to all its default settings or even wipe a clean site. That's why long time WordPress users choose to have a Parent/Child theme combo; it tends to sidestep this common issue.
There is the option to create a child theme for Divi as a precaution, but that can be tough for a beginner.
The last on my list of disadvantages, is that in order to really get a custom looking site, you still need to use some CSS and Hooks to really change things up. Like almost all the themes that Elegant Themes has to offer, the layouts are clean and simple and are great for a simple website.
To change things past the options given will take some code, but if you're not looking for anything too robust in your site and have a bit of time to get things going, Divi is a great option.
Like all drag and drop editors, Divi has some pros and cons, but the product as a whole is pretty solid. I think it's a great option for beginners or anyone on a tight budget. As far as pricing, it's nice to have the low starting price point.
However, I do think that if you stick with the theme, you should really try and buy the Lifetime Access membership. I prefer paying for the whole thing and saving some money down the road. $69 can really add up after a few years!
As a designer, I like how intuitive the Divi Builder become after you toy with it and I could see myself using the themes to create simple sites that don't require too much customization.
Genesis Or Divi
So which is better? Well, that all depends on you and what you need out of a website.
Are you a small nuts and bolts business that is going to be focusing on local SEO to bring in money? Are you planning on building a major brand through your website? Genesis is the best option out of the two for SEO and security purposes.
Do you just want something really simple, like a portfolio? Are you on a tight budget but need a site right now? Than Divi is likely your best choice.
If Divi boasted to have the same capabilities as Genesis does with it comes to SEO and security, it wouldn't matter as much. But since they don't, I would pick the Genesis Framework over Divi for a website with that was focused around ranking well.
All and all, they are both great products, but it's up to you to decide which suits your needs best.
So what do you guys think? Anything that I missed that you think should be added to the advantages or disadvantages or either of these themes? Be sure to leave your comments below and let me know your thoughts.