The Best WordPress Theme Framework – Genesis vs Thesis

Genesis Framework for WordPressI am a self confessed WordPress theme junkie and buying a new theme for a website is like buying new clothes for me. I need to have the absolute best WordPress theme for my websites in order for them to have fast loading times and deliver a pleasant experience for my website visitors.

Over the years I have tried many WordPress themes and I have a huge collection of predecessors stored on a secure backup device. You see some were a purchased on a whim, while others were planned and cherished, but eventually most were outgrown by technology.

I actually started out using Microsoft Frontpage which seems extremely primitive compared to what I’m using today, the WordPress content management system, coupled with WordPress themes and plug-ins.

Life is easy for me today, when it comes to building a website, but the hard choice now is which WordPress theme to actually choose?

Genesis vs Thesis 2014

I have been using the Thesis WordPress theme for a few years now and you could not tell me that there was anything better available for my websites. I loved the way you could add some code to the custom functions file, along with CSS to style and come up with something awesome.

By using Thesis I learned how to create code that replaced the usual plugins I needed. For example in my Thesis theme I added code for the related posts, the author box, the social buttons, and so much more. That meant my site had less plugins and more functions.

You could call me a Thesis fan.

Recently I bought Genesis 2.0 and after a quick analysis, I have come to some obvious but sad conclusions.

The Differences Between Genesis 2 and Thesis 2

I feel bad about jumping ship, but the facts are here for you to see.

1. Out of The Box Design

Genesis has an awesome design straight up. Basic but not clunky and obvious like Thesis. I was amazed that I did not really need an added child theme straight away, but of course I added one anyway. Check out the screen shots below of the raw framework.

genesis theme

Another great thing about Genesis is that if you install a child theme and customize it, the actual frame work is unchanged and safe from your human errors. Then you can backup your child theme and use the same customizations on other sites. (If your license permits) The actual framework stays clean.

2. Customization

Genesis came with an awesome design so for starters there was a far less customisation needed. When I have changed WordPress themes previously, there is always approximately 2 hours of work to get the website back to what I needed. You know, all of the essentials. Genesis 2 came with many features inbuilt so as soon as I installed it, there was a decent looking functional website showing up.

A common customization is to change how many columnists your website has. In Thesis 1x it was relatively easy to change how many columns you had and the width of them, but Thesis 2 became harder. On the other hand Genesis was even easier!

genesis layout

In Thesis 2 if you wanted to customize your layout you would have to deal with boxes and css which is not always easy. I would rather click on my choice and be done with it!

3. Optimized Future Proof Code

Genesis 2.0 has been designed to deliver even better performance and it is what has been taken car of under the hood that counts.

  • Support for HTML5 and schema.org markup. The HTML5 markup makes your site truly mobile-friendly.
  • Better named loop hooks for HTML5.
  • Network Upgrade now upgrades the Genesis database for all sites in a network when running WordPress in multisite mode.
  • Widget classes are now coded in PHP5 format.
  • Admin CSS and Javascript are now minified.
  • Inline HTML comments have been removed to reduce page size.
  • The Scripts option now has its own metabox when editing an entry.
  • Custom Post Type archive pages now have a settings page so you can control the output.
  • Genesis tracks displayed entry IDs so you can exclude entries from showing twice on a page.
  • Entries without titles now display a permalink after the post content.

Changes like these are why page load times for sites built on Genesis 2.0 will be able to be measured and discussed in milliseconds …

4. Thesis 2 Made me Frustrated

I have tried to work with Thesis 2 but I was hitting road blocks, and far too many for my liking. I found myself wasting time just trying to get to know how to use this new framework. Don’t get me wrong though, it is an awesome framework but it turned out to be too technical for me. I could have taken the time to work it out, but time is money from me, and it also means less updates on my website. I need to create content and promote it, not design my own websites from scratch.

5. Fast Loading Websites

One of the reasons I decided to change WordPress themes is that some of my sites had slow loading times. I noticed that people were bragging about having a fast loading website and I was obviously jealous! See my friend Ana’s site, Traffic Generation Cafe. That is one site to be jealous of! Ana recently defected from Thesis to Genesis.

When I installed Genesis on this site (I had a Themforest theme installed at the time), my page loading time went from 58 to 79, without any customization and tweaking. Then after optimizing images on my website the score has gone to 84. I have a few more things I can optimize to gain an even better score.

I haven’t yet changed one of my Thesis sites to Genesis but Ana is very excited about how fast her site is loading and I agree, it is definitely faster.

I see the developers of Genesis have optimized the code of this framework in detail, minimizing admin CSS and Javascript and removing unnecessary heavy stuff. I like the way they think.

Conclusion to Genesis vs Thesis

I was in love with Thesis 1 and I mean love. I spent years playing with it and I genuinely could see the potential for Thesis 2 but had no time to go that in-depth. When I installed the Genesis 2.0 Framework, within the first hour I knew that this WordPress theme was amazing!

Genesis Framework for WordPress

If you are worried about changing WordPress themes, see my 39 point checklist for changing a WordPress theme. It even tells you how to import Thesis SEO details into Genesis.

Comments

  1. Susan Velez says

    I have to admit…I too am a theme fanatic. I have purchased so many themes in the past. I was going to pick up the Thesis a while back.

    However, I ended up going with the Woo Themes. I have heard a lot of great things about the Genesis themes. I have personally never used it.

    Your site does load extremely fast though. It looks great too.
    Susan Velez recently posted..Back To School At The Age Of 40

    • mitz says

      Oh thanks Susan! I am trying very hard to keep it very simple and fast but when you start adding things its gets a bit crazy. I got my speed score to 85 on some pages and then back down again a few points. Need to weigh up what I really need? :) Hard choices though.

  2. Sohail says

    Hello matz,

    Well i personally recommend to use genesis as it’s themes are really awesome and with clean design. It comes with impressive speed and other things which we can’t deny using it.

    But thesis is also great but never used it though.
    Sohail recently posted..Flash Games free download for PC

  3. Dany says

    Thank you for your candid thoughts on Thesis vs. Genesis. I couldn’t spare the time to figure out Thesis 2.0 so had someone from Elance take on the project of updating a couple of my business sites using Thesis 2.0. Now I’m afraid of going too deep with any changes as I might mess it up!
    Dany recently posted..Cipto Junaedy Jurus Jitu Ternak Properti

    • mitz says

      It is easy to mess any site up when you are learning.. I have even crashed this one a few times just tweaking Genesis. I see there are no real tutorials for me about Genesis 2 so I am having to experiment. (If there are tutorials, they don’t tell me enough.)

      • TJ Greene says

        Mitz,

        I love the Genesis framework, been using it almost exclusively for years. Glad to see you made the switch (Ana too!)

        Because Genesis works in a parent/child framework it can be a bit confusing to work with, but I believe the benefits are well worth the extra effort. Hang in there, you’ll be fine!

        As for converting Genesis 2.0 to HTML5, we just went through the process and it took us less than 15 minutes to complete the whole thing. We found some great tools online that made everything easy as pie. I wrote a post documenting the steps we followed. For anyone interested you can read it here – http://htwp2.com/upgrade-to-genesis-2-0-and-html5/

        BTW, we use the same paid plugin Ana does for adding the Schema.org markup. It does a great job.

        Best Regards,
        TJ Greene
        How To WordPress 2.0
        TJ Greene recently posted..Upgrade To Genesis 2.0 And HTML5 In 5 Super Easy Steps [VIDEO]

  4. Ronny says

    It really depends what your website is about and what your trying to accomplish with your site, Ive used thesis and I LOVE the custom ability’s it offers, however genesis ive never used so cant really comment on. Which is why this is really a broad thing to discuss.

    • mitz says

      Yes it is hard to comment when you have not used both. I have used thesis 1.XX and 2 and now only Genesis 2, not earlier versions. So I am coming from a new beginning with Genesis. I am an official newbie! :)

  5. Edson Hale says

    We can’t outrightly reject the thesis theme just for the sake of promoting the genesis; but one thing is very much clear that Genesis has much more to offer but the need is to understand its benefits and then buy it with confidence; seeing is believing
    Thanks Mitz for writing such a wonderful comparative statement of the two cool series of templates
    Edson Hale recently posted..How to earn money with part-time blogging

    • mitz says

      Thesis is still great but when they went to 2.0 it changed the game for me. Yes it is innovative but so is Genesis 2 and it is just easier to learn. Thesis could turn to be the better one but I do not have time to get that in-depth.

    • mitz says

      It is very different to Thesis but I slapped this site up within minutes and I am planning to keep it simple. I will add some social sharing buttons, but just working out the best way to do it manually..

      Ana’s site is looking great and it’s fast! She made me jealous so it is all he fault!

  6. Mi Muba says

    I am seriously thinking nowadays switching from blogger platform to wordpress and have been quite confused which theme to apply when i will shift on wordpress; your review made me quite aware of the benefits of Genesis 2 while earlier I was just focusing on theme template to see which one can serve my blog display needs more; but now I am quite clear first and foremost is the blog speed and one has to see which theme ensures fast loading time
    Mi Muba recently posted..How to organize a tableau show to raise environmental awareness?

  7. dare khuji says

    Hi Mitz,

    It is always good to try stuffs ( I recently made a comment on one of your post and stated that you have changed your theme, was actually asking for any noticeable SEO benefits).

    I am totally revamping my website to run on Genesis and plan to have it hosted on websynthesis; I think there are lots of SEO benefits associated with the use of Studiopress themes ( going by the recommendation of yoast).

    Have you noticed any positive spike in organic traffic?
    dare khuji recently posted..SEO best practices to remove deleted blog, posts and feed in Google search result

    • mitz says

      I expect to see a spike in everything because of the simple design and the speed. I have taken the newest child theme that works with the new Genesis 2.0, eleven40. Not sure if that has made a difference because I am new to Genesis.

      I was thinking of moving to either WPengine or Websynthesis but I am getting good scores straight up on my Hostgator dedicated server and I am yet to go and tweak the settings there. I am told there are tools to enable for more speed and performance.

      So overall I am impressed and will just see if I can do a few more things to improve.
      mitz recently posted..10-Minute Link Building Tutorial For The New SEO

Letsbuildwebsites.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress

When I changed to the Genesis Framework and the eleven40 Theme my page load score went from 58 to 79 instantly. This was without any optimization at all. The other thing about this framework and theme is that it was so simple to setup that I can highly recommend it to each and every person that visits this blog! Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.