My Move to the Genesis WordPress Theme

Genesis Premium WordPress Theme

Earlier today, I switched themes to the Genesis Premium WordPress theme (affiliate link). It is a very strong WordPress theme, with lots of SEO capability built in to improve search. It’s fairly straightforward behind the scenes. I haven’t run into anything that scares me.

It’s not as designer-tweak-filled as Thesis, but as I’m not a designer, and as I never touched those parts myself very much, I’m okay with that. I paid Nico to design my blog, so I wouldn’t break anything.

The team behind it, StudioPress has lots of other custom themes as well, but I’m going to stick with Genesis for a while, and here’s why: It’s a theme “framework,” which means that it’s going to allow for “child” themes or “skins,” so that I can stay on Genesis but add a video-intensive theme, if I want.

So, I’m pretty excited to try out a new theme and see what makes sense.

If you’re using Thesis, I still think it’s a good theme, and for those of you wondering, Chris Pearson and team at DIYThemes are GPL-compliant again, so that’s a non-issue.

For me? I’m just trying out a new theme framework, and so far, I’m pretty happy with it.

Want to check it out? Visit Genesis today. runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • Danny Brown

    Curious if there's a wee bitty “more” behind the decision, Chris, especially with the timing of Brian's decision to walk away?

    After all, Thesis is also a theme framework with a bunch of skins, and I've seen some cool video skins from some of the Thesis devs. And with others developing your blog (first Chris Pearson himself, and then Nico), all you need do is blog.

    Just seems interesting timing. ;-)

  • KatFrench

    @DavidFinch @kkorvela and I have been talking about changing The Social Enthusiast to Thesis, and I'll admit straight out, all the uproar in the last few weeks has me second-guessing it.

    I've used Brian Gardner's themes before several times in the past (Gladiola, Downtown Java, and of course, RevMag)–I always felt that in addition to being lovely, they were easy to find your way around in, even for someone who isn't a hardcore coder.

    Will probably check out Genesis, but aside from all the drama, it'll be the features and the UX that make the decision one way or the other.

  • Greg

    With a lot of people jumping ship from Thesis, it's a good time to potentially grab some revenue from a great theme that people might be jumping TO (ie. Genesis). Can't blame you for that one, especially since you've made the investment to use it yourself as well.

  • justinmwhitaker


    I share Danny's curiosity.

    The look and feel are not that different from the Thesis based prior theme…well, it looks a little cleaner, but the layout and color scheme looks pretty much the same.

    What's on the back end of Genesis that makes it better than Thesis? How does it work better in your workflow? It seems like just another WP Framework from here.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  • David

    Speaking purely from a business perspective:

    * Chris has helped a lot of people choose their theme, and he's seen financial benefits.
    * The uproar has a lot of people wondering if they should switch themes, or which theme they should switch to.
    * This post will probably capture commissions for Chris from people who were thinking about switching anyway.

    In short: justified or not, people are switching. Now's the time to get a piece of the action. The problem with selling a theme framework is people only need one… until they need a different one.

    1) Sell a theme.
    2) Profit!
    3) ????
    4) Profit again!!

    Apparently ???? = Sell another theme at an opportune time.

    I'm not saying that had anything to do with Chris' decision (I won't speculate). But I do think he's smart enough to have considered it.

  • Chris Brogan

    There are certainly some business decisions that go along with my choice.

    I realized that I'm beholden to one theme, and that's not a great place to be. For instance, I'm also working with @human3rror on using his premium theme. I have Press75's Video Elements running.

    I've also very consciously moved myself out of the “Chris Brogan's hands doing every little bit of the tweaking” part of technology. I can't scale just doing that.

    That's the bigger story.

    I do work with Brian on 3rd Tribe ,and I consider him a friend and business partner. My move shouldn't be considered a negative view or negative impression of Chris Pearson or Thesis.

  • Chris Brogan

    I didn't move FROM thesis. I just moved into Genesis to try something new. There's nothing “better than” or worse than, in my perspective (though Thesis has more design stuff in it).

    See also: my comment to Danny.

  • Chris Brogan

    Genesis is different than the past ones, just to be clear. It's closer to Thesis, to be in a framework kind of mindset.

    Thesis or Genesis would probably both make good bets.

  • Mr. G

    It looks like Thesis is starting to pay the price of its futile, non-sense fight with WordPress. I use Thesis since version 1, I love all you can do with it but I dislike the person behind it, his radical point of view for everything and his reluctancy to accept criticism (not to mention some disgusting tweets you have to read). I have a great internal fight about being loyal to the product despite the brain behind it…

    I started a new blog a few days ago and Thesis was not my first choice. Seeing Top Bloggers like Chris making this move make me think I may have a point.

    Looks like it's time to check a new framework. I hope I don't find a “genesified” kind of guy behind it.

  • Jesse Petersen

    You can't even tell b/c it's a framework, too. I choose between the two all of the time. Nice transition work, for sure.

  • Chris Brogan

    Interesting business perspective. Not exactly wrong.

    I switched because of business decisions, not the least of which is that I want more than one premium theme in the race, so that I'm not hampered by any potential issues that arise.

    By the end of August, I'll be using 4 different premium WordPress themes on my properties.

  • Chris Brogan

    That's thanks to Brian Gardner.

  • Chris Brogan

    Chris Pearson made amends on the WordPress GPL issue. Though it took a while to get there, I believe he's on the right path with that part.

  • Danny Brown

    So you'll be trying Headway too, then? ;-)

  • Danny Brown

    Fair enough, that makes sense (and I noted that Press75 was running MotG). Any particular reason you chose Genesis over others in the market specifically?

  • Daniel Decker

    I was going to ask if you considered STANDARD THEME from @human3rror. Good stuff in development there. As that theme expands it will become a dominant player in my opinion. About to move several clients blogs onto it.

  • jchutchins

    Nice, elegant theme. Picked up a copy, put some cash in your wallet. It's always good to reward folks for awesome, hard work.

  • Annie Boccio

    I just made the same move (which was in the works before the whole GPL thing blew up.) As a designer Thesis requires a completely different way of thinking about customization, and while I got pretty good at navigating it after doing a number of clients' sites with it, Genesis just feels much more comfy to use. And as you've shown here- it can certainly look as good or better.

    • theresa

      I use Thesis and have had a lot of problems with it as far as comments go. Can’t seem to get it resolved. Every few days the “comments” reset themselves and close and I have to manually go in and open up comments post by post. Curious, did you hear of this problem with other clients? Is Genesis easier to use for your clients on a day to day basis?

    • theresa

      I use Thesis and have had a lot of problems with it as far as comments go. Can’t seem to get it resolved. Every few days the “comments” reset themselves and close and I have to manually go in and open up comments post by post. Curious, did you hear of this problem with other clients? Is Genesis easier to use for your clients on a day to day basis?

  • Chris Brogan

    My designers and development team like it much better.

  • davidjacobs

    After getting my hands very dirty with Thesis, I love Genesis much better. I moved all my stuff last month. I do still have clients on Thesis, and they like it, so, there you go. Thesis, by the way, completely messes up PayPal buttons, which makes me nuts.

  • Deb Ng

    Chris, did all the Thesis drama influence your decision at all, or was it just time for a change?

  • jp

    Glad to see there are other viable options to Thesis. I'd been thinking about Thesis, but had second thoughts after hearing Chris Pearson's interview with Matt Mullenweg and handling of the GPL licensing debacle.

  • Brian Gardner

    JC, what can I say…. other that I'm thrilled (and shocked, actually) that you're still sporting the original Revolution theme. Thanks for the kinds words regarding my work.

  • Brian Gardner

    Kat, Chris is correct in that Genesis is more of a framework like Thesis. I do appreciate you mentioning the themes you've used, it was a pleasant walk down memory lane thinking about them. Gosh, that feels like forever ago. Funny thing – Liz Strauss is still sporting the Gladiola theme on her website.

  • Sonia Simone

    The site's looking good!

  • Nathan Hangen

    I'm going to ask, because I'm nosy and because I like to see how deals are made…it fuels my creativity…

    Is there a partnership deal behind this somewhere? I mean, it would make good business sense obviously for all parties, but the reason that I'm interested is that if there is, it proves that there are millions more ways to make money online than most people are used to thinking about it. Creative partnerships being one of them.

    Either way, it looks good. I'm still not a big fan of frameworks, but this site looks very crisp and clean. Nice.

  • Christine Ferguson

    I'm currently building a website using Genesis myself.

  • Andreas Nurbo

    Well it wasn't all about the GPL issue since a bunch of other themes and plugins haven't been targeted at all.

  • Andreas Nurbo

    Well it wasn't all about the GPL issue since a bunch of other themes and plugins haven't been targeted at all.

  • Andreas Nurbo

    Well it wasn't all about the GPL issue since a bunch of other themes and plugins haven't been targeted at all.

  • Andreas Nurbo

    Well it wasn't all about the GPL issue since a bunch of other themes and plugins haven't been targeted at all.

  • Hashim

    The ability to create child themes is very interesting. I've been looking for a way to make a “social media profile” theme with Thesis, but Genesis may be the way to go.

  • Chris Monerat

    Woohoo! Chris, as a long term fan of yours, I was waiting for an opportunity to ask you about this matter. I couldn't understand someone supporting a theme that goes against the GPL (if you don't like the license, don't develop for a product that requires you to use GPL!).

    I wish that was the reason you were leaving Thesis, but I'm happy anyway that I won't have to see an ad for it on your posts :-).

  • Chris Brogan

    That was fixed a few days ago, so the GLP isn't an issue any more.

  • Helena

    Unless you are using both themes at the same time, you are moving away from Thesis. :)

  • Chris Brogan

    I'm an affiliate for Genesis, if that's what you're asking (on my about page). I am still also an affiliate for Thesis.

  • Chris Brogan

    The drama highlighted my position as being somewhat tenuous because I had only one premium wordpress theme in my corner. Now I have 4.

  • Nathan Hangen

    Right, figured that. Just didn't know if you were an official spokesman, or if theme companies even have them?

  • Deb Ng

    Not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks, Chris.

  • Ben

    what is it that this theme is actually going to allow you to do compared to before you bought is really the post here

    I bought headway theme recently myself as I thought this will allow me to develop each page and link much more rapidly

    I think the why is more important than anything else and cant see much more than a status update with this post

    problem I have with all frameworks is that you often spend quite a bit of time explaining and researching their quirks and build a lot of custom css code anyway so a lot of their “easy wysiwyg” features arent quite such, they do however have the bonus of building the php style template code much more easily.

    good point made by a programmer friend recently was this, what happens with all the IDs these systems create when you come back to customise and try and remember what you did for the design and the quirks of the system. frankly they make for problems with documentation and closed source whims of the developer in the long term

    think these closed fixes are short term unless you are willing to be submitted to the whims of the developers

  • Katybeth

    To funny. Right now, thesis won't speak to my WordPress blog. It keeps crashing. My web designer is trying everything. Currently I am using a default wordpress theme. Then I was using the plug in “scribe” and they have been great but “everyone” said Scribe was the problem, I defended them. I still had to cancel Scribe, tho because I did not want to pay for something I could not find a way to make work. I added a comment to my cancel about how I was sorry to cancel because there support had been so great (explained the problem.) An e-mail comes back from Sean thanking me for my comment with a BTW “we are working on that?” Working ON WHAT. All I could wonder is “What would Chris do?” I can't follow you around changing Themes..I have to GROW UP but still I wonder would this new theme “fix everything?” MMMM.

  • Chris Cree

    I saw your endorsement over on the StudioPress site and was surprised because I knew you ran Thesis. Came over to check it out. The new design looks great, Chris!

    I'm a fan of Headway, have been using Brian Gardner's themes extensively since the Revolution1 days and have done some work with Thesis sites. All three frameworks have different strengths.

    Of the three, Genesis is the most traditional and plays the nicest with the widest variety of plugins and third party scripts. But you can't really go wrong with any of the three.

    I think you'll be happy with the move.

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  • Chris Monerat

    I haven't heard of the fix — but thanks for the update. It was about time!

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  • Ryan G

    Chris we began using Genesis shortly after it came out. It's a solid framework for sure. Running it with multiple clients now too. Happy to help if you have any questions. And hey regarding @autoconverse it would be great if you made a request on the site. We are testing the virtual concierge service now with actual requests. You may recall a comment from AC Jones on a recent post you did about auto dealership websites. He is the concierge guy. Check it out. We think it can be pretty nifty.

  • LynetteRadio

    My company has been using the Genesis framework since pretty much the beginning – LOVE it. I happened to be on the Studio Press site tonight & jumped out of my chair when I saw your face/endorsement show up. Seriously are you *everywhere*?? ;)

  • Chris Brogan

    I haven't tried Headway yet, but I hear good things from those who use it.

    The “Why” is a business decision. I had only 1 premium theme vendor. As a business, I can't have that single-point relationship.

    Thesis was and is a good theme. Genesis is a good theme. There are plenty of themes out there. I will have 4 running on 4 different sites by the end of the month.

  • Chris Brogan

    Or I have it running on another blog, smartypants. : )

  • Dan Thornton

    I've used a StudioPress theme (Metro) for my newest website, OnlineRaceDriver, and really like it – the support etc has also been pretty good. I've been looking at moving my other sites to Genesis since it launched, and it seems like more and more people are using it and showing the ways it can look great…