Thesis vs Genesis – Comparing Premium WordPress Themes

Over the Labor Day weekend, I had the pleasure of working on my first website using the Genesis Framework from StudioPress. I say pleasure because it happened to be my husband’s new photography site, and it was the first theme he’s chosen that didn’t lead me to using a string of obscenities that might actually shock people who regularly watch HBO.

JH Photography

His previous choices of themes have included several from ThemeForest, and I must say that while they did have beautiful designs, they also had some of the worst set of installation and setup instructions I have ever seen. These led to the previously mentioned string of obscenities, but I digress.

One thing I found very exciting about working on his site was that I got to know the Genesis Framework a bit better. I have seen a lot of well-known bloggers make the switch from Thesis to Genesis since it was released, so I have been curious what the fuss is about.

Thesis vs Genesis

Over the last few months, I’ve been asked what I thought of both themes, and now that I’ve had a bit of experience with both, I thought I’d share the head-to-head comparison of both frameworks.

Since it’s a lengthy post (and yes, links to themes & skins are affiliates because I recommend them all), I added some little jump tags throughout it so you can see the sections you want to know about quickly. Enjoy!

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary


Let’s start with pricing, because that is usually the make or break point when it comes to purchasing a premium WordPress theme.

 Thesis by DIYThemes  Genesis by StudioPress
 Personal  Developers  Framework  Theme + Framework  Pro Plus
 $87  $164  $59.95  $79.97  $349.95

Each of the above options / packages include the following:

Thesis Options

  • Personal Option – This option allows you to use the Thesis framework on one live website and one localized development server.
  • Developer’s Option – This option allows you to use the Thesis framework on an unlimited number of sites that you or your business owns. If you want to use the Thesis framework for client work, you must pay an additional $40 per client site ($36 per client site if you purchase 5 licenses or $32 per client site if you purchase 10 licenses).

Both the Personal and Developer’s Options include lifetime access to the DIYthemes support forums, answers center, and lifetime upgrades.

Genesis Options

  • Genesis Framework – This option allows you to use the basic Genesis Framework on an unlimited number of websites, whether they are for you or for a client.
  • Theme + Genesis Framework – This option allows you to use the Genesis Framework plus a child theme on an unlimited number of websites, whether they are for you or for a client.
  • Pro Plus Package – This package allows you access to the Genesis Framework plus all of the child themes created by StudioPress (currently over 40 plus future theme designs) to use on an unlimited number of websites, whether they are for you or for a client.

All of the above options include lifetime access to the support forums and lifetime upgrades. Since Genesis does doesn’t charge additionally for developers who are creating websites for their clients using their framework, this makes the Pro Plus Package by StudioPress the best option for developers.

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Base Framework Design

The following are examples of the base Thesis vs Genesis Framework designs with some content, sidebar widgets, and other fillers.

Click below images to see theme preview.

Thesis Framework Design Out of the Box Genesis Framework Design Out of the Box

Neither are necessarily pretty at this stage, but are both functional. This is where you have two options. You can dive right into the custom coding, or you can purchase skins for Thesis or child themes for Genesis.

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Thesis Skins

DIYthemes does not offer anything outside of the Thesis framework, so you will need to look toward outside developers for Thesis Skins. Some sites that offer Thesis Skins include the following.

Thesis Awesome

Click below images to see skin preview.

Thesis Awesome Sales Landing Page Thesis Awesome Blog Skin Thesis Awesome Silver Skin

Thesis Awesome offers a variety of Thesis Skins (including one specifically for sales / product pages) ranging in price from $37 to $87 which you can buy individually, or you can purchase a personal membership which includes access to all skins for unlimited use on your own sites at $120 / year or a developers membership which includes access to all skins for unlimited use on your own sites or client sites at $260 / year.


Click below images to see skin preview.

Kolakube Thesis Skin Business Kolakube Thesis Skin Blogussion Kolakube Thesis Skin Marketers Delight

Kolakube offers one free Thesis skin and several others at $37 each which you can buy individually, or you can standard membership which includes six month access to all of their skins for $77 or a full membership which includes one year access to all of their skins for $147. I use the Marketer’s Delight skin on my fledgling Rockin Affiliate site – the opt-in box still gets subscribers daily even though there is no freebie offer.

More Thesis Skins

Thesis Themes offers four free Thesis Skins and several others that range in price from $39.95 to $70, with a few themes packaged together at a total of $120. All themes come with a free lifetime subscription. Themedy offers several skins that work for both Thesis and Genesis Frameworks that are $49.95 each or you can purchase an extended plan for $104.45 which allows you six months access to their current themes or a lifetime plan for $239.45 which allows you lifetime access to current and future themes. I haven’t tried out either of these services, but they might have the right designs for your site.

There are even more Thesis skin sites out there, but their skins were either outdated or I couldn’t find a price on them and wasn’t willing to register just to see the pricetag. Another thing to keep in mind with Thesis is since DIYthemes did not design the skins, you will be dependent on the skin developers’ support if there are any issues with the next Thesis or WordPress updates.

Overall, Thesis Skins are generally designed for businesses, marketers, and serious bloggers.

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Genesis Child Themes

When you purchase the Genesis Framework, you have the option to buy what are known as Child Themes along with the framework or separately. One thing that I really appreciate about the Genesis Child Themes is that they are also created by StudioPress. This means that when the Genesis Framework is updated, the child themes are supported by the same developers of the framework. Once you’ve purchased them from StudioPress, you have lifetime support for both the framework and the designs. They have a variety of designs including:


StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Agency StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Associate StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Freelance


StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Manhattan StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Landscape StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Crystal


StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Bee Crafty StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Blissful StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Pixel Happy


StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Outreach StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Going Green StudioPress Genesis Child Themes - Serenity

If you don’t find what you are looking for by StudioPress, they also offer a marketplace where approved outside developers also have their own child themes for an additional $24.95 each. These are not included in the Pro Plus Package from StudioPress.

Overall, Genesis Child Themes are designed for everyone – businesses, marketers, serious bloggers, photographers, creative types, health bloggers, and more.

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary


Which theme is the easiest to install? Here are the basic instructions for both themes.

Installing the Thesis Framework

Installing Thesis requires an FTP program and some permissions changes. You cannot do it through the WordPress dashboard. The following are the latest directions from the DIYthemes website.

  • Upload the new Thesis 1.8.2 folder to your /wp-content/themes folder.
  • Locate the /custom-sample folder and change its name to /custom.
  • Locate the layout.css file inside your newly-renamed /custom folder, and change its permissions to 666.
  • [optional but highly recommended] If you’d like to give Thesis the ability to auto-crop thumbnail images for you, then you’ll want to change the permissions of your /custom/cache folder to 775.
  • Inside your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes, and then activate Thesis 1.8.2.

If you don’t follow these directions exactly, your theme will not work correctly. Also, for those that can’t change the numbers for the permission settings, 666 is RW-RW-RW and 775 is RWX – RWX – RX

Installing the Genesis Framework

Genesis, on the other hand, is the winner when it comes to installation. To install the base Genesis Framework, you can simply go to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Themes > Install Themes > Upload and select the Genesis zip file that you downloaded when you purchased the theme. Then you hit the Install Now button and activate the Genesis theme. If you purchased a child theme, you will want to do the same process with the theme’s zip file. Theme installed!

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Admin Options

I could explain all of your options to you, but I thought a simple screenshot would do.

Genesis Framework Theme Settings

Click below image to see expanded version.

Genesis Framework Theme Settings Admin Options

Thesis Framework Site & Design Options

Click below image to see expanded version.

Thesis Framework SEO Settings Site Options Thesis Framework Design Options Admin Panel

The design options is one area where Thesis has Genesis beat – you can do a LOT of customization of the design without having to enter the world of custom coding or CSS editing.

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

SEO Options

Again, I could explain all of your options to you, but I thought simple screenshots instead.

Genesis Framework SEO Site & Post Settings

Click below images to see expanded version.

Genesis Framework SEO Settings Admin Options Genesis Framework SEO Settings for Posts

Thesis Framework SEO Site & Post Options

Click below images to see expanded version.

Thesis Framework SEO Settings Site Options Thesis Framework SEO Settings for Posts

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Theme Customization

Both Thesis and Genesis Frameworks use a hooks system where, instead of going directly into a PHP template to make changes to the theme, you add hooks instead. For example, to add my social sharing buttons without a plugin, I have the following code in my custom_functions.php:


function custom_byline() {
if (is_single()) { ?>
· <span class="url fn"><?php the_category(', '); ?></span><br /><div
id="social-twitter"><script src="" type="text/javascript"></script><div> <a href="" class="twitter-share-button" data-url="<?php the_permalink() ?>" data-counturl="<?php the_permalink() ?>" data-text="<?php the_title(); ?>" data-via="kikolani" data-related="kikolani">Tweet</a></div></div><div
id="social-fb" style="padding-top:-2px;"><a name="fb_share" type="button_count" href="">Share</a><script src="" type="text/javascript"></script></div><div
id="social-su"><script src=""></script></div><div id="social-su"><script type="text/javascript" src=""></script><script type="in/share" data-counter="right"></script></div></div><br />
<?php }

(Read more about adding social sharing buttons in single post template pages here.)

Thesis gives users custom_functions.php and custom.css files to add their customized coding in. This way, when you upgrade the theme, you can backup these two files, update the new theme files, and still have your custom coding safe. Genesis, on the other hand, allows you to directly edit the theme’s main functions.php and style.css. You can see how the hooks apply to both themes in the Thesis Hooks and Genesis Hooks visual references.

I’m new to Genesis, but one of my commenters alerted me to this little issue with editing the Genesis style.css:

While it *is* possible to edit the style sheet file within the Genesis theme, it is definitely not recommended to do that, since making use of the one-click automatic update feature in Genesis will wipe out those customisations.

Instead, you can install the free Sample Child Theme (it looks exactly like the default Genesis theme) and make the customisations to style.css there – you’ve then got the power of Genesis (unmodified), coupled with all your customisations safe elsewhere.

Thanks Gary J. for the tip!

If you’re not comfortable editing your functions file, your alternative are the simple hook plugins. Thesis has a OpenHooks plugin, and Genesis similarly has Simple Hooks – both lets you add custom coding within hooks through a simpler interface.

Click below images to see expanded version.

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Who Uses Thesis and Genesis

Now the part where we do a little name dropping. Here are some famous names around the interwebs using themes built on the Thesis and Genesis Framework.

 Thesis by DIYThemes  Genesis by StudioPress
 Neil Patel (Quick Sprout)  Darren Rowse (ProBlogger)
 Matt Cutts (Google Spokesperson)  Chris Brogan (Social Media Expert)
 Ramit Sethi (NYT Bestselling Author)  Brian Clark (Copyblogger)
 PsyBlog (Popular Psychology Blog)  Jay Baer (Social Media Specialist)

Jump to: Pricing | Framework Design | Thesis Skins | Genesis Child Themes | Installation | Admin Options | SEO | Theme Customization | Who Uses These Themes | Summary

Thesis vs Genesis – Comparison Summary

That’s a pretty good bit of information to digest. Even I was a bit overwhelmed compiling this post. To summarize, here are my thoughts between the two frameworks.

  • When it comes to pricing, the two are relatively comparable until you look at the developer’s options. For developers who are designing websites for clients, the one time $299 investment in the Pro Plus Package for StudioPress’ Genesis Framework plus Child Themes is the best way to go.
  • Out-of-the-box design for both frameworks are pretty bland. Genesis Child Themes have the best designs for a variety of industries vs. the Thesis Skins which are more business and marketing focused. Plus Genesis Child Themes are supported by the makers of the Genesis Framework. The Thesis Skins are not supported by DIYthemes but by the skin’s developers.
  • Thesis wins when it comes to design options customizable through the admin options panels. But if you know enough about CSS, you can easily fix the same things just by editing the Genesis style.css file.
  • The initial installation of Genesis is much simpler than Thesis, unless you’re already familiar with FTP and file permissions.
  • Theme customization must be done through the hooks and functions or using the simple hooks plugins. Both themes break if you mess up the functions file – you don’t have better luck with one over the other between Thesis or Genesis.
  • SEO types seem to be heavy users of Thesis. Social media types are leaning with Genesis.

Alternative Premium WordPress Themes

If, after reading all of this, you’re not convinced you want to try Thesis or Genesis Framework, I thought I’d add a few other premium WordPress themes I would recommend as I have used them for various projects over the past few years.

Elegant Themes

Elegant Themes offers over 60 premium theme designs built for businesses, personal portfolios, photographers, magazines, and more. For $39 you get access to all of their themes for one year for your personal websites, or for $89 you get access to all of their themes plus the Photoshop files for each theme for personal and client websites.


Press75 offers premium theme designs built for video, photo, portfolio, news, and commerce sites. Their themes are $75 each, or you can subscribe to packages offering access to all of their themes for use on an unlimited number of websites for two months ($100), six months ($200), or a lifetime ($400).

Which Theme Do You Choose?

Now I open the floor to readers. What premium WordPress theme do you use on your site, and how do you like it? If you have experience with both Thesis and Genesis, which one do you like the best? Any other theme suggestions? Let us know!

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes     Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting


  1. says


    That’s a really great comparison between 2 excellent themes. Personally I still have Thesis on my blog, but I use Genesis for my other projects and client websites.

    I didn’t switched yet to Genesis because I have to redesign everything, but one problem with Thesis from last week, moved this task up in my to-do list.

    Excellent article, Kristi!

    Eugen Oprea just posted 10 Great WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins

  2. says

    You made me laugh when you mentioned the “string of obscenities” that flew from your husband’s mouth at having to set up a new website. I can relate!
    This is the exact reason I’ve kept my current theme in place for nearly 2 years. I don’t feel comfortable installing a “fancy” theme. I’ve been contemplating installing Headway vs. Thesis for a while, as I’ve heard it didn’t require “coding.” After reading your article I’m going to learn more about Genesis.
    Thank you for sharing so much information on both themes with us. This was very helpful to me.
    Angela Artemis just posted Giving Up The Illusion of Control When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    • says

      You’re welcome Angela. I’ve heard good things about Headway, but I’ve noticed a lot of the people who did use it are switching to Genesis now too. I’ve never used Headway myself, so I couldn’t say why, but I don’t really need anymore options since I have both Thesis & Genesis now. :)

  3. says

    This is an excellent comparison of the Studiopress and Thesis themes Kristi.

    The Genesis framework makes setting up a site really simple. No more expletives required to get the job done. I’ve worked with Thesis as well from time to time, but the winner for me is definitely Studiopress.

    Thanks Kristi
    Kathleen just posted Your Online Presence

  4. says

    Awesome comparison, Kristi, and very informative for anyone looking to make a decision on premium WordPress themes/frameworks.

    Having used Thesis, and then Headway, and then Genesis, I have to say for the easiest options I always recommend Genesis now. Like you say, their child themes are truly beautiful and it always makes a difference when it’s the developers themselves that are building them (or endorsing them).

    One quick note – if you buy the ProPlus package, you get access to a really cool plug-in that allows you to edit the basic Genesis framework without any coding skills. So, change fonts, sidebars, colours, etc.

    Again, cheers for a great overview!
    Danny Brown just posted How to REALLY Measure the ROI of Social Media

    • says

      The “plugin” you mentioned is actually the Prose child theme – which is included in Pro Plus package but also can be purchased as a single child theme :) Just to note this for interested users.

      I am a Genesis user from Germany using this framework and ecosystem since last year July and really satisfied with it. I had used Thesis before and didn’t like it also their developer option is not a good option for my business/clients work. So all in all Genesis is also my winner!

      -Dave from Germany :)
      David Decker just posted How the Genesis Framework Turned My Business Around

        • GaryJ says

          No, Prose is definitely a child theme (not a plugin), and it’s the only thing which adds a Design Settings page for controlling the styles.

          The Pro Plus package is currently for themes only – SP make all of their plugins free – GenesisConnect is written and supported by a 3rd party.

    • says

      Thanks Danny! I’ll probably be getting the Pro Plus package in just a few weeks when I start some other projects – good to know about that plugin!

  5. says

    Kristi, this is such a detailed review, I really love it. I am using Thesis and really like it but there were times I was thinking if I made a mistake. Sometimes I think I should have picked a “simpler to work with” theme. Then again when I do some small customizations others can’t do with their theme, I realize why I love it.
    Brankica just posted Complete Guide to Customizing your Facebook Fan page

    • says

      Thanks Brankica! I haven’t regretted having Thesis – I’ve used themes with and without frameworks / hooks, and they both really take a lot of time to customize, depending what you want to do. One thing nice about the hooks is you don’t have to figure out which div goes where in a template – just knowing the hook will get your code where you want it to be!

  6. says

    What a great review & comparison! I’m a big fan of (and use) Genesis. Another great thing about Genesis is access to their support forums. Answers are answered quickly and accurately by some very talented people. This is really important when you start digging into how to customize your themes! I have yet to find something I’m trying to do that hasn’t already been addressed in their support forums.

  7. says

    Nice post. I like Genesis IMHO. I have used Thesis too and like what genesis has to offer when it comes to the foundational framework and integration with many plugins and seems to be a bit easier to use.
    ben just posted Hello world!

    • says

      Definitely lots of great support out there Sharon. I haven’t found anything that someone hasn’t already written an article about so far.

  8. says

    I use Genesis and always had some thing in my mind that probably I am missing something by not using Thesis.

    Thank you for a detailed comparison.

    Regardless of what option you go for, one thing I would say for people who is just thinking to start a blog, should not spend their time and energy on free themes. It’s worth paying for a premium theme.
    Rana just posted 11 Google Plus Predictions from 11 Social Media Pros

  9. says

    Wow! What a long comparative post. Anyway, I haven’t used the Genesis and I am new in using the Thesis Theme.

    Currently, I spent more time in customizing my blog that uses thesis. The fact is that, it really consumes most of my time because I don’t have much knowledge with CSS and I haven’t fully understand how hooks are being use.

    But anyway, it is still worth because I have many technical knowledge that I learned in my journey of customizing thesis. If I already have the budget, I may use the Genesis Framework.

    For me, I guess using the Thesis for niche websites is a good choice because of its Search Engine Friendly coding while the Genesis Framework is more in Social Media.

    Thanks for this post Kristi. You really put some great effort creating this post.

    – Felix
    Felix Albutra just posted Hello Guys! Please Help Me to WIN This Guest Blogging Contest.

    • says

      I’m fortunate in the fact that I played around with other templates’ PHP and CSS, so after the learning curve with the hooks, it is easier to understand. I found the visual reference to the hooks to be a life-saver!

  10. says


    Great job!

    I just moved my main site and main blog from Typepad to WordPress.

    I’m using StudioPress for two main reasons;

    1. The folks behind StudioPress are top notch professionals. I don’t think that brian Clark would let me down. He’s a pain in the neck. (In a good way. ) He expects and demands the best, and it shows.

    2. My web designer was very positive about using SP for my site/blog, and was familiar with it.

    Again, great job, Kristi!

    The Franchise King®
    JoelLibava just posted How to Capitalize on a Weak Housing Market

    • says

      Thanks Joel! Having a web designer that is knowledgeable about the theme you want is a plus – I feel bad for the people that end up with designers who only want to use the thing they are most familiar with and force their clients into using it even when they don’t like it. Seen that one too many times.

  11. says

    I never used Thesis extensively as so many have, but I recently made the switch to Genesis from mostly free themes and love it.

    One thing I thought I’d mention is that the Prose Child Theme for Genesis is very similar to Thesis in that you have extra no-coding-required options.

    Great post, Kristi!
    Amy Lynn Andrews just posted Do You Keep a Buzz File? You Should.

  12. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for the detailed post on Genesis vs Thesis. I first started my blog out on a theme from ThemeForest. In recent weeks I moved to Thesis. I really like Thesis a lot. Customization options are big for me. Being able to remove some plugins as a result of using Thesis was nice too.

    The extra money to use Thesis for clients does not bother me as I pass that along to the client as cost of doing business, a nominal cost at that.

    I also appreciate that Thesis has brought my page loads down from almost 11 seconds to 3 to 4 seconds.

    While Genesis looks great, I am sold on Thesis.
    Chris Harris just posted 20 LESSONS I LEARNED IN BUSINESS

    • says

      Good point about passing along the expense Chris. I’m always trying to keep the costs down for people when I do work for them, and I figure if I want the Pro Plus pack just for myself, then I don’t really need to add on extra expenses for the licenses. Plus I do a lot of developing for my husband, and he’s not letting me charge. 😉

  13. says

    Hi Kristi – great writeup.

    I’ve used both Thesis and Genesis, and have both installed on sites today. My main sites though and all of my client sites are running on the Genesis framework.

    I’ve found that if you want something easy and no frills Thesis works great. I have a few Amazon affiliate sites that I simply added a header to and changed a few colors.

    For flexibility and serious control I chose Genesis. The child themes are very easy to customize for clients, the additional plugins to control the sidebars and menus are great (though you can use them outside of Genesis) and it’s very fast as well.

    For me what it comes down to is having a faster start out of the gate. If you want that go with Genesis and the child themes. I have the Pro Plus package and have gotten way more value from it than the $300 price tag.
    Robert Dempsey just posted Google Proves Not Being On Social Media Will Kill Your SEO

  14. says

    I think there’s a significant typo. You said, “Since Genesis does charge additionally for developers who are creating websites for their clients using their framework”, when I think you meant to say, “Since Thesis does charge additionally for developers who are creating websites for their clients using their framework”.
    Donna just posted Shocking Stats Reveal Social Network Failure!

    • says

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about Genesis or seen people make the switch. Always drove me a little bananas not knowing why, and since I like having all the details, as I was writing this I had to share all of them too! :)

  15. says

    That was really comprehensive! I did use Genesis at one point but switched over to Headway. I don’t like to spend my time learning new codes and hooks when I can easily edit the site with a few clicks here and there. Plus, Headway offers you the option to use custom CSS and hooks too. And the price can’t be beat :)
    Eugene just posted Putting Your Price Where Your Customer’s Mouth Is

    • says

      I really have to look at that theme a little closer Eugene. I was supposed to get a free copy of it a while ago, but ended up so busy that I never asked for it. Of course, now I have my hands full of themes!

  16. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Informative and educative post!

    It sure is an eye opener for someone who is wanting to switch to WordPress, like me- as I have been confused and wondering which of these to go in for.

    It is indeed tough to make a decision on premium WordPress themes/frameworks, but your timely article cleared the clouds.

    Thanks for sharing :)
    Harleena Singh just posted How Freelance Writers can Use Google+

  17. says

    I’ve recently started migrating from Thesis to Genesis and have to admit, I’m a lover of Genesis. I’m finding it loads fasters, provides me more options and flexibility as a blogger.

    This is my personal experience and I’m sure there are others who will disagree!
    Barry Wheeler just posted Social Media is a Fad Right?

    • says

      Everyone has their preference Barry – someone earlier said Thesis loads faster. I haven’t noticed too much of a difference between the two, but a huge difference between those and some others I’ve tried with other sites. Both are very well optimized!

  18. says

    I always prefer to use Genesis theme. I use it on all my sites.

    I really don’t like elegant theme. It is just not flexible. If you know a little coding, Genesis can do almost everything you need. Especially you can easily integrate new custom post type into Geneis with Genisis SEO. Not too easy with Thesis in my opinion.
    Terence Chang just posted Block WordPress Remote Comment Spam Bot

    • says

      Templates are bit trickier with Thesis. I was looking for the hard way to do a new template for Genesis, then I just read you can just upload a new template file like you do with other themes. Problem solved!

  19. says

    I develop most of my sites with Genesis. I don’t think you mentioned how helpful the community can be. When you ask a question on the forums, you usually don’t have to wait very long to get an answer.
    Genesis is very well coded, so it will be faster (less database queries), it also has excellent SEO settings built-in and is regularly audited for security best practices.
    Paul just posted deploying WordPress sites with Capistrano on hostgator

    • says

      I’ve had good experience with both the StudioPress and DIYthemes forums Paul. No complaints for either. ThemeForest on the other hand – don’t get me started! :)

  20. says

    I’m a developer and I love Genesis. I pick a child theme and modify it to suit my client’s design needs and it really is pretty painless. I find the code nice and clean and easy to work with, and their support forum rocks. Worth noting that if a client wants access to the support forum they need to buy the single site license, but a small price to pay if they want to ‘break free’ of me and do their own thing.
    Alison just posted The Best Websites Make You Rich

    • says

      Ah, good point Alison – didn’t even think about getting the clients access. Most of the ones I’ve worked with just ask me for updates anyway though. :)

  21. says

    I frequently swap between Thesis and Genesis. Thesis although harder to set up initially does become easier over time, uploading headers and design customisation is much easier across the the site compared to Genesis. As Amy mentions above Prose is a lot like Thesis in the settings.

    When it comes to ease of use for clients, I use Genesis. They don’t seem to get in as much trouble as they do with Thesis :)

    I also have found Gabfire themes pretty spectacular for sites with a whole heap of content and am considering moving Birds on the blog over to that. We currently use Serenity and we need a lot more functionality than we are currently getting. We shall see, I’ll probably change my mind again.

    This post and the comments should help a lot of undecided bloggers make up their mind :)
    Sarah Arrow just posted What is a Swipe file and should a blogger have one?

  22. says

    Loving the detail you put into this post.

    I, personally, have been a Pro-Plus member of the StudioPress and Genesis community for about a year now and absolutely love it. I still experiment with various other themes, and frameworks, but tend to come back to Genesis for the ease of use, theme variety, and as importantly their online support forum.

    In all fairness, I have seen the back-end and used the Thesis Theme and think Chris Pearson has done a fantastic job with his product (the shortcodes and custom hooks are mindblowing – in a good way)

  23. Margy Rydzynski says

    Great article. I’ve got both themes and have been trying to figure them out. I’m not a coding geek, but I do love putting together DIY websites, so I’ll have to give them both another look.

  24. says

    As well as being a great resource, I enjoyed reading this very much.

    I use Thesis and have often wondered whether to take a wander over to Genesis. Now the only problem is that Sarah Arrow’s comment has led me to look at Gabfire. Something else to stir into the mix.
    David Bennett just posted I Spy Modern Art In Edinburgh

  25. says

    This is an awesome and detailed comparison. You were in my head weren’t you. I JUST asked a client to switch to Genesis. I have utilized Themeforest & Elegant themes…just like you said, beautiful sites…but installation was hell. It took many hours to understand the installation and then all the things for setting it up for me and clients…but I was faithful because the cost of those was less. I have been working with Genesis for week and have already done two sites for client and now transitioning mine and you are right…WAY better and much easier, the tutorials are helpful through the forum and instructions were clear…so agree!! I remember my first stab at Thesis was scarry and I was less experienced with WordPress at the time… far was much easier and I love the choices of child themes.

    • says

      I know what you mean Michelle. The sites I’ve put on Elegant haven’t been too bad, but most of them are very low-traffic sites. I feel like Genesis (or Thesis) have “lighter” themes and coding than Elegant or ThemeForest, so they would handle traffic stress much better. I wasn’t sure if it was just because I had the hooks experience, but the learning curve on Genesis was really not too bad which I took as a good sign!

  26. GaryJ says

    One small correction please:

    But if you know enough about CSS, you can easily fix the same things just by editing the Genesis style.css file.

    While it *is* possible to edit the style sheet file within the Genesis theme, it is definitely not recommended to do that, since making use of the one-click automatic update feature in Genesis will wipe out those customisations.

    Instead, you can install the free Sample Child Theme (it looks exactly like the default Genesis theme) and make the customisations to style.css there – you’ve then got the power of Genesis (unmodified), coupled with all your customisations safe elsewhere.

  27. says

    Kristi, thank you for the time you spent on this fairly exhaustive review of WordPress frameworks. You even managed to stay objective!

    I’d love to see a head-to-head review of how long it takes to implement a Photoshop home page design in Genesis vs. Thesis (no purchased child theme) — and how much custom coding it requires outside of the theme options.

    • says

      I really like both themes for different reasons Karen – I couldn’t find any reason why one was awful and the other one was a life-saver. Just depends on your needs!

  28. says

    Great article, as always, Kristi. I’ve been meaning to try both of these frameworks and this is a big help. And, you should check out a pretty good framework / theme that is free… Atahualpa. I’ve used it for several sites and it is highly flexible – and again – it is free for personal, business, or client use.

    BrianDouglas just posted 7 Secrets of Social Media Conversion

    • says

      It’s been awhile since I went with a free theme Brian. I’ve had some pretty nasty experiences with them – one even came with some encrypted PHP code that the theme designer had planted in to force your site to display links to completely unrelated businesses. Kind of just lost the feel for looking at the freebies from that point on, although I’ll trust that one you mentioned is a good suggestion. :)

    • says

      The skins come in pretty handy for sites you want to look better than the base framework but don’t want to spend a lot of time customizing. :)

  29. says

    Very nice and detailed comprehensive review for premium WordPress themes and WordPress frameworks. Personally, I am using premium themes Dark and Light Prestige from Digital Cavalry and with few plugins i am really satisfied with them but I have to consider some new options for clients and I think both themes, Thesis and Genesis are excellent option.
    Thanks again, for very informative article. :]

    • says

      The installation process for Genesis definitely wins over Thesis. I’ve had a few upgrades go wrong because I didn’t follow the instructions precisely – who really likes reading directions anyway. :)

  30. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Congrats – this is the best comparison I’ve seen on these themes so far (and I’ve read just about all of them!). Not long ago I went on a ‘theme hunt’ and most of the race saw these two vying for pole position.

    In the end Swift snuck in as my final choice. Why? Speed and SEO as good as Thesis and Genesis, comparable customization possibilities, more accessible without any technical expertise (as far as I could tell). Holding out for the Swift’s imminent HTML5 overhaul before I tweak it hard, but so far, very happy.

    I actually did get a copy of Thesis, but couldn’t swing a comment without hitting a Thesis themed blog which put me off it a little.

    Anyway, brilliant review, hope anyone considering these two themes finds this post!
    Jym just posted How to get More Google Plus One Clicks While You Boost Your Business

  31. says

    I have thought about purchasing either Thesis or Genesis but have decided to stay with my own custom theme. I enjoy learning about WordPress, in terms of themes, so for my blog I’ll just go with what I can create.

    I have, however, been thinking about creating a photography blog, so for that I may go with a framework. I have been thinking about which framework to choose, and your comparison has really helped in that regard. With the information you provided it will help me make a more informed decision.
    Paul Salmon just posted Best Places to Shop for a Laptop

    • says

      I wish I had the time to get into creating a custom theme too Paul, but my design skills are definitely not up to speed for that kind of work. Glad to have helped with giving you choices for your photo blog. Let me know once you have it running. My husband and I are both into photography!

  32. says

    What a great commentary! I’m in the procrastination phase of converting my free WordPress blog to a paid one, since I use this to showcase my work much more than my other already paid website (which I don’t like). I say procrastinating because I’m a dummy when it comes to all-things-IT, so I’m a bit of a deer in the headlights right now, figuring where to start. I had no idea that these skins even existed! So your article has really helped give me some wonderful pointers. Many thanks :)
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  33. says


    This is an awesome and detailed comparison. I am using Thesis. My initial reaction when I installed Thesis and when I was reading through the documentations were frightening. For quite some time, I was thinking about switching to a simple theme where things work at click of a button.

    But now being a Thesis user for about an year, I must say I understand the power of a plain framework where there is so much room for creativity to make my website look exactly the way I want it to be.

    Additionally, I’ve learned so much customization and Thesis Customization service is one of the major source of income through my services.

    I have put my hands on Genesis theme on one of my client’s websites and I am leaned towards Thesis!

    Jane just posted Blogging Success: 53 Blogging Mistakes You Should Avoid

    • says

      That’s great Jane! There’s got to be a good bit of demand for Thesis customization – glad to hear that it worked out so well for you!

  34. says

    Kristi, thank you! I have been ready to make the switch to one or the other, but I haven’t been able to get a straight answer as to the real lowdown on both themes. This definitely clears quite a few things up for me.
    Angie just posted Blogging Conferences 2012

  35. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I’m new here and like your blog’s nice clean layout.

    I must admit that I have looked at both of these themes and used Thesis for a little while in test mode on my site.

    I think that WooThemes have the best themes out there and they have their own framework with a parent/child setup for intricate customisations.

    Thanks for the comparison post though. :)
    Wayne Lambert just posted Best Internet Marketing Tools

  36. says

    I have been using Studio Press Genesis themes for myself and my clients and have really gotten spoiled. Their support is awesome. I just recently installed a couple Thesis themes and, although it is very versatile theme, it requires more knowledge than the everyday business owner/blogger has time to deal with. I’m having fun with it though.

    I was a little put off with the fact that I paid for the developer package for Thesis thinking I could use it for client sites, only to find I had to pay extra for each client.

    After working with some really awful themes that clients insisted on, I have to say that Genesis rocks in so many ways. I also love the Premise plugin, by Copyblogger, which allows you to create landing pages inside of your existing theme without having to create a new directory or additional site. It’s fabulous!
    Rebecca Olkowski WordPress Small Business just posted How to Incorporate a Landing Page into Your Blog

    • says

      I know what you mean Rebecca. Developer does sound like it should be inclusive of developing websites for other people, but oh well. I’ve seen my share of pretty awful themes too (one was “custom” and the developer didn’t bother to put in an archives or comment template), so StudioPress is definitely a welcomed treat comparatively!

    • says

      Definitely depends Julie. My site is pretty happy on Thesis, but for the photo blog, I needed the skins from StudioPress. It’s nice to know that between the two, I’m covered on any project I plan to do. :)

  37. says

    I’m another very happy Genesis user. My developer knowledge is very basic but Studiopress – forums included – makes everything so simple.

    I use Genesis for my personal blog and am in the process of moving my work (non profit) onto it too.

    Although It’s clearly great for developers, I’ve found it perfect for me – none of the chunks and frustrations I had with free themes
    Louise Calvert just posted Overcast (121 of 365)

    • says

      Very true Louise! Some of the free themes just aren’t worth it when it comes to trying to figure them out on your own and troubleshooting the glitches.

    • says

      That’s exactly what I was about to ask, Kristi, Louise – how’s their support system, but you somewhat answered the question.

      My blog runs on Thesis and I love the support I can get and the abundance of techies who know the theme in and out.


      PS Kristi: Wanted to make sure you saw your blog on my new CommentLuv enabled blog list!
      Ana just posted Internet Marketing Tools

  38. says

    It’s just a trend. Once we used to see flood of posts about how awesome thesis themes are. Now the trend has diverted to Genesis and therefore flood has changed. Few days later another will come and will flood the blogosphere. I’m really tired of this.

    ps. I do appreciate the effort you took to go through this deep comparison between the two themes. I just expressed my honest opinion on the whole matter.
    Sajib just posted Alien invasion in Bangladesh

    • says

      Well, you have to admit it’s a good thing I waited to use both of them then review it, vs the people that review it quickly just to jump onto the trend. I’ve been using Thesis for about 2 years now, so it’s past the trend mode and into stability I would say. :)

  39. says

    Both are excellent choices. I do see genesis user end that look cleaner more often than thesis. I am not for or against either, but the thesis ones I see that are obvious are a little on the basic side and similar to one another. The genesis ones seem a little different and unique.
    Ray just posted Timestamping articles and posts

  40. says

    Nice comparison guide filled with lots of goodies!

    I started with Thesis and also used Genesis. I first started to convert Thesis to Genesis when I started to use wpMU sites more (v3 wordpress+ especially) and if I were to create a new site, I would start with Genesis. If I thought it was time to upgrade a site on Thesis, I would convert it to Genesis. If a site on Thesis ‘ain’t broken’ I don’t bother to replace it and just leave it on Thesis.

    As an “oldie’ offering advice to a “newbie” my viewpoint was that using Thesis makes you dumb with your site, because you can probably find the answer to any question and even ask questions in the forum, then copy/paste the answers. At least with Genesis you get all the info you need to know and able to learn and expand from it (and yes .. if do not find what you are looking for can ask for help and get answers and copy/paste too).

    Currently, my child themes of choice for each is Lifestyle (Thesis) and Sleek (Genesis)
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    • says

      Yeah, I don’t plan on moving my Thesis based sites anytime soon either Hart, but it’s good to know there are other options out there for new endeavors. :)

  41. says

    Hi there Kristi!

    What an awesome post. I can honestly tell you I have used both of these themes. I absolutely love and recommend Genesis for the Real Estate Industry. I have completely customized the Agent Press Theme.

    As far as Thesis. I just switched my main site over to the Thesis Theme. I absolutely love it! I actually designed everything in Photoshop. Gave the psd to an outsourcer I found on Odesk and had everything created for about $100. You can’t beat that!
    Thanks for you post. I love it!
    Chad Nicely just posted Make Money From Blogging, REALLY!

  42. says

    OK, you lost me when you said both themes work on the HOOK system. I prefer a theme that does’t require you to learn anything new just to get it to do something that you need. Maybe it’s because of my age but as far as I’m concerned I want a theme that is easy to use and configure. Lucky for me I have found such a theme, one that only requires a click of the mouse to get it to do what I want it to do.
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    • says

      That’s good Sire! Although both are on hooks, Genesis has more theme design built in to where you don’t have to use them as much as you do with Thesis. That’s the big difference. But if you have a theme that works for you, no need to change what isn’t broken. :)

  43. says


    We use thesis for most of our sites and the forum and support is really good. The hook system is really not that hard and one you get the hang of it its great!

    We dabbled with some Thesis child themes but really once you get the hang of the framework you do not really need them.

    I find the SEO options really easy in Thesis.

    Nik just posted Motivation at Work

  44. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Thank you for your post. I found it while thinking about purchasing Genesis. But I think i will stick to Premium themes.
    My favorite provider by the way is WooThemes which you have not mentioned in the list of premium themes

    Michelle Castillo just posted WordPress solutions table

  45. says

    I’ve been using Studiopress (even pre-Genesis) for 2 years (as a developer) and just hate to work with anything else. Making all the changes in the child theme gives you no worries when you upgrade unlike other themes I’ve used which are painful upgrades. I’ve never used Thesis so I have no opion on it. I’m a hand coder and like the ease in making structural changes in the child theme. Great review for letting people understand the differences between them.
    Melinda just posted Give Me All the Juicy Details

  46. says

    Personally I use the AtomicBlogging theme but based on your review if I were to make the switch it would be to Genesis because of the simple installation along with the different artistically looking cool theme designs. Too many ppl use Thesis and you can tell because most of them look very similar (although the fact that Googles spokesman uses it does make you go “hmmm”).

    Im not big on tampering with function files because something as simple as leaving a blank space in the wrong place can mess your whole site up so from trial and error ive grown pretty good at tweaking out the single, main index, css, page,etc files with codings.
    Caleb just posted Why AWeber is a Worthy Investment

  47. says

    I’m in the process of selecting a new theme for new blog. This helps a lot. I’ve been working with Elegant themes, and tweaking the crap out of them (so they don’t look like the original, so I don’t have the same theme as 500 other people), and it’s worked out wonderfully so far. BUT, I’m moving on for this blog. Looking around Themeforest, but will check these guys out too. Nice job of laying out the details of what makes each one good.

    • says

      Be careful with Themeforest Ryan. I’ve bought 4 themes from them, one business, three for photography portfolios. All had great designs, but the functionality of the WordPress itself was lacking. Beware of bad installation instructions, little support (one theme developer had an automated email from his “support” email that essentially said I’m too busy to deal with little theme problems), and messed up functionality (one theme had a latest posts widget on the homepage, and the homepage SEO would pull info from that latest post for the meta title / description on the homepage). They’re probably not all bad, but I find it odd I got 4 out of 4 bad apples on one site. :(

      • says

        I have used Thesis for a while now and love the freedom. But using Thesis has forced me to learn css. Probably not a bad thing. Trial and error and a good support system works in the long run.

        Every now and then I want to change the site though and I have been to Themeforest. Did not work for me at all and I went back to Thesis within a day. I have also tried elegant themes but found them hard to customise.

        Thanks for the information on Genesis. I am still not sure if I will try it though as it seems that once the theme is installed and you have a site up it might not be worth the change.
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        • says

          I originally found this post because I was looking to change my home page. I liked the look of my blog pages and the general look of my site.

          I stayed with Thesis and bought a child theme that ended up being far more trouble than it was worth, as all of my customizations were now gone.

          I eventually had to go back to Thesis without the child theme and redo all of the customization. If I had just spent this time learning what I wanted to do, instead of bringing the site back, I would be done.

          What I learned was that if you want to do a lot of customizations, it might not be so easy with the child themes.

          Thanks for this post.

          Terry just posted Project Peru Amazon: Part Two

  48. says

    Thanks Kristi great exhaustive post and structured logically .. just what I was unbiased look at both .. I’ve been toying with wether to use a Genesis designer or plunge myself .. the ‘hook’s are the only thing worrying me but nothing ventured ..I have joined up to the Genesis forum which you can do without needing to purchase. It looks like a big community with a lot of volunteer admin which is a good sign .. and once you have purchased there seems to be a ton of tutorials .. thanks if I take the plunge I’ll use ur link :)
    ps one issue which will grow and grow is how fast Genesis loads .. Google will be luvin this aspect and as a PPC’er this will save me huge $ through my Quality Score .. those fancy slideshows look grt but suck for d/load speed of ur site
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    • says

      Thanks David. They’ve been having hosting problems, and it seems they’ve gotten worse. I just pulled them from the post till it gets sorted out, which is a shame because they have some really nice themes – they’re the same guys behind the Blogussion design.

  49. says

    Fantastic review, i’ve been eyeing both frameworks for a while and wondered what the experience of implementing them would actually be like.
    Having said that (and excuse if this is a daft question, but I’m only an occasional WordPress coder!) if you’re paying $25 upwards for skins / child themes on top of the framework, it wouldn’t cost that much more to just buy a theme from themeforest, elegant themes or wherever, which gives basically what you need and then make minor css tweaks from there?
    Kate just posted Social Media Strategy – where to start with your business

    • says

      Hi Kate,

      I’ve had some pretty rough experiences with Themeforest – beautiful designs, but the ones I tried (at least 4 by different vendors) were apparently made by designers and not coders or WordPress knowledgeable people in general. Support isn’t through Themeforest but the individual theme makers, so the 3 out of 4 I tried to contact never gave me useful information. One just had an email responder saying he was too busy to deal with supporting his own products.

      Elegant Themes is one I recommend if you’re looking for pretty design (definitely over Themeforest any day). Their themes don’t have a lot of built in SEO options like these frameworks do, and they tend to load a bit slower than these frameworks based on the 6 I’ve installed so far.

  50. Kay Wilson says

    Interested in why so many people promote Thesis or Genesis….Is it because they make affilate money? I have been using free word press Licorice theme. I also have free Blogger.
    Perhaps you could evaluate. I am on a budget and each pd theme looks like it is only the beginning of costs.

    • says

      Hi Kay,

      I promote them because I use them and I can make some commission off of them. In general, I’ve used a lot of premium vs. free themes, and the premium themes are just a lot less hassle. I tried a free theme once that came with built-in encrypted code that the theme maker used to embed links onto other people’s sites whether they wanted them or not. It’s not to say that free themes are all bad, but in general, the premium ones are updated more often and have a nice support system – these two especially.

      • says

        I have several sites. I have used free themes (still do on a couple of them) and I use Thesis several others.

        One thing that your readers might find useful in assessing themes is the TAC plugin.

        From the WordPress plugin page for this plugin:

        “TAC stands for Theme Authenticity Checker. Currently, TAC searches the source files of every installed theme for signs of malicious code. If such code is found, TAC displays the path to the theme file, the line number, and a small snippet of the suspect code. As of v1.3 TAC also searches for and displays static links.”

        Hope this helps.
        David Bennett just posted The Coast Road To Edinburgh

  51. says

    Hello Kristy. I’m a Woowthemes man myself. And even though they have great SEO integration, I have it on good professional opinion that both Thesis (from Hesham) and Genesis (from Brian Clarke) are GREAT for SEO. I’ve heard you rank almost immediately. However, I guess I just got so used to Woo that I am in a comfort zone. And because I understand the framework pretty well, I deisng all my cleints websites and blogs with it.

    B.t.w WHAT A POST! You really went all out here. But we epect it from you. I honestly don’t know where you find the time, as I understand you are aslo fully employed? Well, done!
    Ivin just posted How to Get More Out Of Your Blog Engage Experience

  52. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I’ve been looking for an in depth head-to-head comparison like this. Thanks!

    I started a new blog a few months ago and couldn’t get things to look professional and have it lined up properly until I said “what the heck” and got Thesis.

    I’m not a coder at all besides a bit of HTML so the one click functionality and built in SEO options made this theme an easy choice.

    Thanks for putting this together.
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  53. says

    I’m using (and loving) the Genesis framework with news child theme and the experience has been amazing! I’d previously been considering forking out a few thousand dollars to get the look and feel I was trying for, but I managed to do it exactly how I wanted with Genesis.

    Only problem I’ve had (and it just happened twice in 48 hours) is that my theme reverted to default automatically for some strange reason resulting in me doing a site restore which caused me some down time. I’ve since learnt that it was the MySQL database that was actually the only thing that needed to be restored.
    I’m not sure what caused it as I’ve been running Genesis worry free for all of 2011 so I’m thinking it’s one of the plugins I’ve updated recently.

    Thesis I used only once before and while it had great look and functionality I had a hard time configuring it to look the way I wanted.

    My vote goes to Genesis!
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  54. says

    Hey Kristi,
    I was pretty much set to pull the trigger on Thesis and now I am not so sure. I am certainly intrigued by the fact that genesis seems to have more variety on the themes, and they support them.

    However, I am still thinking the SEO simplicity and the easier customization with little CSS knowledge is going to have me selecting Thesis. Although I was not aware you had to pay a little extra for each client site with the developer option. Not a deal breaker, but certainly good to know.
    Damon just posted Debt Settlement Scams – 10 Stupid Simple Ways To Get Burned

  55. says

    This is the first review of these two themes I’ve come across that wasn’t just blatantly pushing sales. I am seriously considering moving to a cleaner theme for my site and Thesis is one I want to go for, Genesis is another I recently found out about.

    I’m not sure if I can get the look I need, the skins I’ve found so far do not cut it. My site is not a blog and sort of a magazine style. Do you have any suggestions for me? If you show me a winner the sale is yours :)

  56. says

    I’ve been using Genesis for about a year now. I’ve got to say, I love the themes, love the framework, and it’s very easy to use once you get the hang of it. The support system is pretty hit or miss though. I’ve had times when the support team answers with a clear and concise response, I’ve had times when I get no answer for days on end, and I’ve also had support members just be flat out rude.

    The support system is managed through a forum where the StudioPress specialists will grab unanswered questions, and every time I hit the post new thread button I’ve got my fingers crossed it’ll be picked up by someone who can help.

    The forum is filled with a lot of users asking “How do I…?” questions, then coming back to say “Nevermind, got it!” with no hints on how the found the solution.

    All in all though, it’s a sound investment in a great blogging framework that’s rock solid.
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  57. says

    Thesis is good for the DIY blogger that wants to customize his own blog. Genesis is good because of the great looking child themes available, but a little harder to customize.

    As a designer I prefer the Hybrid theme and the new Hybrid Core framework. While it may not have all the bells and whistles (options) of the two previous themes it is pretty easy to modify and the support is excellant. Did I mention it is free?

    Exclusive membership tutorials and support via forums will cost you a measly $25 a year which I recommend everyone join just to tap into Justin’s WP expertise, whether using his themes or not.

  58. says

    I have never used Genesis, thought about switching my site over to it but eventually decided on thesis just because I felt more comfortable with it. Will be using Genesis on a future blog but I am a Thesis man for my online home and I highly endorse it hands down to everyone who asks me.

    P.S. I absolutely love your site. You have great things going on over here. Look forward to coming back more often.
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  59. says

    I think for a strong, regular posted blog Thesis is a strong contender. Mars Dorian and Blog Tyrant use the package and each has a strong individual style.

    For all other uses I would recommend Genesis. For someone without much technical experience it is easy through the StudioPress widgets to customise the look of the Home Page – you can easily develop a main article, three slightly smaller articles and then a list of others very easily.

    Their sidebar widget allows you to develop individual sidebars that will display according to category or tag again without any real technical knowledge.

    StudioPress support is also very good.

  60. says

    Like Ben, appreciate the head-to-head comparison of these two premium themes, Kristi. Have read so many articles advocating for one or the other. I’m using a heavily modified Twenty Ten theme and have gotten used to it. My biggest concern always is loading speed (you can tell from my content :) and I seem to have that working OK.
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  61. Chris says

    Nice Breakdown of the two. I love Genesis. Although some of the documentation is meant for developers and less for designers, there are blogs out there that break down some of the way more tech stuff for me and I am always able to do what I need to do. A fresh install of Gensis and the Simple child theme is all I need as a CSS junkie to be a very happy man. Plus there are many native, and third party plugin’s available on the wordpress plugin repository specifically meant for Genesis.

    Now, being November 2011. Genesis is about to come out with an update that will make it Responsive by default. There is a blog post about it over at their site:

    Gensis going responsive for me is fantastic. No more coding for handheld, ipad etc. It will support different resolutions out of the box. No need for a “mobile” plugin or anything. They also mentioned they would be updating all of their child themes in no specific order to fit the responsive model as well. With the update though, the Simple theme is also being updated at the same time. So at least we have a responsive child theme to get started with.

  62. says


    Great post! Both themes are great and I love that you point out the “Responsive” web design now integrated into many Genesis themes.

    My wife designed my site using Thesis and designed one of her previous sites using Thesis. This was pre-“skins” being available. The SEO bump she got on her site was enormous and she was even outranking the company she sold products for at the time :)

    Fast forward a few years and she has been developing some sites on Genesis and really likes the framework. The benefit is that customers get the SEO flexibility and can get some “out of the box” designs that look great. Obviously customized sites can be created as well using their “blank” canvases as starting point.

    Anyway… she has a developer license for both and is using Genesis exclusively these days…

    One downside of Frameworks though relates to people new to WordPress. For newbies some of these “frameworks” confuse the heck out of people due to SO MANY options :) Some just want the ability to (1) choose a color via a pinwheel (2) upload their header image (3) set up their social profiles and (4) set-up an email list via a widget somehow.

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  63. says

    Thanks for the great comparison between Thesis and Genesis. I have been using Thesis for almost two years now and do like the framework but the selection of skins for Thesis leaves a lot to be desired (if only I could design.

    Do not want to go through the learning process of a new framework but after reading the review and seeing the great selection of child themes just had to give it a try. So I just bought myself an early Christmas present using your link. THANKS

    You can see my very poor design efforts at the linked website and hopefully after a couple of weeks a beautiful website based on the Genesis theme.
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  64. says

    So I made the switch. Even though I had Thesis and several customizations on my site, I couldn’t get the site to look the way I wanted it to with Thesis and using a child theme was a big waste of $$ (it took days for them to check their tech support too). See former comments above.

    I was able to find a child theme that had the basics I wanted in Genesis and doing customizations seems easy enough (I have several customizations I wish to make), although Thesis makes font customizations easier and they have a great web interface.

    Now that I have both Thesis and Genesis I think the next website I build will also be in Genesis.

      • says

        Thanks Tony
        I did a second site in Genesis and I’m thrilled!

        I did buy 2 child themes for it (this second site) as I found the first would take me too long to customize. The new site looks great and I am now a Genesis fan.

        I do have to admit that knowing some css is important if you want your site to look unique. Thesis still has a quicker way to customize the colours, font sizes and types and column widths.

        For this second site I found that Genesis uses a unique home page method and I am not a fan of this part. Support was quick to answer my questions though so I fixed the home page problem without too much trouble. I could never have found the answers otherwise.

        But working with Genesis gives you a quicker start for additional style.
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  65. says

    Wonderful review!

    I’ve been a Thesis developer for 2 years and a Genesis developer for about 2 months, so I’m still learning my way around Genesis. That said, I actually came to a different conclusion: Thesis is much faster for development of simpler websites (by simple, I mean 90% of the projects that come to me), but Genesis is better/faster for building more complex ones.

    I haven’t worked much with the Custom Loop API in Thesis, but the child theme structure is so much easier to customize than hooking everything into the thesis_hook_custom_template() or other hooks. When necessary, it’s nice to be able to use a simple template file, especially when building something using new WordPress features (custom post types, custom taxonomies…) that aren’t fully supported by Thesis.

    For the vast majority of websites, both Thesis and Genesis will work just fine. I find Thesis is a bit faster to develop because of it’s great Design Options (can jump in and set 2 column, specify order and width, font styles for headings and sidebars…).

    My biggest complaint about Thesis is it’s lack of support for native features (post thumbnails, taxonomies…) and the recommended parent/child theme format. When a project needs a native feature or is really complex (child themes are more customizable IMO), then I think Genesis is a better solution.
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  66. says

    I’m on the hunt for a someone who knows Genesis | Studio Press. I want to migrate my existing WP site to this more robust platform. I would do the migrate myself, but worry I might mess up some php code and sacrifice the PR4 and Google ranking in the process. Willing to pass along a bird-dog fee in the process.
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  67. says

    I don’t know how I got here, but it was a happy accident! This is the one thing I have been researching the last few days and I am at a complete loss as to what to do.
    I am on Thesis and have loved it. I was able to give a great look to my site simply through the admin panel in just a few clicks.
    But now am looking into a more customized site and just don’t have the time to figure out how to do it. I started looking for developers to code artwork that I already have and have hit a roadblock. I can’t find anyone! When I look through portfolios I see a lot of great business type sites, but not much as far as a creative take that I am looking for. Any suggestions? I am begging!
    That is where Genesis comes in, I have found a ton of developers with style that I am looking for. And I have to tell you the automatic updates (getting an update at all ;)) is a serious plus. Every time I have to update my Thesis theme I chew on my fingernails for days…it’s scary if you don’t know what you are doing!

    I am tempted to make a move to Genesis, I just think I might have better luck with the child themes that are available.

    So my next question – will that kill my SEO to change frameworks?

    Again, so happy to have found your site, just subscribed.
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  68. says


    Wow! I am amazed at what a Fair-minded review of these two themes that you gave us!!! I am so impressed! I have been a CIW Certified Master Site Designer since 2003 and I have been using Thesis Theme for almost two years now. I just mention my credentials so that people will weigh my review of the Thesis Theme accordingly (i.e. which theme might be better for a developer versus for a newbie) Maybe if I couldn’t hand-write html, xhtml and css code with a pen and paper and was confident enough to tweak a little PHP code now and again, then maybe I wouldn’t be so excited about Thesis Theme. I don’t know. But I am good at code so I love the custom.css file that you can put all your CSS customizations in and then easily backup when it’s time to upgrade. If you don’t know the code, just ask in the forums and copy and paste in the right place and you should be fine.

    I am very comfortable with FTP’ing (with FileZilla) WordPress files to and from the web server. If you want to know more about why I love the Thesis Theme so much, please click here: as I have dedicated a whole page (not just one post!) to my blog on the subject.

    I have never used Genesis so my opinion is definitely biased in favor of Thesis. If I wanted more design options right out of the box, then I would go with Genesis. Now that Mark and Matt Hodder from have created such Kick-Ass ( can I say that here? ) skins for Thesis (although they also work with Genesis!) , there doesn’t seem to be a reason for me to even try Genesis since most of my clients are business and bloggers, etc and that’s what Thesis Theme skins seem to favor. Genesis skins and child themes look like they give you more variety, though, from what everyone is saying, so that’s something to think about, too.

    My experience with the Thesis Theme ( forum support has been outstanding although, I must admit, it does not appear that that is everyone’s experience there.

    If you want to get an idea of what kind of tweaks you can do with the Thesis Theme before you buy, then head on over to my site and I have over 70 Free Video Tutorials on WordPress and the Thesis Theme (that’s over 9 hours of video!).

    Once again, Kristi, thanks again for your balanced review and or getting this conversation started!


    Jupiter Jim
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  69. says

    Hi again Kristi,
    I was a little bit confused at first, when I decided to make a good-looking blog, checking left and right, and was convinced to start with Thesis. Maybe affiliate convinced, I’m not sure. I’ve run another check when I totally decided to transfer my free blog on it’s own domain, at last, and Genesis popped up! I was impressed by their copy, believe me.
    I think both are good, Genesis is a hundred dollars more affordable actually (give or take), but some support if you are not a coder, you receive maybe if you’re lucky.
    And now appeared themedy, a combination or a joint between them, again I’m not sure, proving maybe that both solutions are perfectible.
    What a post, congratulations :)
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