This Saturday, the Genesis Framework will celebrate its 10th birthday. That’s a full decade of WordPress websites that have benefited from Genesis, which has been one of the world’s most popular WordPress theme frameworks since it launched.
With the addition of custom post types and custom meta fields in 2010, WordPress was quickly evolving from its roots as a blogging platform into a full-fledged content management system (CMS). At the time, a number of companies came into existence with the express purpose of adding value around these new capabilities. Genesis was one of them.
But Genesis didn’t just add value. The theme framework played—and has continued to play— an integral role in the evolution of WordPress itself, allowing site builders of varying skill levels to quickly and easily build great-looking websites.
With the introduction of WordPress 5.0 and its new block-based editor just over a year ago, we’re arguably in a similarly new era for WordPress, in which the CMS is again evolving to meet the new expectations of today’s digital audiences. Nonetheless, Genesis is as relevant today as it was when it was born—arguably more so, as Genesis-built themes embrace content blocks and mobile-first approaches that are priorities for today’s site builders.
All that said, many WordPress users are still unfamiliar with Genesis and all of the ways they can put the powerful theme framework to use for their sites. Keep reading below for a quick primer on this amazing theme framework, and the ways you can get started using Genesis today.
Genesis—What is it?
At its core, Genesis is a parent theme template that has served as the foundation for more than 1 million WordPress sites. It combines all of the design, layout, SEO, and performance features needed to power a professional website.
Genesis also offers users the ability to safely and easily update and switch between themes at scale, offering the ability to incorporate new technologies more easily.
How does Genesis work with WordPress?
The simplest way to think of how Genesis works with WordPress is this: WordPress is the engine of your car, Genesis is the body and frame, and StudioPress themes are the paint job.
Whether you call it a framework or a parent theme, Genesis provides a layer of rich features on top of WordPress and serves as the foundation for child themes.
A child theme is a layer of code that sits on top of the Genesis Framework and is comprised mainly of the design elements for a site, but can also extend and modify the default functionality of the Genesis Framework. In the same way you can extend WordPress by using action hooks and filters inside plugins, you can extend Genesis by using its extensive library of hooks and filters inside a child theme.
Rather than build a theme from scratch, you can build a child theme with unique specifications while leaning on the framework for core site functionality.
Working with child themes
WP Engine offers a suite of StudioPress Themes, all built to run on the Genesis Framework. They are professionally-designed, mobile-responsive child themes that look great right out of the box, making it easy to create and deliver a turnkey digital experience.
You can also use a StudioPress theme as a starting point for a custom theme or build a custom theme from scratch. If you’ve written WordPress themes from scratch, created child themes as a way to customize a parent theme, or used starter themes like _s as a base, then you’re familiar with the WordPress theme development principles outlined in the WordPress Theme Handbook.
What makes Genesis different from typical theme development is how you customize the features and markup on the page. Rather than directly editing the core theme files—as you would typically do in a custom theme—you use hooks and filters to remove or modify core Genesis features and add your new features.
Get Started with Genesis and WP Engine
Interested in learning more about Genesis and the ways you can put it to use? Check out our whitepaper: Getting Started with the Genesis Framework and WP Engine
This whitepaper offers a helpful outline for getting started with the Genesis Framework, and it will walk you through ways you can customize it, and some best practices for putting it to use. You’ll also learn best practices for keeping your website secure with Genesis and how to optimize performance and SEO using the framework.