When WP Engine acquired StudioPress in June 2018, a vision we jointly shared was the desire to invest additional resources in the Genesis Framework and help it evolve.

For those new to WordPress, Genesis is the most popular WordPress theme framework among web developers and digital marketers today. More than 1 million WordPress sites use Genesis as their foundation and thousands of designers and agencies rely on it as the way to build beautiful, secure, and future-proof WordPress themes.

Much of our early investment in Genesis has focused on this community of developers and marketers (a group of whom we surveyed in 2018 for input that will help shape the future of the framework), as well as our first-ever convening of the Genesis Shapers at WordCamp US, the creation of a new legal theme, optimizing six of our most popular themes for Gutenberg, and engineering efforts to provide Genesis with a fresh set of features and tools that will make it even more powerful and easy to use.

Today, the first round of those new features and tools are being released as part of Genesis 2.8—the first major update to the Genesis Framework since WP Engine’s acquisition of StudioPress.

Based in part on that 2018 survey of Genesis community members, the new features rolling out in 2.8 touch on priorities Genesis users told us were important to them: the (imperfect) process of loading a theme’s demo content and utilizing Gutenberg, the new WordPress post editor, to build better, more engaging digital experiences.  

One-Click Theme Setup

One-Click Theme Setup gives users full control over the demo installation process, and allows them to easily set installation dependendencies, import demo content directly into their themes, import and enable plugins, and configure a wide list of options when creating and installing new themes on their sites.

The motivation behind this feature was to make it easier to load a theme’s demo content, which has likely been a less-than-positive experience for some developers in the past. Often times, the demo content for a theme doesn’t automatically load with it, leaving users frustrated and confused with how to best proceed.   

One-Click Theme Setup changes that, and makes it easy for theme authors to load plugins and specific Gutenberg blocks to the homepage of a new site using a particular theme. As a result, 2.8 flips the demo installation process on its head, and reduces the time it takes to load demo content and dependant plugins from hours, days, or weeks to minutes. Check out the video below for a look at how it works: 

 

Genesis Block Style Guide

The second new feature rolling out with 2.8 is an updated Genesis Block Style Guide, which will help users pull config files into their child themes to customize details such as color palettes and font size. This feature will ultimately reduce the amount of code contained in the child themes themselves.  

As a result, theme authors can now style blocks and provide users control over those styles in alignment with the design of a particular theme.

This feature will also build on new capabilities offered by WordPress 5.0 and the new Gutenberg editor, and in particular, these new concepts, which the new post editor introduces:

  • Editor Color Palette – while WordPress offers a default set of colors, themes can now register their own color palette and if preferable, can lock users into picking from a defined palette.
  • Editor Text Size Palette – themes can now register their own sizes and optionally lock users into picking from a preselected set of sizes.
  • Responsive Embeds – themes must now opt-in to responsive embeds.
  • Front-end and Editor Styles – To get the most out of blocks, theme authors will want to make sure Core styles look good and opt-in, or write their own styles to best fit their theme.
  • Dark Mode – if a theme has a dark background containing light text, the theme author can now opt-in to the Dark Mode.

By streamlining these capabilities, the Genesis Block Style Guide will also help theme builders deliver themes and sites that are fast and easy for content creators to use, while staying in alignment with the beautiful designs they create, or brand guidelines they need to adhere to.

“Genesis 2.8 marks an exciting step forward for child theme developers,” said Jon Brown, the CEO of 9Seeds, which specializes in WordPress theme and plugin development.

“Initial site setup has always been a WordPress pain point and the new onboarding and config tools in 2.8 make that dramatically more powerful. Additionally, prepackaged Gutenberg layouts for home pages and more are going to revolutionize WordPress themes the same way Genesis’ widgetized layouts did a decade ago.”

Looking Ahead

The combination of these new features will make it even easier for theme authors to create intuitive, great-looking themes and sites for the content creators they serve. But we’re not stopping there.

As we continue to invest in and evolve the Genesis Framework, we’ll release new, updated versions of the framework, and while there is no firm release timeline in place, we do have the next set of features and functionality planned out. All of these new versions will continue to add features that make Genesis even easier and more accessible. Today’s release of Genesis 2.8 is just the beginning.

Stay tuned as we continue to add new ways for you to win with Genesis and WordPress 5.0. Want more info in the meantime? Check out these on-demand webinars: Gettin’ Down and Nerdy with the Genesis Framework and Embracing the Change: How to Win with Gutenberg