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How to Choose Between Thesis 2.1 and Genesis 2.0 for Building Your Website

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Trying to decide which theme, Thesis or Genesis, is best to use for your small business website? Well, we created this seminar just for you.

We discuss the fundamental differences between the two themes, availability of high quality designs, built in SEO features, availability of 3rd party addons, the ease of customizing the appearance, the ease of customizing the functionality and finally, the learning curve. We also make recommendations for 3 types of users, Beginners, DIY Web Builders and Web Designers.

Introduction – a different approach to comparing Genesis and Thesis

  1. Typical method is to compare features
    • Last time I did this comparison
    • WordPress.org
  2. There are lots of potential pros and cons
    • Many are philosophical or based on bias
    • Most have no bearing on making a business case for a choice
  3. What criteria are you as a small business owner (or web designer) going to use to determine which way to build your website?
  4. We will discuss
    • The fundamental differences between the two that may influence your decision
    • The availability of high quality designs
    • Built in SEO features
    • Availability of 3rd party addons
    • The ease of customizing the appearance of your site
    • The ease of customizing the functionality of your site
    • The learning curve
  5. I will make recommendations for 3 groups of users
    • Beginners
    • DIY website builders
    • Web designers

The two fundamental philosophical differences

  1. Designed to be used vs designed to be customized
    • Genesis is designed to be used with child themes
      • Used mostly as is
      • With limited changes to functionality or appearance
      • The upside –
    • Thesis is designed to be customized
      • It uses skins – very similar to child themes
      • Most functionality is built around customization
        • Built in drag and drop template editor
        • Built in custom CSS editor
        • Built in design, display and content options
      • It is intended to be customized
  2. The WordPress way or a new way
    • WordPress way of programming
      • The WordPress Way
        • Physically making changes to files
        • Chopping templates up into template parts
        • Actually changing the theme or child theme
      • The Thesis Way
        • Virtually no files to change
        • Template editor displays the full template with no coding
        • Changes never affect the underlying code base
    • WordPress way of licensing
      • The WordPress Way
        • GPL – no restrictions on use or redistribution
        • Payment for support and updates
        • Genesis can be cheaper
      • The Thesis Way
        • Not GPL – restrictions n the number of sites and prohibition against redistribution
        • License for your own use
        • License for your customers
        • Thesis can be more expensive

Choosing the theme based on the availability of high quality designs

  1. Both rely on addons (child themes, skins)
  2. StudioPress vs DIYThemes catalogs
    • StudioPress
      • Large selection
      • Very polished designs
      • Safe designs
    • DIYThemes
      • Small selection
      • De-emphasize graphics
  3. Availability of 3rd Party Skins
    • Genesis
    • Thesis
  4. The perils of choosing a 3rd party child theme or skin – the Wild Wild West
    • uneven coding standards
    • poorly coded
    • poor security
    • poor support
  5. The solution is to purchase them from trusted sources
    • Genesis solution –
      • Community child theme members
    • Thesis solution –
      • DIYThemes recommendations
      • Rely on the advice of someone you trust
    • Rick’s advice
      • Avoid skins or themes on ThemeForrest –
        • unless they are highly rated
        • Check their support forums and comments
      • Avoid skins or themes from the developing world
        • Lots of very poor insecure code
        • Lots of ripped off code
        • Lots of spam and malicious code
      • My shortlist for Thesis
        • Themedy
        • Puneet Shallot – Icustomizethesis.com
        • Rich Barratt
        • Serge Liatko

Choosing the theme based on SEO features

  1. They are essentially identical
  2. HTML5
  3. Schema implementation
  4. Meta – titles and descriptions
  5. The one difference – sort of – can substitute a plugin
    • Genesis allows you to deactivate its SEO
    • Thesis – Serge’s plugin for YoastSEO

Choosing the theme based on the availability of 3rd party add-ons

  1. WordPress.org
    • Genesis
      • Lots
      • Poorly documented, lightly supported
    • Thesis
      • None
    • To be fair
  2. BYOBWebsite
    • Genesis
    • Thesis
  3. Premium plugins
    • Genesis
      • Very few
      • Dynamik is the notable example
    • Thesis –
    • Few
  4. Ecommerce plugins
    • Genesis
      • Has a couple of anomalies
      • Requires addons
      • More have those addons
    • Thesis
      • Does Not use physical templates
      • Requires addons
      • Fewer systems work
    • Specialty Themes
      • Real Estate
      • eCommerce

Choosing the theme based on how easy it is to customize its appearance

  1. What do I mean by customizing appearance?
    • Changing font sizes and colors
    • Changing backgrounds
    • Changing what displays
      • Post images
      • Post meta – date, author, category – etc
    • Changing the order and arrangement of design elements
      • moving menus around
      • changing the arrangement of page titles and post images
  2. The WordPress way of customizing the appearance
    • Child Theme Design Options
    • Plugins
      • Example – Dynamik
      • Example – BYOB Genesis Child Theme Editor
    • Child Themes
      • Requires extensive CSS knowledge
    • Hacking Child Themes
      • This is the default way of customizing
      • all hacks removed at upgrade
  3. The Thesis way of customizing appearance
    • Built in customization
      • Skin Design
      • Skin Display
      • Skin Content
    • Skins
    • Boxes
    • Custom CSS
    • The differences
      • Much less code
      • Never changes the underlying skin
  4. What can you do with Genesis without knowing any CSS
    • Change a very limited number of colors
    • Dynamic increases the number of things you can change with settings
  5. What can you do with Thesis without knowing any CSS
    • The answer is dependent on the skin
    • Change the order and arrangement of virtually anything
    • Change fonts, colors and styles with Skin Design
    • Change display with Display Options

Choosing the theme based on how easy it is to customize its functionality

  1. What do I mean by customize functionality?
    • Custom layouts
    • Custom templates
    • Custom headers
    • Custom Footers
    • Custom widget areas
    • Custom post type & taxonomy handling
    • Image handling and display
  2. The WordPress way of customizing functionality
    • Plugins – limited functionality
      • Example – display widgets,
      • Example – Genesis sidebars
    • Child Themes
      • Requires extensive knowledge
    • Hacking Child Themes
      • This is the default way of customizing
      • all hacks removed at upgrade
    • Child Theme extending plugins
      • Dynamik Extender
      • BYOB Child Theme Customizer
  3. The Thesis way of customizing functionality
    • The skin editor
    • Skins
    • Stand alone boxes
    • The difference – virtually no code
      • Almost never need PHP
      • Almost never need to write HTML
  4. What can you do with Genesis without knowing any HTML, PHP or Javascript code?
    • Setup the default layout
    • Change layout on a page by page basis
    • Use plugins for adding or subtracting widget areas or changing layouts for default WordPress templates
  5. What can you do with Thesis without knowing any HTML, PHP or Javascript code?
    • Create different templates for anything
    • Entirely rearrange the default layout for any template
    • All while never changing the underlying skin

Choosing the theme based on its learning curve

  1. An analogy – flip phone vs smart phone
  2. Genesis
    • If you are the typical Genesis User
      • The number of changes you can make are very limited
      • The learning curve is much shorter
    • If you are a web designer
      • You need to learn
        • HTML
        • CSS
        • PHP
      • Maybe javascript
      • The learning curve is pretty long
  3. Thesis
    • If you are the typical Thesis user
      • Lots of changes can be made without code
      • The learning curve is much longer
      • You get sucked into learning
    • If you are a web designer
      • You need to learn HTML concepts and CSS code
      • You virtually NEVER need PHP
      • You seldom write HTML
      • It’s easier to learn

Summary & recommendation for beginners

  1. Limited time and no interest in learning web design
    • This is a perfectly rational place to be
      • Your time is limited
      • You want to spend it doing what you do to make $
    • You need to accept the limitations of this position
      • Accept the design as it is
      • Hire someone else to do the design changes for you
    • The quickest, easiest way to a polished website is Genesis
  2. Limited time but some desire to learn web design & have a Genesis child theme that is close
    • Use Genesis
    • Use a plugin to customize Genesis
      • Dynamik Extender
      • BYOB Child Theme Editor
  3. Hands on beginner with no knowledge of web design but an interest in learning
    • You want to adhere to the WordPress way – choose Genesis
    • You don’t care about the WordPress way and you want the easiest system to learn with the greatest flexibility – Use Thesis

Summary & recommendation for DIY website builders

  1. Who is the DIY website builder?
    • You may have more than one site
    • You want complete control
    • You like learning this type of thing
    • You have time & energy to learn
  2. You know you are a Genesis candidate if:
    • If you have used the WordPress way in the past & are comfortable with messing with code
    • If you want any new knowledge to build on and enhance the previous knowledge
    • If you want to adhere to the WordPress way
    • If you have found a child theme that is close to what you want to use
    • If you want to learn WordPress PHP
  3. You know you are a Thesis candidate if:
    • You don’t care about the WordPress way
    • You want to customize your site while avoiding PHP at all costs

Summary & recommendation for web designers

  1. Who is a web designer?
    • You build websites for others
    • You wish to build websites for others in the future
    • You have a great artistic eye
    • You can’t design your way out of a wet paper bag but work with someone who can
  2. You know you are a Genesis candidate if:
    • If you have used the WordPress way in the past
    • If you want any new knowledge to build on and enhance the previous knowledge
    • If you want to adhere to the WordPress way
    • You want to learn the WordPress way
    • You don’t want to learn more than one system
  3. Thesis was made for you if:
    • Your design ability exceeds your ability to code
    • You don’t care about the WordPress way
    • You want maximum flexibility with minimum code
    • You want to do what you want without any code limitations

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