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Comparison of Genesis and Thesis – Part 3 – Comparing Plugins, SEO and Site Speed

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Plugins For Genesis

Our third area of comparison is plugins. Starting with Genesis again, it has a very large number of plugins in the WordPress repository that are designed specifically to augment Genesis. If you go to the WordPress repository, go to plugins and search for Genesis, you see a large number of plugins here that add special functionality to Genesis.

The plugins don’t work in any other theme, they only work with Genesis but they do give you the ability to do a lot of customization of the functionality of Genesis. On the other hand, there’s very limited support or documentation for using the plugins.

If we just open up one of these plugins and look at it, there’s almost nothing in here about how to use this . There’s very little support for how to use their plugins. I don’t think that there are any plugins that allow you to actually customize the appearance of the site but there is a large number of those plugins that allow you to customize the function of the site.

Plugins for Thesis

Thesis has very few plugins in the WordPress repository. Really, there’s only a couple of decent plugins currently available for Thesis. Thesis Toolbars is a very interesting one, my plugin is the Thesis Simple Header Widgets Plugin and the only other good one is the Thesis OpenHook which is actually an excellent plugin.

A lot of these other ones purport to have a lot of significant functionality but when we really get right into it, they’re beginning efforts and they’re not particularly mature.

As you probably know, on my site there are a large number of BYOB Plugins with lots of excellent support if I do say so myself. There’s not a ton on the repository, there are quite a few at BYOB Website and I do have excellent support for them.

Most of those plugins focus on customizing the appearance of Thesis and there’s plenty of them that have to do with the structure. The ones that people are most compelled by are the ones that customize the appearance which is something that Genesis doesn’t have very much of currently.

Search Engine Optimization

The fourth area of comparison is SEO. These themes are almost identical in SEO, that is they both have a complete set of SEO Tools that are automatically built in. One of the ways in which they can be distinguished is that there’s no way in Thesis to disable Thesis’ SEO tools.

However in Genesis, it automatically disables its SEO tools when it finds another SEO plugin. If you are moving a site that had All in One SEO or Yoast SEO already involved and you’re moving it over to Genesis, Genesis just turns off its SEO tools and lets you continue to use those other tools. If for some reason you prefer the Yoast plugin, the Yoast plugin will work with Genesis simply because Genesis turns itself off so there’s no real need to import SEO settings.

On the other hand, Thesis does not do that. Thesis expects you to use its own tools. If you’re already using All in One SEO on your site, there’s a tool that will allow you to import the All in One SEO settings into Thesis, turn off All in One SEO and let Thesis manage your SEO. However, the tools in both of them are otherwise identical.

Site Speed – Yslow Overall Performance

The next thing we’re going to take a look at is site speed and we’re going to use Yslow as a comparison. Again, we’re going to compare the two sites that I created, the sbywh-final, the Thesis site and the sbywh-final-agency, the Genesis site. Any kind of comparison is fraught with all kinds of variables that you don’t have any real control over so it’s important to keep that in mind.

In this case, all content is identical, that is they have all the same number of pages, the same images, the same plugins, both of them are hosted at BlueHost although they are hosted on different accounts and they’re both tested using the Yslow Small Site Standard.

Actually, we’re just going to take a look at that right now. If we do Yslow and run the test as a small site or blog for the Genesis site and then run the test as a small site or blog for the Thesis site, you can see each end up with it’s very similar score.

Thesis gets a performance score of 85, Genesis gets a slightly lower performance score of 83. That means that there’s really very little difference, both of them get a grade of a B out of it. You can look at the detailed differences but there’s very little difference in this regard.

Yslow Components

In terms of the Yslow components, Thesis has a total of 28 components and the site only weighs 523K bytes whereas Genesis has 39 components and it weighs 705K bytes. The Genesis site weighs 180 K bytes more than the Thesis site so that gives it a very slight edge in that performance but it is a very slight edge which is you’re looking at 83 versus 85 as opposed to something greater.

If we compare the statistics of one to another, the Thesis site has 28 http requests and the Genesis site has 39 http requests so you have again this very slight difference between the two which accounts for, the very slight difference in score, 85 to 83.

Conclusion on Performance Score

The point of that is that there’s not really any appreciable difference in terms of site speed between the two themes. Both of them are very efficient, both of them load minimal amounts of JavaScript and CSS.

Actually, it just occurs to me that this site actually is done using Thesis 1.8.3 not Thesis 1.8.4. Thesis 1.8.4 might get one more boost because it combines all the CSS style sheets together which the site doesn’t have so there might be a slight edge on that with Thesis but the difference is actually very slight, there’s not a big difference between Thesis and Genesis.

In terms of site speed, they are both very fast, very efficient and you’re not going to make a decision based on site speed between the two of them.

4 Comments… add one
4 comments… add one
  • Stelian June 8, 2012, 7:33 am

    +1 for your videos!
    Great work, really appreciate the time you took!!:)

  • Heather June 9, 2012, 8:49 pm

    I’m very glad you took the time to create this article. I have been on the fence as to use Genesis vs Thesis because of the feedback I received from other web designers.

    I would think that Thesis would be heavier in code due to their massive custom admin panel when compared to the simpler admin panel of genesis.

    I may consider creating an article of my own and track backing your post in the future. Thanks so much for your hard work! Hey! Your from Edmonds? haha, I’m from Spokane 😀

    • Rick Anderson June 10, 2012, 8:05 am

      Heather, for a web designer Thesis may be a little easier to edit for one off projects. It’s designed to be customized that way. However, Genesis has a much larger tool set for creating child themes. So if you are creating a full blown child theme and don’t want the site owner to be able to mess it up by changing options then Genesis is perhaps a better option.

      They are both very efficient in their code and the Thesis Options only affect the admin side of the site, and then only when editing the options. All the hard processing gets done there and then is written to the CSS files, allowing the result of those options to be cached.

      Some themes call up their options and process those options on every page request. Thesis doesn’t work like that.

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