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Comparison of Genesis and Thesis – Part 6 – Q&A

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We’re going to go over to Christian. Good morning Christian, how are you doing?

Christian: Hello Rick, I’m fine. Good to talk to you again.

Rick: Good to talk to you. So what’s your question?

How to Accomplish a Responsive Theme for Existing Thesis Websites?

Christian: Well, I’m an existing Thesis user and I was intrigued to know what the differences were between Thesis and Genesis. Based on your presentation, I intend to stick with Thesis but I do love the responsive capability that you highlighted that Genesis has automatically.

I’m frustrated with Thesis because when I look at my website on something like an iPad, it just doesn’t look how it’s supposed to look. Now, you mentioned something about the Thesis responsive theme course in May, I’m interested to know more about that Rick and how particularly are you intending to make it drop dead easy to create a responsive theme for existing Thesis websites?

Rick: Well, drop dead easy? Creating a child theme is a coding job, it will require using HTML, CSS and PHP. The class is going to review all of the HTML, CSS and PHP necessary in order to create a responsive child theme. I’m not sure it would be fair to say that it’s drop dead easy.

In some respects, responsive design is very young, it’s probably not 2 years old and there are a lot of competing ideas for how to accomplish a responsive site and they all have their pluses and minuses. The way in which the site becomes responsive is primarily through the use of CSS so we’ll use media queries and say, “When the screen size is this big, do this”.

That’s exactly the way Genesis works and that’s the way we’ll be doing it with Thesis whether or not that’s drop dead easy, it probably isn’t.  I’m describing that class as an intermediate class and it’s going to require acquiring programming skills for people. If you want a drop dead easy solution, go and spend $35 on Themedy’s Reactiv theme. You can use his theme to have a responsive Thesis site and that probably is the closest you’re going to get to drop dead easy in the near term.

We are teaching this intermediate class starting May 17th and I hope to make it accessible to people who are not programmers by profession. I hope to make it accessible to ordinary people but the kind of person who’s going to do that is a person who really wants to learn how to do the code even if they don’t intend to do it for a living.

Christian: Okay. Thanks for that, Rick. I think I’ll tune in to those sessions in May.

Rick: Sounds great. I look forward to seeing you.

Christian:: Thank you.

Rick: Let’s try Angela now. Good morning Angela.

Angela: Good morning Rick. How are you today?

Rick: I’m doing very well, thank you. How are you?

Customizing the Appearance of AgentPress

Angela: Fine, thanks. Great class. Alright, so you want me to ask my question and I do have some insight that might help listeners to fully grasp the question that I’m going to ask you if you want to make me a presenter for a minute or so.

Rick: Go ahead.

Angela: My question was, I did use the Genesis theme to develop a real estate site. I just didn’t have enough time to put the site together. When I saw Genesis, I thought that’s the way for me to just apply what I know and get the site up. I did get the site up and as I’ve told you before, personally, I prefer to use Thesis because in the long run, I just feel that it’s more customizable, in the short run, I needed something just to get up and running with operation.

Then once I got my Genesis theme up, I found some other sites that looked like they were customized and so my question to you was, how do they do that? I just heard you say that they’re not customizable unless you go in and do some hard coding. Did I understand that right?

Rick: Yes, you did understand that right. AgentPress has a series of colors, right? The first line of defense in terms of customizing the appearance of AgentPress is you can choose the color that you want to use.

The real genius of AgentPress is that it is a very specialized theme specifically designed for real estate agents and to integrate the multiple listing service piece into it. People can use their IDX account or whatever that’s called and search for properties in their area without you having to come up with custom programming for that. That’s what its real genius is in that. However, if you’re not happy with the 6-7 theme colors, there are a fairly limited number of things you can customize.

Now, I’d be happy to talk about what kinds of customization you can do without hacking the code because you could actually put a different background image in here, you can reorganize your header, these things are actually widget areas so you can re-configure your widget areas.

For that matter, the one plugin that I currently have in Alpha stage as opposed to Beta stage is my Widget Styles Plugin. I am porting the Widget Styles Plugin to Genesis to allow you to change the styles, colors, and fonts in widgets in Genesis. It could be that the combination of those basic things that are available to you in AgentPress is enough to make AgentPress look significantly different.

If it’s not and if you want it to be really different, you’re just going to take your copy of AgentPress and start changing it because that’s your only choice; it’s to get in there and change the theme itself and you’ll recognize that it may make sense for you to try and find a way to segregate all of your changes into something that can easily be ported to the next version of AgentPress.

I’d be even interested in talking about that in a class on how to customize a theme while still being able to make relatively easy to upgrade. That’s what you have to do is, you just have to go into the AgentPress code and change it if the range of customization that comes with it isn’t enough for you.

Angela: Would you look at one site with me and tell me if you think that they done that? It’s nzwaterfronthomes.co.nz, that’s right.

Rick: Okay, you think this is an Agency Child theme.

Angela: Yes, I do.

Rick: No, it’s not. The child theme here is Meadow Ridge. Now, maybe they took Agency and renamed it to Meadow Ridge but this is definitely not.

Angela: I can’t remember how I found this one but I’m pretty sure it was.

Rick: You can tell simply by looking at its files whether it is or not, styles.css, Meadow Ridge, it was done by this redlettersstudio.com. Meadow Ridge is a 2 or 3 column widget-ready real estate child theme for the Genesis framework so it’s apparently based on Genesis.

It’s also not the AgentPress CSS file so let’s see what it says. Yeah, it’s a child theme for Genesis but it might be a modification of AgentPress. That’s kind of hard for me to say for absolute sure but it’s not strictly speaking an AgentPress site.

Angela: I just want to make sure that I was clear on all that, other than sticking with the background colors that they have, there’s no way for us to customize like we do with Thesis by simply going to the Custom Functions PHP file, there’s no way for us to do that on a child theme or on a parent theme?

Rick: You definitely don’t want to do it on the parent theme. Parent theme is Genesis, you don’t want to make any changes in Genesis. The only way for you to customize AgentPress is to actually go to its Functions PHP file and start adding custom code.

When the new version of AgentPress comes out and you hit upgrade, if you haven’t segregated that in a way that you can easily add it back into the new version, you will lose that customization.

Angela: Right. Thank you for that clarification and I did just want to say that I’ve done both now and I still consider myself a beginner in Thesis and I’m sure you do too. When you start using Genesis and you’re still a beginner, you really need somebody, unless you’re going to sit there for a whole week out of your life.

With respect to the developers, there’s just not a lot of support out there for it and I’m just thrilled that you’re going to be offering these classes but it does take me time to get to learn it.

Rick: One of the reasons why it feels harder is because they don’t do a very good job of helping you step by step to figure out how to take the child theme and implement it. That’s a problem I hope to solve for them for a fee. To help make that process easier because one of the things about using AgentPress is that once you decide to use AgentPress, you know how big your images are.

You don’t have to figure out how many columns do you want, how big the image is to be, you don’t have to do any of that stuff, those are all automatically handled for you. You have a recipe to follow so your job is simply to follow the recipe and you’ll end up with a site that functions very well and that looks polished even if it doesn’t look custom, it nevertheless looks polished.

That’s not the case with Thesis. If you want to build a real estate agent site like this with Thesis, this is a ton of custom work. There’s no simple way to accomplish this in Thesis whereas it’s very simple to set up AgentPress and have it function properly. I hope to make it simpler.

Now, I will be delighted to help you work through customizing AgentPress so that it looks the way you want it to look because that’s an interesting challenge and it’s something other people will benefit from.

Angela: Thank you Rick. I’ve done both of them and I think as a small business owner, everybody says that an issue is different but if you have the time and you’re not trying to run the business yourself, maybe you have the luxury of time. If we were voting, I vote for Thesis.

Rick: That’s good.

Angela: That’s it for today.

Rick: Okay. Have a great day.

Angela: You too. Bye.

Rick: Bye. Brian has a question. Good morning Brian.

Brian: Hi Rick, how are you doing?

Rick: I’m doing very well, thank you.

What is the Better Theme for a Blog Site?

Brian: I appreciate you taking my call. I guess you could see what my question is. My wife is starting a blog and she actually started it and mapped it and somehow made an addon domain to my website and that’s where I should be hosting it.

It’s not going to be really complicated, it’s mainly going to be a blog and then she’ll probably be selling her services there as a speaker and that’s about it. She hopes to be getting a lot of comments on the blog but other than that, it’s really standard.

Rick: And your question is, which theme is better?

Bryan: Right.

Rick: The answer is, neither theme is better given that set of criteria. Given that it’s a blog and that it’s going to have a bunch of comments and she’s going to sell her services, there’s isn’t a right answer to that question. I think either one of those choices is a good choice.

So, “Do I want to learn how to do any customization using code”? The answer to that is, yes. I want this site to be absolutely unique, I don’t want somebody to say, that’s a nice expression of that child theme and I’m willing to go to the effort to do that then Thesis is the right choice.

However, if you want to do it quickly and easily and you find a child theme that looks good, is a decent reflection of what your wife’s business model is, you don’t care whether or not it’s absolutely unique or not but you want it to be a simple recipe for getting it accomplished, then I think the Genesis is the right choice.

The fact that it’s a blog and the fact that it has lots of comments is irrelevant because neither of those things are being handled specifically by Thesis or Genesis, those are handled by WordPress. Thesis and Genesis are just going to determine what it looks like when it’s there.

Bryan: Okay. When you say I have to learn some coding, can you be a little more specific about that? What type of coding and what I have to learn.

Rick: The challenge is, you’ll learn from none to a lot depending on what you want to accomplish. I see this in new people all the time where they say, “I like this except I want to do this one thing differently”. Then that one thing that they want to do differently requires a ton of knowledge in code.

It makes the most sense to be willing to live with the one thing not quite the right way unless you plan on becoming a coder. If you can discipline yourself that way and say, “I’m going to accept good enough, I’m willing to learn how to use a plugin to style the site” then you could use my plugins which is in itself a learning process.

It’s a trial and error process of figuring out what different things do what and if I really have to, I’ll add a bit of CSS or a bit of PHP to the site to make it do something particularly special but otherwise, I’m going to live within the limitations of my knowledge and the existing ability of the theme. The only thing you have to learn is how to use some plugins and a little CSS, maybe a little HTML, maybe a little PHP and it’s not a lot.

If you have a very complicated design, say you hired a designer which I recommend you do to come up with a design concept for you and it’s a very complicated one, it could be that in order for you to execute that design, you’re going to need to learn a lot of code in order to do it. You’re in complete control in that because you can decide whether or not to live within the limitations of what the tools that you’re using can do or not.

If you’re really this inclined to learning code, my recommendation would be to look at some of my videos on my plugins to see whether or not the plugins might accomplish what you want and then Thesis could be a good choice. Also, go look at the Genesis Child Themes and see if there’s anything there that is close to what you want to accomplish then that would be a good choice.

Bryan: Okay. As far as learning some coding, some minimal or whatever, do you have any recommendations?

Rick: What do you mean?

Bryan: Where to go.

Rick: My recommendation is to go to me. That’s what we do here, we teach people how to customize the appearance and the functionality of their site. If you want to learn how to customize the appearance of Thesis then you start with the Customize Thesis Like a Pro series at the very beginning and just start working your way through it.

The reason why my business exists is because there’s no other good source of very specific knowledge about how to do this. You can go to learnit.com and you can watch their videos on how to create a WordPress theme but much of the content of that is old and none of that content is relevant to either Thesis or Genesis.

When you use my site, you are embracing a system that includes either Thesis or Genesis and that narrows the range of things you have to learn. Probably the hardest way to do it is to start with just plain vanilla php course or a plain vanilla CSS course because the PHP and the CSS that you need to learn is related to WordPress and Thesis or Genesis. That’s a much smaller world, so a much smaller subset of things that need to be learned.

You don’t need to learn everything there is to know about CSS in order to customize your site using CSS because most of the CSS is already being handled for you, you only need to learn a little piece that customizes the one thing you want to customize.

Bryan: Okay, and you have videos on that? Like an introduction.

Rick: I have hundreds. The Customize Thesis Like a Pro is the introductory series to customizing using code and that’s where I would start. It doesn’t apply to Genesis, there are concepts there that’ll be similar to Genesis but Customize Thesis Like a Pro is based on using the Thesis system for customizing. It’s not going to be effective customization information for Genesis, it’s good background information but it’s not specific to Genesis, it’s specific to Thesis.

Bryan: Okay, very good. Thanks for your help.

Does Shopp Work with Genesis?

Rick: You’re absolutely welcome. Glad to help. Have a good day. Fran asks, does Shopp work with Genesis? Well, I don’t know for sure, Fran. I’m going to unmute your microphone here Fran.

Fran: Hi Rick.

Rick: I don’t know. I haven’t had the chance to try to use Genesis with Shopp.

Fran: I Goggled a bit during the seminar there and I didn’t see a lot of evidence of it but I did see that there was a question answered that said that there is some ecommerce that will work with Genesis so I think…

Rick: If you want to use Genesis, there are a couple of ecommerce platforms that I know do work with Genesis comfortably. In the first place, I’m sure WP eStore works just fine at Genesis because Genesis has very similar system to Thesis in terms of templating so it doesn’t have the same kinds of issues that many other ecommerce plugins have with Thesis. I’m sure WP eStore works just fine with Genesis.

The latest version of Shopp, that’s Shopp 1.2.1 was specifically designed to accommodate both Thesis and Genesis, that’s what they said, that templating system that Thesis and Genesis use so theoretically, Shopp should work. Cart66 is a cart that there is a child theme for. I’ve never used Cart66 but it does look like a pretty good shopping cart, it’s pretty full-featured and a powerful shopping cart.

It doesn’t have the same kind of customization that you can do in Shopp but it looks to me like there is at least a theme designed for Cart66 in Genesis. Genesis has a plugin called the WooCommerce Connect Plugin that bridges the gap between Genesis and WooCommerce so WooCommerce is supposed to work just fine on Genesis.

Fran: Okay.

Rick: That’s what I know about eCommerce and Genesis. I haven’t actually tried any of them but what I know about WP eStore suggests that should work fine. Genesis, they say it works although I haven’t tried it and the other two have things specifically designed in Genesis to work with so I’m guessing they work fine too.

Fran: Okay. I probably would stick with what I have and the work we’ve done with Shopp inside of Thesis but perhaps for me, considering using one of these Genesis with the child theme to maybe showcase the product that you want it to have it’s own dedicated site and if they wanted to buy, I could point it back to the other site, correct?

Rick: Yeah, although unless you’ve found a child theme that looks exactly the way you want it to look, I don’t see the benefit in switching.

Fran: Yeah. Just kind of keep it all inside the same site.

Rick: No, not keep inside the same site but keep using Thesis. For you, I don’t see any benefit to not using Thesis unless there is a child theme that’s sitting there right now that looks exactly the way you want it to look.

Fran: The only thing I was intrigued by is the responsiveness. You hear that in a couple of years mobile searches are going to take over desktops searches so anything about the Reactiv, I’m curious to hear about but that theme you talked about for what was that?

Rick: Themedy, the Reactiv Child Theme.

Fran: But that would lay over the top of Thesis and once again, I’m getting rid of my existing look by bringing that theme in?

Rick: Of course. That’s the fundamental in the child theme thing. Your site is created by using a bunch of my plugins and they’re not responsive now. In time, my plugins will be responsive and I may even create a plugin that simply adds responsive stuff to Thesis that makes a generic Thesis site, generically responsive.

Fran: That would be fantastic. Can you have that ready next week?

Rick: Yeah, you bet. I probably have to successfully create a responsive child theme for Thesis first which is what I’m working on right now.

Fran: No, I understand. I enjoyed it anyway, anything about that responsive, I’m always interested in listening to.

Rick: Sure. That class starts on May 17th and you may find that changing the design that I’m doing for that to your design is very easy.

Fran: Okay, so I’ll probably tune in. Thanks a lot Rick.

Rick: You betcha. Have a good day Fran. Gloria I’m going to unmute your microphone here for a second if you’re still here. Good morning Gloria, I’ve just unmuted your microphone. Are you with me? Just want to make sure that I answer your question well enough, that I explained what a child theme was well enough. I’m going to leave your microphone unmuted here for just a second to see if you jumped in. I’ll come back to you one more time here. Now to Kim. Good morning Kim.

Kim: Hey, can you hear me?

Rick: I can hear you just fine. So you ask a question about graphics?

Plugin to Make a Responsive Header Image for Genesis

Kim: Oh no, I was just commenting for somebody, is it easy to make that responsive and I was just commenting that when I did a responsive,we had to remake all the graphics, remember? It does require that kind of thoughtfulness when you’re making this responsive, isn’t that correct?

Rick: It is, it’s a lot more complicated in that regard. I wrote a plugin for Genesis, the one thing Genesis doesn’t do is it doesn’t have responsive header images. I wrote a plugin for Genesis that you see on this demonstration site, that swaps out the header image. You can see that one, it’s full size, the menu is on the right and the logo is on the left but once it gets to a certain place, the menu drops down below and now the header image gets different.

When it gets to a certain size again, the header image changes again then you get down to another side and that header image changes again. What the result of that is, we really have four different header images being used on this site, a different one for each condition.

Now, that’s not the case for example for the slider. The slider uses the same image every time and just adjusts to the window size and the same thing is true with these images here. There is a way in which you don’t have to come and put a bunch of different images but it’s true that you have to be thoughtful when you’re thinking about a responsive design.

On the one hand, the design needs to be simpler. You can’t have lots of complicated things be responsive nicely so you have to simplify your target and while it’s simpler, you have to understand that you have to consider what the graphics are in different conditions.

Kim: Most of us have those graphic images which is part of the header and that’s what I was just saying that you do have to come up with. I know that because I learned that from you, you have to come and think about how that’s going to look in a smaller environment. I figure that out. How many sizes do we do, 3 or 4?

Rick: Yeah, 3 or 4.

Kim: Anyway, that was my comment. That’s all.

Rick: Thanks for joining. Bye.

Kim: Good morning. Bye.

Rick: We’re going to go back to Gloria one more time just to make sure that I got that question. Gloria, I’ve just unmuted your microphone hoping you’re there. I know that sometimes people don’t actually have microphones so it doesn’t work.

Hopefully I answered your question about child themes and how child themes relate to regular themes but if not, look tomorrow for the videos that I recorded last night about it because I do have a presentation that’s a little more specific to it. With that, I think I’ve answered all the questions that there are. Let me just look down here one more time.

Best Theme to Use for Generating Leads for Freelance Programming Business

Somebody asked which theme, Genesis or Thesis is best for generation of leads for freelance programming business. Again the answer to that is neither of them. Really, although if you’re a freelance programmer, you have the choice of which platform you want to develop on.

In fact, as a programmer you might choose to develop on both of them but neither of them have characteristics that set them apart from the other for that kind of a website. As a programmer, you’re not going to use the same judgement about ease of set up because you’re already a programmer. At that point, it’s just going to be the preference on the tools that you use and the systems that you want to use.

What Theme is Best for Online Stores and Membership Sites?

Somebody else asked what’s best for online stores and membership sites and again, neither of them is best for that. The question is, to what extent you need your site to be unique and to what extent you want to learn to customize?

That’s the trade off between the two of them for that kind of a situation otherwise, if you’re already committed to WooCommerce, then naturally, Genesis is the right one to use. If you’re using Shopp or WP eStore, my site has more videos about how to use it with Thesis but I don’t think one is better than the other necessarily.

I guess, that’s pretty much it. I think that’s answered all of the questions that people submitted and all of the questions that people have asked here throughout the session so we’re going to call it a day.

BYOB Website Course on Building a Professional Website Using WordPress and Genesis

We have this series that I am teaching right now on how to create a professional website using WordPress and Genesis and the site we’re creating is this one here. I’m going to teach you everything that you need to know in order to create this kind of a WordPress site. The site that I’m working on right now worked a lot better yesterday before I started making some tweaks.

The Thesis responsive child theme based on the BlueMasters Theme and is the class that I will be teaching here starting May 17th and this is in its infancy really but it’s how to create a responsive child theme in Thesis. This was responsive when I quit working on it a couple of days ago but it stopped being responsive so obviously the tweak I made is interfering with that.

Nevertheless, on May 17th we’ll be starting this class and learning how to do that together. I’ll be back again tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon with live Question and Answer sessions and then again on Thursday morning with live Q and A and then we’ll be back next Monday night with live class on Creating a Professional Website Using Genesis.

Thank you very much everybody for joining, I hope you all got a benefit out of this and if you did get some benefit out of it, find something on my site you like and like it on Facebook or plus 1 it on Google+ or tell somebody about it, link to it from your site. Thanks, everybody, have a great day.

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