If you haven’t already I recommend you check out my post Welcome to WordPress, Here’s How Everything Works before reading this one. That post will explain how to use WordPress and this post assumes you have a basic knowledge of how WordPress works.
The amount of WordPress themes out there can be incredibly intimidating. If you just go to the add theme section of your WordPress dashboard you’ll see thousands if not millions of free WordPress themes.
If you want to go with something higher quality there are tons of premium WordPress theme websites out there like ThemeForest.net or Elegant Themes with hundreds of more themes to choose from.
Plus every theme works a little bit differently and has its own set of features and all this can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve just created your first website.
Fortunately there’s an absolutely fantastic WordPress theme out there that’s perfect for your first website. It’s called the Genesis Framework.
The Genesis Framework is the perfect theme for your new website and here’s why:
1) It’s Very Easy to Use
If you’ve never built a website before you need something that you can figure out and Genesis is very easy to use.
It doesn’t come with a huge amount of options and there’s pretty much no way that you could screw up anything on your website when you’re setting things up or learning how to use it.
While I do love premium themes from sites like ThemeForest.net a lot of these themes come with tons of options, page builders and other complicated things which can be a bit intimidating to people who have never built a website before.
If this is your first website then you’ll love the simplicity of the Genesis Framework.
2) It’s Built Incredibly Well
The theme’s code itself is built incredibly well which means you get a theme that’s optimized for fast load times, has search engine friendly code and is incredibly secure.
This is all stuff that you don’t need to worry about, once you install the theme you’re all good.
3) It’s Mobile Friendly
The Genesis Framework is built using responsive design which means your layout will automatically resize depending on the size of the screen you’re viewing it on.
Not matter if you use a PC or a smartphone people will be able to use your website with no problems.
4) Lots of Customization Options with Child Themes
This is a little bit hard to wrap your head around at first but the Genesis Framework installs like a standard WordPress theme and then you can customize it further with other themes known as Child Themes.
StudioPress, the company that makes the Genesis Framework describes it like a car. WordPress is the engine of the car, the Genesis Framework is the frame of the car and the Child Theme is the paint job on the outside.
Studiopress has a pretty big selection of child themes made by expert web designers for pretty much any kind of website you could want to build.
5) It’s Very Reasonably Priced
The Genesis Framework itself costs a one time fee of $59.95 and you can buy the Framework plus a child theme for $99.95.
If you ever want to switch to a new child theme you get a returning customer discount and can get child themes for $33.71.
Everything is a one time fee and then you get unlimited updates and support for life. You can also create as many websites as you want with the theme. If you buy premium themes from a lot of other websites you technically only get a licence to use the theme on one website.
Getting the Genesis Framework
I recommend that if you’re going to be creating a professional looking website that you don’t waste time messing around with free themes. Spend a small amount of money up front and get a professional design and then you’re set for a long time.
My favourite child themes are Parallax Pro, Ambiance Pro, Altitude Pro, Interior Pro and Digital Pro. I’ve seen a lot of blogs built with Genesis and a lot of them use the Parallax Pro theme.
Hopefully that’s enough to convince you to check out the Genesis Framework. The rest of this post will detail how to install and set up the Genesis Framework.
I’ll wait here until you get back. That is an affiliate link so if you click it I will get a small commission so if you do decide to buy it through my link thank you very much!
Downloading and Installing the Genesis Framework
Once you’ve created an account and purchased the Genesis Framework you should receive a link to download the theme.
You can also find it by clicking on the My StudioPress link at the top of the site which will take you to your account page. You’ll have a section called My Downloads where you can download any of the StudioPress themes you’ve purchased.
When you download Genesis you’ll end up with a zip file called something like genesis.2.2.7.zip.
Log into your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance > Themes
Click on the Add New button.
Then click on the Upload Theme button.
Click the Choose File button, select the Genesis .zip file you downloaded and then click the Install Now button.
Pretty much instantly you should get a message like this saying that the theme installed correctly. Click on the Activate link.
You’ll be taken back to the themes section with a message saying that the new theme is activated.
You’ve now successfully installed and activated the Genesis Framework.
In the future if you ever want to install a Genesis child theme or any other kind of theme you can follow this exact same process.
You’ll notice that there’s now a new option in the WordPress Dashboard side menu called “Genesis”. Mouse over this and you’ll see 3 options, Theme Settings, SEO Settings and Import/Export.
Genesis Theme Settings
Click on Theme Settings.
These are all the main options for the Genesis Framework and they apply to any child theme you might install.
The first section is just some simple information about the theme.
Enable Automatic Updates is selected by default and I can’t see any reason why you’d want to deselect that.
You can enter an email address too if you want to receive an email when there’s a new update.
This next section lets you enter some settings for your RSS feeds.
If this is your first website then don’t worry about this section at all, just leave everything blank.
If in the the future you decide you want to use something like Feedburner for your RSS feeds then you can come back here.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about then don’t worry at all, just leave this section empty and never think about it again.
The next section lets you select the default layout for your pages and posts.
This lets you choose if you want a sidebar on the right, left, no sidebars or two sidebars.
Just click on the image for the layout that you want and it’ll apply to every page and post on your site by default.
This next section concerns the logo in the header of your site.
By default it’s set as Dynamic text. What this means is that it’ll pull the site name and tagline from your general settings and display it in the header of the site.
If you select Image logo you’ll be able to upload an image file for a logo instead.
Uploading the image is a bit strange though, you won’t find a place to upload it in the theme options.
The basic Genesis Framework theme doesn’t have a place to upload an image logo for some reason but every child theme does.
If you’re using a child theme and you want to use an image logo you’ll find the spot to upload it in Appearance > Customize > Header Image.
The next section lets you choose where to display breadcrumbs on your website.
Breadcrumbs are those little links you see at the top of a page that say something like “You are here: Home > Blog > Post Name”.
If you have a somewhat complicated navigation structure for your website with lots of parent and child pages then enabling breadcrumbs can help make things easier for your visitors. They’re especially useful if someone lands on your site on a random page to help let them know where on your site they are.
Breadcrumbs also help search engines crawl your site a bit easier.
I personally don’t usually use breadcrumbs and there aren’t any on this website since my navigation and structure isn’t very complicated.
I don’t like adding extra things to my site that I don’t need.
It’s completely up to you if you want to display bread crumbs though and you can select which types of pages you’d like them to appear.
Take a look at the screenshot below to see how they look in action.
The next section lets you turn on or off comments and trackbacks on both pages and posts.
Comments are self explanatory and Trackbacks are a little notification you get if someone else who has a WordPress website links to a page on your site.
The next section lets you control how your blog archive pages (the pages with a list of all your blog posts) look.
Under Display if you select Entry content it’ll show the entire blog post on the archive page. This will let people read the entire blog post without having to click through to the post itself.
You can limit the content to a certain number of characters or just leave it.
If you select Entry excerpts it’ll show just the excerpt for that post. You can type in a specific excerpt on the post editor screen when you’re editing a post.
You can select whether or not you’d like to show the featured image. I always like to since it makes the page much less boring looking.
Finally the Entry Pagination lets you change how the navigation to go back an forth through your blog archive pages if you have a lot of posts.
By default it’s set to Numeric which will just say page 1, page 2, etc. but you can also change it to just have a previous and next link you want.
This section lets you control every archive page on your site, pages with all the posts in a single category, pages with all the posts by a specific author, etc.
The next section lets you change the settings for the blog page itself.
To create a blog page you simply create a new page, name it “Blog” (or whatever you want) and give it the blog page template. Then under Settings > Reading you select this page as your blog page.
These options let you exclude specific blog categories and select how many posts appear per page.
The last section lets you specifically add special bits of code to your website.
This section is absolutely fantastic and sometimes themes don’t have a section like this which makes things like adding Google Analytics tracking code for example much harder.
With this section if you ever have a bit of code that you need to add to the head or body sections of your website you just paste it in here and it’ll be outputted to the code of every page on your site.
If you’re not sure what the head and body sections are check out my guide to basic HTML code.
Genesis SEO Settings
Genesis comes with its own SEO settings and you can access them by clicking on Genesis > SEO Settings. You’ll see a screen that looks like this:
I’m not going to cover this section as I much prefer using the Yoast SEO plugin to do all the SEO for my site. It has a lot more options than you’ll find here too.
I cover how to set up this plugin in a post called The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimizing Your WordPress Site.
The last section that you’ll find by clicking on Genesis > Import/Export simply lets you import a file of Genesis settings or export your Genesis settings so you can import them into another website.
Genesis doesn’t really have that many options to fool around with so I’ve never bothered using this feature.
A Few More Options Under Appearance > Customize
There are a few more theme options that you’ll find by going to Appearance > Customize in the WordPress dashboard.
Most of what you’ll see here is exactly the same stuff that you’ll see in the Genesis Theme Options but there are a couple of other items that are important.
Genesis lets you upload a square image file that serves as a “site icon”. This image is used as the site’s favicon (the icon that appears beside the site name in your browser’s address bar) as well as the icon if a shortcut to the site is saved to your smartphone.
The icon needs to be at least 512 x 512 pixels.
You’ll find this option under Site Identity.
There’s a couple of other items under the Content Archives section of the Customize screen that aren’t in the Theme Options for some reason.
The Featured Image size lets you select from a couple of different size options for the images that appear with your posts.
The Featured image alignment lets you choose how you want that image to align with the text.
Creating Custom Home Pages
Pretty much all of the Genesis child themes have their own custom homepage.
These custom homepages are usually built using widgets. If you go to Appearance > Widgets you’ll see widget areas for your homepage.
This will be different for each child theme.
Page Templates and Options
If you go to create a new page under the Page Attributes section on the left side of the Page Editor you’ll see a drop down that lets you select a template.
The Default Template is simply for blank default pages.
If you select the Archive Template you’ll get a page that’s automatically populated with a list of the pages and posts on the site. This is perfect for creating an index or sitemap of your site.
The Blog Template is what you select when you’re creating a specific blog page.
There’s also a few more new Genesis options in the page editor at the bottom.
If you’re not using the Yoast SEO plugin, which you should be, you’ll see an SEO section that lets you enter things like the meta title, description or canonical URL.
If you’re not sure what any of these options mean check out my post Everything You Wanted to Know About SEO but were too Afraid to Ask.
You’ll also find page specific layout settings where you can change the layout of this particular page so it’s different from your default layout.
The custom body class and custom post class fields let you add specific CSS classes to the page. If you’re not sure what that means don’t worry because you’ll never need to use this.
Finally you’ll see a section for page-specific scripts.
This lets you add little bits of code specifically to the page. This is used for example if you want to track conversions.
You could create a thank you page that people are directed to after purchasing a product for example and you put the tracking code on this page. Then you can see how much conversions or sales you’re getting for the advertising you’re doing.
Advertising platforms like Google Adwords have tracking codes for this sort of thing.
The Genesis Framework has 3 widget locations and the various child themes can add a few more.
If you go to Appearance > Widgets you’ll see:
- Header Right
- Primary Sidebar
- Secondary Sidebar
The Header Right widget area is an area in the header to the right of the logo. In a lot of the child themes this is exactly where you’d think the main menu would go.
Some child themes can be a little bit confusing when you’re making a main menu because you’d expect it to show up here but it doesn’t.
If you’re having issues getting your main menu where you’d expect drag the Custom Menu widget to this location and select the main menu you created like in the screenshot below.
You’ll see now that the main menu I created is now in that header area.
The other two widget areas are pretty self explanatory. The primary sidebar is the larger sidebar and the secondary sidebar is the smaller one.
You can set which sidebars display using the layout options mentioned before.
A lot of child themes have a widget area at the bottom of blog posts which is perfect for adding in an email opt-in form. Lots of child themes have footer widget areas as well for adding things to your site’s footer.
Child themes also usually have homepage widget areas which let you create customized homepage which I mentioned earlier.
Genesis Specific Widgets
Genesis also comes with 3 specific widgets that you can use:
- Genesis Featured Page
- Genesis Featured Posts
- Genesis User Profile
Genesis Featured Page
The Genesis Featured Page widget lets you add sort of a preview of a page to a widget area that you can click on to visit the page.
You can enter a title to appear if you want to you can leave it blank.
The Page drop down menu lets you select the page. If you have a featured image for the page you can choose if you want to show it or not, what size you want it to be and the image alignment.
You can then show the actual page title if you want and a certain amount of content like you would with blog posts.
The More Text field lets you change the text for the link that you’d click through. You would put something here like “learn more” or “more information”.
Here’s how this widget looks in action.
I put a picture of a delicious looking salad for the featured image and it’s showing the page title and page content with a 100 character limit. My More Text says “Learn More”
Genesis Featured Posts
The Genesis Featured Posts widget lets you display a series of featured posts in your sidebar or another widget area.
This widget has a lot of options:
For the Title of the widget you can put something like “Featured Posts”, “Best Posts” or just leave it blank.
The Category drop-down lets you either show posts from all categories or just a specific category.
Number of Posts is simply how many posts you want the widget to display.
Number of Posts to Offset lets you skip the most recent X number of posts.
The Order By drop-down lets you choose if you want the posts ordered in ascending or descending order.
Exclude Previously Displayed Posts will exclude posts that might have more than one category and might show up twice on the same page.
Exclude Sticky Posts will exclude posts that you’ve checked off as “sticky” under Visibility in the Post Editor.
The Author Gravatar settings will determine if the author’s profile picture is shown, its size and how it’s aligned.
You can also choose if you want to show the post’s Featured Image, the size and how it’s aligned.
Show Post Title will simply show the title of the post
Show Post Info lets you show a little bit of additional information which you can then customize. By default it says: “[post_date] By [post_author_posts_link] [post_comments]” which will output the date of the post, the author’s name with a link to their archive page and the number of comments.
The Content Type drop down lets you choose to display the post excerpt or the actual post content which you can then limit to a certain number of characters.
The More Text field lets you customize the “Read More” link. You can put any text you want here like “Learn More”, “Full Post”, whatever.
The next section will display a bullet list of just post titles if you want. It’ll pull more posts from that category and just include the titles.
Finally the last option lets you link to the category archive page if you’ve chosen to display posts from one specific category.
Here’s what this widget looks like on the site itself. I spruced up the Hello World Post a little bit.
Genesis User Profile
This last Genesis widget lets you display a user’s profile image and bio. This is excellent if your site is a blog and you want to have some information about yourself in the sidebar.
You can enter a Title for the widget if you want or leave it blank.
The Select a user drop-down lets you select which user’s information to show if you have more than one user.
Gravatar size and alignment let you choose how you want to display the user’s Gravatar (globally recognized avatar) which works on every WordPress site and you can set up here.
You can then choose if you want to display the bio you entered in the user settings in the WordPress dashboard or show a custom one which you enter here.
The next option then lets you link to a specific page where you can get more information, usually an “about me” page and you can choose the text of that link.
Finally you can choose whether or not to display a link to the archive page with all the posts for that specific author.
Here’s what the widget looks like in action:
It’s a bit boring since this user doesn’t have a Gravatar set up.
The Genesis Simple Edits Plugin
That pretty much covers everything there is to do with the basic Genesis Framework settings however there’s a couple more things you can tweak if you download a plugin called Genesis Simple Edits.
Head to the plugins section of your WordPress dashboard and search for “Genesis Simple Edits”. It should be the first plugin that comes up.
Install and then activate this plugin.
You now have one more option under Genesis in the left side WordPress dashboard menu called “Simple Edits”. Click on that now and you’ll see a screen like this:
Entry Meta (above content)
What this does is let you change the little bit of information that appears below the title of your posts.
By default it shows the date, by the author’s username, number of comments and then shows an edit link that you can see if you’re logged into the site.
I don’t see much of a need to change this but you can remove the number of comments or whatever else you might want to do.
Entry Meta (below content)
This lets you edit the information that’s shown underneath the posts. By default it shows the category and any tags.
Footer Credits Text and Footer Output
Now this is the major reason that you want to install this plugin. If you look at the bottom of your site no matter what child theme you’re using you’ll see something like this:
I hate seeing this sort of thing on my websites. I don’t want anyone having their branding or free advertising on my site. This also helps StudioPress’s SEO by providing a link back to their site.
StudioPress is totally within their rights to include this if they want and you’re also totally within your rights to remove it, especially since you’ve already paid money for the theme.
I like to control everything and have everything perfect on my website so I always remove this.
The Footer Credits Text field is what’s currently showing in the footer and the code looks like this:
[footer_copyright before="Copyright "] · [footer_childtheme_link before="" after=" On"] [footer_genesis_link url="http://www.studiopress.com/" before=""] · [footer_wordpress_link] · [footer_loginout]
I say keep the [footer_copyright before=”Copyright “] · and then delete everything after it.
Then add your own site’s name after the bullet point. The code in the square brackets will add the copyright and date so you don’t have to worry about that.
Here’s what my footer now looks like:
My code here simply looks like:
[footer_copyright before="Copyright "] · Demo Website
Footer Output back in the settings lets you get a bit fancier. If you want to enter your own specific footer code.
Check the box and it’ll ignore everything in the Footer Credits Text field and you can enter your own code here.
I’ve never needed to do this, editing the Footer Credits Text field has always worked perfectly fine for me.
Genesis Child Themes
The last Genesis Framework related topic I’m going to touch on in this post is the use of Genesis Child Themes.
Child themes are the real Genesis themes and you’re definitely going to want one. I especially recommend Parallax Pro if this is your first website. It’s very simple theme and has a fantastic looking homepage with some awesome Parallax effects when you scroll down through the page.
To install a child theme make sure the Genesis framework is already installed and then install it just like you would any other theme.
You can follow the instructions at the top of this post again to install the child theme.
Once the child theme is installed all the same Genesis settings we covered in this post will still be there however you’ll have a few new options such as new widget areas and the option to upload an image logo.
I’m not going to go into detail how to set up each child theme but StudioPress has excellent guides that can help you with this.
All you’ll really need help with is setting up the custom homepage anyways.
If you log into StudioPress and go to your downloads section you’ll find guides for each child theme you’ve purchased that will explain everything you need to know, just click on Theme Setup.
You should be able to get the Genesis Framework and a child theme installed and set up pretty quick and then you’re all set to start blogging or running your website.
Because the Genesis Framework is so simple you don’t ever need to worry about breaking anything and you can get help from their support team whenever you need it.
You’ll also have a website where the code and everything behind the scenes is built incredibly well, is incredibly secure and you don’t have to worry about how SEO friendly your code is or how your site looks on mobile devices.
This is why I strongly recommend you use Genesis for your first ever website. Once you get a lot more experience with WordPress or web design you can switch to a fancier theme if you want or even have a custom theme built if you want to hire someone.
Or you can continue to use Genesis just like tons of other sites and blogs do.
If you have any questions related to the Genesis Framework let me know below in the comments.
This post appeared on the Realty Digital Marketing Professional Community Here: A Beginner’s Guide to the Genesis Framework