Thesis 2.0 vs. Genesis and Why I Made the Switch

So, today the Sugarrae site flipped to Genesis after using Thesis for nearly five years, as I mentioned in my Genesis review. The question I said had to wait for a second post to be answered was “Why?”. I wanted to address these two (the review and the switch) separately, thus two separate posts on the same day and time.

I’ve been using Thesis since before it even used functions and hooks – since the very first version came out in 2008. At the time, it was light years ahead of any custom theme I’d ever used before.

When the version using functions and hooks were introduced, I was totally confused and intimidated. But, I learned the ropes, learned the possibilities and was even more impressed with the Thesis theme. I used it on everything from that point forward and wrote several Thesis tutorials to help other non programmers like myself learn to harness its awesomeness.

In 2010, Genesis was released as a framework – and quickly was touted as an awesome alternative to Thesis. I bought a copy and checked it out. At the time, it had less hooks to use to customize it, only a few basic (i.e. plain) child themes, no Design Editor in the dash – I honestly felt it didn’t compare to what I was able to do with Thesis, so I tucked my copy of Genesis into a folder on my computer and moved on.

As Genesis continued to release child themes, I’d taken to telling people if you want a ready made design you don’t have to do much to, use Genesis. If you want a ton of flexibility and to be able to do a ton of cool customizations without being a developer, use Thesis.

Thesis continued to improve during this time as well. It added the feature box functionality among several other things and even though I knew Genesis had become a quality competitor, I could rock Thesis. In short, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Launch of Thesis 2.0

Thesis 2.0 was something we’d known was coming for a long time. When it was released, I was uber excited to beta test it. I’d seen what Chris (the creator of Thesis) could do with it in live demos when we saw each other at conferences. It rocked my socks.

But, I was utterly confused once I tried to use 2.0 myself. I couldn’t figure out how to even go from two columns to three. In fairness, as I mentioned above, I also was confused when Thesis initially launched hooks and functions. But back then, I was purely an affiliate. I didn’t have an agency to run and had the time to really dig in and learn a new platform. However, with being an affiliate marketer AND now owning an SEO agency, I no longer have that same time luxury. So I simply continued to use Thesis 1.8.5.

Additionally, I make money promoting Thesis. As I’ve told you guys time and time again – I won’t sell out the trust in my reputation to make an affiliate commission. If I couldn’t understand Thesis 2.0 myself, how could I SELL Thesis 2.0? The short answer is I can’t. Thus why the 2.0 review people kept waiting for from me never happened. Several developers I know are in love with it. But I wasn’t a developer.

But I waited hoping the kinks in 2.0 would get worked out for non developers like me. However, during this is when I began to launch some smaller affiliate sites on Genesis simply because the designs were plug and play and I wasn’t looking to make huge up front investments in those sites.

Revisiting Genesis

The short story is that Genesis had grown and improved a LOT since I’d tucked it away in a folder on my hard drive. It now had 60+ child themes available – and 40+ of those were FREE to me because I’d bought the Pro-Plus package when I initially bought it. I was literally blown away with how easy it was to do so much cool shit for the sites I was developing. It had become my go to theme for any new niche affiliate sites I developed. And the more I used it, the more benefits I found to using it.

Decision Time

I realized that if I found myself using Genesis over Thesis, then I should be recommending Genesis over Thesis. I’m not going “anti Thesis”. PushFire, MobileMoo and the countless other sites that I use it on will remain as is as long as Thesis 1.8.5 remains WordPress compatible or the kinks for people like me in Thesis 2.0 get worked out and I’m able to understand it and upgrade my current Thesis sites to 2.0 (and I look forward to that day).

But the bottom line is – today is not that day. And thus, Sugarrae went Genesis.

Genesis vs. Thesis

This is where it gets a little complicated. Because I don’t understand 2.0 and therefore don’t use 2.0, it’s hard for me to do a side by side comparison of the two frameworks in their current form. So PLEASE NOTE that some of the below may only be accurate when comparing Genesis 1.9.1 and Thesis 1.8.5. Feel free to add any corrections regarding Thesis 2.0 vs. Thesis 1.8.5 in the comments.

The Genesis Theme vs. The Thesis Theme

 Feature Genesis Thesis
 Built in SEO features x x
 Will use only your preferred SEO plugin x  
 Automatic framework updates* x x
 Ready made designs available for use** x  
 Design options panel in dash   x
 Can add header and footer scripts in dash x x
 Can insert breadcrumbs via dash x  
 Can upload header via dash x x
 Can upload favicon via dash   x
 Can upload background via dash x  
 Theme edits in dash without jumps*** x  
 In-house developed easy hook plugin x  
 Add author bio boxes via dash (no code) x  
 In-house developed specialty widgets x  
 In-house developed tutorials x x
 Can create custom functions with hooks x x
 Has the most hook options   x
 Can add after post features with widgets x  
 Rel=”author” (authorship) codes built in x  
 Add Google+ URL in dash w/o code x  
 Add featured post image through dash x x
 Export and import theme options x x
 JavaScript additions through dash   x
 Access theme CSS file through dash x x
 Access theme functions file through dash x x
 Change specific post layout (w/o code) x  
 Change specific page layout (w/o code) x  
 Lifetime updates with minimum package x  
 Unlimited support with minimum package x x
 Lifetime updates w min package x  
 Lowest package cost (framework only) $59.95 $87

* Thesis 2.0 has automatic updates, but prior versions of Thesis do not.
** Thesis Basic Plus ($164) includes one ready made design. Thesis Professional ($197) includes two ready made designs. However, the site says “These items are currently in production and will be available when completed” – since they are not available as of the time I’m writing this, I did not check off “yes” to ready made themes in the comparison chart above.
*** I wanted to clarify what I mean by “theme edits in dash without jumps”. In Thesis 1.8.5 and prior versions, when you are editing the custom CSS or custom functions screen and click “Save” it jumps you back to the top of the file. Small thing, but annoying when you’re toying with code and have to locate it, click save, something didn’t work right and you need to locate it again to edit it again. With Genesis when you click “Save” you stay right at the spot on those files you were editing. This apparently is a native function of WordPress. Not sure how or why Thesis is different in that regard.

About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Sugarrae runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

If you’re someone who doesn’t understand a lot of PHP, Genesis will give a ton of functionality that you wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise with a simple control panel instead of having to alter code. For the advanced, Genesis has incredible customization possibilities via Genesis hooks.

The theme is not only highly customizable, but it has allowed me to run Sugarrae more professionally, with a much more targeted focus on monetization than it ever has been able to achieve before.

You can find out more about Genesis below:

Comments

  1. I’m totally with you on this. I’ve had Thesis since ’08 and I’ve loved it. Then 2.0 came out with new terminology and no reference guide whatsoever. At the same time I kept hearing how great Genesis was. Also, Thesis didn’t play well with Yoast SEO (my preferred SEO plugin). I made the switch. It took a little bit to figure things out but it wasn’t too complicated. Thesis 2.0, on the other hand, I can’t figure out at all. Another factor is that I was concerned that Thesis 1.8x would only be developed for so long.

    • That’s why I put the Note in my review re if you’re using Yoast, Genesis won’t show SEO options LOL. For the longest time I was like “WHAT SEO options?!” but it was because WordPress SEO is a default plugin I install when setting up a new WordPress site before ever uploading a theme. ;)

  2. Hey Rae, thanks for the review of Genesis.
    Yes, I have been using genesis framework as well.
    Yes, Genesis made me happier since they have the Rel=”author” (authorship) codes built in.
    Welcome to the Genesis family ;-)

  3. Glad to see that you made the switch to Genesis.

    The Genesis support forum as well as the Genesis community itself are a great bunch of people. It’s just one item on a long list that makes StudioPress so much better than Thesis and many other premium theme builders.

    One question for you… What exactly do you mean by “Will use only your preferred SEO plugin?” I think you are saying that Genesis will disable the built-in SEO functionality if it detects an SEO plugin such as Yoast or All-In-One SEO, but I’m not sure if that’s what you mean.

    -rd

    • Rick, yes, that’s exactly what I meant. However, I’d like to say that I think Thesis has an awesome community as well.

      • I am exactly in the same boat. I don’t understand 2.0 like 1.8x, and I truly believe that while they have added lots of functionality in 2.0, Thesis 2.0 has actually regressed in terms of usability and morphed into an over-complicated and confusing exercise in block programming. We essentially had two code files to do all our magic in 1.8x, now forget it.

        With that said, I cannot say enough good things about the Thesis support staff. They are incredible. Hands down awesome. Hats off to them.

        SE

  4. I am glad to see I am not the only one confused by Thesis 2.0 I did the same thing as you and couldn’t figure out the 2 to 3 columns either. Right now most of my sites are on Thesis 1.85 also but I have begun to change the new sites over to Genesis and SmallBizTheme (Disclaimer we run their affiliate program)

    I love Chris and the stuff he is doing with Thesis but I don’t have the time to be a programmer/designer. I need something out of the box that will look professional without dealing with a learning curve.

  5. So Glad to have you on Genesis! While I’ve trusted your tips and hints for forever on Thesis, I’ve primarily developed Genesis and your review is SPOT. ON. Welcome to the light!

  6. Thanks Rae, I’ve used Thesis and Genesis and Headway. All three have pros and cons. I typically pick one or the other based upon my plan for the website, since they implement differently. I do like Genesis for the themes and ease of use and agree very much with your assessment so far. Looking forward to your next article with your rationales.

  7. You’re not alone, Rae… Thesis has put very little effort into providing what their users want, and far too much effort into being different, just ’cause they can. Genesis has gone the other direction on both counts. I know several others whose judgment I trust that prefer Genesis over Thesis.

    I started using weaver ii, with a child, which, for me, was a pretty steep learning curve. That I found weaver to be more intuitive and flexible than thesis kinda says it all for me. Frankly, I wouldn’t use thesis if it was free.

    Disclosure: I’m a sorry excuse for a coder. I have people I depend on for any meaningful mods I may need.

  8. Wow, big switch! I am on the same page regarding Thesis 2.0 – I haven’t had the time to really dig in and make it work. That said, I’m still a huge fan of 1.8x and we’re going to keep using it as long as it stays viable. We do also have a Genesis account though, I may need to take a look at the current state of the state over there and see if there isn’t room in our hearts for both :)

    • That was my original stance the last six months too regarding NEW flagship sites (ones I was paying for custom design on either way)… ok, I’ll just use 1.8.5 – but when I realized how many functions I was writing for things that were included in the Genesis framework (like rel=”author”) I decided to move on – again, for new sites.

  9. Great post. Marketing Press made the switch to Genesis two-years ago and never looked back. The main point that I always come back to when using Genesis and Child Themes is that I can start a project at the 40 yard line (by using the right child theme) vs. spending a lot of time with custom tweaks of Thesis to make it look like one of Studiopress’ child theme — thus, keeping projects in check from a budget perspective.

    Also, I am constantly impressed with the great professionals within the Genesis community. Cheers!

  10. Hi Rae
    Read a few reviews of Thesis 2.0 saying roughly the same thing – released too early with poor documentation.
    Having said that there are a some good videos out there.

    I went with Genesis because of their Pro Plus package – all current themes and all future theme struck me as fabulous value.
    Best decision I ever made.

  11. Hey Rae –

    I am in the same boat. I got a hold of Thesis when it first came out and had a bit of a learning curve to get my chops up to speed. It truly was blazing the trail for frameworks. I switched to Genesis about a year ago due to many of the same reasons, primarily time constraints. I looked at Thesis 2.0 and am sure it way better than the original, however I a bit confused on even where to start. I find it much faster tweaking any of the existing Genesis themes to fit my needs and will stay with that for now.

  12. First off – glad you made the switch. As far as frameworks go, Genesis is hands down the best. The community is great and Brian and the crew are great and always willing to help quickly with issues.
    As far as developer-ness… I still typically build stuff from scratch or using _S or a forked/hacked version of Roots. Frameworks have a lot of stuff I don’t typically need in most sites. But that’s a bigger talk. Genesis is great and when in need of a framework theme I always go that route.

  13. Yep, switched most of my sites to Genesis last year. Mobile is really important on my event sites (it’s half my traffic) and the mobile implementation went very well. I have nothing bad to say about Thesis, haven’t had time to mess with 2.0, but … I’m not a developer, and my developer actually likes Genesis and the one thing I don’t have a lot of is time.

    • LOL… agreed on mobile. First email I got after throwing Sugarrae Genesis was “why you no like mobile users?” (was tongue in cheek from a friend) and for the record, it was because I wanted to launch and figured I’d make it mobile responsive later vs. waiting to launch to have it mobile responsive from the get go.

      • I see you and netmeg already discussed the mobile topic. It should be noted that Thesis 2.1 is out and addresses many of the problems Thesis 2.0 users complained about, including mobile. The new Classic Responsive theme they provided works great on a mobile device.

        Really interested to see what you have to say about 2.1 in perhaps another post if you have time to try it out.

        • Mitch – I definitely hope to find the time soon to give it another go now that 2.1 has been released. But, time is definitely a valued commodity for me these days! ;-)

  14. Nice comparison. I would add that Genesis is also a very developer friendly framework and plays well with WordPress as far as using the built-in WordPress API and admin area. I have used other frameworks and starter themes that “did things their own way” and almost always had to undo things or use workarounds to get back to the way WordPress works out of the box.

    Also the flexibility of being able to use the base child theme to convert an artist’s .psd, or to send clients to the StudioPress child theme page to pick a starting point allows me to take on a wider variety of projects, since I am not a graphic artist. Genesis hugely speeds up development time and lets me give my clients much more bang for their buck!

  15. I’m so glad you posted this. I thought I was the only one that couldn’t figure it out and had Thesis 2.0 complaints. I invested time in the new Thesis, but just couldn’t do even the most simple things that took minutes in 1.8.5. I’ll have to give Genesis a try now. Cheers.

  16. Nice detail in the comparison chart — thanks for that clarity!

    The Prose child theme (one of the child themes that is included in the Pro Plus package) does offer a Design Controls option in the WP dashboard (as well as an upgrade-proof Custom CSS/Custom PHP screen). Very handy for WP beginners.

  17. I completely agree. I purchased thesis (through your affiliate link, of course) a few months ago and downloaded version 2.0 because it had just came out. I remenber trying to navigate and thinking that you must be crazy to recommend this on your site to non-programmers because I was absolutely dumbfounded while trying to use it. Then I realized that you had been talking about 1.8.5 and when I downloaded it, it was like a completely different framework in itself. Much easier to use.

    However, I had the same concerns that Glen Craig had about 1.8.5 only being developed for so long and started looking into the Genesis Framework, and was really impressed with what I found. I haven’t purchased it yet but I am definitely going to.

  18. I am on exactly the same page. Thesis was the first premium theme framework I started working with, and it’s been my go-to for nearly all projects for about the past 4 years. I, too, was super excited about the release of Thesis 2.0, but after 3 separate attempts to wrap my head around it, I kept going back to 1.8.5. I hate to say it, but I feel DIY s**t the bed with this release. I think it has the potential to be great, but Chris Pearson may have rushed it out to soon. Expectations were far too high for 2.0. so delivering anything less than stellar was going to be a disappointment, as was the case.

    As a result, I’ve been looking more and more at Genesis and their child themes (i also bought the dev option a few years back), and it’s becoming a much more practical and cost-effective solution for myself and my clients. It has more inherent customization options (when coupled with the bounty of plugins available), the themes look great out-of-the-box and many have responsiveness built in!

    Seeing this post has been very reassuring, as I was thinking about converting a few of my sites over to Genesis as well – including my main business site, which I’ve been needing to fully develop for some time. Thanks for the great article and, especially that handy side-by-side table comparison. :)

  19. I’ve been using Thesis since the day it was released and have been a huge fan all the way through version 1.8.5. Although you can do some pretty impressive things with 2.0 once you get the hang of it, I too decided to move from Thesis to Genesis.

    Chris Pearson is a really talented guy and his success with Thesis proves that, but, 2.0 almosts seems like it would very difficult to move away from if for some reason you really needed to.

    To make a long story short, I switched from Thesis to Genesis because at times it seems like Pearson wants to fork away from WordPress.

  20. Ouch! I loved the look and feel of your Thesis site. Your site inspired me to go with Thesis a few years ago. In fact, I would love to style mine to be just like it but didn’t want to “rip” your work. I just started writing a complete guide to using Thesis 2 because it is so different than 1.8 and there isn’t as much community documentation out there as there was for pre-2. I like your new site too, subtly different.

    • Doug – I actually flipped to the new design about six months ago when I was still on Thesis – then we ported it to be Genesis last week with a few subtle changes. :)

      • Doh! Check out the guide I’m writing. Not trying to pimp it here, but 2.0 is miles ahead. I hated hacking php and hooks. Now in a couple clicks you can add a new box anywhere on any page. No hooks and no PHP. In a couple more clicks you can add a new custom page for use on your site. Once the new metaphor for building sites clicks with you, you’ll be like “face palm”. My site is really just for hobby and to give back to the Thesis community for helping me in the past.

  21. Very nice post and it parallels my own experience very closely. Apparently this is also the case for many others. Thesis was (and is) an amazing step forward for developing on WP. The new version does beg you to really “get inside” and become something akin to a Thesis Programmer. I’m interested in doing more programming of content but there would go down to something else.

    When it comes to professional looking WP design I just find Genesis a much faster and easier path. I did buy the developer pack back when it came out so all those extra themes are “free” for me. I’m also intrigued by Premise which may help with member subscriptions and access… can’t speak to that yet though.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together and share!

  22. Thanks for this, I use Thesis and Headway now but may consider Genesis after reading your post. One big question I have though is the ability to SEO the tops of the category pages (I saw you on a webinar years ago and that was a huge A HA for me)….do you find that you can customize them in Genesis using HTML? Headway does do it with a huge setup but I like that Thesis does it from the WordPress framework.

    • Tara – the answer is yes. You can add a custom heading and description via the WP dash when using Genesis on the edit category screen: http://www.sugarrae.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Screen-Shot-2013-02-20-at-8.31.32-AM.png – that’s how all the categories here on Sugarrae are done – no code. You can also choose to give a category page a specific custom layout on that page for whatever reason as well with Genesis.

      Also, for the record, Thesis now had added a custom heading and description for categories in the same spot via their framework as well – they didn’t back when I wrote that tutorial and did that webinar though. :)

      Hope this helps!

      • For the record, Thesis had the category title and content feature first, and you were stoked about it at the time.

        Genesis added that feature after it first debuted in Thesis.

        • Absolutely Chris – apologies if I seemed to imply that it didn’t. I was stoked re it (still am for my Thesis sites) and the feature indeed came out in Thesis first prior to Genesis integrating it. The “has now added” meant to refer to it being added to Thesis’s framework after I did my tutorial on creating the custom categories via custom functions in March of 2009 – which I had discussed in the above referenced webinar.

  23. Great overview. Wish this had come out a few months ago – when I bought Standard Theme! I had been going back and fourth on Thesis for about 3 months. I actually bought and returned it 3 times! Tried 2.0 and got lost. Thought 1.0 was great, but like you, couldn’t buy if I can’t master the newest version quickly. So I settled on Standard, which is pretty limiting, but allows me to focus on creating content and is a pretty simplified theme.

    Glad to see you updated your old Thesis posts with a call out of your new thoughts and links to your Genesis posts.

    • Like I’ve said before and likely will say 100 times again, I never will purposely lead someone astray for an affiliate commission. If my feelings on a product change, like they did with PopUp Domination, I make sure to edit what I can in prior posts to reflect it. :)

  24. Very helpful comparison chart. Thanks for taking time to prepare it. I have gone through almost the identical thinking process.

    I did find that after Matthew Horne (diywpblog) published his excellent tutorials it is possible to see the tremendous power of the new thesis 2.0. and my impression now is that for someone whose business is to design a lot of sites it may be the most powerful and effective way to go. However, for someone like myself who works on his/her own sites it is a steep learning curve.

    Genesis is very good and user friendly as well. I like it and think your recommendation is right on.

  25. I personally hate what they did with Thesis 2.0. It is a very powerful system and once you get used to it I guess. I really can’t stand WYSIWYG editors. And a web based version is just a complete mess. My Thesis 2.0 review at the end tells people to not buy the framework now.

    So I had decided (before reading this even lol) to switch to Genesis. For now Thesis 1.8x still works and until that breaks I’ll probably stick to it and slowly work on porting over to Genesis.

    Thanks for the review and the honesty!

  26. Thank you for your candid thoughts on Thesis vs. Genesis. I couldn’t spare the time to figure out Thesis 2.0 so had someone from Elance take on the project of updating a couple of my business sites using Thesis 2.0. Now I’m afraid of going too deep with any changes as I might mess it up!

    I purchased Headway and it’s been easy to figure out and has amazing flexibility. I am about to switch over to it; before I dive in, what are you impressions of Headway? Would be nice to include it in your side by side review….

  27. I am also 100% with you on this one. I was using Thesis, wound up going offline for about a year, and now that I’m slowly working back….I have no idea how the new Thesis works. I actually installed the 1.8 version so that I could do something, which really gripes because I don’t like using the old version of anything.

    Thanks for making me aware of Genesis.

  28. While it’s true that both Genesis and Thesis has been vastly improved recently, the fact of the matter is that it isn’t about how much the product costs but rather what you get out of it. In my opinion, Genesis takes the cake.
    Great article – thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  29. Great review and information you’ve posted here comparing 2 themes I just so happen to be considering! As far as your switch it’s totally understandable insofar as if one theme ‘lags’ behind in terms of development, it’s time to move on!

    Love the looks of what you got here although seeing what’s under the ‘hood’ is the most important aspect of my decision! You’ve made your move now it’s time for me to do the same!

    This post was VERY helpful,
    Thanks Rae

  30. 2.O has a promising future, but like you, I just don’t have the time for a learning curve. I ended up working with a developer to migrate my site from 1.85 to 2.0 and wasn’t the happiest camper in the process.
    Currently in a dilemma as I want to recommend 1.85 to clients, and am an affiliate, but not sure just how long it will be around. Genesis is more of a developer’s framework to me, and no quite as intuitive, but for out-of-the-box solutions it rules. I do miss my “Big Ass Save” button, though!

  31. Hi,

    i upgrade my site suchmaschinen-experte.de from 1.8.to 2.0 and need much time to understand the new system of customization with boxes. Yes, it is a pity, that the documentation is so minimal.

    I do not have got my site like before besides my skills and experience. But the boxes and packages you can upload make the framework very powerful.

    It is not clear, where to start the customization, and how to set up easy a child skin.

  32. I am using thesis 2.0 for my ecommerce site (with cart66). I am a total newbie to wordpress/thesis and the learning curve was steep.

    You can’t truly customize skins in thesis without programming knowledge. I found that out the hard way. I was led to believe through diythemes marketing that you didn’t have to mess with code at all. Boy was I wrong.

    One of the things that aggravated me most was not being able to customize child menus in the nav bar. I finally figured out its alot easier just to manually edit the css style sheet (open through ftp access) then go through the packages interface.

  33. I am still on Thesis 1.8.5; just got my blog redesigned fairly recently and don’t want to rock the boat.

    However, I have to call my designer for every little thing it seems like. And just like you, Rae, I don’t recommend anything that I don’t trust.

    So do I recommend Thesis and give out my designer’s business card with it? Since my readers would never be able to design what I have on their own…

    Your switch is definitely making me think about it.

    • My take?

      1. Karma has an amazing ROI.
      2. I’m not saying if you go Genesis you will never need a designer – especially if you have a custom design. Like I said, Sugarrae.com required custom design – Genesis or Thesis. For a business with a brand or for extremely custom designs, you’re looking for a designer either way.

      The difference – for me is – if for those in between. Those who don’t want something plain – but don’t have 2-6K to spend on a custom design. Additionally, most things you need to do by hook in thesis 1.8.5 – pushing design price up – are done by popping a widget into Genesis. Maybe they even have a couple hundred for a custom logo or header… but not enough for the whole shebang – Genesis is GREAT in those situations.

      As an example, I made my community HOA site as a volunteer (I figured better I do it since it was brand new than have a well meaning neighbor volunteer and pop up a geocities worthy site LOL).

      I used the Genesis Education theme, changed a few of the font types and spacing via CSS (didn’t “need” to, just did) and then paid $17 bucks for an icon pack and paid for an hour or so of a designers time to make the matching icons I needed for the homepage (two came with the design, two were custom). The pics at the top are ones I spent a few minutes running around my neighborhood taking (and waited to be called in as a stalker by police haha).

      The same site in Thesis would have looked like – well, generic Thesis – without paying for a design. However, for a long time, Thesis was the superior framework to me, so it was worth paying for a bit of design. The bigger issue became when it wasn’t anymore (for ME anyway) and frameworks that had caught up with it and/or surpassed it, also offered designs to boot.

      Finally, I had just redesigned Sugarrae on Thesis 1.8.5 prior to moving to Genesis. For me, I felt it was hypocritical to recommend Thesis over Genesis when I found myself always using Genesis of late – but also knew if I was going to start recommending Genesis, I needed to put my own site where my mouth was. :)

  34. I don’t know about Thesis but the Genesis is my first love and I never actually thought to switch it.
    I think you’ve made a good decision Rae :).

  35. I can totally see where you are coming from. Without core development, it’s difficult to get Thesis 2.x to do what you want.

    With that said we are using Thesis 2.x for all of our new builds. Our development team loves it. Then again we are building designs from scratch and not modifying existing templates. We are also finding responsive development works very well with 2.x.

  36. Great comparison and one that I really paid attention too because like you, I am totally confused and actually frustrated with Thesis 2.0. I was so excited about its launch that I quickly upgraded to Developers version, only to find out that it is not “non-developer” friendly.

    Anyway, I have been using Genesis too and have been “procrastinating” on moving some of my Thesis powered sites to Genesis due to the SEO data it (Thesis) has.

    Question, how did you solve that issue?

  37. Great post ! I’m due for an update and have been toying with the thought of moving to a more robust framework or even Drupal for the site but I don’t want to lose my rankings…so your post was right on time. I like what both frameworks do but I don’t think anyone have ever written about it like you have thanks….

  38. Awesome comparison Rae, I’ve been keeping an eye on both of those themes for quite some time now. I just gave Flare (it’s a responsive WordPress theme) a try on a project that I’m doing and I must say that it’s pretty darn powerful for what I needed it to do.

    Even though I didn’t give either of these themes a try this time around, I’ll be breaking down and making the purchase pretty soon. It looks like I’ll be giving Genesis a spin after seeing your review. It definitely seems to be the stronger solution, especially for what I’ll be needing to accomplish.

    Honestly, I used to code simple HTML sites and IRC scripts/bots, but I started getting uncomfortable as the different types of code changed so much in such a short amount of time, or at least that’s the way it seemed. I’m finally getting my feet wet again thanks to this nightmare that I’m living trying to get these review sites live in spite of the themes breaking every time I turn around. It looks like this year is the year that I’ll finally embrace customization once again. :-)

  39. I too am confused by Thesis 2.0 but just thought it was me being a bit slow on the uptake !
    I think I will stay with 1.8.5 … as I quite like it due to the ease of use of the Thesis open hooks plugin
    However I will investigate Genesis, as it works with more plugins like …Yoast SEO for Videos & WP eCommerce. Thesis does not apparently work very well with these plugins

    Reply

  40. I use thesis on a lot of my sites. When 2.0 came out, i switched half of them and it killed the sites. Some hosts couldnt use it, it was hell with plugins, documentation was poor. It took some time for me to get the hang of it, and once switched, I tested for a while, and it worked. Came back the next day and my sites are down, usually due to plugin compatibility issues :D I shoulda waited, lost all that traffic while I was sleeping.

    I had to go in and manually remove plugins in php. I reverted back to 1.8.5.

    BTW, the amount of html on the page did hurt my rankings from my observations vs non thesis sites i run. It might just be coincidence, so ignore this, it’s just from my own tests.

  41. too late for me: Thesis 2 ate my £££s and has nearly killed any desire to move my website to WP. Not looking forward to the process.

  42. I am a longtime owner of a developer license for Thesis and have played around with a few sites. I was about to get serious with a blog and a few other websites when Thesis 2.0 came out. I was daunted by it but only just decided that I was going to try and persevere. Having seen Sugarrae’s article, I am definitely going to make the switch to Genesis. The big thing for me is the ability to get some decent looking child themes in a reasonable amount of time. Thanks Sugarrae. Great article!

  43. Genesis has also become my favourite framework for WordPress.

    You can get a Genesis Favicon Uploader plugin, but I think it’s a bit over the top to install a plugin just for that :-)

    • I like plugins for the simple things like favicon because I don’t have to remember to add the code back into the custom file every time I update the theme.

      • With Genesis, all you have to do is put a favicon.ico/jpg/gif/png (whichever format you prefer) in your child theme folder, and Genesis does the rest. It looks for the favicon and uses it if it finds one.

  44. Thesis was the first blog theme I ever paid for. I was pretty impressed with myself. I loved Thesis. It was simpler to use than many free themes I had worked with. I stuck with Thesis for years and then came 2. I was stumped. I’m not a developer and I don’t want to start learning code now. I even avoided getting into the hooks when that came out.

    Since the change to Thesis I’ve been using the old version and then went back to my favourite free theme lately. But, it doesn’t get many updates – though I do really like the look of it.

    Tonight I read your post. You weren’t snipping at Thesis or being snobby and elitist about it. I read others who just made me choose NOT to EVER use Genesis because I didn’t like the attitude. But, I went to look at Genesis again before even finishing this comment. I contacted Brian on Twitter with a couple of questions and now, thanks to the magical PayPal, I’m loading up Genesis.

    I am a bit worried about the coming Genesis 2. It didn’t turn out so well with Thesis. But, if nothing else I can change themes again. I sure have plenty of options at this point.

  45. I have to tell you, when Thesis 2.0 came out, I was excited. The advertising went on and on about how it was “no coding necessary.”

    Bull.

    Yes, there is no coding necessary. But if you don’t know code, you will be lost. I know code. And I was lost…

    You can tell that the people who worked on the interface never did any usability studies with anyone outside of their company.

    Thank you for giving us an alternative.

  46. Your website loads faster than before and it also feels really fluid while navigating. Wondering if this is due to Genesis?

    What about custom ads in the sidebar, Thesis theme has this nice feature that makes it possible to customise ads by post via the Custom Feature Box. Is there anything similar in Genesis Theme.

  47. Great post, I have been doing WordPress development for a while now and never really made the leap to frameworks, after reading this, it looks like it may be time to at least try.

  48. I have to say, I’m actually pissed. I went to the Genesis site, told them “Rae said to upgrade” and then asked them for assistance as to which theme to purchase.

    No answer. Gotta say, if this is how they treat their customers this way, I’m super NOT impressed.

  49. I’m making the move from Thesis to Genesis right now. I read about Google author rank and other features Genesis was offering out of the box and that was enough to sell me on it. Love this round-up of other features too.

  50. I’ve never tried Thesis, using Genesis from the start, Genesis rocks.

  51. I have to tell you, everytime I would see you or any other site still displaying the affilicate link to Thesis, I would just cringe. All I could think is that everybody is walking around like zombies, in a total state of shock and denial. That said after a lot of pain (learning T2), I uploaded my first skin that came with a ton of boxes and I am just loving Thesis 2 (I mean I fricken love it)! I don’t know code at all, but I am the kind of person that needs to mess around constantly. I build things by fiddling, I am an artist and I don’t know any theme that is going to let me do this without being a coder. Using hooks…..sorry, no visual splendor there. T2 what a hard hard thing with no user guide, but I got over it, now it is all visual and I understand it. I can see the bigger picture and down the line it will be a thing of beauty, but I feel it’s too much for anybody but a coder or some nut to get involved in. Oh, love Genisis, use it, fantastic, great choice!

  52. I loved Thesis 1.8X but absolutely hated 2.0 As you, I am not a programmer and while Thesis 2 might be great for programmers, it’s awful for everyone else. With Thesis 1X, I could pretty easily figure everything out but with 2.0, it seems like it would take forever to try and learn a new system.

    There are WAY too many other good ready made themes out there now where you don’t have to be a developer to use. I like Woo Themes and use them for almost everything. I was also impressed with Genesis but like Woo a little bit better.

  53. This is a really handy full T vs G review to refer folks to – I’ve been hearing a lot of people complaining about all the trouble they’re having with Thesis 2.0 and asking me about equivalents in Genesis. I don’t use Thesis on any of my sites so I can’t really compare the two with any amount of knowledge myself. Thanks for covering all this techy-foo-foo stuff for us ;-)

  54. I am also moving my sites from Thesis to Genesis for pretty much the same reasons you did. I LOVED Thesis until Thesis 2 came out. Since I could not figure it out I tried to find a skin to help but all the pretty skins were for Genesis so I think I am going to move. I read here: http://www.artofblog.com/thesis-and-genesis-compared/#comment-529397 that moving a site from Thesis to Genesis can be bad for SEO (suddenly you have new code). I wanted to check if you had any issues since the move. That statement in that site made me a little nervous. Thanks!

    • There could be an SEO effect if you don’t transfer over any title tags or things along those lines, but I don’t see changing the code being an issue – sites undergo redesigns and platform changes all the time that effect code. That said, I had no issues SEO wise with the flip. :)

  55. I also used Thesis before but after Thesis 2 was introduced (and I can’t use it because it’s too hard to learn), I transferred to Genesis. Loving it and I’m using it now for my blog designs. Less time wasted learning how to code.

  56. For almost two months we compared the two frameworks for use on our client network. After many meetings and discussions we came to the decision of using Genesis. The Genesis design and development community was enough to push us in their direction.

  57. Feel bad for jumping ship on Thesis but they have a lot of work ahead of them. Hello Genesis!

  58. Wow, so happy I found this discussion! I like many of you have been a loyal Thesis fan for many years but had not found the time to investigate Thesis 2. I spent 3 full days this week viewing online tutorials for using Thesis 2 and I am just shaking my head in disbelief and am at a loss at what to do at this point.
    I think I have the gist of boxes and packages but it has become so proprietary it scares me. I think its even harder for someone that knows nothing about web design to jump in to it when the whole goal to Thesis 2.0 was to work around touching code at all thus making it easier for non-coders to build a website.
    Its funny because I have been getting more and more grumpy about working with code, debugging code, but Thesis 2.0 has this enormous layer of UI between you and the code and that makes me twitchy! I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of the control.
    I have always been so diligent to completely avoid updating Thesis function and css files through the Dashboard – but rather using FTP to make all changes to style and function so I always have a local copy of the customizations. Thesis 2.0 – at least the tutorials – are painful. So, I’m really not sure what to do at this point. If I could just stick with 1.85 i’d be happy but looks like that isn’t going to happen.
    So Genesis is really sounding good to me at this point, thanks for this discussion.
    Anne

  59. Thanks for info Rae. I am looking to build a new site and after reading your review I’ll try Genesis this time. I have been happy with Thesis but the complexity of 2.0 at this time doesn’t sound encouraging.

  60. I’ve finally come to the realization that I know I need to leave the Thesis theme behind and try something new. I’m not tech savvy and must say that I am somewhat design challenged. I’ve read a bit about the Genesis framework, but still am not totally sold. Are there any Genesis users out there that are a little challenged as I and have been able to make the switch fairly easy? I would love to hear your suggestions and constructive advice.

  61. I recently switched from Thesis to Genesis for the exact same reasons. Im officially team Genesis.

  62. Susan Gertz says:

    Does Genesis support custom layouts for custom post types without coding?

  63. Wow…finally someone who agrees with what I have been saying for quite some time now. As a developer Thesis 2.0 is great but for those who aren’t it is a big learning curve. Yes, leaning is good and many who have the time will eventually figure it out. But for me and others it is way too long.

  64. Woot. Genesis proud user here. Glad to hear your story. Matt Cutts also switched to Genesis not so long ago.

  65. I’ve never tried Thesis, using Genesis from the start, Genesis rocks. Thanks for sharing this post.

  66. I’ve obviously been hiding under a rock for a while. Actually, I had been creating sites for clients using off the shelf themes and doing well. However, I needed to do a custom site, and I thought to myself, ah ha… Thesis and they just came out with an upgrade as well. Should be awesome right? Meh, not at all.

    I’ve spent the last 2 hours trying to wrap my head around Thesis 2.1 and have given up. It is way to complicated for someone who wants to build a site and move onto the next project. I’m not a programmer, nor do I want to become one to use a blasted WP framework. Time to cut bait and look into Genesis.

  67. Mark Ishii says:

    I’m trying to decide between Thesis and Genesis. Is the main reason people are choosing Genesis because Thesis requires a pretty thorough knowledge of CSS? I mean, If I feel totally comfortable using CSS, would I be okay with Thesis?

    • If you are comfortable with CSS then the default thesis skin will be a sinch for you to customize.

      Also more skins are now being developed, I am making some myself and as an optimization specialist my skins will focus on tackling efficiency issues for maximum page speed while providing options to alter it via the Thesis API.

  68. Thank you for the Great comparison chart. I have been running on Thesis for awhile too but most of client sites are built on the Genesis Framework. I find much easier to develop sites with too.

  69. Hi,I can’t help but notice that most of the features listed above are sort of misleading in regards to Thesis 2.

    Thesis 2 is an Object Orientated Framework – what that means to users is that it can be extended well beyond the limitations of WordPress in a clean and efficient manner.

    All of the listed features could easily be included into a Skin for Thesis 2, developers can create skins for users to any specification and include any features they require and make it as part of the core of the skin. Every plugin can be eliminated for this reason, plugins are sluggish, generally poorly made and add significant weight to pages relative to what they do.

    I provided a clear example of this in a recent article where I looked in depth at the differences between a plugin and a box as well as some other features of Thesis. However developers can included boxes are a core part of the skin.

    If you want to have a read the link is here: http://diywpblog.com/taking-a-closer-look-at-thesis-2/

    The article only focuses on a small part of Thesis as its API is extensive – because of the way it coded ( code for code and the ability to include features efficiently). Thesis would hands down beat any theme or framework. Now I know that may seem like a bold statement – but as someone who develops websites, administers servers and specializes in optimization – my point of view extends towards the ability to build very efficient and well coded sites that conform to current standards.

    Unless someone can provide a working example of a more efficient theme or framework – I will continue to use Thesis, but the only way for others to be as extendable and efficient as Thesis 2 is to adopt a similar approach to diythemes – this would also apply to WordPress.

    It sort of hard to explain the whole story in a comment, but as time passes more and more people are beginning to appreciate what Thesis 2 is and what can be achieved. In one aspect is enables developers to solve fundamental problems inherent to the core of WordPress which in turn is problematic for any Theme that fully adheres to it. Any developer will tell you WordPress has a lot of problems which is part of the reason hardcore coders don’t even touch it.

    I hope not to offend anyone and I understand this post was mainly referencing Thesis 1, but you did state to inform you of any changes in regards to Thesis 2.

    Regards

    Matthew Horne

  70. Just sign up and noticed this post first. I too bought Thesis and loved 1.8. Am I crazy or should there have been a way to import/update to 2.0 w/o rebuilding a site? I also don’t have the time to learn how to use this new version. Am sure it’s fantastic but I’m lost and not looking to be found… I’ll have to look at Genesis and see if it’s what I’ve been looking for.

  71. I have to say I really like Thesis 2.0. I hated the 1.8.5. I only started using Thesis again in Sep 2013 though so maybe they improved certain things after your switch?

    I am absolutely not a coder. I can do CSS/Html and once I change something in a php file (with instruction – lol). I still can’t figure out what the heck a hook is though.

    I tried Genesis at the same time but didn’t feel like I could customize as much stuff. I didn’t quite get Thesis at the time either, but I could intuitively tell that I liked it better.

    With that said, I think they both have their pros and cons.

    Genesis, out of the box definitely seems like a better option. There are way more nice themes/skins to choose from. Thesis REALLY needs to work on this! I bought the Themedy skins package because it was way to much trying to design a half-decent looking website with the blank theme. I do love their boxes though. I LOVE how you go into any template and move the location of the different sections on a page.

    There are also some things that I just don’t think you can do with Thesis, that I really think you should.
    – changing the site background
    – Automatically changing a template to a 2 or 3 column template

    A good skin helps with all of that (and themedy’s are great!) but from what I remember it’s way easier to do a lot of that in Genesis.

    One thing I don’t think you can do in Genesis, which is the deal breaker for me is this:

    Go to the category page and add or change the location of a specific “box”/widget/plugin/whatever.

    For example.
    I want specific templates for each of my category pages.
    I want to include custom content sliders at the top of them with unique content and images that link to other pages/posts on the site.

    From what I understand (and PLEASE! tell me if I’m wrong) you have to go into the code, create php files and whatnot, to do this with Genesis.

    Right?

  72. What do you mean by framework only?

  73. Useless Thesis says:

    Thesis is very incompatible. You need to pay extra to able to use some plugins ( yoast, woocommerce) Support team does not help for plugins because it is third party.. Waste of $197.

    • Can’t speak to the incompatibility (i.e. if there are problems or not), but you don’t have to pay for Yoast – however, Yoast does have a paid option. But that paid option is available to anyone who uses the plugin, and – to my knowledge anyway – is not “required” by Thesis users. Same goes for WooCommerce – the base plugin is free, but there are a ton of paid add ons and themes.

  74. After a few years away from my Thesis blog, I was about to upgrade it
    to Thesis 2.1 so I could get a responsive theme. My husband and I between us could just about manage the html and css of Thesis 1.5. Do you think we’d be completely out of our depth with Thesis 2.1? My return to blogging was hard enough, but all of these helpful yet scary comments above have left me fearing I might lose more than my few remaining readers if I upgrade.

  75. Great review and information you’ve posted here comparing 2 themes I just so happen to be considering! As far as your switch it’s totally understandable insofar as if one theme ‘lags’ behind in terms of development, it’s time to move on!

  76. Paul Wright says:

    Hi Rae,

    thank you so much for your article on the comparison between Thesis and Genesis. I love Genesis and have a beautiful website built on it. Unfortunately I am not a coder or web designer and I have a website built on Thesis that is slowly dying. I am looking for a good designer to change my Thesis to Genesis without it costing me the earth and was wondering if you had any suggestions as to who might be able to help.

    Cheers
    Paul

  77. Annamarie says:

    Thanks.. Very useful. I echo everyone.. LOVE, loved Thesis 1.8.5. The support guys are awesome and I went from totally green to somewhat decent PHP and CSS coder for all the customizations on my site. 2.0 was a wasted day and I never tried again.

    Reading this because I think my site is disappearing in searches and suspect it has to responsiveness. Time to move to Genesis? How much work is it going to take? I have so much customized. Sigh.

  78. Jose JR Vazquez says:

    Outstanding article, and its helping me to decide which to go with. Im stuck at a safe 2014 theme provided by word press. But that won’t help me sell my brand identity. My concern is which one outside developers and designers are more familiar with. Which I buy I want to stick with, and then hire someone to develop the look for me. Which one has the best developers is my question?

    • Jose – there are very talented developers / designers specializing in both frameworks. Your best bet is to do a search and see who jumps out at you – and what they specialize in. :)

  79. I made a similar switch from the Headway theme to Genesis – I mulled this over for ages as I invested a LONG time learning Headway and designing the site using Headway’s drag and drop designer. However, I am so glad I took the plunge to switch to Genesis – whilst there is a little bit of a learning curve, it’s nowhere near as bad as learning Headway was, and Genesis simply has much more power – I had my site designed exactly the way I wanted within 2 days of playing around with Genesis – something I’d never been able to comfortably achieve with Headway.

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