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.
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.
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
|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|
|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.