Using the Genesis Theme Framework to Build WordPress Sites • New Tricks
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Genesis is the parent theme of a Theme Framework by Studio Press that comes with a boatload of child themes. Wondering what the heck is a Theme Framework and how does it differ from a regular WordPRess theme? I just happen to have a post on that exact subject which you may want to check out first. I also have a couple of posts on other theme frameworks such as Thesis Theme.

The Genesis theme’s child themes,  were based upon the theme files of the Genesis Parent theme. The child themes are available from StudioPress to purchase and are ready to use as is or to customize and make Grandchildren theme designs.

When you use a Genesis Child theme you must upload both the parent, Genesis and the child theme to the wp-content/theme folder though FTP. You then must activate only the child theme. As long as the parent is in the wp-content/theme folder it will be ready for you to start working with it. Once the theme is active you can go to the theme options and select the options that you will need.

Now I am going to tell you the thing that kept me from seeing what was so great about Genesis,  the magic sauce so to speak. I didn’t know that the real key to using these themes is that a lot of the homepage configurations are handled by widgets.  Widgets are used to create the different parts of the home page format. For example, if you are using a magazine format you would add the Genesis Widget Featured Posts or  maybe Featured Pages to display in certain predetermined places. These widgets can them be further customized to show the number of posts or pages you would like and what format to display them in. You can choose excerpts, or full content, to include featured images and so forth.

Another wonderful thing is that you can add a slideshow with wp-cycle to a page and then add a Featured Page widget above the posts and you have basically saved yourself from having to code a special div for that slideshow to appear. Presto!

Here is an example of a site I put together in three days for a charity fundraiser for Japan using Genesis with the Social Eyes Child Theme. The child theme demo is first then our customization.


The large photo in the center is actually a slideshow and the blue band beneath it was a block quote that I added under the wp-cycle shortcode on the page that I then inserted as a Featured Page Widget to that position on the site. To get this look we did need to make changes to the CSS but once you start using Firebug and FirePicker to find and test  the changes you need to make, it is a breeze to then copy the code and add it to the custom CSS file.

The before and after images below show the Genesis, Going Green child theme which we customized to produce Lynne Splinter’s Cabbagetown Chronicles site.


The Listen Interactive site below was created from the Genesis Child Theme, Focus in just nine hours of work including setting up all of the plugins and e-mail collection form.


The trick to finding the right theme Framework and then the right child theme is to consider the “bones” of the existing theme. The less you have to change on a site to meet your client’s expectations the better for you as it goes together more quickly.  The other advice is be sure to check out my posts on what apps you need to use to help you with these customizations. Firebug and Firepicker are two invaluable Firefox addons. Filezilla is an easy to use FTP program that you will need to use to make any changes to code since you will want to back your files up before you make a change. And then you will also need a text editor such as Programmers Notepad that show you the numbered lines of code. Armed with those tools you should be well on your way.

Here are other related posts on this topic you may want to check out:

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Showing 5 comments
  • Keith Davis

    Hi Judy
    Loved the article.
    I have a question.

    Most of the sites I set up are for small businesses and they don't want a blog they want a page based site.

    Unfortunately the front pages of many of the Genesis themes have areas for featured posts, not featured pages.

    Can I change the areas on the front page to accept pages instead of posts.
    And… can I do it easilly?

    Thanks Judy

    Keith Davis
    My recent post The Coolest Voice on the Internet

  • judi knight

    Hi Keith,
    You can make a completely static front page on any theme by making a page named Blog and then going into Settings – Reading- and selecting that you want the home page to be a page that you name home and the blog page to be the one that you named Blog. Then your posts will come up on the Blog page not the front page.
    Or with Genesis there are several themes that are like a static page and on any of the themes you can have it show featured pages rather than featured posts with selected that in the widget area.

    Good Luck with it.

  • Jaye

    Hi Judy,
    Thanks for this article. I m wondering at what point it is acceptable for a person to put their "Site design by… " in the footer? How much do you have to customize a theme in order to put your own name on it?

  • ecommerce

    The Genesis framework looks cool. I’m planning to buy a premium framework for my projects but haven’t decided yet. There are many of theme like Thesis, Genesis, Hybrid, WooThemeFramework. Your video helps me so much with an overview of theme options. Thank you very much.

  • custom frames

    i remember a part in genesis where it says something like animals have no souls! how ridiculous is that. its barbarian. of course animals have souls. when are peple guna wake up an realise the bible is a man made fiction book with the intent on controlling the population.

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