We’ve been pretty radio silent around here lately because we’ve had our noses seriously to the grindstone. But we’ve got lots of exciting news and changes to announce so I wanted to shoot out a quick post. Read on to find out what we’ve been up to…
If you’ve visited our site lately, you’ll see we’ve made a few changes. I wanted a brighter, more energetic feeling to the site that was also more functional. We’ve added search in the menu area to make it easier to find things plus simplified the navigation and more changes. We’ve also been doing work behind the scenes to speed up the site. We’ve seen some good results from the changes.
WordPress Genesis Themes by Georgia Lou Studios
Currently, our WordPress themes are not compatible with the Genesis Framework. The themes we currently have on the market will remain Standard WordPress themes (as we like to call them) because we feel there is great value in non-Genesis themes available for bloggers. But very shortly, we will be releasing our first theme for the Genesis framework.
What is WordPress Genesis?
Genesis is a framework, which is really just a Parent Theme on steroids. There are a number of frameworks for WordPress out there. All themes used with a framework are Child Themes that sit on top of the Framework (Parent Theme).
Genesis is one of the most popular frameworks because it’s very well done and very well supported. The crew at StudioPress is pretty amazing. They are developers who know what they’re doing and they stick to the way things WordPress.org likes things done as well which makes their code really reliable.
On top of the features already available in WordPress, Genesis adds some nice features like enhanced SEO and security.
Bloggers and WordPress Genesis
Lots of Bloggers love Genesis. Why? It’s really because there are a group WordPress designers that love Genesis. They produce some nice themes for WordPress on the Genesis framework.
For a designer, a framework cuts out a lot of work. You’re starting with a lot of code already built and ready to go. And with a supported framework, you know it will be regularly updated, like when WordPress updates their core code. For developers, this is nice not to have to worry about. Saves a lot of work.
Most developers that don’t use a framework have their own custom “framework” that they use. For our Standard WordPress themes, we have our own base frame that we build all of our themes off of. This makes updates and fixes easier as they are all built on solid, consistent code.
Why Genesis and Why Now?
When I first started converting our Blogger templates into WordPress themes, I explored using Genesis. One reason I decided not to is because some markets don’t allow designers to sell Genesis Child themes. One of the markets where we sell our themes in particular doesn’t. So, it was a practical decision.
Another reason we launched our themes as Standard WordPress themes is that I’ve worked with a lot of Genesis themes by other designers, including StudioPress in the past. There were a few things about the “Genesis Way”, as I call it, that bugged me.
First, they use a lot of plugins rather than custom widgets and built in features. This is what WordPress.org recommends but I think there can be a good balance between using a limited number of plugins plus some built in features.
Plugins can’t always give you the exact function you’re looking for so a custom solution is required, like our Featured Post Sliders or Promo Boxes. Plus, sometimes, plugins aren’t coded the best and fighting to get them to do what you want or look how you want, you may as well just build it from the ground up yourself.
I also don’t like that most Genesis developers don’t use a Recommended Plugins feature to easily install the tons of plugins they use. On a recent theme I used for a site, I had to manually find and upload 20+ plugins to get the theme to work as it was demoed. Annoying!
I’ve gotten a number of inquiries from bloggers who love our themes but are married to Genesis. They love Genesis but they say they can’t find features like our themes have in Genesis themes. One reason I think this is true is that the “Genesis Way” doesn’t seem to have really embraced the WordPress Customizer. I am finally starting to see some Genesis themes actually using the Customizer but many have very few Customizer options or flexibility.
So, I was complaining about all this to my husband. He looked at me and said, “So, don’t do it their way. Do it your way.”
Danged if he didn’t have a good point. I started designing Blogger and WordPress themes because I didn’t like the way other templates and themes were done. So, I did them my way. And judging by our great growth over the last 18 months, other people like “my way” too.
So, I’m doing WordPress Genesis themes my way or as I like to call it, the “Georgia Lou Studios Way”. This means:
- Recommended plugins script
- Max of 10 required or recommended plugins
- Custom widgets
- Extensive use of the Customizer to allow lots of features
- Color and font options galore
- Lots of layout options
- And more
Because of the way Genesis works, there are some differences in how theme setup will work but I’ve worked really hard to keep it simple. We’ve used some of the things about Genesis that we really like, including the Genesis Responsive Slider and Featured Posts widgets. But like our Standard WordPress themes, you get so many options! Sliders, layouts, fonts, colors, Promo Boxes and more!
And you’re gonna love how we’re doing our fonts and colors in our Genesis themes. It’s sweet (and something we’re going to definitely roll back to our Standard Themes when time allows).
Introducing Prima Donna, a WordPress Genesis Theme by Georgia Lou Studios
Our first Genesis theme isn’t going to be ready for a bit. I’ve still got some finish up work to do plus writing all the documentation. But here’s a sneak peak:
We’re currently in the process of moving and restructuring our Blogger documentation. It will be located on our main site in a layout that will be much more friendly to navigate.
For our WordPress themes, we have big changes coming to our documentation. Currently, we are working on setting up in Dashboard tutorials and walkthroughs. This will mean everything you need to get your theme setup and looking right will be available right in your WordPress dash. Plus, the Walkthroughs will provide step-by-step pointers right in the admin area to help you find things. We’re really excited about this new way of doing documentation and we’re hoping (fingers-crossed) we will find a way to use this for Blogger as well.
In addition, we are working on setting up a series of free video tutorials covering a wide range of WordPress basics for our customers. Access to these videos (a $299 value!) would be included with each theme purchase and cover everything from installing WordPress to using plugins like Yoast SEO and Woocommerce. I am also looking into doing some basic Blogger videos to help people get started as well.
Documentation takes a lot of work so these changes won’t be available until fall at least but we will announce when you can get access.
Can you believe there’s more we’re working on??
We also have plans to release a series of post image templates for Photoshop for all of our templates & themes. These could be used for Blogger or WordPress and would make creating awesome post graphics that match our themes and templates super easy. Each pack will be priced at about $10 – $15 and include 10 PSD templates to include social media image sizes too.
We’ve gotten a fair number of requests for customized newsletter templates to match our themes. We are working on this idea but newsletter coding is very different that website coding so it will be a bit on this project but it is something in our pipeline.
Whew, there it is. All the crazy projects we have brewing. I better get back to work.