Want to have a beautiful AND fully optimized website? Although having a WordPress site is a GREAT start. There is so much more than just logging into your account and posting content. The way your site looks and feels will allow your content to convert into more page views and raging fans! So what do you need in order for this to happen? You need a great WordPress theme. In my opinion, the best themes are built on the Genesis Framework. Let’s get into what each of these are, how you can get and install WordPress themes and the Genesis Framework.
What is a WordPress Theme?
The theme of your website is essentially the template of your site. Unless you are a super coder (which most of us aren’t), you will be purchasing the theme with all the functions and design options built into a coded file and then upload it onto your site.
The coding on this file will tell your site exactly how to look for all types of pages on your site. They will have the specific layout for your Homepage, normal pages (like About or Contact) and your blog post pages.
After installation, you can go to your Pages section and edit the content that is currently there with your own stuff. In most cases, some pages will already exist but if not just add whatever you need. You can do the same for blog posts. You will have the options to add/remove anything you saw on the demo.
The demo is a live preview of what the site and all the pages look like when using that theme. Keep in mind that not all themes are created equal. Some can be more advanced than others based on the framework it was created on.
How to get a WordPress Theme
The easiest way to find a WordPress theme is by searching WordPress’ database of themes. They have several free and paid (“premium”) themes you can easily find by going to WordPress > Appearance > Themes and choose from the list of pre-installed themes.
How to install a theme
Depending on where you get your theme, the installation process can be different. There are essentially two ways to do this. If you plan on taking advantage of one of the free or premium themes directly from WordPress then all you have to do is click install and then activate.
If you are purchasing a theme from another source (more on that below), then you will first need to download the zip file given to you. This file is very important and should not be messed with unless you are an experience coder. Any changes can ruin your site.
Once you have the file saved onto your computer you are going to upload it onto your site. You will again go to your WordPress admin > Appearance > Themes.
At the top, click “Upload Theme.” Upload the file and then click Install and Activate.
What is the Genesis Framework?
StudioPress, the creators of the Genesis Framework, like to refer to the analogy of a car to explain what it is. Like image below explains, WordPress is the engine of your car, Genesis is the frame and body and your theme is the paint job. The Genesis Framework is literally the foundation that the template is built on.
Features of the Genesis Framework
So why should you get the Genesis Framework versus a standard theme? Genesis offers extra features that a standard site does not come with. For starters, they are built to be SEO friendly. Search engines like to see sites that are responsive and are mobile friendly. This makes your site easier to be found by a Google search than a standard website.
Unlike most themes, Genesis allows you to easily customize their templates with Genesis-only widgets. In case you aren’t sure, a widget is similar to a plugin by giving your site additional functions. In most cases, widgets are used to enhance your side bar.
Genesis has three major widgets: User Profile, Featured Posts, Featured Page. The User Profile allows you to use your Gravatar image plus add your your bio to your sidebar. The Feature Posts displays post excerpts and a thumbnail. The Featured Page displays page content and a thumbnail.
Additionally, you can add Enews Extended to easily add your opt-ins on your homepage or sidebar. In some cases, a Genesis theme will come with a home slider in which case you can also add that widget your site.
Genesis Layout Options
One of my favorite features of the Genesis Framework is its ability to change layouts. As you can see from the image below, You can easily choose on what side you want your sidebar to be located or remove it all together. You can change this within each individual post/page and select which you want to be your default layout. Certain themes will provide you with different abilities to change layouts.
The three below are the ones that my theme came with.
Where can I get these?
Depending on your preferences and most likely budget, there are many places you can get a theme. If you plan on getting a Genesis child theme then you must ALSO purchase the framework in order for your theme to display properly. There are two ways you can purchase a Genesis child theme and its framework.
Get the Bundle Framework + Theme
StudioPress allows you to get there Pro Plus Package which allows you to have access to all of their themes plus the framework. This is great if you need options and want great customer support. They have so many tutorials on their website to allow you to get the most out of the framework.
You can also choose to buy the framework on it’s own if you wan to get your theme from another site.
Third Party Vendor
If you decide to only purchase the framework, you will still need a theme. You can opt for a theme that matches your aesthetic and niche better. My two favorite resources for themes are Bluechic and HelloYou Designs.
My blog template was purchased from HelloYou Designs. You can view that live demo here.
Bluechic also has some beautiful themes like the one below. You can view the Victoria theme here.
Additionally, to view more cost effective themes (with or without the Genesis Framework) you can find a bunch on CreativeMarket.com
If you are going to use the Genesis Framework, you MUST upload and install/activate the framework FIRST. Once it has successfully been activated then proceed to follow the instructions but with the theme.
StudioPress, Bluchic and HelloYou Designs all have amazing customer support and tutorials for additional help.