When it comes to the architecture of my blog, I prefer to use the best blogging tools I can find, whether the product is related to hosting, SEO tools or my WordPress theme. When we use the best products available, we are likely to have fewer headaches to deal with, and we can focus more on what we do best. I believe this is one reason ShoutMeLoud has won numeroud awards in past 4 years.
A few months ago I changed the ShoutMeLoud theme framework and moved to the Genesis WordPress theme. I had been using the Thesis WordPress theme since 2009. Back then, it was the best SEO theme available. But after a great deal of thought and planning, I moved to the Genesis theme framework. I have already moved 60% of my other sites to the Genesis theme, and all new sites are being developed using the Genesis framework.
In this article, I will share with you, my reasons for ditching the Thesis theme for Genesis, which may give you some insight into which framework is right for you.
What was/is wrong with the Thesis theme?
When the Thesis theme was launched on March 29, 2008, it was welcomed by the WordPress community with open arms. I was one of the early adopters of the Thesis theme, and I have been using it since mid-2009. Back then, Thesis was the costliest and best SEO theme ever made. The community was growing steadily, and we all were happy to be part of a theme framework that is constantly updated to remain compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
At one point, there was a major conflict between Chris Pearson (Thesis creator) and Matt Mullenweg (WordPress creator) regarding the GPL license. That conflict has since been resolved. As an end user, I was not concerned about that issue as long as the product was still awesome and was working well. At the time, Thesis was one of the few themes to offer built-in SEO options, and it created an industry standard with those features.
The Fall of the Thesis theme:
The downfall of the Thesis theme began to occur after another controversy, this time with @Yoast over the compatibility between Thesis and SEO by Yoast. This issue dragged on for a long time before being resolved, and in the end one thing was clear: Pearson had no interest in giving much choices to users.
For a long time, I had wanted to switch my SEO settings to Yoast SEO, but there was no plug-and-play solution available for this. There is no doubt that the Thesis theme handles SEO quite well, but over time its creator failed to implement the much-needed social SEO settings. As an end user who used Thesis for managing my site’s SEO, I was expecting that feature to be integrated by Thesis creators before anyone else, and yet it never happened.
Thesis 2.x killed all hope:
Thesis 2.x was launched back in 2012, and that killed every last hope I had for Thesis to be the best theme available to me. There was no easy way to migrate our existing Thesis 1.8x design over to Thesis 2.0. Many long-time Thesis users like myself ended up paying extra money to developers, just to code the existing design on Thesis 2.x.
I’m not sure what Pearson was thinking, but he was evidently not worrying about existing users. He built an awesome framework with 2.x, but he apparently didn’t realize how many end users would be annoyed and frustrated with this move, in addition to the money we all lost in migrating our existing design to the Thesis 2.x version.
Moreover, Thesis 2.x was launched without any proper documentation. Imagine being given a jet plane to fly without any proper training or even a manual!
Shown below is a search trend graph for the Thesis theme, which shows the slow death of one of the best WordPress themes of all time:
- Thesis creators killed the very ideology that they stood for: that the Theme should handle the SEO.
- They had no interest in making life easier for their loyal, long-time users with their Thesis 1.8X to Thesis 2.X migration.
What concerned me most about the Thesis theme were the slow updates. They were not rolling out updates as they previously had been, which is an important part of adopting the latest practices. And what about social SEO, open graph integration, and schema integration?
These days I cannot imagine a blog that does not have integrated social SEO. Indeed, the lack of this feature is one of the main reasons why I ditched Thesis SEO for SEO by Yoast, and the Genesis theme.
Why the Genesis theme over Thesis:
When changing the framework of my sites I considered several options, and Genesis seemed to be the best superior alternative to Thesis. Many professional bloggers like Syed, Chris Lima, and Darren are using the Genesis framework, and that alone was enough information to allow me to place my trust in Genesis. What I like most about Genesis is the feeling of the community. You can do anything with Genesis with the help of online tutorials, and I appreciate the fact that Genesis works out of the box with all popular WordPress plugins.
One of the biggest limitations of Thesis 2.x is the fact that you need to sweat blood to make changes if you are not a developer. With Genesis, you can upload and edit a new child skin to get started. Now all my new micro-niche sites are using the Genesis theme along with the SEO by Yoast plugin for SEO.
What did I learn after using the Thesis theme for five years?
Five years is no small term, and it takes more than just loyalty to stay committed to anything for that long. I believed the Thesis theme would be able to handle SEO settings. But that is not the case. One would do better to use a plugin for SEO features, as a dedicated plugin will be updated in a timely manner to adopt the latest SEO practices.
I’m grateful to have learned SQL back in college, which helped me to migrate all my SEO settings from theme to plugin. The SEO Data Transporter plugin was also of great help in migrating SEO values.
Thesis Vs. Genesis: Which one is right for you?
I’m sure based on all of information noted above, you know which theme’s framework is the best for you.
Let’s look at a Google trend graph for the Thesis vs. the Genesis theme, and see which one is growing and which one is not:
Result: The Genesis theme search is growing, whereas the Thesis theme has indeed lost the market.
Is Thesis a bad theme?
Not at all. Thesis remains one of the well-coded, developer-friendly themes, but it offers far less for an end user with little to no coding knowledge. Having positioned itself as the best SEO theme in the market, Thesis surely failed to live up to its reputation.
Genesis, on the other hand, is a user-friendly, well documented theme, which can be used by anyone with basic WordPress skills. I have made this video showing the difference between the Genesis theme and the Thesis theme:
Should you switch from the Thesis theme to Genesis?
I would recommend that you make the switch so that you will not be stuck in a closed eco-system. The switch would also allow you to start using all of the amazing plugins such as SEO by Yoast and many others which do not have straightforward compatibility with the Thesis theme. The Genesis framework comes with a price tag of $59.95, and you can use any free skin, or buy a premium Genesis skin.
If you are someone who creates multiple WordPress sites, I recommend that you buy their pro-plus package as I did. This package will give you access to all 38 Genesis child themes.
I’m glad that I made the switch from Thesis SEO to SEO by Yoast SEO, as it has helped me to integrate all required updated SEO practices on my blogs. I would suggest the same to you and to all other ShoutMeLoud readers.
Have you also gone through a similar transition with the Thesis theme? I would love to hear your viewpoints and expert opinions.