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Picking the best Genesis 2.0 Child theme when you start your WordPress website is important. It’s the cornerstone of your entire design. After several years of working with the Genesis Framework We’ve found that not all child themes are created equally. In this article we’re going to address the following:
- What we consider great Genesis 2.0 child theme practices.
- Genesis 2.0 theme techniques we don’t prefer and why.
- What to keep in mind when reading reviews and blog posts regarding the best Genesis 2.0 child theme.
- Theme optimization comparison: A theme we like vs. a theme we don’t.
- Child themes we recommend and why.
What we look for in a great Genesis 2.0 child theme:
We’ve worked with a TON of child themes over the past 3 years. We’ve used every theme StudioPress offers and through client work we’ve worked with dozens of third-party child themes as well. Here’s what we look for in a great Genesis Child Theme:
- Most importantly its makeup should be lightweight and kept simple. Too many bells and whistles added to the child theme files deconstruct the elegance of the Genesis Framework.
- Ever wonder why simple looking websites seem to do extremely well? Fast load-time is a factor and your Genesis child theme should be optimized. The Genesis Framework takes an impressive 1.3 seconds to load. The child theme should not add much more time to the first page load time of your site. For example 3200goodies.com loads in 1.45 seconds.
- The child theme should have well thought-out and correct mobile responsive coding.
- A child theme that has few image files helps optimization greatly. With the amount you can do with CSS these days, a ton of image files are unnecessary.
- We look for child themes that are easy to modify and customize. Typically themes kept closer to the design of Genesis 2.0 are way easier to work with for both developer and client.
- We prefer a child theme that is built with a small amount of PHP files.
- Well written and organized CSS helps a ton.
- Great theme support is also essential. A developer that doesn’t support his themes makes it very hard for novice WordPress users.
What we stay away from when picking a Genesis 2.0 child theme:
Here’s what we tend to stay away from when we are picking a child theme for a Genesis 2.0 website:
- Too many files within the child theme structure (see good theme vs. bad theme for example).
- Multiple CSS files.
- Too many image files or image files that aren’t properly saved for web use.
- Poor mobile responsive coding.
- Gimmicky flare that negatively effects performance.
What to watch out for when searching for the best Genesis 2.0 child theme:
Currently there are 40+ Genesis 2.0 child themes available for download online. Often you’ll come across a blog promoting a gigantic amount of Genesis 2.0 child themes that are “The Best Genesis 2.0 Child Themes with HTM5 Markup.” Look out for blogs promoting giant handfuls of themes claiming they are all the best without facts to support their recommendation. We’ve noticed a trend of authors stockpiling as many themes as they can find into a blog post and coining their collection “The Best Genesis Child Themes.” It’s understandable that these quickly produced collections are out there however they don’t help someone find the best child theme for their needs. In the past we’ve purchased a third-party child theme because of a blog post recommendation and we were surprised to find that the child theme wasn’t built with the same optimization of the themes we’ve been using made by StudioPress. Watch out for the following tell-tale signs of a lackadaisical “Best child-theme recommendation blog post”:
- There’s only a brief paragraph about each theme and then a big image linking to the theme provider. Child themes have a lot to them and showcasing their features in a recommendation is important.
- There’s a ton of themes offered in one post.
- Spotlighted highlights of themes are extremely general. For example: “This theme is simple yet stylish. Great for any business!” This explains nothing about why it’s a good theme.
Theme Comparison: Good vs. Bad
Genesis 2.0 Child themes with HTML5 markup we recommend:
Now that you know what we look for in a Genesis child theme. Here are the themes we currently recommend and why.
Genesis Child Theme #1: Magazine Pro Child Theme
What we like about the Magazine Pro child theme:
- The entire theme is designed using CSS. It contains no image files. This makes it easier to work with and loads faster.
- File size of the theme is only 250kb.
- Its simple 3 color design is elegant, allows for easy reading, and accompanies images extremely well.
- It has two navigation menu styles to choose from. A black bar fixed to the top of your browser or a navigation bar below your header.
- The mobile responsive coding of the site is done well and with very little CSS.
- The theme loads very quickly. We clocked 1.65 seconds loaded on WP Engine hosting.
Genesis Child Theme #2: Eleven40 Pro Child Theme
Eleven40 Pro child theme highlights include:
- This child theme has only 1 image file. The rest of the theme is styled using CSS.
- It’s simple 2 color design is a great starting point for custom child themes.
- The 3 column layout works well for blogs offering space for a wide variety of categories, ads, and links.
- Elegant mobile responsive design.
Genesis Child Theme #3: Lifestyle Pro Child Theme
- Its design compliments the efficiency of the Genesis Framework.
- Similar to the rest of our favorite Genesis child themes it’s easy to read and translates well to smartphones and tablets.
- The images total 33kb in size.
- The child theme to its entirety is 153kb in size.
- It’s easily modifiable and is a great starting point for custom Genesis Child Themes.
Genesis Child Theme #4: Metro Pro Child Theme
What impressed us about the Metro Child theme:
- Aside from the custom background image you add, this child theme requires only 12kb of image files.
- It uses only one style sheet and 3 PHP files. This allows for easy customizations.
- Its got style. The CSS and images have a very professional presence.
Genesis Child Theme #5: Wintersong Child Theme
- Its fixed-left sidebar works well for a variety of website types. It also is visible throughout scrolling while you browse the site.
- This theme’s simplicity is a great starting point for building custom child themes. It’s black and white color scheme can be changed effortlessly to accommodate a ton of different styles.
- Its minimalistic approach to blogging makes it easy to understand, work with, and navigate.
- Its entire design requires no images files. This child theme is 100% CSS.
Genesis Child Theme #6: Beautiful Child Theme
- It requires only 1 image (the header image).
- The child theme uses 2 PHP files and 1 CSS file. This is a Genesis Child theme built using a very small amount of moving parts.
- It’s open and airy. This child theme contains very few boxes allowing for a big open space to present your content.
Genesis Child Theme #7: Executive Child Theme
- It’s flexible and the homepage is extremely easy to modify into a ton of different custom child themes (we used this theme for 3200creative.com)
- This child theme works well for a company, team, or service. We’ve used it for doctors, app companies, financial developers, makeup artists, and more. Its optional featured areas and call to action banners on the homepage allow for a wide variety of messages.
- The minimal logo area and menu allow for more content above the fold.
** Our best recommendation to web designers and developers is to purchase the Pro Plus Package from StudioPress.com. It’s all these themes and future themes put out by StudioPress. To date, every theme we use for custom child theme development and client websites are Genesis 2.0 child themes with HTML5 markup offered by StudioPress. We’d always like to expand this list with other well made themes. If you have a Genesis Child theme that you’d like us to review and potentially add to this list please notify us via the contact form at 3200creative.com.