Utility Pro Features

Setting a New Standard: Utility Pro

Utility Pro shown on different devicesUpdate: This theme is no longer available for sale. I’m leaving this announcement post here for posterity. 🙂

I’m thrilled (and slightly nervous) to announce that Utility Pro, a new theme for the Genesis Framework, is officially available for purchase.

Utility Pro is a follow-up to the Utility theme, originally released in late 2013. Even though it bears the name of its predecessor and shares the same basic layout components, Utility Pro is shiny and new in every other way.

Quick Facts:

  • Utility Pro is the first premium Genesis child theme that is both translation-ready and fully accessible
  • The theme ships with 10 language translation files (details below)
  • The theme performs beautifully with RTL languages
  • The theme is mobile-first, which means the extra CSS for big monitors isn’t loaded on tiny screens.
  • Theme support licenses are available at 3 price points
  • The “Developer Edition” of the theme comes with a DesktopServer blueprint so you can hit the ground running with Utility Pro (note: the blueprint doesn’t include the Genesis Framework). This edition also comes with the Grunt configuration files used in development, so that developers can take the theme and use it as a starting point for projects.

¡Translations Galore!

Now, you already knew the Genesis community was awesome, but did you know there were so many languages, countries, and cultures that work with Genesis themes?

The following folks helped translate the theme by creating localization files for the locales indicated with their name:

  • Santiago Barrionuevo (es_ES, es_AR)
  • Beth van Koetsveld (es_VE)
  • Rian Reitveld (nl_NL)
  • Vajrasar Goswami (hi_IN)
  • Rosie Rodrigues (pt_BR)
  • Luis Martins (pt_PT)
  • Nir Rosenbaum (he_IL)
  • Morten Rand-Hendriksen (nb_NO)
  • Grégoire Noyelle (fr_FR)

If you’re interested in providing a translation not listed here, please contact me.

Three Cheers for Accessibility!

One of the early goals for this theme makeover was to follow accessibility standards, based on the concept that web content should be accessible to as many people and as many devices as possible.

I took Rian Rietveld‘s Leiden theme and Genesis Accessible plugin and borrowed from them where it made sense for Utility Pro. Rian was also kind enough to audit my theme early on and give feedback to make it even better. (If Rian lets me, I might contribute back some of my code back for her plugin)

To date, there are 28 accessibility-ready themes available at wordpress.org. There aren’t many more at the premium/paid level either. In short, developers and business owners don’t have many options when it comes to accessible themes. I’m excited to add one more option in the market with Utility Pro.

Many Helpers

For many months I’ve worked on this theme and brought it to about 90% completion. Then, I put it in the hands of Gary Jones, code auditor extraordinaire (seriously, hire him if you ever need a code audit). His insights and suggestions (and a few code re-writes) made this theme even better.

Not many things I’d put my name to that are other people’s, but this, I would.
Gary Jones

In addition to Rian’s audit, Amanda Rush put Utility Pro through the paces with multiple screen readers, identified areas for improvement (I’m telling you – that responsive menu was a bugger!), and even chipped in a couple of code commits.

And then there’s Nir Rosenbaum, who I met through my podcast. Nir is an Israel-based Genesis developer who introduced me to the difficulties of working with themes that don’t account for RTL languages (and in a country that legally requires accessible sites for businesses!). Nir provided a Hebrew translation for the theme and tested it to ensure all elements looked good when flipped for RTL.

The contributions didn’t stop there. A major thanks to Ginger Coolidge and Robin Cornett for their efforts on user testing.

Add in the theme translators, and you’ve got a whole pile of people who helped push this theme out. A huge thank you to each person mentioned in this post.

More to Come

Utility Pro comes loaded with features. In the coming weeks I’ll talk more about the ways you can use Utility Pro. If you want to stay tuned via email, be sure to sign up for email updates before you go.

30 thoughts on “Setting a New Standard: Utility Pro”

    1. Check out web-savvy-marketing.com – they have quite a few e-commerce themes.

      Also, no reason you couldn’t use Utility Pro as the basis for an e-commerce site – thought it would take more time to modify than grabbing something out of the box made for e-commerce.

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  2. So excited to have this in my toolbox. I plan to use this as a base for projects whenever I can, so as to save myself a lot of work as far as accessibility. I look forward to learning from what you’ve created.

    Can you expand on what the “Desktop Server blueprint” means? I just upgraded to Desktop Server Pro and I’m not sure I really get what a blueprint does.

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  4. HI Carrie, I am toying with the idea of using this theme for a town council website that requires the theme to meet or exceed Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0. It looks like this is the case from the demo and what you have written, but I just wanted to check with you first.
    Also – I am aware that after purchasing and installing this theme, it matters what I do in terms of content to make sure that the website remains accessible to the above standards… that is fine as far as basic content is concerned but what about using plugins.. such as event calendars, cookie notifications, forms for contacting & booking services, and so forth… I am assuming that introducing aspects like these can potentially throw a website well off target in terms of accessibility?
    Thanks in advance for your response!

    1. Hey Chris! Yes, the theme is WCAG2, but you’re absolutely correct that the “stuff that comes after the theme” has the potential to impact accessibility.

      If you’re using Gravity Forms, here’s a plugin that helps bridge the gap for some accessibility issues that GF doesn’t quite cover. I believe Contact Form 7 also has an accessibility extension.

      As for the other functionality pieces you mention, I don’t have recommendations off the top of my head that I know to meet WCAG2.0 standards. Doesn’t mean they don’t exist – I just haven’t experimented with them. 🙂

      Generally speaking, I have some articles on accessibility that you might find helpful: https://carriedils.com/category/accessibility/


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