Some FAQs About the Genesis Framework, StudioPress Themes, and 3rd Party Themes

Today’s post will be quick, but I wanted to discuss some questions I’m regularly asked about working with StudioPress themes. For every one person that asks, I figure there’s a few more that wonder and just haven’t asked yet.

In the unrelated spirit of the Real Men of Genius commercial spots, this post is for you, Mr. Haven’t Asked Yet but Would Like to Know the Answer Anyway.

What’s the difference between a StudioPress Theme and a Genesis Theme?

StudioPress Premium WordPress ThemesI use these terms interchangeably at times, which is confusing. A StudioPress theme refers to a child theme made by the folks at StudioPress and runs on Genesis Framework. A Genesis theme refers to any child theme built for the Genesis Framework, but isn’t necessarily made by StudioPress.

Clear as mud? The bottom line is this: Both terms refer to a child theme made to run on the Genesis Framework; A “Genesis theme” generically refers to any child theme for Genesis, but a “StudioPress theme” is one authored specifically by StudioPress.

Is there any difference between StudioPress themes and third party Genesis themes?

Yes and no. Great answer, huh?

I’ll explain the no first. Just like we talked about on the first question, a Genesis theme (regardless of the author) runs on the Genesis Framework. In that sense there is no difference.

Aside from that, yes there is a difference. Anybody can make a child theme for Genesis. Heck, I even made one. There are no official guidelines or standards requirements that StudioPress requires a 3rd party vendor to follow. That means you can potentially buy a really awesome 3rd party theme or a really crappy one. How do you know the difference? Check out the theme author. Ask around the Genesis community. Submit a pre-sales question via the theme store’s contact form and see if you get a response.

For the record, I’ve yet to run across a blatantly terrible Genesis theme, but as the Genesis Framework continues to grow in popularity, so will 3rd party themes continue to crop up. Just use your best judgement.

What the heck is a parent theme, a child theme, or a theme framework?

Some context before I answer: In the WordPress world, themes are what we use to add style to the bones of our website. If you’ve been around WordPress for more than a few weeks, you’ve likely noticed that something needed an update – the WordPress install, one of your plugins, or maybe even your theme. Updates overwrite files that were there before, which is why core files should never be edited.

The concept of a parent/child theme structure solves the “update problem” for themes. The parent theme houses core features and styles and is always safe to update. Child themes inherit the features of the parent theme, but are home to their own unique styles and customizations.

Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress by StudioPress

As for theme frameworks, like Genesis, I like to think of them as parent themes on steroids. If you’re still scratching your head, check out StudioPress 101 for their explanation.

Will I ever need to update or upgrade my child theme?

Nope! This is the beauty of working with the Genesis Framework. There will be updates for the Genesis Framework from time to time, which you can safely do without affecting your child theme. StudioPress never pushes out updates to its child themes – or at least I should say I haven’t seen it happen in the four years I’ve worked with their themes.

Carrie, I think you lied in that last answer. StudioPress is updating themes right and left!

I understand the confusion. In the Fall of 2013, StudioPress released Genesis 2.0, a significant update/upgrade to the Genesis Framework, most notably one that included new HTML5 markup structure.

Since then, StudioPress has re-released some of its most popular themes in “Pro” versions (i.e. The old News Theme is now News Pro, the original Executive Theme is now Executive Pro… you get the idea). For all practical purposes, think of these Pro themes as completely new, even if you have the pre-2.0 theme by the same name.

If you’ve made any edits to your existing theme, you’ll lose them if you install the Pro version. Trust me, you’ll be cussing a blue streak and wishing you’d listened. If you’re using a non-Pro theme from StudioPress, there’s nothing technically wrong with it*. Keep on using it until you’re ready to put a fresh coat of paint on your site and then update to whatever theme you choose.

*Authors update on 8/30/17: If you’re still using an older StudioPress theme (i.e. non-Pro), chances are that it is not mobile-responsive and your SEO is suffering for it. It’s time for the fresh coat of paint.

Got any more questions?

Leave a comment and ask! If you’re thinking it, someone else is too!

Cover photo credit to Dennis Brekke

37 thoughts on “Some FAQs About the Genesis Framework, StudioPress Themes, and 3rd Party Themes”

  1. Hi, my blog is made on Twenty-twelve. I would like to switch, maybe to Genesis with a skin/themes. Would switching to to it affect my rankings or cause a temporary loss of some? Or would it maybe help, even in the short term? Would it affect anything if I switch, such as permalinks? Thanks for any advice.

    1. Hey Tori,
      Changing themes won’t impact your link structure, so your safe there. As for your rankings, I do not know enough to speak knowledgeably about it. My guess is there could be some short-term fluctuation, but overall Genesis themes are coded very well and are SEO-friendly, so I don’t think you’ll see a downturn. Just my two cents. 🙂


  2. Why doesn’t Genesis appear in my dashboard when I use a WordPress theme like Twenty Seventeen?
    And if this is normal how do I change the theme to make use of Genesis.
    I’m only a week into all of this so please keep it simple if possible.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Tony,
      There are tons of themes “out there” and only a sub-set are created specifically to work with Genesis. Twenty Seventeen is not one of them, so that’s why you’re not seeing any Genesis options when that Twenty Seventeen is activated. If you want to use Genesis, look for a theme specifically designated as “for the Genesis Framework” or “Genesis child theme”. is the best place to start your search.

      Hope that helps.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Carrie Dils uses Accessibility Checker to monitor our website's accessibility.