When I first started building WordPress sites, I was coming off heavy use of Dreamweaver and ASP files to build sites. While I liked the simplicity of WordPress’ management, I didn’t know how to style or code a child theme. Everything I did was old school HTML. I knew that I either needed to learn CSS to style themes… or find a software program that would develop a style sheet. Not really fond of Dreamweaver, I wanted an easy way out and chose Artisteer.
Artisteer has its problems. It is not coded especially well. It also had pretty sucky SEO. I didn’t understand the importance of these things until I had been building Artisteer sites for over a year.
Tried other themes – Suffusion gives you many options but is too big, Headway, Thematic, ElegantThemes, iThemes. How much time do you have to waste learning new programs? None gave me the control options I wanted.
I came across Genesis repeatedly in my search for a good theme generator. After looking in their forum, I thought, “These guys are real pros. They code from scratch. They will expect me to code like that, too.”
After the second year of building WP sites, I finally realized that I wasn’t buying Genesis because I didn’t have the guts. Okay, I’m a whiner, I admit it. Change is disruptive. I feared that I would be in over my head. I feared that I wouldn’t be quite good enough for the Genesis club.
I bit the bullet and bought Genesis anyway. And it sat on my desktop for a month before I opened it. Not so bad as I thought. I used the Prose theme for about a year. Prose made me happy because I could set some styling all in one place. But it also required using Firebug extensively to modify the theme. Fundamental elements – like widths, sidebars, navs – were really limited in the design settings. So the hunt began again because Prose just wasn’t enough.
Dynamik is a sweet little program. It’s installed right in the WP backend to create a child theme for Genesis. For $80, you can use it on any site you build*. Or use it on a development site and just export the child theme files to install them on another site. The design options are ridiculously enhanced: a built-in CSS builder, custom media queries broken out by device size, literally hundreds of options for styling.
- Easy to create widgetized homepages – 49 different layouts, including optional sidebar & slider widgets
- ‘Universal font control’ that is customizable for virtually every area of the site
- Width controls for content layout
- Responsive media queries – customize break points for 6 different screen sizes
- Customizable author boxes
Same goes for Genesis – buy it once at $60, use it a million times*. Genesis has the advantages of clean code, it’s really SEO-friendly and mobile responsive. It has built-in features that mean you don’t need extra plugins. Your plugins can be focused on things like backups, caching, and security, instead of styling the sidebar headers.
The combination of Genesis and Dynamik means installation time is cut down to 4 hours instead of 2 – 3 days when a site is flipped onto Genesis. The support in both forums is exceptional.
But the best part of this entire endeavor is that clients benefit tremendously. No more tweaking their site to get it to work for them. Their page load time is fast, their site looks really professional, it functions properly. They are getting the best theme out there.
*Only the license holder has access to the support forums. If you are a designer building and maintaining client sites, this might be fine. Your clients may never need access. But if you expect to turn the site over to the client, best to buy them their own licenses. [Update 2015: Dynamik is now licensed annually at $89; Genesis remains the same at $60. Use Dynamik to style a child theme and then export it as a Genesis child theme – the client site does not need to have Dynamik installed.]