February 6, 2013 at 12:19 am #18387project guyMember
Dear community members,
Let me first clear something out of the way. I know little about frameworks, themes and CMS in general. But I'm trying to learn.
In my research I have found that Gensis gets a lot of rave reviews. Everyone seems to like how its pricing model, SEO friendliness and some also praise the quality of the code. So far so good. I recently though, set out to find a well designed theme for a client who has recently opened an upscale hair salon. HOWEVER, I don't see any visually striking designs offered by StudioPress. I'm aware that themes can be customized to a certain degree but is it just me or all the Genesis themes look bland? I mean most of them look quite similar. You have the usual menu bar at the top, an area to display a picture (some may have an image slider), a left or right sidebar and that seems to be pretty much it.
Where are the "out of the box" designs and layouts that other competitors offer?
Please keep in mind that my comments may be ignorant and I don't mean to insult anyone's work but someone please tell me why the lack of cool designs? And if I'm totally missing something here kindly let me know. It's absolutely possible that my lack of knowledge in the subject may be short sighting me here.
Looking forward to your comments.
Thanks!February 6, 2013 at 3:02 am #18401Brad DaltonParticipantFebruary 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm #18996
This is a valid point but needs deeper consideration. Genesis themes do not have the same creative look and design esthetics as those you'll find on Elegant Themes, for example. ET's themes, right out of the box, are visually attractive and very well done. But the target user is different than Genesis. Try doing some of the simple customization that Genesis handles easily (Genesis Simple Hooks, Simple Edits, and built-in SEO functionality) in ET. It's a very pretty nightmare because the code and layouts are all aimed toward attractive design, not performance. It's truly different strokes for different folks.
The Genesis framework is rock solid, very fast, and exceedingly flexible. But it requires a different level of expertise to turn a Genesis child theme into anything that looks like a typical Elegant Themes theme. If all you need is pretty, ET is wonderful. If you need performance and flexibility, Genesis is difficult to beat.
February 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm #19023
I second Brad's suggestion. I know where you're going with this... you want all the bells & whistles right out the box without having to do a lot of customization. But the thing about say, Elegant Themes or themes on Themeforest... is that you can tell who is using those. I can go to a website and clearly identify "who" or "what" was used to develop that site or it was "custom" designed. If you look at the showcase, there are plenty of examples of websites that have been developed with SP/Genesis and you really can't tell because of how they have been customized. I really haven't seen another "framework" developer that can compete with SP/Genesis. The other one's I've tried, don't keep up to date with the frameworks, aren't interactive with their customers and most importantly - their support sucks!
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!February 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm #19032MoodyRivieraMember
As with so many other things in life, it's very difficult to have *everything* in one package. There are always compromises...with cars...with cameras...with computers...everything. You start checking it out, and everything seems to be just the way you want it...but then you find out there's a problem with this or with that. Nothing is perfect.
I think that with WordPress growing so fast, and seeming to be on the brink of totally taking over the Internet, we will soon see more sophisticated theme developers who will give us "everything"...exciting designs along with ease of customization and first-class support...but we're not there yet.
I'm no expert, but so far I like Genesis, which came highly recommended to me by a guy who really knows what he's doing. That's why I bought into it.
P.S. Just wondering, anitac...for those situtations when we might want to use a theme from sone developer other than StudioPress...if you have any suggestions for which theme designers *do* offer support that doesn't suck.February 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm #19038
Yes, that brings up another often overlooked but very important point. Support.
If there's a framework with better support than StudioPress I don't know what it is, and I've used a few dozen frameworks from Elegant to Woo to Thesis to Headway to Rocket's Gantry to Carrington to Hybrid and others, including a favorite, Thematic. Support exists in places, but nothing like StudioPress.
What sold me on Genesis was the framework's roots to Thematic (flexible, powerful) and support.
February 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm #19053
Well, I can at least state the two that disappointed me the most - Rocket Theme and Elegant Themes. Neither one of them offer any sort of updates without renewing your subscription. Also, if you have a "defective" theme and you ask for support they either give you grief or take forever to respond. If the theme I paid money for doesn't work because a code was not properly incorporated into the theme, I shouldn't be treated like I killed someone to get them to provide the fix. I'll never spend money with either of them again and won't refer them either. Oh and YooThemes look great, but they are awful in trying to configure and their documentation is not good either.
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!February 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm #19056
I can't speak to Rocket as I haven't used them for a few years (great looking themes, though), but I still use Elegant Themes. Some clients simply want pretty vs. performance (and don't have traffic to worry about) and ET is good for that. And, of course, sometimes I can be inspired by an ET theme and build something similar using Genesis.
Many framework and theme developers are going to an annual model which means that's the only way to get updates and support.
February 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm #19059
@RonnyMac - I'm curious about your opinion on support. You said that what "sold [you] on Genesis" was support. Do you think support with the new forum structure + ticket system for basic issues is better/just as good/worse than the previous system? If you think it's different (better or worse), it is a material change either way?
February 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm #19065
Bill, I'm not as pleased with the new arrangement as I was with the old arrangement. In the old forums arrangement there were more problems and solutions visible to all logged in Genesis users. That is a wealth of information that we don't have access today with the new forums. I miss that.
That said, I also haven't had a problem recently that requires a support ticket, so I can't speak to SP's support ticket response capability. Yet.
I suspect that the reason SP went to a ticket system has to do with math. Support is an expense, and the price model for Genesis isn't provided on an annual basis. That means, as the customer base grows, so grows the support expense, which is compounded by the extra support provided to new customers, as well as support provided to older customers, but without on ongoing revenue stream from older customers. It seems to me, and it's speculation on my part, that a support ticket system helps to mitigate and focus those support costs, and provides more support to those who really need it now.
But I miss wading through some of the user problems in the forums (new forums are not as extensive as the old forums) and helping out where I can. That's a bit old school, I guess.
February 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm #19074
@RonnyMac - I agree. I think the new approach still has a long way to go in basic usability. 2 quick examples: no ability to PM, not easy to see a list of topics (not posts!) I've replied to, along with the last poster, to easily see if I answered a question and someone asked a follow up. That makes it harder to stick with a thread, and what is harder is done less often.
The ticket system really addresses basic theme setup, and the vast majority of questions in the old forum had some element of customization, which isn't covered by the ticket system. Under the new forum, many of the old hands with a lot of Genesis experience (in many cases SP employees) don't respond to as many threads as they used to. It's as if the change to these forums caused a number of people to effectively leave the community, at least as one can measure by forum participation. I think for the intermediate level and above questions, that's a big loss. Hopefully, that changes in the future.
To the OP's point in this thread, what's also disconcerting is a) the decline in number of new themes released and b) the growing emphasis on less widgetized home pages. By my quick count, 2012 saw fewer theme releases than 2011, and many of the new themes have had blog style home pages with fresh CSS. A theme like the new Streamline would benefit from a widget area instead of the blog stream. The new Minimum would benefit from a widgetized area instead of a hard-coded picture. For clients on our network, we've made those modifications, and those small things make a big difference. Themes with fewer home page widgets make it harder for beginners to control the home page, and I think that's behind a lot of the threads on this forum.
All in all, I think it's great the OP raised this topic, and it's something that should be more openly discussed by community members and SP employees.
February 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm #19088MoodyRivieraMember
Thanks, Anitec, for responding to my question. I had never heard of YooThemes before...I wonder if they are trying to ride on the reputation of WooThemes with that name...or am I just being overly suspicious.
As someone without much knowledge of this stuff I really need support, and I also need documentation. Even though StudioPress isn't perfect, it seems they are ahead of the rest.February 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm #19097
to easily see if I answered a question and someone asked a follow up
As someone who has answered a *lot* of questions on these new forums, I find the easiest way to keep up with a thread to which I've responded (and to which a follow-up may be needed) is to check the "Notify me of follow-up replies via e-mail". I'd be lost without that.February 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm #19104
@moodyriviera, YooThemes have been around along time. They have their own framework, widgets and other products. One of my clients wanted to use their "Balance" theme and well.... let's say, we scrapped it and went with Studiopress!
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!February 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm #19114
@Susan - Thanks for the feedback, but that method doesn't cut it, for several reasons. First, I don't want more stuff filling my inbox. Second, to encourage participation, things need to be as easy as possible. Your suggestion is a work-around given the current forum's capabilities, but it's not as easy as it can be, and that discourages participation. I've personally considered replying to questions but then concluded that really answering the question would take several replies. Since I couldn't easily get back to that thread, I just opted not to respond in the first place. SP doesn't have to tailor the forum to me, but I'll bet you there are more lazy Bills in the world than type A Susans. If it's not as easy as it can be, there will be less participation.
On a related note, I made a reply in another thread, and it doesn't show up. I suspect it got marked as spam because I included 2 links. Imagine, me...spammed. Seriously, while that can happen to anyone, it's discouraging to take the time to make a post, only to have it not appear. I'm sure SP will iron out the forum wrinkles, but those things impact support, which is central to this discussion of what makes a good source for themes. SP has a well-earned reputation for great support, but reputations can change in the blink of an eye. Since these forums are a big part of the support equation, it's important to have open dialogue about how to improve them. This thread is a good step in that direction.
February 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm #19115
Bill - if you get a post marked as spam, post the URL of the thread in the bugs/suggestions forum - someone will take a look at it, and unspam it for you. I don't know how Askimet determines what is/is not spam, but it's happened to a few users around here.February 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm #19116
I, too, have responded to more than a few posts in the new forums only to have them disappear upon Submit. That puts a damper on future responses. Which puts a damper on future visits to the forums. Which means less interaction, and the cycle perpetuates. I don't expect a support forum to have every bell and whistle (similar to some vBulletin forums), but there are certain basics that don't exist here, and that inhibits participation. Forums should be about participation. I'm visiting less often since the forum and support changed.
February 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm #19175project guyMember
I am quite pleased to see the numerous responses my original post has received. I can see now that I'm not the only individual feeling that the Genesis themes could benefit from a bit more layout creativity/appeal out of the box.
This spamming/disappearing issue has me worried now. Is it possible that SP is removing certain posts? 😮
BTW: if you google "Studiopress Review - Is it Good or Bad?" you'll find an interesting (first result as of today) article.
Anyone had any experience with itheme's Builder?
Keep those 2 cent's coming!February 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm #19176
I can assure you that SP is not removing posts. For the most part, these forums are community driven. Posts will be closed if they don't meet the forum rules, but the person who posts will be told the reason why the post is being closed.February 9, 2013 at 1:31 am #19184
@project_guy I don't see the people you are talking about who "feel the way you do" in their responses. I do know that there are "web developers" and there are "WEB DEVELOPERS". People like me... who cannot build a theme out the box... a person who cannot code from the front end into a viable "theme" ... but who can hack code, is a "web developer"... a puppy so to speak. People who are WEB DEVELOPERS - are people like the SP team and all the other theme developers who front end code the "pre-made" themes in say Themeforest and the like - those are "WEB DEVELOPERS" the BIG DOGS.
"puppies" are asking for more "BIG DOG" pre-made themes to pass along to their clients without having to make a lot of custom changes because their clients like what they see in the "pre-made." Actually... to me... it's really the lazy way out for us "puppies".
That being said.... we shouldn't just merely say, Studiopress is building "bland" themes you don't like... and they need to start being more creative and giving the puppies more to play with.... if you don't like what they offer... there are other themers out there for you to choose from. And.. there is also the choice to step up to the plate and take what they've given us and turn it in to one of these - http://www.studiopress.com/showcase.
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!
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