WP Tavern:

Managed web hosting company WP Engine launched the new Genesis Pro add-on for customers of its hosting service today. The add-on brings additional block editor features for users who are using a Genesis-based WordPress theme.

The add-on includes a robust set of options that are primarily aimed at helping users build their webpages with custom blocks and designs. The following features are the foundation of the add-on:

  • Block Library: Includes 17 custom blocks, such as a testimonial and pricing block.
  • Page Layouts: Offers 22 full layouts for product, portfolio, team, and other pages.
  • Content Sections: Adds 38 customizable content sections.
  • Permissions System: Allows admins to set editing permissions on a per-block basis.
  • Customization: Users can create and share custom sections and layouts with content creators.

Believe it or not, I used to be a huge Genesis fan. In fact, several earlier incarnations of this blog were built on top of the Genesis framework. I was originally drawn to the Genesis framework because I was looking for a lightweight and minimalist theme to use as a foundation for a custom child theme. Back then, the two contenders were Genesis and Thesis. After testing out both frameworks, I liked Genesis a lot more.

The idea of having a foundational layer that took care of basic WordPress housekeeping items was appealing to me. I only wanted to focus on my blog’s looks. I didn’t have much interest in making sure itw as SEO-compliant. Genesis excelled at staying out of the way, and I really liked that.

Since WP Engine’s acquisition of StudioPress, I’ve lost interest in using Genesis on my WordPress sites for a few reasons. The Genesis community doesn’t feel the same anymore. Back then, things felt very grassroots and I liked that. Brian Gardner, the founder of StudioPress, was constantly in touch with users and customers – that kind of interaction is irreplacable. Lastly, there was a huge focus on minimalism which appealed to me – this was mostly the work of Brian Gardner who now runs a minimalism blog.

The post-acquisition direction of Genesis goes against its core values. Features like a variety of page layouts, permissions systems, and a large library of Gutenberg blocks isn’t something that’s needed in a framework that preaches minimalism. The fractured vision of the product gives off mixed signals, and it makes consumers uncertain about what they’re buying into. If feature bloat is going to be StudioPress' new product strategy, I think a site redesign to move away from minimalist ideals is in order.

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