Over the past 10 years, I have used a lot of different WordPress themes and have been very disappointed. Up until recently, I was using MyThemeShop, which was pretty good. But I still had to do a lot of customization to make it do and work the way I wanted it to. A couple weeks ago I decided to give GeneratePress a try, and let me just say, it’s by far the best WordPress theme I’ve found in 10 years. I was blown away and am now moving all my sites to GeneratePress. I’ll go into exactly why in my in-depth GeneratePress review below.
And if you’re wondering, yes I have tried Genesis, OceanWP, Avada, X theme, Divi as well as many other lightweight and heavier multi-purpose themes.
GeneratePress is a free WordPress theme created by Tom Usborne, a developer from Canada. I’ve actually seen it for years in the WordPress repository. Most of you know that I’m pretty picky when it comes to web performance, and so I tend to ignore everything in the repository. Typically because a lot of stuff on there is not that great, or not supported for long. However, in this case, that was a mistake. The theme currently has over half a million downloads, 80,000+ active installs, with over 500 5-star ratings. So obviously Tom is doing something right here.
I actually installed the free version of the theme and in a matter of 15 minutes purchased the premium version. I could tell right off the bat, the developer was thinking exactly how I was envisioning a theme should work. And I’ll go into that more below, but let’s first look at some of the features. I’m going to be covering the premium version of the theme, because it’s worth very penny. In fact, Tom, if you ever read this and are visiting Scottsdale, Arizona, coffees on me.
- Super lightweight and fast. Modular design allowing you to enable/disable things you don’t want running. This is one of the biggest reasons I love GeneratePress.
- Responsive, looks great across all devices.
- Schema built-in, for better results in SERPs.
- Impressive integration with the WordPress Customizer. I haven’t been a fan of the customizer in the past, but Tom does it right.
- Compatible with all popular plugins, Yoast SEO, WooCommerce, EDD, and WPML. Great browser support back to IE8.
- It also works great with the popular fast-growing Elementor page builder. If you want to dive into even more customizations, these are a great combo. I have also read that people using Beaver Builder have had success.
- Translation ready.
- Font awesome built-in.
- Tons of hooks and filters which make it great for developers.
- Great active support from the developer. On average, 3 updates per month.
The documentation is also incredible. Besides have great documentation on their site, the theme has been around long enough that everything I Googled throughout the setup process was found within a few seconds from their forum.
GeneratePress is completely free, however, you will want the add-ons included. For $39.95 you get all 14 add-ons, can use it on unlimited websites, and get one year of support and updates. It’s definitely worth the money. I have already moved woorkup into GeneratePress and am working on moving over eight more sites. So a total of nine websites will be running on GeneratePress by the time I am done. $39.95 is a steal if you ask me!
Here are the add-ons that are included:
- Colors: Easily color any element you can think of in the customizer.
- Typography: Choose font sizes, font families (including Google Fonts), font weights and more.
- WooCommerce: Take control of your WooCommerce store with new typography, color & layout options.
- Sections: Easily create seamless sections inside your pages to build unique layouts.
- Menu Plus: Add a sticky menu (fade, slide or no transition), menu logo, and a slide-out menu!
- Page Header: Add a basic image or a complex content page header with full screen, parallax, and other cool options.
- Blog: Display your posts in columns (magazine) or masonry. Change the post image size and alignment, plus much more.
- Backgrounds: Upload background images to various areas throughout GeneratePress.
- Spacing: Control element spacing including your header, content, widgets, menu items, and sidebar width.
- Secondary Nav: Add a second navigation element to GeneratePress with all the same options as your primary navigation.
- Copyright: Add your own custom copyright message at the bottom of your website.
- Disable Elements: Disable specific elements on certain pages and posts such as the header, navigation, content title and footer.
- Hooks: Add new options to your Dashboard that allow you to add in your own custom content throughout various areas in the theme.
- Import Export: Easily export and import your settings from the customizer!
Diving Into GeneratePress
Now it’s time for the fun part! I always test a new theme right out of the box without any customizations to just see how fast the base is. This tells me a lot of what I can expect by the time I add everything to it. Running the stock GeneratePress WordPress theme on Kinsta hosting clocked in at a whopping 265 ms load time. I was very impressed.
One thing I was worried about with GeneratePress was that the modular design was going to generate a lot of big files, but that is not the case. You can tell that Tom literally worked hard on making sure that every file loaded in GeneratePress is as small as possible. With HTTP/2, the number of files isn’t as important. But the size is! Take a look at some of the core GeneratePress files below:
- /generatepress/css/unsemantic-grid.min.css 2.9 KB
- /generatepress/style.css 7.1 KB
- /generatepress/css/mobile.min.css 1.6 KB
- /generatepress/js/navigation.min.js 1.1 KB
- /generatepress/js/dropdown.min.js 1.5 KB
This is a developer that cares about performance! And I have seen the same throughout all of the premium add-ons. They are literally as small as you can possibly get them. In fact, Font Awesome is probably the biggest file included. And that isn’t even his. With Font Awesome 5 coming around the corner, we can expect that to get smaller too.
The premium add-ons are setup in what I would call a modular design. You can activate/deactivate anything you aren’t using to ensure they don’t load on your site. As the co-developer of the perfmatters plugin which has a script manager built-in, I felt right at home with this. Everything should be designed this way.
If you’re curious, I am using the following add-ons on this site:
- Page Header
No Child Theme Needed
One of the best features of GeneratePress is that I no longer have to use a Child theme. This makes my life so much easier. No more editing my functions.php or header.php files. I can literally update my GeneratePress theme this very minute and not lose a single customization. The hooks add-on definitely helps make this possible. It allows you to add custom code/PHP anywhere throughout your WordPress site.
Here is an example below. I always load things off my CDN, including my favicon. With the GP hooks I can easily add this to my WordPress site header.
You could also easily do this with the free Code Snippets plugin, which allows you to add PHP to your site. Tom, in fact, recommends this plugin in the GeneratePress documentation. You can see below that I have functions running for all sorts of things.
Here are a few PHP functions I use with GeneratePress:
Read More Button
This function adds the read more button on the front blog page.
Yoast SEO Index Images on CDN
This function fixes the Yoast SEO plugin and makes sure that my images index on my CDN.
Disable Google Fonts
This disables Google Fonts from loading in GeneratePress, but allows me to still use the Typography add-on to change font sizes, etc. I use a system font stack here on woorkup, which means I don’t have to load any fonts.
You can also check out more of Tom’s public 200+ Gists, which were all developed for GeneratePress.
Other Things I Love About GeneratePress
On each page/post you have a lot of options. You can change the sidebar layout and the footer widgets.
You can easily swap a page between the default to a full width page, as well as disable elements.
The WordPress customizer options is where GeneratePress really shines! Remember, a lot of these options are enabled by the premium add-ons. I can’t show you everyting, otherwise, we would be here all day. But let me show you couple which really come in handy.
Customizer Layout Options
Here are just a few of the many customizer layout options. You can easily change the container width of the page, the spacing, padding, etc… on every single element!
Here are just a few of the many color options.
Here are just a few of the many typography options. I use a system font stack, but the nice thing is I can still control all the sizes via the customizer. In previous themes I have had to add additional custom CSS. No more!
Here are just a few of the many blog options. This allows me to easily have a full width featured image on my front blog page, or use my smaller featured images and the text to the right of the image. Again, in previous themes I have add to add custom CSS for the second option. In GeneratePress its just a few clicks to change it up.
The developer even has things such as the post and publish date on posts built-in. As many of you know, I prefer using the updated date on my posts because I spend a lot of time updating old content. This can easily be swapped out with a little PHP which can be added with the free code snippets plugin mentioned above.
Another plugin I highly recommend grabbing is the free Lightweight Grid Columns. Not to my surprise, this is also created by the same developer as GeneratePress. It allows you a super easy way to add responsive columns to any page or post. Features include:
- Desktop grid width
- Tablet grid width
- Mobile grid width
- Add custom classes
- Add custom inline styles
- Equal height columns
Here is an example below:
SVG Logo in GeneratePress
Want to use an SVG logo in GeneratePress? Of course you do! All you need to do is add the following CSS to the WordPress Customizer and install the free Safe SVG plugin. Without adding the width your SVG logo won’t show up.
For those of you who are regular readers, you probably didn’t even notice that I changed the entire theme that powers woorkup.com. It only took me about an hour to get GeneratePress to mimic my MyThemeShop theme which I had spent a year customizing. Here is a comparison below.
woorkup.com Old MyThemeShop Theme
My old MyThemeShop theme was already pretty fast, but I spent a lot of time customizing it. In fact, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from you guys asking me to publish all of my customizations. My advice now is, just get GeneratePress!
woorkup.com New GeneratePress Theme
With the new GeneratePress theme I was able to achieve faster speeds and 600 fewer lines of code! And remember, I don’t have a child theme. All the customizations were made using the awesome GP hooks and snippets plugin (both CSS and PHP).
brianjackson.io Old Array Theme’s Theme
I also moved over my personal site, brianjackson.io, to GeneratePress. Previously I was using a theme from Array Themes. It is a pretty basic minimal site, as I don’t use it for much. As you can see it already loaded pretty fast.
brianjackson.io New GeneratePress Theme
I was able to duplicate the entire look 100% in GeneratePress in under an hour. And as you can see it loads even faster! Amazing. I was even able to get rid of a few plugins which weren’t needed because of GP.
I can’t express my excitement about finding GeneratePress and I am moving over all of my sites to it (which includes some EDD e-commerce sites). Once I have my 9 sites all running in GP without any child themes, my life will be a breeze! The developer has restored my faith in multi-purpose themes, and that when done the right way, can actually perform faster.
And the best news is, I now have a billion more options to choose from than I did before.
I would love to hear what you think about GeneratePress. Did any of you faithful readers even know I changed my theme a couple weeks ago haha? I also hear that it works amazingly with Elementor, although personally, GP does everything I need right now.
Have any questions about GeneratePress? I know it pretty well now, so feel free to ask anything you want.
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I was not a believer in fast multi-purpose themes until I ran across GeneratePress. It’s one of the best WordPress themes/frameworks I have run across in 10 years!