A quick look at my portfolio will show you that I primarily develop my clients’ websites on two different platforms: Divi, or the Genesis Framework. I use these two themes as a base for my projects because they are tried-and-true platforms, that are always being updated, and have a massive support community behind them. Which means if there are bugs or issues, it’s likely that someone else is having the same problem, and the developers are working to fix them. And since there’s such a large user base for each, you know they’re stable and (likely) here to stay.
Both are amazing platforms for building a website. But they are wildly different. The Genesis Framework is touted as a fast, secure, easy-to-use platform for professional bloggers and developers. Divi, on the other hand, is quite easily the queen of DIY website building.
So which is best for your website? And how do I decide which to use for my projects? Let’s find out.
As I said, Divi is the queen of the DIY website crowd. And it’s easy to see why. Divi is powered by a robust page builder (called, appropriately, the Divi Builder) that allows you to select from dozens of elements, and drag them right into your page.
It’s really as simple as configuring your branding (you can select colors, upload your logo, choose your fonts, etc.) and building away. And each element and section allows you to override your default settings, so each and every element can be unique.
So why wouldn’t you want to build every website with Divi? Three things: bloat, lock-in, and consistency.
Divi has a tendency to be bloated. For obvious reasons – such a robust theme requires a lot of code behind-the-scenes. And all the extra code can slow down your website. The dozens of different elements it offers are amazing, but most website’s don’t make use of all of them. Often times there are extras you don’t need.
You can circumvent a lot of the bloat and slow load times with a good caching/minification plugin, or a CDN, but it takes time and is not necessarily beginner-friendly.
There’s also the risk of lock-in. Which is basically when you get “stuck” using a certain theme. If you build your pages with Divi, in order to switch themes you’ll either have to install the Divi Builder plugin, or re-create all of your pages.
That’s not a joke. If you’re using Divi and you switch themes without installing the Builder, you end up with this:
Finally, there’s consistency. It’s 100% possible to have too much of a good thing. If you change and customize each and every element on your website to be unique, it’s likely that you’ll end up with a mess. Good websites follow easy to understand, predictable patterns. That’s not to say that each page has to look the same, but maintaining clear visual hierarchy and flow is essential to keeping users on your website & guiding them through it.
When do I use Divi?
When I’m working on client projects, I usually use Divi if the project fits one of these criteria:
The client specifically asks to use Divi.
Sometimes clients want the power & flexibility of Divi, but aren’t sure how to set the theme up so it works for their business. So I offer Divi packages. In these cases, I set up the theme, match it to their branding (using a child theme if need be), make sure all of their integrations & launch content are in place, and hand it off to them. They can continue to add content and build out pages with the editor, confident that it’s going to match their business and their brand.
There is a timeline or budget limitation that would prevent me from implementing the required features using custom code.
Building a custom website with custom code is my go-to, as it allows me to implement just the features my clients need (so we avoid bloat!) But custom coding takes time, and – let’s be honest – time is money. If there’s a tight deadline, or small budget for a project that needs big features, I usually use Divi. It’s a quick and easy way to add a lot of WOW to even the smallest of projects.
When I know I’ll be the only one managing the website.
I know the platform like the back of my hand, so creating pages that have a clean, consistent flow is easy for me. If a client has no interest in updating or managing their own content, I’m confident in using Divi to create a beautiful website that works for them.
Unlike Divi, the Genesis Framework isn’t really geared towards the user who wants to do it all. Instead, most Genesis themes are tailored to one specific audience or niche, such as food bloggers or online educators.
Genesis works very differently than Divi. By default, it’s pretty bland and ugly:
Genesis is a framework, and it’s meant to establish a solid set of functions and features that every website should have. To make it “pretty”, you have to install or create a child theme.
It’s a bit more technical, and harder to wrap your head around. But it means that you’re rarely getting features you don’t need. It cuts down on bloat considerably, and keeps your website small, speedy, and secure.
StudioPress itself develops and sells numerous child themes – each one geared towards a specific industry or niche. The features of the themes vary. Some have color selectors and font selectors and function similar to Divi, while others offer just bare-bones customization options. But each and every one of them is meant to take you from no website to a beautiful, modern website right out of the box.
Plus, it’s pretty developer-friendly. Using my skills and the tools established by the framework, I can build beautiful, one-of-a-kind websites that are tailored exactly to my client’s needs.
It works for e-commerce:
Or for Real Estate:
Or for, you know, really pretty portfolios and blogs:
Using a custom (or pre-built) Genesis child theme lets you make a website that is clean and consistent, and ensures that your content is always going to be displayed beautifully.
But, it too has its caveats. If you’re going the DIY website route, Genesis can be hard to customize without knowing code. There are plugins, like Genesis Simple Edits, or Design Palette Pro, that can help you customize the look and feel of your theme, but even those have their limits.
When do I use Genesis?
I love the Genesis framework, and use it on all of my custom development packages unless there’s a really good reason not to.
But if you’re not a coder, here are the scenarios where I’d suggest using the Genesis framework:
If you want adding (and updating) your content to be a piece of cake.
Most Genesis themes use widgets to control your home page, and then you just put your other page content right in the default editor. There’s no need to play around with blocks or builders, meaning managing your content is a breeze.
You don’t want (or need) to customize everything.
Genesis themes usually have an established visual hierarchy. Sometimes you can change colors or fonts, but most of them are more or less static. Which can be a great thing. It makes it easy for users to navigate your site, and ensures that all of your content is presented in a clear, professional manner. If keeping all of your styles in line sounds like a headache, Genesis is probably the way to go.
Speed is a concern.
Site speed plays a factor in SEO. Slower sites just don’t perform as well with search engines. If you want a fast, efficient website, the Genesis framework is probably your best bet.
You might change your theme later.
Most Genesis themes don’t control your content with shortcodes or other gimmicks. Which means if you change themes, you probably won’t have to re-build all of your pages from the ground up.
Wait… So which do I use?
As a developer, my bias is towards the Genesis framework (as custom Divi development is a pain sometimes). But you, as a business owner, need to think about what is going to work best for you and your business’s needs.
If you’re DIY-ing, Divi is the easier way to get a website up quickly. If you’re working with a designer and have a specific look you’re after, Genesis may be easier to adapt to your needs. It’s all about your unique business and your unique scenario.
Do you use either of these frameworks? Or is there another theme/framework that works for your business? Let me know in the comments!