As a framework, Genesis supports child themes to help take your website to the next level. Being able to design using a child theme is a WordPress best practice. It sidesteps a whole bunch of issues that come up with designs and updates.
Though Genesis is great, there are still other ways to take it further, including some top notch plugins.
Below we’ve compiled a list of amazing plugins specially made for the Genesis framework to boost design and features for your Genesis site.
Genesis Extender Plugin by Cobalt Apps
The Genesis Extender Plugin is a product by Cobalt Apps. When I found the plugin, I seriously wondered why I didn’t know about it sooner.
The plugin itself extends a lot of the functionality on your Genesis child theme. (thus the name) After it’s upload, it adds two new options to the Genesis section on your WordPress Dashboard menu:
Extender Settings and Extender Custom
Using these new setting, you get a more flexible approach to modifying your theme.
From the Extender settings, you have the option to activate the Genesis Extender Homepage.
This gives you the option to customize your child theme Hompage a little more than you may get from the default options.
No more taking hours typing out hooks and conditions or CSS when designing your themes either.
The areas such as, “Hook Boxes” that can be found in the “Extender Custom” area of your WP Dashboard menu, make adding hooks quicker than ever before.
Another fantastic feature that I really love, is the Custom CSS Builder and Front-end CSS builder that can be activated in the Custom Options.
Even when just looking at the screenshot below, you get an idea of how the CSS Builder works and just how much time will be saved in using it.
You can edit everything from Elements in the theme to Font with a few clicks instead of typing it out. If you want the option to edit your theme while viewing it, then leap for joy!
The Extender Plugin comes with the option to active the Front-end version of the Custom CSS Builder which means that you can go and make styling edits in real time. How can you not love that?!
Price for the plugin starts at $39 for a single site and goes up to $149 to be able to use it on unlimited sites. If you want to see a quick demo of how everything looks and feels with the plugin, check out the video demo below.
Though I do really like the functions that this plugin gives, it’s not for everyone. To understand how it works and to know how to use it will take designer knowledge. If you don’t know anything about CSS or WordPress hooks, navigating this plugin will still leave you scratch you head in a lot of ways.
- If you’re a designer or developer, this plugin will speed up Genesis Theme design
- Custom CSS Builder is easy to use and comes with the Front-end builder to let you design in real time
- Building hooks and even PHP is now a breeze as much of the code it written from just a few clicks
- Will still be hard for someone will little design knowledge to get the best use out of it
- Price may be a bit more than someone can afford
The Extender Plugin is definitely on my top list of essential plugins for Genesis designers. If you’re not a designer, or you want an easier way to change things up in Genesis, then you’ll probably love the next add-on on our list.
Design Palette Pro
Design Palette Pro is similar to Genesis Extender, but it does have some differences.
The Plugin allows you to edit fonts, colors and a few other aspects with a few clicks of the button, but it is overall easier to navigate for many than the one listed above.
The only real downside to Design Palette Pro, is that right out of the gate, it only works with the Genesis Framework and only a few of the child themes.
As it stands, they only have add-ons for the Eleven, Metro and Minimum Pro themes by StudioPress so if you’re needing to edit a different theme than these, it won’t work.
Pricing for the plugin and what you get can be a little confusing.
The price you pay for Basic will only work with the Genesis Framework itself. If want if to work with one of three above stated Child Themes, you need to buy the Add-ons which start at $15 each.
If you want to save a few bucks, there is an option to buy a Bundle, that includes the core plugin and one add-on for $50. There are also from free add-ons with that you can download from the site as well.
- Interface is easy to understand and navigate for just about anyone
- The ability to customize font, colors and padding is a snap
- Perfect for beginners looking to save some money on get their Genesis Framwork site designed
- A little on the pricey side for what you get out of it (price is for one year and then you need to renew)
- Only works with Genesis Framework and 3 Pro Child Themes, so you can’t use it on your site if its not one of these
If you’re needing to design a website for yourself and want to use Genesis but don’t code and you don’t want to pay a designer to to the work, this may be the most inexpensive option for you.
eNews Extended Plugin
The eNews Extended Plugin is a newsletter subscription plugin created by Brandon Kraft that works great with Genesis.
Though it wasn’t created by the team at StudioPress, even they personally suggest using the plugin for your newsletter signups. And in case you’re wondering…. yes, even WPKube uses it! (Check it out in the top right corner of the page)
As it stands, the plugin works great with all Genesis child themes, but only works with these main email campaign services:
The easiest way to get the plugin off the ground and running is if you use Mailpoet. Any of the others will take some code, but it’s actually pretty simple.
If you’re using MailChimp, you”ll need to grab the HTML sign-up form from your account and then simply copy and past that into the text area of your eNews Extended plugin.
If you’d like a detailed tutorial of how to use this with MailChimp and any of the other services listed above, here is a great tutorial by Brandon.
- Free! No need to pay for a subscription widget. This one works great!
- Works with some of the main Email Campaign services out there
- Installation is fast and easy if you use Mailpoet
- Takes some code to change the overall look of the look that the plugin defaults to
- If you use MailChimp, you’ll need to go into your account to find an HTML code to use for the plugin and that will take some tweaking
Genesis Prose Extras
If you use the Genesis Theme, Prose, you may have just hit the jackpot.
The Genesis Prose Extras plugin is the first of a few plugins on our list by David Decker Webservice. It is a great plugin for anyone looking to customize their Prose theme on a budget.
The plugin is user friendly and lightweight and adds a whole lot of new options including:
- A Widgetized Homepage
- Additional layouts
- New Menu Positions
- Translation Loading
- Various Helpers
Using this plugin your can take the original look of the Prose theme and change to something a little more like the News Theme Pro.
As you can see from the layout above, you can use the plugin to create the Widgetized Homepage that Prose always lacked before. There a plenty of other things that you can do with the plugin, so if you use Prose, this is a definitely something you should take a look at.
- Always Free and continually updated
- Widgetized Homepage is great for giving Prose theme a fresh look with no CSS needed
- The extra layouts are another great free feature
- New Sidebar layouts are included too
- Only works with Prose Theme (that’s really the only downside…)
Genesis Layout Extras
The author of the above mentioned plugin must have been able to read the minds of all us Genesis Theme users because he also created a plugin that worked with other themes besides Prose
The Genesis Layout Extras is lightweight and easy to use plugin that gives you additional layout options for your theme. In fact many of the layout that you find in the Genesis Prose Extras plugin are found in this plugin
You also have the ability to add custom post types which is a nice change of pace.
The great thing about a plugin like this is that now you don’t need to code to change things like this. The plugin is lightweight and won’t have a large impact on your page speed like others might.
- Adds extra layout options to your Genesis child themes
- Shouldn’t be used in conjunction with the Genesis Prose Extras plugin or things will get strange but that’s the only thing I have bad to say about it
If you use the AgentPress Child Theme for your website, then you’ll love the handy plugin that StudioPress made to compliment it.
With AgentPress Listings, you can create listing management system for your website. It’s not an essential plugin in for everyone, but if you need a way to create listings in the theme, this would be your first stop.
- Makes adding listing to your AgentPress site easy
- Helps to keep listing in order
- Only works with the AgentPress Child Theme
- Comes with a learning curve and takes time to setup correctly
Genesis Responsive Slider
The world of the web has taken the turn towards smaller screens. With that being the case, not only should you website be responsive and adjust to be visually appealing on smaller screens, but so should your pictures.
As many know, the Genesis Framework and many of the child themes do not come with the option of adding a responsive slider to a page or a widget area.
The Genesis Responsive Slider plugin also allows you to create a simple responsive slider that displays the featured image, along with the title and excerpt from each post.
You can also set it up to display the featured image and excerpt:
- Posts or pages
- A specific category
- Or specific post IDs of the posts
Though this is a nice option, after testing it out a bit, I found that navigating the capabilities of this was a bit clunky. It’s a great plugins if you can figure out how to get it set up right. Thankfully, there are tutorials out there to help you out in case you need it, like this one: Genesis Responsive Slider Tutorial.
- Free and updated
- Allows you to create a responsive slider by pulling images from pages or posts of your site
- Cannot create custom sliders. This plugin will only use images from pages/posts
- Getting things to work and look right is a bit hard to figure out and has a slight learning curve
- A bit under par for a plugin from StudioPress…
Genesis Visual Hook Guide
Besides HTML and CSS, another basic fundamental to building and customizing a WordPress theme, including the Genesis Framework and child themes, are Hooks. However, for a designer or developer, finding the right hook can be tricky.
The Genesis Visual Hook Guide is just that. If you don’t plan to use the Genesis Extender Plugins, then this is a good plugin to help with finding hooks. Even if you do, this is a nice way to figure out where all those hooks are located in your theme.
When you activate the plugin, you are able to get a visual aide of where to find action and filter hooks inside your Genesis Theme.
- Free visual aide
- Great for being able to locate action/filter hooks in Genesis Framework
- Useless to anyone who won’t be adding code to the theme
Genesis Simple Hooks
If you plan to use Hooks then Genesis Simple Hooks is another good plugin to have for those that know how hooks work.
Genesis Simple Hooks creates a new Genesis settings page with a pleasant interface that allows you to insert code, including Shortcodes, and attach it to any of the over 50 action hooks throughout the Genesis Theme Framework.
If you use this, it can be even easier to use, if you use the plugin we talked about above. (Genesis Visual Hook Guide)
After you install the plugin, the “Simple Hooks” option will be added to your Genesis Menu in your WordPress Dashboard.
If you’d like some comprehensive tutorials on how the plugin looks and works, then check this out: Simple Hooks Tutorial
- Cuts down time in coding your hooks
- Easy to navigate if you know how to use hooks
- Perfect to work in unison with the Visual Hook Guide plugin
- Same as Genesis Visual Hook Guide. This would be useless to anyone who won’t be adding hooks to their theme
Genesis Widgetized Not Found and 404
Yet another great add-on from DeckerWeb.
With this plugin you can create a more user friendly experience for those times when a page search or site search go south. (It’s bound to happen sooner rather than later…)
With Genesis Widgetized Not Found & 404 plugin, you can customize a page for just this occasion with some nice instructions for your viewer as to what to try next in their search. (see below)
- Let’s you easily create a 404 and Search Not found page via the Widget area of your dashboard
- Create a better user experience
- If you have something that already works for you, you may not need this but that’s my only critique
Genesis Logo Uploader Plugin
If you’ve been using Genesis for a little while, then you know that depending on the child theme that you’re using, placing a logo in your theme can be a little tricky.
The Genesis Logo Uploader Plugin helps in overstepping this mild issues that many run into. The plugin isn’t free, but thankfully not too expensive either.
The price for the plugin is $12 and though using it does make it easier to upload a logo, it’s not a save all. You still have to edit and add some code depending on what theme you use.
Thankfully though, the author create a video to walk you through from start to finish and it took him less than ten minutes to edit all that was needed.
- Makes adding a Logo to the Genesis Framework and child themes easier
- Good price for what is it does
- Some Genesis themes make uploading a logo easy so you won’t need this plugin if that’s the case
- Getting the logo to show up may take editing some code depending on what child theme you’re using
Get Genesis Logo Upload Plugin
Genesis Connect For WooCommerce
Though the Genesis Framework doesn’t initially come out of the box with working with WooCommerce, this plugin will solve your issue.
Once you upload the plugin, you’ll be prompted to add a small snippet of code into your child themes function.php file. Be sure you follow the instructions carefully with this as you can easily place this in the wrong spot and initiate the white screen of death. (Blech!) Takes some FTP work to fix that, so be cautious.
If you’d like a step-by-step tutorial of how this is done, check out this post by SlickWP.
- Makes your Genesis Framework powered themes compatible with WooCommerce and all it’s functions without overriding your theme settings
- Takes some code that needs to be used carefully or you’ll break your site…
Other Great Plugins For Genesis Framework
- Genesis Connect For BuddyPress. If you’d like to turn your website into a social network, then BuddyPress is likely your best option. With Genesis Connect For BuddyPress, simple upload the plugin and your website will be compatible with the software.
- bbPress Genesis Extend. bbPress is an easy way to setup a forum on your WordPress website. In the past, connecting bbPress to a Genesis theme took a bit of code, as did the previous two mentioned. However, with bbPress Genesis Extend, you simple upload, activate and you’re good to go.
- Genesis Translations. As it stands, the Genesis Framework is not translation ready. If you’d like your site to translate into another language where you believe that your site will be found, then the Genesis Translations plugin is a good place to start. The language selection found inside isn’t extensive but you may find the one that you need.
- Genesis Title Toggle. Want to be able to hide the Title of a page post type from your Genesis Theme? Search no further. This plugin will allow to hide the Title with the simple click of a button.
- Simple Social Icons. The name is exactly that. It gives you a simple way to add social icons into your widget areas. Not only can you easily add the icons, but you can customize the icon colors to get something that resembles your sites color scheme.
- Social Circles. This one offers simple and customizable circles. You can change, the font, color and hover color to go along with your theme. It can be fun and cute, or business inspired. It’s really up to you.
So that’s all on my list of best and essential plugins created especially for the Genesis Framework. Did I miss any that you guys tend to use on your Genesis site? Post your comments below. I’m excited to know of any other great ones out there.