I recently changed the theme of this website from Thrive FocusBlog to GeneratePress and I’m loving it.
GeneratePress is a combination of a free, lightweight WordPress theme and a premium plugin. This plugin allows you to add essential features, but only the features that you want to actually use.
This makes GeneratePress not only lightweight, but also very powerful and flexible. In this review I will be explaining why I made the switch and what I like about GeneratePress as a WordPress theme.
Why I Ditched Thrive Themes
I’ve used the FocusBlog theme on several of my sites since forever. In case you didn’t know, Thrive Themes became a popular WordPress theme developer several years ago when a few famous affiliate marketers started using and promoting them.
The FocusBlog theme in particular became hugely popular in a short timeframe, and if you do a bit of browsing you’ll still see tons of (mostly) affiliate websites running on the FocusBlog theme. Or otherwise the Rise theme, another popular theme developed by Thrive Themes.
Before you get the wrong impression, I’ve always been very happy with the FocusBlog theme and with Thrive Themes in general. I honestly think FocusBlog is an awesome theme, it’s always performed really well for me, and I’ve never encountered any major bugs or flaws.
I still use FocusBlog on some of my sites and these sites are still going strong.
Thrive Stopped Selling Their Themes
Thrive is moving into a new direction. They are not selling their individual themes anymore, instead they have been working on a visual theme builder that is (at the time of writing) yet to be released.
If a theme builder decides to take their themes off the market, that inevitably means they will at some point stop supporting them. And with WordPress evolving so quickly, it’s not a smart move to have a website running on a theme that is not supported anymore.
The Theme Was Getting a Bit Dated
The other issue is that while FocusBlog is an awesome theme, it’s also a bit dated. Which makes sense, because the theme has been around for so long.
It’s not just the look-and-feel that feels dated, it’s also the code and setup of the theme. HTML and CSS standards evolve quickly. It’s important to have a theme installed that is coded to the highest of standards and respects the latest HTML and CSS coding guidelines.
While I’m not a professional web developer, I do feel that FocusBlog is a bit behind now in this regard.
Other Thrive Themes Products
I would also like to point out that I am still using other Thrive Themes products, such as Thrive Leads and Thrive Architect. I honestly think these are awesome products and I will continue using them.
Thrive Leads in particular is a product I am very happy with. Tons of excellent, useful features for a fraction of the price that a popular list builder plugin like OptinMonster charges.
Thrive Architect I may eventually drop, but only because I don’t use it a lot. I really only use it to design the home page and perhaps a few landing pages. And since Architect, just like any other page builder, adds a lot of bloat to a site, I may decide to remove it.
Anyway, enough about Thrive. Let’s move on to GeneratePress.
6 Reasons Why GeneratePress Premium Is Awesome
If you’ve read my 2018 year in review, you’ll know that I made the commitment to create a brand new affiliate site in 2019.
I was keen to use a new theme for this, one that was ready for the future. A simple, lightweight theme that would provide me with the features I needed, and nothing else.
So I decided to purchase and install GeneratePress on that affiliate site to try it out. After a bit of getting used to and implementing a few changes here and there, I was (and still am) super happy with the looks of the site as well as with the page speed.
And that was it. I made the decision to say goodbye to FocusBlog and get Blog Pioneer switched over to GeneratePress as well.
With two of my sites now running on GeneratePress, it’s time for me to share my experience and walk you through 6 solid reasons to make the switch to GeneratePress.
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1. Site Speed: GeneratePress Is Super Lightweight
Site speed is becoming increasingly important. Google has even come out to say that mobile page speed is now a ranking factor.
While there are many ways to improve a website’s performance, a WordPress theme can also have a big impact on site speed.
GeneratePress was built with site speed in mind. The most basic installation of the theme is less than 30Kb which is unrivalled. In addition, GeneratePress is coded and structured according to the latest coding standards.
As an ex software developer, I do actually look at how themes and plugins are coded. And I can honestly say that GeneratePress looks very clean and well structured, especially compared to Thrive’s FocusBlog.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Let’s have a look at the Google Page Speed scores from before and after the switch from FocusBlog to GeneratePress. Needless to say that I ran these tests multiple times.
The first test is of the home page:
The second test is of a long blog post that has quite a few images:
The page speed scores are around 8-15% better. Not a shocking result by any means, but that’s because the site was already performing well.
But the only thing I did was change themes, nothing else. So it’s safe to say that these improvements are purely because of GeneratePress.
Here’s the page speed scores for my affiliate site that is also using GeneratePress:
Also note that I could improve that speed score further by implementing funky things like lazy loading images and using next generation image formats. But at this stage I’m simply not too fussed about it.
I don’t get obsessed with site speed. As long as it hits above 70, I am satisfied.
2. Unlimited Customization Options
The way GeneratePress works is, the theme itself is free, but the extra plugin is premium. The theme itself is bare bones and super lightweight, which is a good thing.
The premium plugin allows you to add features to the theme. But only the features that you need and want. In other words, you are in full control over what you are installing and using.
You know how some themes are incredible feature-rich but you hardly ever use the vast majority of these features? The result is that you end up with a super heavy, bloated theme that doesn’t perform well.
With GP Premium you won’t have to deal with that.
GeneratePress Premium is a paid plugin that works alongside the theme. It allows you to activate sets of features, known as Modules.
For example, the Colors Module allows you to customize the colors of all elements in your site. Headers, buttons, links, background, widgets, literally everything can be configured.
Another useful Module is Typography, with over 70 typography options that give you complete control over your site’s content.
Perhaps the most powerful Module is Elements which consists of the following:
- Header Element:
Allows you to create custom headers that you can display anywhere you like.
- Layout Element:
Allows you to change the layout of your site such as sidebars and footers, with custom layout options for different pages.
- Hooks Element:
Allows you to “hook” your own custom code into various areas of the theme without changing core theme files.
For example, see that funky little author box at the bottom of this article? That doesn’t come standard with the theme, instead I’ve had to use a Hook Element to let it appear underneath each blog post.
With a bit of help from the GeneratePress support forum, it was pretty easy to do.
Another example is breadcrumbs. If you’re using Yoast SEO, it’s very easy to create a Hook Element to implement breadcrumbs in your blog posts, just like you see them at the top of this particular post.
Pre-Made Site Templates
If customizing is not your thing, and you really just want to start cracking, GP offers a wide range of pre-made site templates. All you need to do is import and activate the template you like, and your site will have the very same look and feel of the template.
The site library even has pre-made options for page builders such as Elementor and Beaver Builder. So if you’re using one of these page builders, simply pick a template you like, and you’re good to go.
3. Inbuilt Schema Markup
If you’re not familiar with Schema markup, it’s a semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and present your page in the search results.
While Schema is by no means required to rank high in the SERPs, it does help you to get featured in rich snippets, carrousels and other funky elements you see in a Google search results page.
Here’s a screenshot taken from Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, where I’m testing an article on Blog Pioneer:
As you can see, lots of Schema objects there.
The only schema objects I added myself in the above list are BreadcrumbList (via a GeneratePress Hook Element) and Review (manually). The rest of the objects is automatically generated by the theme.
Please note though that you are free to remove any of the elements that you don’t want to have. Simply add a filter for the Schema data you want to have removed.
If this sounds complicated, the GP forum has lots of examples around how to do this, plus the support team will always help you out.
Yoast has released a new version of their SEO plugin (v11.0) which contains extensive Schema markup functionality. Yoast uses JSON-LD to generate the Schema whereas GP uses Microelements. Both ways are acceptable, but JSON-LD is generally considered to be the preferred way. In addition, the Schema Yoast generates is better structured which makes it easier for search engines to interpret. For these reasons I have decided to disable the GP Schema markup.
4. Compatibility with Page Builders
If you’re using Thrive Architect, Elementor, Beaver Builder, or any other major page builder, there is no need to worry about any compatibility issues.
I am personally using Thrive Architect, and apart from a few changes I had to implement after the switch, GeneratePress and Architect work nicely together, no problems at all.
And as mentioned above, GeneratePress also offers pre-made templates for sites using one of these page builders.
But what about Gutenberg, I hear you ask.
Good news, GeneratePress is 100% compatible with Gutenberg, no issues at all. In fact, they were one of the first to fully embrace Gutenberg as a WordPress editor.
5. Amazing Support and Documentation
Using GeneratePress Premium for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. The theme + plugin is very different from how other themes function, so there is definitely a bit of a learning curve to deal with.
But once the penny drops and you become more familiar with how the theme works, you’ll start to recognize the power of this product. That’s the process I went through, at least.
The first thing you should do after purchasing GP Premium is reading through their extensive online documentation library. It covers everything you need to know, from setting up the theme and basic troubleshooting, to customization and developer resources.
I’ve had to ask for support a few times myself, and every single time the response was quick and helpful. Every single time.
The support forum is open to the public, so you can see other people’s support requests as well. I challenge anyone to find a support request that doesn’t get addressed in a timely manner.
They even help people out with issues that are not directly related to GeneratePress. For example, if someone is struggling to get a certain element in a page to look differently, they’ll provide you with custom CSS to achieve that.
The beauty of such a support forum is that over time it has grown into an enormous source of technical issues and resolutions. So if you ever have an issue with GP, simply do a search in the forum and chances are you’ll find the solution.
6. Affordable Pricing
The premium version of GeneratePress is surprisingly affordable.
For only $49.95, you will get access to all premium modules and the site library. And this is not just for one website either. You’re free to install the premium plugin in as many websites as you like.
The only small catch is that you’ll have to renew your license after one year in order to keep receiving updates and support. The renewal fee however comes with a 40% discount.
Don’t like GeneratePress? They offer a 30-day money back guarantee. But you won’t have to use it, you can trust me on that.
Final Thoughts on GeneratePress
Switching themes is quite a time consuming process and it’s also a bit scary. It’s like buying a new car. Will you like it? What if you don’t like it, or what if it doesn’t perform as well as you expected?
Choosing the right WordPress theme is an important decision because you want to stick with it for many years to come. And that is why I did my due diligence before purchasing GeneratePress. I’m now happy I made the switch from FocusBlog to GeneratePress, it has exceeded my expectations.
One more thing I should mention is that GeneratePress is 100% mobile responsive. It looks and performs amazingly well on mobile and tablet. You can test this yourself by opening this article on your mobile, if you’re not there already.
Hopefully this review has convinced you to give GeneratePress a serious go. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
|Summary||GeneratePress is a free WordPress theme plus premium plugin combination that is not only lightweight and fast but also powerful and flexible. The theme itself is bare bones with GP Premium allowing you to select and activate the extra features you need. The power of GeneratePress is not only the boost in page speed, but also the unlimited customization options.|
|Rating||4.5 (out of 5)|