On July 11th, we held our fourth Genesis Shapers Slack meeting. As a reminder, These meetings are a great opportunity for folks to share their thoughts and ideas about Genesis. You can read the recaps of the January, February, March, April, and May meetings.
The Genesis Shapers are a hand-selected and diverse group of people representing companies from across the community who have come together to be a representative voice in the strategic direction of Genesis in addition to the feedback we receive directly from customers, across social channels, and through Genesis WP on Slack.
Included in this group are:
Bill Erickson, Carrie Dils, David Decker, Gary Jones, Greg Boser, Jennifer Bourn, Jon Brown, Jonathan Jeter, Lauren Gaige, Lee Anthony, Mike Hemberger, Nahuai Badiola, Remkus de Vries, Robin Cornett, Sara Dunn, and Sridhar Katakam.
In the Shapers meeting earlier this month, we discussed Google AMP.
David Vogelpohl, the Vice President of Web Strategy at WP Engine and StudioPress brand lead, facilitated the conversation, and here was the meeting agenda:
- How do we build a starter child theme that every site owner and developer wants to use and contribute back to?
- What are the minimum options a starter theme generator would need to offer before you consider using it?
- Would using Genesis Sample as the generator template suffice, or would you want to see changes to Sample first? If so, what changes?
- Are there any other user options you would like to see in Genesis in the future?
Before I get into the recap of the Shapers meeting, there are two exciting things that I wanted to share with you.
Nahuai is the founder of Código Genesis, a Spanish Genesis tutorial-based membership site. Remkus is the co-founder of WCEU, has been a champion of Genesis for many years, and is currently working with Yoast. David has built many Genesis plugins and is a core contributor to the framework as well.
I am thrilled that they have joined the group, and look forward to their insights and learning from their expertise.
In addition, I am pleased to announce that Nick Cernis will be the release lead for Genesis 3.1.
Nick has been working with us for years, and his ascension from customer support to developer has been incredible to witness. His meticulous code and creative approach to enhancing the framework is a perfect fit.
As you can see, there is a lot to be excited about these days with Genesis.
Speaking of that, at the end of June we had our in-person Genesis Shapers meeting. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the entire meeting, but I was there for the opening question and early discussion:
“Who/what inspires you most about the Genesis community?”
There was a resounding echo of answers, and for the most part, each participant said the same thing: The willingness to give back within the community, and to go above and beyond the call of duty to help others at any given moment.
This didn’t come as a surprise to me—not one bit. In fact, it was the exact same answer I would have given as well. Pure and simple, the generosity inside the Genesis community is unmatched in the WordPress space, and I could not be any prouder.
Now onto the Genesis Shapers recap…
Genesis Starter Theme
David kicked off the meeting by asking this:
“How do we build a starter child theme that every site owner and developer wants to use and contribute back to? If you currently use your own starter theme, would you be interested in a theme generator (website and command line tools) that takes the tedious first steps out of building a new Genesis child theme?”
Mike Hemberger started with this:
“So many people have their own workflow… so many different tools, flows, styles, etc… highly unlikely you’d have one. But if it’s basic/simple enough, but more powerful than Sample, it could be worth it for basic stuff or new devs with Genesis.”
Bill Erickson added:
“I personally wouldn’t use a theme generator because I like being in control of my starter theme, constantly making tweaks. But I think the idea of a Genesis starter theme generator is excellent and would be very helpful for those looking to start building their own Genesis themes. Something simple like selecting which layouts should be available, whether or not to include accessibility and gutenberg functionality, stuff like that.”
And then Remkus shared his thoughts:
“For those who _do_ use Genesis Sample as a basis, having the option to rename everything automagically before while they actually download a version is a huge time saver.”
“I would love to see published standards, or at least recommendations, for child themes.”
David Decker chimed in:
“For new users, and Site Builders / Non-Coders a Generator like “GenerateWP.com” (one working example) would be fine, absolutely. I personally use “Sample” as for me it is enough most of the time.”
It was great to see the new Shapers embracing their role and contributing to the conversation. Their perspective is much appreciated, and look forward to see that in future meetings.
Genesis Starter Theme Generator
After a number of responses, David Vogelpohl asked:
“So all these responses beg the next question…. What are the minimum options a starter theme generator would need to offer before you consider using it?”
Gary Jones jumped in immediately:
“Answer: you don’t. A starter theme is just the end product. The real value is in identifying the _processes everyone uses to build themes_, and create something that can cater for that.”
David Decker had some interesting insights:
“I think a generator is only one alternative Genesis should offer. Genesis targets to a lot of developers, site builders, even non-coders.”
From Bill Erickson:
“I see the theme generator as a stepping stone for those looking to move beyond StudioPress themes and build their own. It will help show them how to setup the basics of what they need. And it would deliver a leaner version of Genesis Sample based on specific needs. I don’t work on ecommerce sites, so I don’t need all the WooCommerce code in Genesis Sample. I do build AMP sites so I’d keep ‘AMP Support’ checked.”
Lastly, from Remkus:
“I don’t think we should expect it to solve everyone’s problem per se. What it will do for sure is make the first steps of customizing a theme more convenient.”
I think the general consensus—and what we can take away from this conversation—is that we want to provide tools which enable quicker deployment and consequently allow folks to build sites faster.
Genesis 3.1 Roadmap
David Vogelpohl transitioned us away from Genesis Starter Theme/Generators to the future with Genesis 3.1:
“We’re starting to add additional user options in Genesis 3.1 (title and breadcrumb toggles in the block editor settings, layout options moving to the block editor, option to change footer credits text via the Customizer). Are there any other user options you would like to see in Genesis in the future?”
Specifically addressing the footer credits change, Mike suggested:
“If we’re moving footer credits in, I think adding post meta/info settings in (the other stuff from Genesis Simple Edits) makes sense. Not as asked for, but footer credits and how to change post meta (author/comments/etc) stuff are things we are asked about in support all the time.”
And Bill mentioned:
“If you plan to add footer credits—among other things—into the framework, I think a general `remove_theme_support( ‘genesis-simple-edits’ );` should remove them, for those of us who don’t want them Rather than having to remove each new addition with every new release.”
David asked this question:
“How far should Genesis take all of this? (Would control over fonts be going too far, for example?)”
His question was met with a resounding echo:
“Yes fonts, colors, etc is too far IMO.”
“As someone who wrote the abandoned Prose 2, yes, fonts and formatting are too much.”
This led to a lengthy conversation around functionality/options being made available a plugin—or suite of plugins, ala Jetpack. Of course, there are a lot of ways to skin this cat, because the variety in user types—from novice bloggers to developers—needs to be considered.
We finished the meeting with some conversation around performance, which I know will play a key role in the future of Genesis and future meetings.
As Genesis continues to evolve, the future seems bright. I know that our team is busy working on bug fixes, enhancements, and listening to feedback from the Shapers as well as other members of the community.
Of course, a lot will be determined as future iterations of Gutenberg are deployed. As some of these changes make their way into WordPress Core, we’ll be following along so we can ensure seamless integration and optimal experiences for our users.