Genesis Shapers meetings are always full of great discussions, but May and June in particular were PACKED with exciting conversation around Full Site Editing, the future of the Genesis Framework, the launch of Genesis Pro, and more.
We’ll get into the details shortly, but first, here are recaps from previous meetings if you’d like to catch up:
Genesis Shapers meeting recap for May 2020
The May Shapers meeting continued discussions on Full Site Editing and Genesis X / Genesis Pro. We also discussed the Genesis Community. With David Vogelpohl moderating, he kicked off the discussion with this question:
Should we allow tasteful self promotions in the forums, Slack, and Facebook group for freelancers/agencies graciously helping people with not-supported theme customization questions? Should we just direct these people with these kinds of questions to “gigs” areas instead?
Jon Brown didn’t hesitate and said “No. Promotion is a slippery slope and always goes downhill fast.”
Remkus de Vries agreed and added “There will be good players, but the amount of abuse you’re going to see is inevitable and large.”
David Vogelpohl suggested pointing people to a “Gigs” area or referring them to the Genesis Developers page on StudioPress.
Robin Cornett responded that “I don’t think just linking to the Genesis Developers page is enough, as that’s a “gated” list. There are good people who would be totally worth hiring for gigs who are not on that list.”
David pointed out that WP Engine made that list more open than it had been in the past by adding a “Community Developers” section that pretty much any freelancer or agency can join and get listed.
For context on the original question, David Vogelpohl added “The driver here is that people are asking questions that are likely too much for social / forum post reply and giving them direction and options for someone who can help them out seems positive.”
Mike Hemberger suggested that instead of building out a Gigs marketplace (no small task), that StudioPress could add a “Gigs” section in the forum.
David Vogelpohl summed up the discussion with “I think this topic for me is about how to balance rewards for those who help others with keeping the communities as free of spam as possible.”
The next few questions centered around Genesis X and Genesis Pro. As a reminder, Genesis X is a reinvention of the Genesis Framework as a plugin for use with themes that support full site editing. It will be freely available on WordPress.org and will be fully supported for anyone who has support for Genesis today (e.g. StudioPress, WP Engine, & Flywheel customers).
You received an email on May 1 with questions seeking your feedback on the latest release for Genesis X covering header scripts. Do you have any quick feedback you’d like to share?
Nauhai Badiola responded that he’d “tested in on Local and it worked as expected.”
Bill Erickson stated that it “Works as expected.” and is a “straightforward feature that we need on most sites.”
I echoed Bill’s thoughts and added that global scripts are a feature I use on most site builds to add tracking analytics. I like that the feature is “baked into” Genesis and that I don’t have to use a separate plugin to add site-wide scripts.
Jonathan Jeter added “We use header/footer scripts on all the sites we create, but usually manage them via GTM, Tealium or Adobe Tag Manager.”
The general consensus was that including the ability to add global scripts via Genesis is a valuable feature.
In addition to making Genesis X available on wordpress.org, what other key benefits / features should we without a doubt include for those who create sites AND people who make premium themes with Genesis?
Jonathan Jeter noted that “our biggest issue we’re facing right now with Genesis and Web dev in general is accessibility.”
Bill Erickson added that “A big issue we’ve had is clients say they want an “accessible theme” but don’t realize the biggest accessibility issues are due to their content, not the theme.”
Nick Croft, who’s currently working on his WAS certification, stated that “a11y (accessibility) in a theme is … not 100% possible. What I mean is the theme only contains a small fraction of the output. Most of it is content.”
In addition to accessibility concerns and features, another feature Shapers value is hooks and filters.
Remkus de Vries asked “Have the hooks and filters been mentioned already in this context?”
Nahuai Badiola brought up a good point. “I’m curious about how much of the «classic» Genesis features can be ported to Genesis X. I’d love to keep the hooks but I’m not sure if it’s possible or makes sense on FSE.”
Jon Brown responded “This remains hard to answer” and expressed “concern about content block parity with Genesis.” In other words, if content blocks come to replace the “standard” widgets (i.e. featured posts, author bio, etc.), will they remain “as flexible (ie. hooks in filters) as the old widgets.”
Nick Croft added that “I’d like to see a script/style loader for blocks that enqueues based on what is happening in the content.” Nick Cernis asked “Do you see this as a problem for Genesis to solve, or for core to solve? I think there are some open tickets for this in the Gutenberg repo, for example.” Nick Croft responded “I’m thinking if GX is loading several scripts/styles it should try to do so when needed, not 100% of the time.” Nick Cernis said “I share that goal. I’d like to use a standardized WP API to achieve it if possible, but we can also explore alternatives or contribute that API.”
David Vogelpohl summed up the discussion on this question: “analogs for hooks/filters are most important, blocks may be a good way to address this so long as they’re the “right” blocks, and we need to strike the right balance of what’s in GX or what could be disabled in GX.“
What are your general questions / observations after the public announcements for Genesis X/Pro?
The conversation got very lively at this point!
Jon Brown: “I’m still really struggling to see the roadmap for what is GenX vs. GenPro. I have a problem that I don’t have any idea what’s actually going to be in GenX vs GenP.”
Robin Cornett: “The blog post about Gen Pro confused me, to be honest. I agree–right now I don’t know what piece is supposed to be doing what.”
Bill Erickson: “The announcement post was very confusing. After reading the whole post, I thought Genesis Pro was the new name for GenX, then watched the video and realized it was Atomic Blocks Pro”
Nathan Rice asked “would it help to have a very simple, no marketing-y speak, straight to the point doc/image explaining where we’re headed in terms of product packaging?”
Remkus de Vries: “Absolutely.”
Nahuai Badiloa commented “I’m excited to play with Genesis Pro to see all it’s potential.
Regarding Genesis Pro pricing, I’m afraid that it could be a bit steep for Spanish market.”
David Vogelpohl summarized the discussion with:
- The story is confusing and we should do more work to be clear.
- One way to be clear is to create a post detailing our roadmap, where features will live, and do all of that through a development lens.
- We should share that post with you all for feedback ahead of publishing.
- Major announcements like GP would also be served by getting feedback from Shapers ahead of time.
- The price point for GP may be too much for certain types of customers.
And with that, time was up and the May Shapers meeting concluded.
On a related note, WP Engine hosted their virtual Summit on June 11, 2020. Bryan Smith, Sr Product Manager for WP Engine, gave a presentation that provided great clarity on Genesis Pro and the future of Genesis products. The discussion addressed many of the concerns/confusion brought up in the May Shapers meeting and is well worth a watch.
Genesis Shapers meeting recap for June 2020
This meeting’s agenda centered around Code Snippets, Page Builders, DIY, & SEO. David Vogelpohl moderated and kicked off the meeting with this question:
What is your favorite repository of code snippets that help in the Genesis context? Do you maintain your own library of snippets? Would you be willing to share your snippets if we expanded the snippet wiki found at https://genesis.community?
Jennifer Bourn, Anita Carter, Mike Hemberger, Nahuai Badiola, and Bill Erickson all maintain their own libraries.
Lauren Gaige said she maintains her own and also uses Sridhar’s, Bill’s and the Genesis docs.
Robin Cornett said “Some of the most helpful for me, especially because he documents them well, are the ones Bill Erickson provides.”
Bill responded that “I’d be happy to share my snippets in a wiki as long as it’s a fairly automated process. I don’t want to maintain them in two separate locations.”
Jon Brown said he’d love a centralized repository if it was searchable and “it was editable/had history like Gists/could be easily contributed to in a slightly moderated way.”
Moving on, David Vogelpohl asks…
When you use a traditional “Page Builder” plugin, which one do you like best? Why?
Anita Carter commented that she’s “seen a ton of the Bold Grid installed when doing support. I have also seen a lot of users installing Elementor.” As for her personal favorite, she prefers Beaver Builder for getting things done quickly.
Nick Croft and Robin Cornett chimed in that they prefer to move customers away from page builders and over to the block editor.
Lauren Gaige said “I very rarely use a page builder personally, but when I do it’s Elementor. I also am seeing a lot of my own customer base starting to use Elementor because they are beyond frustrated with Gutenberg. Can’t say I blame them either. I think the biggest frustration right now is that the back and front ends don’t match well with Gutenberg but do with page builders.”
Bill Erickson responded “I know I’m in the minority when it comes to WordPress / Genesis developers, but I never use page builder plugins. Pre-Gutenberg we built
sites complex landing pages with custom metaboxes (ACF or Carbon Fields) and Shortcode UI. Now we build everything in the block editor with core and custom ACF blocks.”
Brian Gardner jokingly dismissed page builders altogether in favor of the Custom HTML block. “It’s like the new Front Page Widgets technology, but you don’t have to register widget areas anymore.”
What features do you think the block editor is missing that would make you use it more often?
Ryan Muray immediately jumped in with “Dynamic field/images/objects. For example selecting the image block and referencing a featured image from a post.“
Jon Brown wanted to see media queries.
Bill Erickson said “I wish they’d stop changing core blocks (see core/button => core/buttons, gradient options). We work hard to ensure the block editor matches the frontend, then 3 months later things are broken due to additions/changes.”
Do you think Genesis is a product which is helpful for DIY site owners or primarily developers? Is DIY the domain of Genesis premium child themes? Why?
Anita Carter responded “From my experience and the users I support – it’s not user friendly. Most of the buyers I work with are looking for ways to modify their purchased themes on their own without paying for customization, i.e., add their own Google fonts, add their own colors, change font sizes…”
Nick Croft added “I think Genesis core is difficult for DIY users. There is a pretty big reliance on an understanding of PHP. I think the child themes and plugins make it more usable for the DIY market. For example, Genesis Simple Hooks is a HUGE deal for DIY who can follow copy paste tutorials but won’t bring their entire site down using that plugin.”
Robin Cornett said “If you are a DIY user who is either happy with the default version of the theme, or who is willing to try some PHP, then it will work for you–but I think there are a lot of middle ground DIY users who, like Anita said, want to change things which require CSS/PHP (or both), and aren’t necessarily ready to write actual code.”
Bill Erickson responded with “I think Genesis core is mostly a developer tool. You can make it DIY-friendly with plugins (Simple Edits, Design Palette Pro) and specific child themes. But its core feature set is optimized around developers building lean websites without the overhead of DIY tools / a Page Builder.”
David Vogelpohl added that the Genesis product team views Genesis as a tool that helps developers build sites that content creators love to use. Premium Genesis child themes are a wonderful example of that principle. Genesis was used to build the theme by a professional developer, but a DIY user could easily use that theme to build a website.
If you’ve had the opportunity to test Genesis X for the first time or as part of recent updates to the experiment, what features do you wish Genesis X had?
Nahuai Badiola reiterated the importance of hooks and said “Every hook that still makes sense on FSE.” Remkus de Vries agreed.
Regarding the discussion on hooks, Bryan Smith responded that “From our discovery work we’ve found that with FSE, hooks are largely unnecessary. The block areas will easily supply the necessary output locations in largely the same way we use action hooks currently.”
Phil Johnston added “To expand on what Bryan is saying, there’s a lot of unknowns with FSE still of course, but on the current path, if a page is made entirely out of blocks, that is, the whole page, none of it is hard-coded anymore. Hooks as we’ve known them are hardcoded into Genesis, giving you a solid and predictable place to expect hooks to fire.
But with FSE, everything is change-able by the users, and thus a hook cannot predictably exist. So it’s maybe less that hooks are unnecessary, and more that they are somewhat impossible. The lack of ability to hard-code things in the theme files removes those predictable hook placements and replaces them with block flexibility. Obviously that has pros and cons.
It is possible or maybe worth considering that a system like Genesis could force a hook into a specific location, if that were something people found extremely valuable still. That would obviously have pros and cons as well.”
Nahuai Badiola asked if the Genesis Onboarding feature would be ported over to Genesis X and Bryan Smith responded that it’s part of the current plan.
Jon Brown wants as many features as possible to make their way from Genesis Framework to Genesis X but acknowledges the challenge in answering the question “would that still apply with full site editing?”
If you use Genesis’ SEO capabilities what features do you use / want to make sure we preserve in Genesis X? Should we add any SEO capabilities?
The responses were mixed.
Remkus de Vries said “I think there’s a place for SEO features, I guess, but the reality is that the plugins out there provide a much better experience. And stay up to date way better.”
Lauren Gaige agreed and said “Yoast SEO always gets installed anyway.”
While Jon Brown personally doesn’t use Genesis’ SEO features, he says that there is value for some users.
Robin Cornett said “I only use the Genesis SEO features if the user has no intention of doing any SEO work and therefore doesn’t need Yoast, but the OpenGraph features tend to be desired even by those clients–for example, having the featured image show on Facebook links.”
Jonathan Jeter added “If Genesis is for the DIY, I think having a place for meta data, title tags and open graph I think should be readily available.”
Have you seen any examples of people in the community building social good websites with Genesis? Who can we celebrate?
Nahuai Badiola mentioned that his colleague Esther made a custom child theme for our podcast Freelandev: https://www.freelandev.com.
David Vogelpohl highlighted that “the US Women’s national soccer team used Revolution Pro to build their protest site for equal pay.”
Anita Carter pointed to Mary’s Fight: https://marysfight.org/.
Lauren Gaige shared a site built by one of her customers based on the Thyme theme: https://dudethatcookz.com/.
With that, the June Shaper’s meeting was officially in the books!
We know this combined recap was a long one. Thanks for your interest in reading about what’s happening “behind the scenes” with Genesis. This is an exciting time in WordPress history and a great time to be a part of the Genesis community as we work to move forward in a way that brings you maximum benefit from WordPress and full site editing.
Stay tuned, we’ll continue to keep you updated with all things Genesis and WordPress.
As a reminder, the Genesis Shapers are a global, hand-selected, and diverse group of people representing companies from across the community who share a representative voice for the strategic direction of Genesis, which is combined with the feedback we receive directly from customers across social channels, and through Genesis WP on Slack.