On May 9th, 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, and April 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, Gary Jones, Greg Boser, Jennifer Bourn, Jon Brown, Jonathan Jeter, Lauren Gaige, Lee Anthony, Mike Hemberger, Robin Cornett, Sara Dunn, Sridhar Katakam, and Tonya Mork.
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 much demand do you have from clients for WooCommerce sites?
- What could we be doing better with WooCommerce?
- In addition to Schema, what could we be doing better with Yoast?
- What other plugin integrations should we be doing a better job with?
- What other technologies could be integrated with Genesis that are important to Genesis developers?
Demand for WooCommerce Sites
With the rise of WordPress and eCommerce websites over the past few years, this question/topic was definitely something that I was interested in.
David led the conversation by asking the shapers “How much demand do you have from clients for WooCommerce sites?”
Bill Erickson jumped right in:
“I get a fair number of inquiries for ecommerce sites (most don’t ask for WC by name) but I personally pass on them.”
When asked why, Bill said:
”I haven’t had the time to learn WooCommerce deeply and would rather have an ecommerce expert handle that portion. I’ll often partner with Justin Sainton from Zao – his team handles ecommerce, we do the theme development.”
Jon Brown from 9seeds added:
“We avoid(ed) eCommerce for a long time too, favored membership a lot… Now we’ve kind of come around and do a lot of straight eCommerce/WooCommerce website builds.”
There was additional conversation around WooCommerce websites, which was great to see. Obviously a need exists in our space, and it is being filled by some of the Shapers.
Lauren Gaige continued the conversation:
“For me, I’d say about 75% of my customers have WooCommerce already or plan to put it on their site in the very near future.“
And Mike Hemberger echoed that:
“About 50-75% of our clients use Woo. Many of those are Membership sites, and we love WooMemberships.“
Jennifer Bourn also said:
“I’m seeing a large increase in inquiries about eCommerce in general and Woo is the most widely requested when they have a specific request. In our local meetup community, lots of people are interested in eCommerce, but few actually have an eCommerce site or Commerce plugins installed. (We just asked this on Tuesday to a room of about 70)”
Aside from WooCommerce, it seems as though the other alternative recommended by Shapers is Shopify. For grins I signed up for a Shopify site and was amazed at 1) how easy it was to sign up and 2) how good it looked out of the box.
Sara Dunn had this to say:
“I honestly tend to refer eCommerce only sites to Shopify, but that’s probably a different conversation. Too many things to configure and that need to be tacked on with WooCommerce, in my opinion. The b advantage with Shopify having their own support and not so many plugins that can break each other.”
To round out this part of the conversation about the demand from clients for eCommerce websites, Jonathan Jeter of Click Here Labs said:
“We do both WooCommerce and Shopify. Currently working on Shopify certification to use their API to integrate with sites we build.”
Genesis and WooCommerce Compatibility
David transitioned us into conversation Genesis and WooCommerce:
“Sticking to Woo though… What could we (Genesis) be doing better with WooCommerce?”
Carrie Dils jumped in:
“Theme-wise, more of them with support for WooCommerce styles. It’d be nice if WooCommerce scripts only loaded on pages where they’re needed, but that’s a feature that belongs in Woo, not Genesis.”
Robin Cornett suggested:
“I would like to feel like the Genesis Connect plugin is more actively supported/maintained. I am sure I don’t have a great handle on it, but it doesn’t seem to be at this point.”
Jennifer Bourn added:
“Themes that account for the WooCommerce styles and require less custom code to customize and more small CSS tweaks are much more appealing because it saves us time and it reduces project cost and make the projects more affordable for the client.”
Mike had some words of wisdom here:
“It does feel a bit weird that Genesis doesn’t work with WooCommerce out of the box, but I’d be nervous to get it in core because the pace of releases. If an update is needed for Woo compat, then a G Connect update could be out way faster.”
Sidenote: I agree with Mike 100% about inclusion into Genesis Core, for the very reason he stated.
There was some really good perspective given in this part of the discussion, and one very interesting comment came from Jon Brown:
“A large number (50% of first time support tickets) are because they haven’t installed and activated Genesis Connect.”
This lead to some back-and-forth dialogue around the one-click setup feature that we’ve added to Genesis this year.
David summarized things well here:
“So to summarize these thoughts, Genesis Connect is the go-to approach, it needs some love, and it’s possible pulling Connect into core could be a good idea, but tricky…also detecting/alerting about Connect might also be helpful.”
Genesis Compatibility with Yoast
David introduced this segment by asking, “In addition to Schema, what could we be doing better with Yoast?”
Bill had some happy words to say:
“Other than Schema, Genesis works perfectly with Yoast.”
To which Mike agreed:
“I think Schema is it too.”
Bill continued with some really helpful suggestions:
“1. Simple way to disable Genesis schema, either with a filter or theme supports. I think filter is best because plugins would be interacting with it, not themes.
2. Consider how best to step out of the way when a plugin provides Schema, in the same way we remove SEO metaboxes and breadcrumbs.
Genesis and Other Plugins
We moved the conversation away from Yoast, and opened it up to include any plugins. David asked:
“What other plugin integrations should we be doing a better job with?”
“Insights on how many Genesis users have Easy Digital Downloads installed? There are similar issues ‘connecting’ EDD to Genesis as with WooCommerce.”
“As an FYI, I spoke to Sandhills just yesterday about EDD and Genesis. We’re kicking off some testing.”
That’s good news, y’all!
Jennifer asked a question that I resonated with:
“Has anyone thought about disabling things like comments, emojis, etc? We install those plugins on quite a few sites and it would be awesome to have that option at the get-go to turn those off and not need the plugins.”
I don’t know that there’s much we can do in Genesis for this, but as a person who advocates for less, I see where the question comes from.
Additional Technologies with Genesis
As we were drawing close to the allotted time, David asked this final question:
“What other technologies (not plugins) could be integrated with Genesis that are important to Genesis developers?”
“I’d love to see a CSS Tree Shaker plugin. Now that I’ve been working on AMP sites it’s been incredibly useful for keeping css size down. Basically the AMP plugin, without AMP and the 50kb restriction.”
“I’d be curious if StudioPress/Genesis is/has dug into modern responsive image handling stuff… . and if genesis_get_image() etc… could be “more modern” in its approaches.”
There are ways to do this via a filter, as Mike pointed out, and will defer to Nathan and the engineering team to decide if this is something that can be accomodated.
This was (yet) another great Genesis Shapers meeting, and I am always thrilled to see how much conversation we have around certain things. It’s obvious to me that those who design and develop with Genesis are met with many challenges—from client requests to limitations with software.
I love to hear about the process Shapers take to address these challenges, and certainly appreciate the time and energy they put into being a part of this group and the feedback that is given.
As David pointed out, it seems as though this meeting might have left us with more questions than when we started, but in my opinion, that’s not a bad thing.
Genesis 3.0 is coming June 19th, and we couldn’t be more excited.
This release has been months in the making, and we’re thrilled to share with you some details about the release, what you can do today to prepare for this version, as well as run the beta a full 3 weeks before the official reveal.