Think back to the very first time you installed a WordPress theme. Do you remember what that experience was like? Was it a joyful one?
Did you get up and going in minutes bringing your voice, your products, or your services to the world?
Chances are, like millions of other WordPress users, you didn’t.
Instead, you likely exclaimed “Hey?! My site looks nothing like the theme demo!”.
Most of us are familiar with this experience either directly or through supporting others.
The underlying issue driving this experience is that when loading a new theme the demo content for that theme (which often helps make the theme experience compelling and beautiful) does not automatically load along with the theme. This results in frazzled users fumbling through documentation on how to load demo content, getting frustrated, and in many cases abandoning WordPress altogether. Yikes!
“My site looks nothing like the theme demo!”, is what I affectionately call “The most annoying problem on the Internet”.
It is annoying. It is frustrating. It can be a disappointment. And it could be sooo much better.
Empowering builders to deliver joyful themes with Genesis 2.8 & Gutenberg
When WP Engine acquired StudioPress in June 2018, we made a commitment to vastly increase the investment in the R&D efforts for Genesis. We wanted to deliver a roadmap that helped the community of builders that rely on Genesis take advantage of some of the biggest opportunities to delight the customers they build for, empower the content creators they serve, or improve their own ability to bring their voice, their products, or their services to market faster.
After interviewing people and companies from around the Genesis community, it became clear that helping to improve the demo content loading experience and helping Genesis builders take advantage of the power of the new block editor in WordPress (Gutenberg), were top priorities for the community.
This is why we’re proud to announce that as of Wednesday January 16, the new Genesis 2.8 will be available and includes powerful new features that address these areas and empower builders, theme companies, and anyone in the Genesis community to deliver joyful WordPress experiences that “just work”.
One-Click Demo Install with Gutenberg Blocks
Genesis 2.8 includes a new onboarding feature theme that authors can use to define which demo content is loaded when a user installs a new theme. One-Click Demo Install makes it easy for theme authors to load in plugins and perfectly-designed Gutenberg blocks onto the home page of a new site using that theme.
See it in action:
The result of these new capabilities in Genesis 2.8 is a joyful experience when installing a new theme, reducing the time to load demo content and dependent plugins from hours, days, or weeks to minutes.
Additionally, the default Gutenberg blocks and custom blocks which can be loaded with the demo content can be re-used by the content creator on any other page/post thus delivering an even more powerful and modular experience when building new content in the future.
Not only does the experience of setting up a new site “just work” for the user, but the re-usability of the Gutenberg blocks means the experience keeps “just working” over and over again.
These exciting new capabilities have been added to Genesis 2.8 for the benefit of the entire Genesis community.
“Genesis 2.8 marks an exciting step forward for child theme developers like us, that will benefit our customers as well. Initial site setup has always been a WordPress pain point and the new on boarding and config tools make that dramatically and more powerful. Prepackaged Gutenberg layouts for home pages and more are going to revolutionize WordPress themes the same way Genesis’ widgetized layouts did a decade ago.”— Jon Brown, 9seeds
We will be updating the StudioPress themes to take advantage of the new content onboarding capabilities in Genesis 2.8 so everyone buying a StudioPress theme directly or using a StudioPress theme for free on WP Engine will be able to take advantage of the power of having a faster and more powerful experience when setting up new sites.
Genesis-based theme companies can also benefit from the new onboarding feature by incorporating it into the themes they build. We’re super excited to see how theme companies in the Genesis community will deliver even more compelling, intuitive, and useful experiences to their customers!
Finally, we’re also excited to see the impact that adding the ability to define plugins and demo content can have for agencies and in-house developers. Genesis onboarding is another powerful tool in the toolbelt of developers, agencies, and freelancers to help them get projects done more quickly and profitably.
The Genesis R&D team will be adding additional capabilities to the onboarding tool in the future including the ability to load in sidebar/menu blocks when they’re available in WordPress #core, loading demo content into any type of page/post, and a wide variety of other joy-inducing content experiences.
There is so much more we plan to deliver through this technology, but we’re super excited for the role Genesis 2.8 and the brand new demo content loader can play in building joyful WordPress experiences that help solve “the most annoying problem on the Internet”.
Empowering developers to create maintainable themes
The second major feature that was added to Genesis 2.8 is the Genesis Configuration API. This helps theme developers organize configuration information such as Gutenberg color palettes and font sizes in one place, and improves the readability and maintainability of child themes.
Theme creators can use the Configuration API to store theme specific design configuration for Gutenberg blocks, including editor color palettes, editor font sizes, and theme support arrays.
By making it easier for builders to deliver experiences that are easy for content creators to use, yet are in alignment with the beautiful designs they create, everyone using Genesis can take advantage of the power of Gutenberg while still respecting the style of their brand.
Joyful experiences for the content creator and the builder
Our hope is that the combination of One-Click Demo Install and the Block Style Guide make it even easier for theme builders to create compelling, intuitive, and useful experiences for the content creators they serve.
As we continue to invest in and evolve the Genesis Framework, we’ll expand on and release more new features to help theme builders deliver even more joy in the experiences they create.
If you’re an existing Genesis user, after January 16, you can update to version 2.8 by hitting the update link in your WordPress dashboard. If you’re an agency, developer, or freelancer keen to get started with the new onboarding and configuration features, you can find information on the new Genesis developer documentation site.