Genesis is arguably the most popular and well-regarded theme framework for WordPress. The clean and efficient code, as well as the large number of modern and attractive child themes available for Genesis, has helped cement its place as the default framework for many WordPress users and developers.
However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement, so today we will be covering some plugins that have been created to extend the functionality of Genesis and add some new features into the mix.
The Best Plugins for Genesis-Powered WordPress Sites
As a testament to how popular this framework is, there are many plugins that have been developed by third parties to add new features to any sites using this framework and its child themes.
While a few of these plugins have been created to fix certain issues, such as incompatibilities with other plugins, most of these plugins have been created to make it even easier to work with this framework, and easily add new features to your website.
Here is our pick of the most useful plugins for getting more out of the Genesis Framework:
Genesis Design Palette Pro
This is one plugin I looked at recently for another site, and it’s one that allows you to customise some of the settings that affect your site’s appearance. This isn’t a layout editor or page builder, but it’s still a useful tool for anyone who wants to change the styling of the visual elements of their site.
With this plugin installed, you can use the visual interface to change things like the fonts, text colours, and background colours of the different page elements, and things like that. While admittedly all this can be done by editing the CSS in the stylesheets for your theme, this plugin gives you a way to make these changes without editing any code.
Genesis Design Palette Pro also includes a preview panel which is displayed alongside the editor. This allows you to instantly see how your customisation will look on your site when they go live. This saves you having to switch tabs or windows or anything like that, in order to see your changes and how they will impact the appearance of your site.
If you are using any of the most popular StudioPress child themes for Genesis, such as Metro Pro and Minimum Pro, then you can get some extra features for this plugin for use with those themes. However, GDPP will work with any Genesis child theme, providing it’s been built with Genesis 2.0 markup and a few other conditions.
If you want a quick and easy way to change the colours, fonts, and other visual elements on your site Genesis Design Palette Pro is one plugin that can let you do so without directly editing any CSS.
Genesis Extender from Cobalt Apps is a plugin that lets you customize any child theme for Genesis, giving you lots of time saving ways to modify your site’s appearance, without the need to delve deep into the code yourself.
The plugin comes with lots of included layouts for creating homepages, including layouts with multiple columns, and combinations of columns and rows. Another feature of Genesis Extender is the ability to work with hooks through a visual interface, and add content to be displayed on your site around specific hooks.
You can then also setup custom conditionals to give you even more options about how that content is displayed, such as only on certain pages or posts, or groups of posts.
This conditional feature also allows you to create custom widget areas, and then display them depending on certain conditions, such as when a specific post or page is being viewed, or content from a certain category.
There is also a handy CSS editing feature that lets you edit the CSS on the frontend of your site, and see those changes, without the need to open the various CSS files for your theme, and then edit them elsewhere, before uploading them again.
Overall, the user interface for the plugin does have a lot of options and settings on it; however they are all well-organized which makes it easy to find the settings for the type of changes you want to make to your site’s appearance.
This is a much more advanced offering than Genesis Design Palette Pro, so power users who want more control over a wider range of components of their site will find it more useful. While those with less requirements or experience might find it a bit of a step too far.
Genesis Simple Sidebars
If you like the idea of creating multiple custom sidebars and then displaying them on a per post, or per page basis, but don’t need all the extra functionality of the Genesis Extender plugin, then this free plugin is just what you are looking for.
The Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin adds a simple administration interface to your WordPress dashboard, from which you can create new widget areas. Then when you create a post or page, you can select which sidebar to show for that content.
This is a simple but effective plugin that allows you to easily create and manage custom and dynamic sidebars on sites using the Genesis framework.
Genesis Connect for WooCommerce
Genesis and the WooCommerce eCommerce toolkit for WordPress are two market leaders in their respective fields. If you are combining these two tools to make an online stored powered by WooCommerce, running on the Genesis framework, then this plugin will be of great interest to you.
Due to some areas of incompatibility between Genesis child themes and WooCommerce, there may be some formatting and presentation issues when using these two products together. This can affect the individual product pages, and some other elements of your store, and sometimes also the position of the sidebars.
You can find out a bit more about how this plugin manages to resolve these issues in this article covering WooCommerce integration with Genesis child themes. However, this free plugin is fairly easy to use and is well worth taking a look at if you plan to use these two products together, or are doing so already.
Genesis eNews Extended
Although this feature was removed from Genesis in the move to version 2.0, it lives on via a free plugin. The feature that this plugin reintroduces to your site is one that allows you to add an email newsletter signup form to your sidebar in the form of a widget.
Many Genesis child themes include nice signup forms for your newsletter, so installing this plugin is a must for anyone who wants to grow a subscriber list, and help their readers stay in touch with their site. The plugin is very popular with a little seen 100% five star rating and over 110,000 downloads.
eNews Extended works with many of the best email newsletter services including AWeber and MailChimp. While this might not be the most exciting plugin for Genesis, it is a useful one.
Other Plugins for Extending Genesis
While the above are some popular and interesting options, there are plenty more plugins out there for enhancing and extending Genesis:
- Genesis Printstyle Plus: create printer friendly versions of your content
- Genesis Co-Authors Plus: list multiple authors for a single post
- Genesis Featured Page Extras: upgrade the featured page widget in Genesis
- Genesis Staff Bio Grid: list your staff with featured images and bios
- Genesis Custom Footer: change the footer credits from within your dashboard
- Genesis Widgetized Footer: adds widgets to your site’s footer
You can also view a selection of the other free plugins related to Genesis by following the genesis tag at the WordPress.org plugin directory.
Genesis is popular framework and anyone using it, whether with an off the shelf child theme, or a custom built creation, can benefit from the many free and premium plugins available, that allow you to add even more great features and functionality to your site.
If you know of any useful plugins for making Genesis powered sites even more powerful, please leave a comment below.