Whether you’re setting up or revamping your website, one of the biggest decisions is which WordPress theme to choose. And with the nearly limitless selection of themes offered, it’s pretty difficult to avoid becoming overwhelmed by choice.
One of the big debates in the world of WordPress is whether to opt for a theme framework or plump for a standalone theme. With that in mind, we’re going to compare two of the theme giants: Genesis and Avada.
This isn’t a straightforward comparison because Genesis and Avada are very different beasts – it’s a little like comparing boxers of different weights. So let’s start with the basics.
Genesis by StudioPress is the most famous, and the most widely recommended, theme framework, loved by developers, designers, and end users alike.
Like all frameworks, it sits on your WordPress installation and controls the underlying design, features, and functionality of your site. You can use the framework on its own or adapt it to suit your needs, or add a child theme by choosing from the wide range available or coding your own.
Avada by ThemeFusion is the best-selling theme of all time on ThemeForest, the largest theme marketplace. It’s a multipurpose theme that’s jam-packed with features, page templates, and customization settings and options that can be modified to create any type of website without any coding knowledge.
Avada’s developers have expanded on the core functionalities of WordPress to build a theme that covers practically every eventuality. This makes Avada a multipurpose theme with very few rivals, and is behind its rise to become a bestseller.
Genesis is the core, parent theme and it looks great straight out of the box. It’s clean, responsive, and provides an excellent foundation for your website. You can work directly with this, but one of the key attractions of Genesis is the wide range of child themes – over 40 – that you use to customize the appearance of your site. They fit into a number of broad categories, including business, enterprise, magazine-style, photography, and real estate. While none of the child themes would win prizes for innovation, that isn’t the draw here. Instead they focus on providing tried-and-tested designs that are professional, unique, clean, and modern, and give you an excellent base to build on.
The beauty of Avada is its complete flexibility that allows you to build virtually any design style. A single purchase of Avada comes with a number of demos that are designed for different types of websites, including travel, fashion, agency, churches and nonprofits, architecture, lifestyle, and so on.
You can export any of these demos into your site with a single click, then customize it as you wish. Alternatively, you can combine any of the features with the classic site by simply copying and pasting the code you require.
Genesis is a developer-friendly theme that’s built using HTML5, ensuring the framework and all themes are 100% responsive and that they look great on all screen sizes.
It comes with a number of powerful customization options, allowing you to choose between six page layouts, customize how your header and content will appear, do basic visual changes, enable/disable breadcrumbs, and much more from the main dashboard. What’s more, the theme customizer has a live preview so you can see your changes in real time.
Widgets add powerful functionalities to your site – such as social media sharing, a tag cloud, most popular posts, opt-in forms, etc. – without the need to tinker with any code. And StudioPress has developed a number of specific WordPress plugins for use with Genesis.
It also ranks highly for SEO, with StudioPress bringing in Yoast expert, Joost De Valk, to ensure basic SEO is inbuilt.
However, there are downsides to Genesis. Although it’s promoted as being highly flexible and customizable, this is only really true if you have development skills. There’s a limit to the level of customization you can achieve via the dashboard to change fonts, colors, etc. meaning the average WordPress user can’t make wide-ranging choices without delving into the code. On the plus side, the lack of options results in a much less bloated site, ensuring fast loading times.
Avada is also responsive and comes with a huge list of features that give you complete, easy customization control over almost every aspect of the site. It benefits from pre-built page templates, solid coding, consistent updates and built-in sliders.
Users can import the demo content, copy and paste the code they want, or use the Fusion Builder, an intuitive tool that allows you to create pages to your exact specifications using drag-and-drop elements. The options control panel is extensive, giving you the ability to customize and tweak all areas of your website. Avada gives you the power to create rich pages that break free of the constraints of the WordPress editor, or you can create something very simple and effective.
However, this flexibility has its downsides. With so many features and tools at your disposal, it’s easy to get carried away and go a little overboard with sliders and animation effects, leaving you with a slow-loading, overblown site. You also need to beware of decision fatigue, and getting so bogged down with options that you delay your site from going live. Plus, it can be quite complex to fully get to grips with if you’re a beginner.
The Genesis framework is $59.95, or you can purchase the framework with a child theme for $99.95. If you’re a developer, the Pro Plus All-Theme Package –the framework plus every child theme, current and future, including third party themes – is a fantastic deal. This is available for $499.95, a saving of over $1,000.
It’s worth noting that returning customers get a discount, and can purchase child themes individually. And once you’ve bought Genesis and any/all of the child themes you can use them on as many sites as you wish, which is excellent value for money.
Avada is available from ThemeForest for a one-time fee of $59, and this includes all the different design demos. However, you can only use it on a single website – if you want to use it on more than one site, you must purchase a fresh license.
When you buy Genesis, you immediately get unlimited access to their dedicated support staff, comprised of WordPress and Genesis experts, who answer queries within 24 hours on a weekday and 48 hours on a weekend. You also have access to the membership forums, where you can discuss problems or issues with other users or hire an experienced developer, and to the documentation section which is full of resources and tutorials, including a dedicated section for developers.
To date, ThemeFusion has only produced the Avada theme so they’ve been able to concentrate on doing a good job, and this is evident in their support which is second to none. The theme comes with documentation, a knowledge base, and video tutorials. Best of all, they’ve developed a reputation for outstanding customer service, with emails being answered within 24 hours on a weekday and 48 at weekends, though it’s usually much quicker than that. You can rate the service you’ve received, and they keep your ticket open until you’re completely satisfied with the response.
Genesis or Avada?
So which is the best option for you? Well, like so many things, it depends on your needs, and the time, money, and skills at your disposal.
In terms of cost, both Avada and the Genesis framework cost roughly the same. Avada comes with all design demos giving you complete flexibility over your site, but you can only use it once, whereas with Genesis you need to buy the child themes separately but you can use them as much as you like. This gives Avada the edge if you’re building a single site, but makes Genesis excellent value for developers and designers.
Genesis offers a good solution to beginners who want a premium, off-the-shelf theme that’s well supported and excellent for SEO, however it can be complicated to begin with, especially if you want to customize it beyond the basics and need to delve into the code. It’s primarily built for intermediate and advanced professionals, who are prepared to invest in an excellent quality tool that acts as a solid foundation to build their own themes on. It does lack the multi-functionality and feature set offered by Avada, but its focus is on simplicity, ease of use, clean design, and fast, efficient code.
Avada appeals to everybody from complete beginners to advanced professionals. It’s dense with settings, options, and features, and even comes with external plugins such as the LayerSlider WP and Revolution Slider, as well as an excellent selection of layouts and the Fusion Builder tool. This multifunctional, flexible theme gives you the tools to create any type of website you want. It can take some time to familiarize yourself with all the features, but if you’re prepared to put in some work your options are pretty much unlimited.
Do you use Genesis or Avada? Which theme do you prefer and why? Tell us below.