GeneratePress Review: Free vs Premium
Published 11 months ago | Last update 9 months ago
Do you like GeneratePress, but aren't sure whether you should be buying the premium version? Learn about the differences between the free and premium GeneratePress versions.
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Edit 13 February, 2019: Affilaite links have been added to this article through the GeneratePress affilaite program. 35% of any premium licenses purchased after clicking these links is paid to 256KB. Article is otherwise unchanged.
Do you like GeneratePress, but aren't sure whether you should be buying the premium version? You're not alone – I can’t count how many times I’ve bought a WordPress theme that sounded promising, only to end up regretting it later.
The free version of GeneratePress is quite good and it’s even one of the most popular WordPress themes, as you can see in the admin dashboard under Appearance > Themes > Add Themes > Popular. It’s still after the “Twenty Seventeen” type themes though – the WordPress team is a bit too enthusiastic about those for some reason. So, let’s a bit about both the free and premium versions and what you can expect from each.
On a first glance, this looks like a very simple theme, and yet another one that claims to be “lightweight” – whatever that means with WordPress these days. That’s probably due to the fact that like many themes, the default image you’ll see for GP just looks… well, boring. You got a header, a nav bar, a sidebar… and that’s about it. The default image doesn’t really do this theme justice though, and you really need to start playing around with it in order to learn to appreciate what it has to offer – that’s especially true for GP premium.
While the free version isn’t much compared to the premium one, it has a few distinct features that set it apart from other themes.
For starters, this theme is pretty straight forward. No weird settings hidden somewhere you wouldn’t expect them. This isn’t the type of theme that you would have to get used to in order to work with it, since everything is right where you would expect it to be. I, for one, am a big fan of that – this isn’t a theme that promises the world, only to have you stuck with a handful of options that you may or may not be able to edit to fit your site’s purpose.
GeneratePress is a theme that doesn’t make assumptions what you’ll need to use it for, so you can basically build anything on it – whether it’s an ecommerce store, a fancy blog, or a 5-page company website. It’s a framework, more than anything, and chances are, once you start using it you’ll never switch to another theme. I don’t even care if that sounds like I’m promoting them.
Considering the theme has been getting more and more attention and more and more developers and marketers and starting to use it, it’s also good to mention that there are quite a few resources you can find when looking for something specific regarding GP. From making the footer sticky to random parts of the documentation, getting your questions answered when it comes to this theme isn’t very hard. One example of this is making the footer stick to the bottom when your page doesn't have enough content.
I’m not sure what else to say about the free version other than it is indeed lightweight and clean – about a year ago I switched a site from a bulkier theme to GP and search presence improved significantly within a few weeks, after the initial slight drop.
You can also bet that your website speed will be about as good as it gets with WordPress. They keep the code nice and clean. I got my blog to load under 600ms with nothing but a handful of speed optimization plugins. Mind you, I’m no expert on optimizing website speed.
Now, this is where the fun begins. Once you buy the premium plugin, you can activate your new Add-ons under Appearance > GeneratePress.
Note: Only activate these if you actually plan to use them. That way they won’t load and slow your site down. Here is what you can can do with these:
- Backgrounds – Add background images on different sections or the body, etc
- Blog – Additional blog display settings that look better than the defaults, quite useful if your site has a blog
- Colors – Change colors directly from the Customize page, useful if you don’t want to reinvent the wheel with CSS
- Copyright – Should be obvious
- Disable Elements – Sisable certain elements on different pages, such as titles, footer, etc
- Hooks – Never actually used them, but supposed to be a way for you to add new options to your dashboard
- Import / Export – Import or export settings from the Customizer
- Menu Plus – Additional menu settings such as sticky navigation, mobile headers, etc
- Elements – This one came instead of Page Headers with the new update, and other than page heros provides an advanced hook system and custom theme layouts
- Secondary Nav – A secondary nav with same options as the primary one
- Sections – Quote useful – this is almost like a page builder with vertical sections that let you add content in each one, as well as change their position and background settings easily. Nothing that you can’t do with custom code but quite simplified and useful, without all the ugly bulkiness that comes with using a page building plugin such as Elementor or whatever
- Spacing – Lets you control spacing of elements within the content, widgets, header, menu, etc
- Typography -Choose fonts, font sizes and font weight for different parts of the site
- WooCommerce – Additional WooCommerce options
Other things worth mentioning:
No weird bugs
Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can always expect with different WP themes. Even some of the top rated themes only get the 5-star ratings from newbies who don’t know any better and are content with just changing the demo content.
GP now has a “Site Library” which lets you pick out a layout and import the demo content on your site. This is huge – basically, what you could call a “theme” before GP, is now just demo content that you can import straight into your GP installation. The Site Library is growing steadily too, so I’d expect even more awesome layouts in the future.
This is another Premium feature though, and yet another reason why you should get GeneratePress premium vs the free one.
No need to use a child a theme
With GP you can put whatever you want in your functions.php file and you won’t lose them if you update the theme.
A real "all-purpose" theme
When I need to make a certain niche site for someone, whether they’re a pet grooming business, a massage salon, or someone selling Instagram likes on the Internet, I no longer look for a theme to use in that particular niche. In my mind, it’s not worth the time and energy to look for a theme, buy it, try and figure out how it works, only to get annoyingly frustrated with its lack of settings and customizability. I now just check relevant layout for that niche in a few minutes and then I get to building out the site layout with the GP Sections and a couple of customization plugins I always use.
Unlimited sites license
Once you buy GeneratePress, you can use it on any site you want to. No BS rip-off 5-site licenses.
The not-so-amazing part
No more lifetime licenses
The only bad thing I have to say is that you used to be able to get a lifetime license for just under $40. However, that obviously wasn’t maintainable with all the updates that they’ve come up with.
Considering that it’s a plugin that actually makes the free version premium, you actually need to update both the theme itself, as well as the plugin when you want to update the theme. Not horrible, but just something to keep in mind.
Simple CSS – a nice little custom CSS plugin with a dark background that makes you feel more like a developer.
Lightweight Grid Columns – an easy and awesome way to add columns anywhere you like, which you can customize for different devices (mobile, tablet). When combined with the GeneratePress Sections add-on, this makes building your site layout easier than ever.
Not surprisingly, both of these plugins were written by the main GeneratePress developer, Tom Usborne. I’ve talked to Tom on multiple occasions and he’s always been extremely helpful, even on issues that weren’t a GeneratePress issue in the first place.
Generate Press Free VS Premium - The Verdict
The free version is great and better than 99% of themes out there regardless. However, if you wanna step it up a notch and save time on developing responsive and fast websites, you will need the premium version. Heck, if you work with WordPress a lot, it's probably the single best investment you can make in terms of improving efficiency and the quality of your work.
Edit 13 February, 2019: Also, if you're setting up a new site, DreamHost's DreamPress hosting works with GeneratePress. Support 256KB with this affiliate link, if that's something that you'd like to do.
What a nice thread that I am commenting on for no particular reason and also because threads sort by bump order.
This is a patsy account used by the 256 Kilobytes staff to seed content.
This is a patsy account used by the 256 Kilobytes staff to seed content.
@Some Guy very nice dear
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