GeneratePress Review: 48% Faster Page Load Times And Code-Free Customization

Generatepress-review

You probably don't wake up in the morning with WordPress themes on your mind.

If you're like most of us, you want to make money. And a theme is a just a means to that end.

I get it…

But sometimes it's worth putting a little more focus on your theme. The right theme will not only make your website load faster (and your visitors more engaged), but it will also eliminate that frustrating "I want to make my theme look like this but I can't" feeling.

In my GeneratePress review, I hope to show you exactly how this affordable, multipurpose, lightweight WordPress theme can benefit your site from both perspectives.

Not only will it likely decrease your page load times by a surprisingly large percentage, but it will also give you the flexibility to make tons of code-free changes and have more control while using page builders like Thrive Architect and Elementor.

GeneratePress is a popular free multipurpose WordPress theme listed at WordPress.org.

GeneratePress Premium, which is technically a plugin, is a set of 14 paid add-ons that extend that core theme with a bunch of important features that I'll discuss below.

Much of GeneratePress' value is only accessible in the Premium add-ons. So, for this review, I'm going to refer to everything simply as "GeneratePress" rather than drawing any distinction between the free and premium features.

Also, be sure to read till the end of this review to claim your bonuses in case you decide to buy this awesome theme for your sites.

Colin Newcomer

Colin Newcomer

Contributing Writer, CloudLiving.com

GeneratePress Made My Website Load ~48% Faster

Let's put aside all the other features for now...

This one simple statistic is why GeneratePress has been getting so much buzz:

After switching from Thrive Themes FocusBlog to GeneratePress, my portfolio site's page load times shrank from 1.877 seconds to 0.979 seconds.

I can, and will, show you all the internal features that can make your life a little easier. But first - I think we can all agree that's a pretty impressive number, right?

Not only does a faster website mean better user experience and higher conversion rates, Google also uses site speed as a factor in both its desktop and mobile indexes.

So when you see that something can make your site load that much faster, it's worth paying attention to.

For the longest time, I've been running my portfolio site with Thrive Themes' FocusBlog and Thrive Architect. I'm pretty speed conscious, so I had already performed a number of enhancements to make my site load faster.

But apparently not enough according to the data...

So how did I come up with that 48% number? I promise I'm not fudging any data.

Here's what I did:

I left all those performance enhancements intact and literally just made two changes:

  1. Switched to the GeneratePress theme from Thrive Themes FocusBlog.
  2. Configured the GeneratePress header and page options (more on these later) so that the homepage I'd built with Thrive Architect still looked the same.

GeneratePress vs Thrive Themes FocusBlog Performance Test

Here's what my site looked like when it was running FocusBlog:

GeneratePress vs Thrive Themes - Before

And here's how it performed in WebPagetest*:

Webpage Speed Test - Focus Blog

*I use WebPagetest instead of Pingdom Tools because it gives a more accurate picture of page load times for real humans. As a result, WebPagetest also usually returns a higher (but again, more accurate) load time.

When moving to this new theme, I tried to keep the overall look of my site as similar as possible. Here's what the homepage looked like (it's still powered by Thrive Architect - I just haven't fixed that floating headshot issue!):

GeneratePress vs Thrive - After

When I ran the GeneratePress version through WebPagetest...well, the results speak for themselves:

WebPage Speed Test - After

​To help you see the differences more clearly, here's a table summarizing the various tests (for all of the metrics, lower is better):

Test

FocusBlog

GeneratePress

Document Complete Time

1.877 s

0.979 s

Fully Loaded Time

2.005 s

1.150 s

Requests

39

30

Page Size

810 KB

515 KB

Speed Index

1340

944

  • Document Complete - when all the static page content has loaded, even if some asynchronous scripts are still loading.
  • Fully Loaded - when all network activity has stopped (accounts for asynchronous scripts, etc.).
  • Requests - how many requests the page made (fewer requests is better)
  • Page Size - how large the page is.
  • Speed Index - WebPagetest's attempt at a comprehensive "performance" index. Lower is better. More detailed explanation here.

So...even if GeneratePress did nothing else, I bet that it would be able to improve your page speed by a good bit.

EDITOR'S NOTE

I've used a lot of themes over the past 10 years and this is no doubt my #1 favorite.

I've switched all of my sites to GeneratePress and have seen very consistent improvements in loading speed.

For example, this blog is 3.3x faster now thanks to GeneratePress and the steps recommended in this guide.

Before GeneratePress:

After GeneratePress:

This is why I decided to work with Colin to create this Generatepress review.

TUNG TRAN

Founder of CloudLiving.com

Here's the fun part:

Putting aside the performance improvements, GeneratePress is actually pretty dang flexible and easy to use. Here are some of my favorite GeneratePress features:

8 Things I Like About GeneratePress Beyond The Quick Page Load Times

Yeah, page load times are important…

But if page load times were all we cared about in a WordPress theme, we'd all be running those super minimal plain text themes, right?

Good luck converting with those!

Thankfully, GeneratePress isn't just speed. It's also a pretty flexible theme in its own right.

1. GeneratePress Is A Page Builder's Best Friend - Thrive Architect Included

I know that most of you guys are affiliates, so you might not be as hardcore into WordPress as I am.

That's fine - you don't need to be to create a successful authority site.

But let me share a quick detail about the WordPress community:

WordPress implementers (the people who actually build sites for clients) love using GeneratePress to build client sites because it pairs so well with WordPress page builders.

Don't believe me?

Here's a post from the Elementor Facebook group:

And here's the same sentiment in the Beaver Builder Facebook community:

So why does everyone seem to love combining GeneratePress with a page builder?

It all comes down to the per-page layout options.

If you use Thrive Themes, you know that they give you some options to disable a post title or change the content width. If you're not familiar, this is what I'm talking about:

Well, GeneratePress is kind of like that...but on steroids.

Thrive Themes lets you choose a different template and disable:

  • Title
  • All post meta
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Featured image

But here's what GeneratePress lets you do:

  • Choose between zero, one, or two sidebars
  • Decide how many footer widget columns to use (0-6)
  • Disable elements that you dont use like top bar, header, primary navigation, featured image, content title, or footer
  • Choose to use a full-width or contained container (great for pairing with page builder plugins)
  • Create a custom header just for that page

All those settings mean you have 100% control of all the pages that you build with Thrive Architect or another page builder.

  • Want to create a huge buyer's guide that takes up the full-width content? No problem! Just disable the title and create a full-width container.
  • Need to create an entirely standalone landing page for an offer? Easy! Just disable the header, title, and footer and you've got a 100% blank canvas to work from.

EDITOR'S NOTE

My biggest frustration when creating landing pages using Thrive Architect and Focus Blog is that it's currently not possible to add current site's header into a blank canvas.

You always have to recreate it manually using the visual editor which is time-consuming and the styles won't match exactly.

But with GeneratePress, that won't be an issue. You can  use the Page Builder Container option to remove all content padding while retaining the header.

And now you can add content using Thrive Architect as normal.

TUNG TRAN

Founder of CloudLiving.com

2. You Change Everything About Your Theme From The WordPress Customizer

If you're not familiar, the WordPress Customizer lets you make real-time changes to your WordPress theme using a simple sidebar.

It looks something like this:

It's helpful because as soon as you make a change, you instantly see it update on the live preview. Better yet, nothing you do is live until you hit Publish, so you can make all kinds of crazy changes without worrying about breaking your live site.

Basically, the Customizer is part of the WordPress core team's answer to the encroachment of tools like Squarespace and Wix.

Here's the problem with the WordPress Customizer, though:

Developers haven't fully adopted it and, usually, you only get to make a few token changes. Which is kind of a...waste of the Customizer's potential.

GeneratePress doesn't waste it, though. With GeneratePress Premium, you can change pretty much everything about your theme right from the WordPress Customizer.

Let's say you're coming from something like Thrive Themes FocusBlog. You're likely familiar with how you can:

  • Change the color of your header and its fonts
  • Choose the font for your post headline and body text
  • Change the color of your headline text and body text

That's it, though. If you want to make other changes, you'll need to use the Theme Options area. That means you get to have fun doing the 'ole "Save and Refresh" over and over again until you find a combination that you like:

You can't preview any of the changes until you save and refresh your live site.

GeneratePress kills "save and refresh" forever because you get to make every single change through the WordPress Customizer. Here are just a sampling of the helpful tweaks you can make through the Customizer:

Customize The Entire Layout Of Your Site, Header Included

In the Layout area the Customizer, you can change up your:
  • Container - how wide to make your content area + more
  • Header - make it a single row, two rows, etc.
  • Primary and secondary navigation - customize location, function, etc.
  • Sticky and slide-out navigation - enable if desired
  • Sidebars - choose whether to use zero, one, or two sidebars on different areas of your site
  • Footer - the size of your footer, how many columns of widgets to use, etc.
  • Backgrounds - you can add background images to a variety of places on your website with ease.

What are the benefits of all these options? Well - let's look at just one area - your site's header.

With GeneratePress, you can make your site's header look like this:

Or like this:

Or even like this:

All just by fiddling with some code-free options.

Change Every Single Color And Font

In the Colors area, you can change the color of pretty much every single element on your site (look at that huge list on the left!):

And it's the same for Typography:

Control How Your Blog Page Looks

Aside from the Layout area, you also get a dedicated Blog area where you can configure settings that apply to just your blog posts:

Want to turn off tags? Just choose from the drop-down. Same for categories, authors, dates, and more.

You can even change the size, location, and alignment of your featured images!

3. You Only Use The Features That You Want Because It's All Modular

A lot of WordPress themes are one-size-fits-all.

That means you get all the features no matter what.

Now, if you actually want all those features, then that's totally fine.

But when's the last time you actually used all the features in your theme? Heck, if you're using a ThemeForest theme I bet it comes bundled with a million things and you've probably used like...ten.

That means your site's taking a performance hit for features you aren't even using.

GeneratePress solves that with its modular approach. You can turn every single feature on or off whenever you want:

I don't mean just stopping the feature from displaying - I mean you only load the code for the exact features you want to use.

Beyond the awesome code, that's another part of what makes GeneratePress so performance optimized.

4. Your Website Is Finally Going To Look Good On Mobile

In 2015, a funny thing happened:

For the first time ever, more than 50% of Google searches were conducted on mobile devices.

But even though that's a fact, most of us don't pay enough attention to our mobile sites.

I mean, most themes nowadays throw "responsive" on their marketing bullet lists. But when's the last time you spent as much time looking at a theme's mobile design as you did the desktop version?

A lot of themes end up with, well, let's just say "unaesthetic" mobile versions, which ain't great for all the mobile traffic coming to your site.

On the other hand, GeneratePress makes your site look awesome.

Let's do a test...

Which one of those two mobile websites looks better?

If you chose the one on the right, you picked GeneratePress.

If you haven't already:

  • Go check Google Analytics to see what percentage of your visitors are on mobile devices
  • See what your current theme looks like on mobile devices

If the percentage is high and your theme is poor, you're about to make a whole heap of your visitors really happy if you switch!

5. GeneratePress Is Easy To Customize Further Thanks To Hooks

This one is a bit more technical…

But if you're a developer, or know your way around a little bit of PHP/HTML/CSS, you're going to love how developer friendly GeneratePress is.

It's got a few things going for it that make it super easy to customize.

In addition to detailed documentation, the Hooks add-on lets you easily add code to any of GeneratePress' ~18 hook areas (or you can disable specific hooks - back to the modular angle!):

If you're not already familiar with WordPress hooks, they're a powerful feature that allow you to easily insert code or content at specific locations on your site:

  • Want to add the Google Analytics tracking code? Just add it to the wp_head hook.
  • Want to insert a banner ad right below your site's header? Just add it to the After Header hook.

Get the idea? Hooks are something that even casual users can take advantage of to make things easier.

And once you grasp how they work, you can wave goodbye to ever editing your theme's source code directly!

Combine GeneratePress' hooks with something like the free Code Snippets plugin and you've basically eliminated the need to use a child theme to make customizations.

There's also a section called Additional CSS inside Customer if you want to add your own custom CSS.

6. The Page Header Add-on Is Great For Buyer's Guides And Other Longform Content

While many of the GeneratePress add-ons deal with behind-the-scenes style and layout options, there are a couple that give you new front-end design options.

One of the best is the Page Header add-on. With this add-on, you can create custom page headers that you can apply:

  • Globally to specific locations, like all posts or pages
  • To individual posts or pages... and even category / tag pages.

So what's a page header?

It's basically a separate content box that sits below your regular header. For example, the top CTA area on the current Cloud Living blog page is built with a page header:

This makes your life easier in a couple of ways:

  • It lets you create dedicated headers for certain types of content, like your buyer's guides or other longform pieces.
  • If you use the same page header in multiple spots, you can update all those spots at once to avoid duplicating your work.

7. GeneratePress Is Fully Compatible With All Your Favorite Plugins

Here's the good part:

Even though you get a big performance boost, you're not sacrificing any compatibility when you go with GeneratePress. GeneratePress is fully compatible with:

  • WooCommerce
  • Yoast SEO
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • BuddyPress
  • bbPress
  • WPML
  • You name it!

8. The Site Library Makes It Quicker Than Ever To Launch A Site

Update: 4/4/2018

Despite what I think is a pretty intuitive interface, one of the things we noticed in the Facebook comments after initially publishing this review is that some people struggled to take GeneratePress' many customization options and turn them into a cohesive site.

If you're one of those people, or if you just like having talented designers do the work for you, GeneratePress' new Site Library feature offers an awesome new solution to help you build your website quicker.

The Site Library is a collection of prebuilt demo sites that you can easily import with just a few clicks.

Some of these templates are built specifically for Beaver Builder or Elementor (two popular WordPress page builders), while others are built using core GeneratePress functionality.

You can access the Site Library right from your WordPress dashboard by going to Appearance → GeneratePress and clicking the Site Library tab:
Generatepress Site Library List

Then, if you click on a specific design, you'll see more details, as well an option to Get Started with the import process:

GeneratePress Individual Template

Best of all, these templates don't cost anything extra - they're all included with GeneratePress Premium plugin at no extra cost.

GeneratePress Tops It All Off With A Surprisingly Low Price

GeneratePress is a free WordPress theme developed by Tom Usborne which you can download to use from WordPress.org.

But it also comes with a premium version that includes addons to enhance its power.

Here are the prices of WordPress themes that you'll commonly find affiliate sites and blogs using:

  • Thrive Themes FocusBlog (or other themes) - $49 for a single-site license or $67 for unlimited sites
  • Genesis Framework - $59.95 for unlimited sites (plus you have to buy a child theme as well)
  • Most ThemeForest themes - ~$59.95

Given those three numbers and GeneratePress' performance, you'd at least expect it to be in the same ballpark, right?

Here's the thing, though:

GP Premium is actually the cheapest option at just $39.95 for use on unlimited sites. With that, you get:

  • All 14 premium add-ons
  • Access to the support forum.
  • One year of support and updates
  • A 40% discount if you want to continue support and updates past the first year

Notes: If you're using Elementor's theme builder with GeneratePress, then the free version is probably enough.

Get A More Flexible Theme And Speed Up Your Site With GeneratePress

Look:

We're all aiming for results, not just a theme that looks "pretty".

GeneratePress is going to get you closer to those results by:

  • Setting you up with a lighting-fast foundation to build your site on. That means more engaged users and maybe even a ranking boost.
  • Giving you tons of Customizer options so that you can make your theme do exactly what you want it to do without custom code.
  • Letting you use your favorite page builder, like Thrive Architect, to build fully-customizable content.

All that for $39.95 for unlimited use on all your sites.

Stop wasting money on bloated themes that not only cost more, but perform worse and take too much time and effort for customization.

Get this one multipurpose theme and then focus on the fun stuff - making money.

BUY THIS AWESOME THEME THROUGH MY AFFILIATE LINK AND CLAIM YOUR EXCLUSIVE BONUSES

I'm a big fan of GeneratePress and truly believe it's one of the best WordPress themes you could get at the moment.

And I'm 100% confident to stand behind my recommendation.

I know you're gonna love this awesome theme if you give it a try.

And just to sweeten the deal, I'm gonna give you access to the importable templates that my developer already made so that you can build an awesome looking site even faster.

To claim the bonus, all you need to do is:

  1. Click on the green button below (or any link to GP website on this post) and buy the theme through my affiliate link.
  2. Forward the receipt to support@cloudliving.com

Upon receiving your receipt, I'll forward the importable templates with detailed instructions on how to use them.

TUNG TRAN

Founder of CloudLiving.com

Colin Newcomer

Colin Newcomer has grown his own blog to over $1 million in gross affiliate sales, ran Facebook ad campaigns with $800 daily spend, and worked at... [Read full bio]
  • Yes, GeneratePress is simply awesome! I’m using it for more than an year for a few of my websites and I can say nothing but good words for it.

    Thank you for the great review, Colin!

  • Hello Colin,

    I never heard about this WP theme, I am using Genesis theme for my few blogs and it is also very light and seo friendly. Yes, I wanna to try some more wordpress themes which are best for SEO and users surely try.

    You wrote a detailed review for the generate press theme which I really liked. Thanks for the article dude. Your article is compelling.

  • Looks great, i just tested this page on GTmetrix, it showed 68% and 67% scores for pagespeed and yslow. Althought its not very attractive, still I feel this theme surely has some benefits over other due to its extensive features.

    And btw nice review and article. I liked the details very much. Kudos to your effort. Keep doing this.

  • Hey what hosting are you using with these results? I’m using site ground with a similar homepage layout with optimized ings, etc and seeing 7 sec load times…

    • I have SiteGround GrowBig plan. What’s your site? There’s gotta be something else going on that’s slowing things down. Look at the waterfall tab in gtmetrix or pingdom or webpagetest.

  • GeneratePress was revelation when I changed to using this. Previously I had used Genesis for everything but GeneratePress is faster and easier to customize. Could not recommend it more highly.

  • Best feature I think that you can buy once and then use on all your sites, no need to buy separate licenses

  • Hi Tung. I purchased the theme and forwarded the receipt to you a few days ago. Pls check your inbox and send me the templates. Thank you!

  • Thanks for a great review! How easy or complicated is it to move content built with Thrive Content Builder (Focus Blog Theme from Thrivethemes) to GeneratePress?

    • I haven’t had any issue so far after the move. Your TCB content should remain the same.

  • I sent you an email regarding the importable templates. Please have a look at it. Great post btw.

  • Hi Colin,

    Generatepress is indeed a very wonderful WordPress theme. I’ve really heard a lot about it, and I recently purchased it for one of my new projects.

    Although I’m still finding it hard to make it look exactly the way I like, but I honestly love it so far.

    Thanks for the honest review.

  • Do you know a good related posts plugin that goes with this theme? Thanks in advance.

  • Nice post Colin,
    After buying GP I’m a big fan now :), Yet I’d like to know why you have only two plugins installed in your site?, Of course because you can, but my point is, how do you do your style? Do you use Thrive Architect? Thanks..

  • Really informative review. I have a question, Which plugin you use to make your posts like this? Are you using Thrive Architect?

  • I’ve purchased the theme using your affiliate link and have emailed you for the template as promised. Its been 4 days but have yet to hear from your team. It’s no longer available?

  • Hi Tung

    Planning to change my theme, and really love GP. However was wondering whether you still share those thrive architect templates with people using your link.

  • Hi Tung. I purchased the theme and forwarded the receipt to you a few days ago. Pls check your inbox and send me the templates. Thank you!
    my email >>> is.didik@gmail.com

  • Nice review, Your articles are very well written.

  • Hi Tung,

    Like always, your post is amazing and yet valuable due to content.
    I’m using Generate Press for a while on my one Website, but was not happy, because I don’t know how to Make attractive home page for my site with this Theme, rest everything is good of this theme.

    If you know, please teach me how to make Home Page with Generate Press?

    Thanks.

  • Sam Watson says:

    Hey Tung,

    I see you stopped using Thrive comments on your site. Is there any reason for it?

    I’m using it too and wanted to know if it’s ok to keep using it.

    • I literally just turned it off today. Not sure what the error was but comment form didn’t display.

  • Great review, thanks for mentioning amazing features of generate-press. I was looking for fast loading wordpress theme, now i will by generatepress. Thanks for the review.

  • Hi, Colin and Tung. Thank you for the great review. I am building an authority website now with GeneratePress. I used to do that with ThriveArchitect and FocusBlog as you did.

    I want to take advantage of the ThriveArchitect builder (without using a Theme) and build a better content affiliate website. My question is, that is it good to use ThriveArchitect along with GeneratePress or should I definitely have only GeneratePress installed and use WP default editing?

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