This is the first post in a series on how to customize the Genesis premium theme. I recently installed the Genesis premium theme from Studiopress and have been experimenting with customizing it. I would be sharing on what all was tried and what results did it yield.
One basic tip to remember is to always use the Genesis Child theme instead of making changes directly in the Genesis framework
Customizing the Sidebar
The default sidebar that comes with Genesis is empty. You just have a primary widget space and it needs to be customized for use. If you notice the current sidebar that is there on the right, I have added three things
- Subscription Options
Subscription options is a wordpress plugin that enables you to provide twitter, facebook, rss and email based subscription options to your readers. You can customize subscription options plugin as well to add new subscription options. Once you download this plugin and activate the same, it will get listed under the Appearance->Widgets section of your wordpress dashboard. All you need to do now is pick this widget and add it under the “primary sidebar” which is the container for adding components/widgets to your sidebar. Once you do this, the subscription options should get listed under the sidebar something like below.
- Facebook Like box
Facebook is one of the most important mediums for information sharing today. A mention of your blog on Facebook could be extremely useful for your blog traffic. Facebook Like Box is a wordpress plugin that helps to create a like box which would enable you to get more traffic from Facebook. You can download this plugin and activate it. Add the widget to the “primary sidebar” similar to subscription options above. One thing which I did not like was that the box that got added had a title “Facebook Like Box” added on top of the box. Since the content of the box was self-explanatory, the title was looking out of place. To correct the same, I edited one line in the plugin php file ( inside wp-content/plugin/facebook-like-box-widget/facebook-like-box-widget.php ).
Changed "$title = apply_filters('widget_title', empty($instance['title']) ? 'Facebook Like Box' : $instance['title']); to "$title = apply_filters('widget_title', empty($instance['title']) ? '' : $instance['title']);
- Tag cloud
Tag Cloud is a standard wordpress widget which enables you to create a cloud of tags that you have specified for your posts. Why it is extremely useful is because it allows your readers to search and view articles on your site tagged with that particular tag and get the relevant information in a click. You can notice the one I added to the right where you can get eg all wordpress related articles in one click.
In addition to the above three, I also added the search box widget provided by Genesis theme -- though I eventually plan to replace it with Google custom search. After all the changes, this is how the sidebar looks in the WordPress dashboard settings.
Customizing the Footer
With the default installation, I did not find any options to customize the footer using widgets. To enable the same, I downloaded the Genesis Footer Plugin. This provides you three containers the form of Footer1( Footer Left ), Footer2 ( Footer Middle ) and Footer 3 ( Footer Right ). Now you can drag the relevant widgets in these areas to populate information in the footer. The widgets I chose were Archives, Most Commented and Most Read. These enable the readers to instantly access most popular as well as older articles from the website.
The default footer text in Genesis can also be modified to reflect your site name and copyright. The best way to do this is to use the Genesis simple edits plugin. Once you download and activate this plugin, it will appear under Genesis setting in your dashboard. You can edit the footer credits text to update with your website information. As an example, following is how I edited this text.
I had earlier talked about footprintlive service which enables you to view visitors on your website in real-time. With the older theme, the footprintlive code was added in footer.php of the wordpress installation. However, with Genesis, it becomes much simpler as you do not need to go and individually edit the theme file. Rather, you just need to go to the Genesis Theme settings in the wordpress dashboard and add the footprintlive script code in the hook provided for wp_footer as seen in the following snapshot.
With the above simple changes, you can add useful functionality to your wordpress site powered by Genesis. I hope you would find these tips useful. If you liked the post, do share it with your friends. You can always submit useful tools, web services and tips to us.