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Earlier this year, we invited Genesis users to take part in the first-ever Genesis Community Survey to help us better understand the premium theme marketplace and to help shape the future of the Genesis framework. It builds on our stated mission to make Genesis the most open and transparent community in WordPress.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and 1,687 people around the world, including members from 66 countries ranging from Argentina and Vietnam took part. This was a wonderful reflection of the community’s international character, and we’re grateful that participants took the time to answer the four dozen survey questions, ranging from how they use Genesis to the ways they thought the framework could help them design better themes and ultimately, better websites. Here’s what we found out.

Genesis—A Global Community

To begin, we wanted to find out where the majority of Genesis users reside. A nearly equal split of people who responded to the survey came from the U.S. (54%) versus internationally (46%), reflecting the incredible global nature of the community. Rounding out the top countries were the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, Holland, Italy, India and France. In Asia the top four countries included India, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan.

Like a Boss

After determining where Genesis users live, we wanted to find out what roles they typically hold within the businesses they represent. Interestingly enough, we found the vast majority (88%) of survey respondents own or co-own their businesses—from small and medium-sized businesses to independent digital agencies. What’s more is an even higher percentage, 90% of respondents, identified themselves as the “technology decision makers” within their firms. Clearly, the Genesis Framework is a favorite among those in the position to decide which technologies they’ll use to build their businesses or build sites for their clients.

From Execs to Techs and Beyond

While 36% of respondents said their backgrounds were more technical in nature (development or engineering), a significant portion of respondents (16%) said they were marketers. We interpreted this split as a reflection of the wide popularity Genesis continues to enjoy—across organizations. Developers love the ease with which it lets them build great-looking websites. In addition to the built-in SEO features of Genesis, marketers love the themes the framework can produce, and the way its child themes can be quickly recreated and shared, allowing marketers to easily stay on brand.

Big Business in Small Businesses

While more than half (61%) of the survey respondents said they work at agencies or identified as freelancers, the vast majority of them (85%) said they use the Genesis Framework for the work they do for small or medium-sized business. With approximately $568 billion in IT spending globally from SMBs, according to IDC, and the fact that they’re oftentimes more likely to reach for new technologies, it’s no wonder many agencies are seeing big business in this SMB opportunity.

More with Less

In the same vein, nearly all survey respondents (95%) said their business has 50 or fewer employees. Genesis has always been a favorite of lean agencies, which rely on the framework to deliver professional-grade results to clients. That said, the secret appears to be getting out, and at least a few respondents (3%) said their businesses have staffs between 50 and 500, while a few more (2%) work at companies with staff of 500 to more than 1,000 employees.

A Tradition of Expertise

Overall, respondents showed a high level of expertise both when it came to working with Genesis— nearly 70% said they had been working with the framework for more than three years—as well as when it came to building sites over the past 12 months. 93% of respondents said they had built as many as 25 sites with the framework within the last year, while 89% said they had built as many as 25 sites with WordPress over the same time period.

Utility Beyond WordPress

While the survey respondents were all Genesis users, WordPress isn’t the only CMS or framework they’re using. The top five CMSs, outside of WordPress, included Shopify, Squarespace, Laravel, Drupal, and Joomla. Of these, the majority (52%) are being used in a multi-CMS capacity, that is, one CMS alongside another (or a few).

Eager to Collaborate

When asked if they would like to participate in future surveys to help shape the future of Genesis, a whopping 74% of respondents said yes. This enthusiasm is a testament to the vibrant community of digital marketers and developers that has coalesced around Genesis, making it more than just a popular theme framework that offers exceptional results. From the Genesis Community Facebook page to other Internet forums, such as this Reddit thread, a huge perk of using Genesis is that members of the community are never too far away and eager to jump in and answer questions or provide advice.

A Robust Genesis Premium Child Theme Market

While not particularly surprising, it’s worth noting that StudioPress, the creator of the Genesis Framework, continues to be the go-to source for more than half (64%) of Genesis users who are looking for premium child themes; however 34% of respondents are purchasing from excellent, premium theme providers in the ecosystem like SEO Themes, 9 Seeds, Zigzagpress, Restored 316 Designs, ThemeForest, and others.

Genesis Dominates as a Theme Framework

When asked if they use other frameworks or site building solutions besides Genesis, only 30% of respondents said they do—11% use Beaver Builder, 9% use the Divi page builder, and another 10% said they’ve built their own framework which they use to create themes. Of course, many in the Genesis community use the Genesis framework in parallel with those other great frameworks or site building solutions.

Traditional Features Still Draw; New Features Desired

When asked which Genesis features they use the most frequently, respondents listed some of the more traditional features found within the theme framework: hooks and filters, layout options, StudioPress-made Genesis plugins in WordPress.org, theme options, and custom widgets, respectively.

When asked which products, plugins, or technologies could have better integrations with Genesis, respondents listed WooCommerce, Gutenberg, and Google Analytics as their top three.

Platform Criteria for Genesis

When it comes to selecting the platform for their Genesis sites, survey respondents said their top three choices were either self-hosted, WP Engine, or BlueHost.

The top evaluation criteria respondents said they look for when selecting a platform solution (in order of preference), are reliability, performance, experienced support, security, price, scalability, and features/products.

The Gutenberg Split

While the survey was sent out prior to the launch of WordPress 5.0, which included the addition of Gutenberg as the platform’s new, default editor, survey respondents reflected the general split among WordPress users, who were either excited or concerned about the new content editing experience.

When asked how they felt about Gutenberg, in nearly equal amounts, 29% of respondents said they were excited, 31% said they were worried, with a plurality of 40% saying they were indifferent. However, with Genesis’ powerful ability to support the transition to Gutenberg, a majority, 64% of respondents said they had tested their Genesis site using Gutenberg, while 36% said they had not.

Community is Everything

As mentioned above, the Genesis community is a vibrant one, a fact not lost on members of the community themselves. At least half of the survey respondents said they consider themselves active in the community, and a majority of respondents (41%) said they interact with the community on StudioPress forums. Meanwhile, 14% of respondents said they interact with the community on the Genesis WordPress Facebook group and 9% said they do so via a combination of both.

When it comes to the Genesis community, a majority of respondents (56%) said the most rewarding benefit of participating in it is the ability to learn from other thought leaders and peers. 11% listed a combination of that learning as well as teaching others, and the third most commonly-cited benefit, according to 9% of respondents, was the friendships and relationships they’re able to to build within the community.

Genesis, a Catalyst for WordPress

It’s clear Genesis plays a major role in the survey respondents’ lives. There is an opportunity for them to become more involved in the WordPress community with 73% of respondents saying they would be likely to attend Genesis events or meetups held at WordCamps, and 76% saying they would consider attending an in-person, day-long Genesis event.

A Difference Maker

Perhaps the most meaningful takeaway from members of the Genesis community is that 67% of them say the framework has, in one way or another, changed their lives.

Methodology

The custom 48-question survey was designed by WP Engine in order to understand the makeup of the Genesis Community. The study was administered to 1,687 respondents internationally, and it was open to anyone in the Genesis community. The survey was conducted online in October of 2018.