Google emphasizes speed and introduced Core Web Vitals to measure the page speed parameters. Choosing a lightweight theme for your WordPress site is important for having a good page speed score in Google PageSpeed Insights tool. This makes webmasters to go crazy with the themes like GeneratePress and Astra. We have recently tried out GeneratePress theme on this site. It was so cool to see 100/100 score in Google PageSpeed. However, we have to revert back to our previous Highend theme as GeneratePress created multiple problems.
So, read this article first if you are looking for purchasing GeneratePress theme.
Problems with GeneratePress Theme
Here are some of the issues we have noticed with GeneratePress.
- Leave a reply comment link
- Author box
- Post meta date link
- Custom post type
- Theme options
- Custom Hooks
- Cannot disable theme and plugin editor
- No related posts and social
- Free theme + Premium plugin
- Migration problems
Note, we looked into the issues from long term as well as migration perspectives.
1. Leave a Reply Comment Response
WordPress by default has a “Leave a reply” link before the start of comment section. This is well thought position to place the link. We have article like this and this having more than 100 comments. Without having leave a reply link, users tend to do one of the two things:
- Quit commenting as they need to scroll to the page end.
- Leave an irrelevant reply to the first comment.
In our opinion, both these situations are examples of bad user experience.
2. Missing Author Box
Most WordPress commercial themes by default have author box that you can insert at the bottom of the blog posts. Theme developers can customize the author box to show various details from the post author’s user profile. This is an extremely useful feature when multiple authors write content on the same site.
Without author box in GeneratePress, you have left with no option for showcasing author details.
3. Post Meta Date Link
Blog posts have an option to show meta data like published date and author details below the title. As far as we have tested with multiple themes, the post meta date has no link or linked to date archive. However, GeneratePress links post meta date to the post URL itself. This means anyone clicks on the date will reload the same page like pressing refresh button on the browser.
We are not sure whether it will have impact on SEO as search engines by linking the same post URL in the date. But you can be sure, this is not a best user experience.
4. Custom Post Type
In fact, this was the major reason we have to revert back from GeneratePress. We use CPT UI plugin to create custom post types for our demo section. With GeneratePress, custom post types do not support meta data. You will not have date and author details in custom posts and custom taxonomy pages.
5. Theme Options
Most of the premium WordPress themes on the market offer separate theme options section. Under this theme options, you can add Google Analytics tracking code and Google AdSense (or any other) advertisement code. GeneratePress as such does not have separate theme options section. It integrates theme features with the default WordPress customizer section.
This means you have to install separate plugins for inserting any script code like Analytics or AdSense. This will increase number of plugins used on the site and update / maintenance time. In addition, free GeneratePress version offers limited theme options. You can’t remove the footer link in free version which is possible with other lightweight themes like Astra.
6. Custom Hooks (Premium)
GeneratePress premium version offers Elements features that helps you to overcome the above mentioned script inserting problem. You can create custom hooks and insert on the designated places like header or footer. The reason we list Elements as a problem is simple – it’s confusing. When the developer decided not to include author box or leave a reply link as part of the theme, we do not understand creating a hook and inserting them again. It will have following problems:
- It will not help you to insert advertisements (or any other code) after certain paragraphs (for example, after every 3 paragraphs) or in an archive loop.
- These hook elements will not work when you change the theme.
- Hooks will not support inserting functions.
- You can’t insert CSS and need to use WordPress’s default customizer option for this.
At the end, you will have a hook, custom CSS and a child theme (or modify functions.php file directly). This will really confuse normal users and none of these settings will carry over when you switch site’s theme.
7. Cannot Disable Theme and Plugin Editor
There is a continuing problem with using PHP code in hooks. In order to use PHP code, you should enable the checkbox “Execute PHP” under “Settings” section when creating a hook. The problem here is we disabled PHP file editing from the admin panel. This is to avoid anyone accessing admin panel do not have permission to modify theme or plugin core files. This is a highly recommended security feature when you have multiple author blogs. The only option to modify PHP files is by accessing the server either remotely with FTP or using File Manager app from hosting account.
When you disabled PHP file editing, it is not possible to use hooks with PHP code in GeneratePress Elements. For example, Yoast breadcrumb needs PHP code to be inserted on your (header or post) PHP template. You can do this easily with hook, however you have to compromise entire site’s security for this. Otherwise, you have to use plugin or child theme which is an additional customization.
8. Related Posts and Other Options
We agree features like related posts and social integration are part of plugins. However, if you need to install additional plugins for each single feature, you will easily end up with 30+ plugins on your site. These plugins will add code much bigger size than the theme itself. Related posts and social plugins will have direct impact on speed due to database querying and third-party integration respectively.
In fact, there are free lightweight related posts and social share plugins for GeneratePress. But you have to install two separate plugins anyway.
9. Free Theme + Premium Plugin
Generally, commercial themes offer a bundle as a premium pack. This includes premium plugins which you can install when activating the theme. However, GeneratePress works slightly different manner:
- GeneratePress is a free theme that you can install from WordPress repository.
- If you want premium version, then you have to purchase a GP Premium plugin. This plugin will add additional features and options in customizer.
- In addition, there is a license key to activate the plugin. This will help you to get updates whenever available. After a year of purchase, you have to renew the license key in order to get updates continuously. The premium features will wok even if you don’t upgrade, however you will not get any future updates and support.
The Highend theme we use on this site is available for one time purchase with life time free updates and support. With GeneratePress we have to move into a recurring payment mode with all the mention problems in this article.
10. Migration Problems
GeneratePress uses CreativeWork as a schema itemtype while many themes use BlogPosting as a schema. This could impact on search engine’s crawling and you may loose the ranking position for old pages. This happened in our case though it could differ case by case.
All changes you make using hooks, CSS or child theme will not go to a new theme when you switch. If you are frequently switching theme then keep the plugin features separately without mixing with hook elements and child theme.
GeneratePress has pretty decent documentation and forum. You can easily find solution to all of the above problems from their forum. However, at the end you will have a child theme customized with CSS, hook elements and additional plugins. With all these you can still get 90 to 100 score in Google PageSpeed. In our opinion, it is clever to choose a theme with author box and other basic features though it will affect 10 points in the speed score. With our current theme we do not have problems of post meta date, author box, Analytics integration, custom post type, related posts and disabling theme editor. We use plugin for displaying advertisements. This is super easy and if we need to increase mobile speed perhaps we can opt for AMP in future.