Before I switched over to Genesis, my primary wordpress theme framework of choice was Catalyst Theme. It was a super easy to use and customizable theme framework that made it easy for a non-coder like myself to create any design that I wanted for my websites.
So when Catalyst framework shutdown back in July, I was initially very disappointed that we would not be seeing any new updates to my favorite framework.
It turns out though, that this was not the end of Catalyst as I knew it. Most of the core features and customizability that I had grown to love had already been ported into a new Genesis child theme called Dynamik Website Builder.
In this Dynamik Website Builder review, I’m going to highlight some of the reasons I feel that this is the best Genesis child theme out there and why I decided to use it for this site.
Why Dynamik Website Builder
The main reason I think people love Genesis so much are the wide variety of child themes that you can install on top of it that can provide different look and feels for your site. If the vision of your website design fits the look of one of the many child themes out there, then you are in luck. Just get that child theme, make some tweaks, and you are ready to go live.
What if your vision doesn’t match the look of any existing child theme though? And what if you you are not a web designer and don’t have the php/html/css coding expertise to get your hands dirty to achieve the look you want? Well, that’s where the Dynamik Website Builder child theme steps up to fill the void.
Dynamik provides an extensive number of design options that let you tweak your website to your hearts content. No coding is needed if you don’t want to. Instead you can make changes from the comfort of Dynamik’s extensive design options.
When working with Dynamik Website Builder, you will most likely spend most of your time in the Design Options pages. There are a ton of options that you can tweak, but fortunately they’ve been broken up into separate tabs to keep them from being too overwhelming.
And here is a screenshot of the Content design options tab.
Say you want to tweak the headings of your posts. Then you would come to this tab and change the H3 font size and pick the color you want for it. You are not limited to changing just the fonts and colors either. Properties like background colors/images, borders, margins, paddings are also exposed as well. Essentially the most common properties that you would normally want to modify can be be done in the design options in a point and click way.
With most themes, you are stuck with whatever style layout the theme creator used. The Genesis framework itself gives you a lot more flexibility by actually allowing you to specify a different layout per post or page. So if you were designing a blog for example, you could have the standard content + right sidebar layout. But if you wanted to include a sales page for the newest product you created on your site, you could create that page using a full width layout. Pretty cool.
However with Dynamik Website Builder installed, it gives you additional flexibility by allowing you to control the widths of each layout area. Even cooler!
You don’t have to just create blog style sites with Dynamik. The static homepage options allow you to easily create a fully widgetized static homepage for your site. This allows you to create a front page that highlights your particular product or service while still maintaining a blog where you can keep your customers informed about new updates.
Dynamik Custom Options
While the features I’ve talked about above are more suited towards non-coders who want to be able to customize their site without having to do any programming, there is also the Dynamik Custom options page that exposes a lot more advanced functionality and allows you to achieve some amazing stuff.
If you know CSS then the Front-End CSS Builder is very cool and it’s one of my favorite features. What it does is open up a live preview of your site with the CSS Builder pane taking up the left hand side of your page. (You can also pop it out into your own window) Then, as you add CSS rules into the builder, you can see how the changes affect your site immediately. This is a great workflow, and makes customizing a website so much easier. It is also a great way to learn CSS by the way as well.
The Custom Widget Areas feature has some nice uses. It allows you to create a new widget area anywhere on your site. For example, lets say you want to display a banner ad at the bottom of each post. So you would name your new widget area, and place it at the bottom of each post using the genesis_after_post hook. Now when you go to Appearance > Widget, you’ll see your newly created Widget area and you can drag any widget into it. For this banner ad example, I would drag in the text widget and use it to insert your banner ad.
The Custom Hooks Boxes tab is similar. Except instead of adding a widget area, you can insert arbitrary PHP code that runs inside that hook location.
While these custom options are definitely for more advanced users, they really enable you to do some very cool things that aren’t possible with other theme frameworks.
At $79.95, Dynamik is a bit more expensive then the normal Genesis child theme. But that’s because it’s currently hands-down the most powerful Genesis child theme you can purchase at this time.
After using it for awhile, I’m pretty confident that you can pretty much design any type of site you want with it. There’s a small learning curve, but it’s not really bad at all. And the training videos that are available will get you up to speed very quickly.
If you are looking for a super flexible Genesis child theme then definitely give Dynamik Website Builder a look.