Dynamik Website builder has been my favorite Genesis child theme for awhile now. It is super customizable in so many ways and it has some great features which make website development much, much easier.
But while I can go on and on about why you should switch to Dynamik, I know for many people it is not that simple to make that transition. Many people are quite happy with their current child theme, and switching would be a huge time commitment that many would not bother with.
But what if you could keep your current child theme, and enhance it with many of the best features of Dynamik Website Builder? Luckily you can, in the form of Genesis Extender.
In this review, I’d like the take the opportunity to share why I think that Genesis extender is the ultimate Genesis Theme Framework plugin.
What is Genesis Extender?
Genesis Extender is a WordPress plugin that works with any Genesis child theme, free or premium. Like the name suggests, it allows you to “extend” your current child theme to modify and mold your site exactly how you want it.
When you install the plugin, it essentially adds two new menu options under the Genesis menu: Extender Settings and Extender Custom.
The plugin is especially useful if you are a non-hardcore developer who is interested in customizing your current site’s design without having to dive into the nitty gritty of setting up your own development environment and ftp’ing your changes changes every time to the server.
With its simple to use interface, Genesis Extender allows you to perform all customizations within your site’s WordPress dashboard.
I’ve been using Genesis Extender for awhile now, so let me describe some of my favorite features that I use the most on my sites.
Custom CSS Editor
This is the real gem of the Genesis Extender plugin. When you enable it, it will open up a live view of the page you’re editing with a sidebar that contains the CSS Builder and a CSS editor. As you add CSS rules to the editor, you will see the changes reflected on your site in real time! It is very slick and making CSS changes on your site becomes so much easier when using it.
Another awesome feature of the CSS editor are the element selectors, which allow you to precisely pick an element your page to style. If you select the Enable Element Selectors button it will overlay your page with labels for the major sections on your page like #content, #sidebar or #footer. You can then click on any of these labels which will show you all the child elements for that element in a dropdown.
Select any of these and it will highlight exactly which element will be affected on the page. This is great, especially when you are new to your theme’s code and are unfamiliar with what element ids and classes to target with your CSS.
Create a Static Homepage
Many of the websites you visit these days have some sort of static front page. It is the preferred way to highlight your products, your best content or even as a lead capture page. Enabling this with Genesis Extender is super simple, and the plugin provides you with tons of layout options which it calls EZ Home Widget Areas.
Each layout provides you with a different arrangement of Widget areas which gives you the flexibility to design any type of static front page for your site.
When working with WordPress, it helps to have a good working knowledge of CSS and PHP. CSS for creating awesome looking designs and PHP for extending your theme’s functionality via WordPress and Genesis hooks. The CSS and PHP Builders that Dynamik provides gives you a point and click interface to generate the CSS/PHP code you need.
I especially enjoy using the CSS Builder because it exposes all the CSS properties for you in an easy to find way. If you are not a CSS expert yet, this tool will definitely help you learn.
Custom Hooks, Widget Areas and Labels
Genesis Extender allows you to really tap into the power of Genesis without really needing to be a coding guru. With custom hook boxes, you can quickly leverage all the hooks that Genesis exposes through a couple of dropdowns. All you need to do is name your hook, select the specific hook you want to use, and then insert the PHP code you want to run on that hook.
Custom Widget Areas is similar to the Custom Hooks except that it adds a widget area to the hook you select. I wrote a tutorial called How to Create Your Own HelloBar For Genesis which demonstrates how to leverage these custom widget areas.
Genesis Extender also introduces the concept of Labels and Conditionals. Labels are like tags in that you can label any post or page you want. This will create a custom conditional for your label so you can make it so your hooks or widget areas only apply to specific labels. So I can do things like show one specific banner ad for one label and show another more targeted banner ad for another label.
Genesis Extender vs Dynamik Website Builder
You may be reading this review, and wondering what the difference is between Genesis Extender and Dynamik Website Builder since it sounds like they share many of the same features. This is very true.
However, the key difference is that Genesis Extender is a WordPress plugin while Dynamik is a standalone Genesis child theme. If you own Dynamik, then you don’t need to use Genesis Extender.
Dynamik contains all the features of the Genesis Extender plugin already. Dynamik Website Builder also contains its own Dynamik Settings which contains 900 different design customizations that you can use to tweak various design options on your site.
Genesis Extender on the hand, will just leverage the design options of whatever Genesis child theme you are using.
So which one should you get?
If you are already happy with your own child theme, or you have your eye on a specific Genesis child theme (that is not Dynamik) then the Genesis Extender plugin would be a great fit. It will make customizing your child theme so much easier.
If you are still in the market for a really flexible and customizable Genesis child theme to use for your site, then I would recommend taking a look at using Dynamik.
The Genesis Extender plugin contains a ton of great enhancements that make customizing your Genesis child theme much, much easier. Once you start using it, you will wonder how you ever survived without it. You can pick it up for only $49.95 and you can use it on an unlimited number of sites. It is really that good, and you should definitely try it out.