I am a satisfied GeneratePress theme user since 2019, when I initially wrote this review. Today, I am updating it to tell you why GeneratePress remains the best option for bloggers, after all these years.
The best thing about GeneratePress, in my opinion, is its speed. I kept hearing that GeneratePress is one of the fastest themes available, so I decided to give it a try. I am happy I did!
Because GeneratePress is indeed extremely fast. As you will see below, as soon as I installed the theme and activated the Premium version, my blog’s speed skyrocketed – instantly, without me making any other changes. Just switching themes – it was that easy!
And with loading times for your blog being a ranking factor for Google these days, having a fast theme is essential for the success of your business. And GeneratePress delivers that – as well as plenty of other features to really make it your own.
So let’s talk about all of these in my review of GeneratePress, after using it for nearly 4 years!
GeneratePress Free vs Premium
The amazing thing about GeneratePress is that a free version is available for download, offering the same speed benefits that the Premium one does.
The main difference between the Premium and the Free one is that the latter has fewer customization options available, so you can’t really make it your own.
Also, the free theme has a footer link to the GeneratePress website, one that you are not allowed to remove.
But if you’re just starting up and you want to begin with the advantage of an insanely fast theme, you have the option to do so for free and upgrade to the Premium version later, when your blog grows.
Or maybe you just want to test it out and see if it’s indeed as fast as it claims – and as fast & good as I claim.
I personally jumped straight into getting the Premium GeneratePress instantly and switched ALL my sites to it. I opted to do this because it offers a lot more in terms of customizations and options to further personalize your blog.
Here are the main features that the Premium version offers (listing my favorite at the top):
- Site library: a bunch of pre-made sites (that are pretty beautiful, I must add) available with a one-click import
- Blog option: Featured image controls, columns & masonry, infinite scroll archives & more.
- Typography & Colors: to give you full control over your fonts and colors used (which is a must in my opinion)
- Secondary Navigation: Add a second navigation with all the same options as the primary navigation (an extra menu, for example)
- Sections: If you want to do it yourself, this is a fast page builder that offers a bit of customization (I used it to build the home page from scratch, for example with no coding needed)
- Copyright removal (in most cases, you won’t want to link out to a theme’s developer and have your own copyright instead)
- Spacing – to further control how your blog looks like
- Menu Plus: Good for adding mobile navigation, off-canvas menus and a sticky menu if you want it
- Backgrounds: Again for even more control over your design – it’s not something I actively use, though.
- Elements & Disable Elements: some more advanced stuff for those with a bit of coding experience, to customize the theme even more
- Import / Export options to quickly transfer the same settings over to other blogs or backup yours before making any changes
- Woocommerce extras: I don’t use Woocommerce, but for those who do, it offers a bunch of more options to further customize it
- Theme Builder: If you are great at coding, you can easily and fully customize every aspect of your blog’s look, including by using the new Gutenberg Blocks.
All in all, as you see, the Premium version of GeneratePress does give you more options to make your blog really stand out and really your own.
But the core is the same and using the free version of the WordPress theme would still give you the same benefits in terms of speed.
Speed Test: GeneratePress vs Other Themes
The biggest and most important test for GeneratePress is if it delivers (or not) in terms of page speed improvements.
And in order to see that, I ran a PageSpeed check of a page on Nomad Not Mad before changing the theme.
(IMPORTANT: Always check the page speed of an article, not the home page, because these are built differently and most people will see your articles and not the home page!)
Here are the scores that this blog was getting before GeneratePress Premium:
Mobile Speed Score: Before GeneratePress
Desktop Speed Score: Before GeneratePress
Ouch! On mobile, the blog needed 16.5 seconds to load the page and it took 3.4 seconds before it moved from a blank page to showing something to the reader.
With an overall score of 22 (which is the score that Google calculates, since its indexing is mobile-first), things didn’t look that good.
Back when I switched, the Core Web Vitals were not a thing, but now I will update them as well to see how good things are.
So here is how things changed after switching to GeneratePress Premium. Same article, same host, same plugins, just a different theme:
Core web vitals: Passed with GeneratePress
Probably the most important thing is that the theme helps you pass ALL core web vital tests.
With CWV being a ranking factor, this is the most important thing to look at when deciding how fast your blog is:
Have in mind that I am running ads on my site (Ezoic ads at the moment) which are notorious for slowing down websites.
So even with that (I tested with AdSense only, as well as Mediavine ads), all the core web vitals scores are in the green with GeneratePress Premium.
Mobile Speed Score: After Installing GeneratePress
Mobile Desktop Score: After Installing GeneratePress
As you can see, the speed instantly jumped on mobile and the image speaks for itself. From 22 to 98 speed score without me doing anything but changing the theme.
I think that this alone is a solid enough reason for you to switch over to GeneratePress INSTANTLY. Just imagine how useful this boost in speed can be.
Note: I have to admit that, usually, the pagespeed score is in the high 60s with Ezoic ads. But even that is great, over 3x faster than it was before.
And with the page on mobile being what matters when it comes to ranking on Google, you have no reason to complain.
IMPORTANT: Amazing hosting will also help a ton. I personally use and recommend BigScoots – they are a premium hosting company that beats, in terms of speed & customer service all the other, cheaper, hosting companies that I have tried (from Bluehost to Siteground, Dreamhost to WPX). I just love them. My opinion, of course.
More tests, other websites
As I said, I liked GeneratePress so much that I decided to switch most of my blogs over to it. Each of them had great results – and the speed would be blazing fast if you are running better optimized ads or no ads at all.
I didn’t save screenshots of the scores that the blogs were getting before switching, but they were much, much lower.
But here are the scores after switching (mobile scores, not desktop!). I use both older screenshots and brand new ones.
1. Blog with no ads (which slow down the site) hosted on a fast virtual private server over at Dreamhost:
2. Blog with Mediavine ads hosted at BigScoots:
3. Blog without banner ads hosted on a shared Dreamhost server:
As you can see, all the results are extremely impressive. Simply changing the theme comes with massive advantages!
I don’t have the screenshots to prove it, but for the 1st website, the score before switching to GeneratePress was in the mid 70s, for the second it was in the mid-60s, and for the 3rd it was in the low 40s.
I am running similar optimizations for all blogs that I own, so the main differences come from two things here:
- the hosting (better, more expensive hosting gives better scores simply because it is faster and better optimized. This is why I am now using BigScoots extensively)
Still, even without making any other changes to increase the speed of your blog, simply switching themes improves the score. And that is a massive win.
Is GeneratePress Premium Worth Getting?
Definitely, by all means, you shouldn’t think twice before getting GeneratePress Premium for your blog!
It is indeed a super fast theme (the fastest that I ever found) and the Premium version is extremely cheap: it costs $59 per year (double check the price!), but its main advantage is that you can use it on up to 500 blogs, which is basically unlimited. So the more blogs you have, the cheaper it gets!
The biggest complaint you could have with GeneratePress is that, compared to other themes out there, it’s pretty basic.
It doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that other themes offer, but there are two extremely important things to have in mind here:
1. You DON’T need all those bells & whistles! And if you really do, there are free plugins created by the theme’s development team (and supporters) to get them.
2. Those bells & whistles make your site slower, therefore negatively influencing user experience and ultimately ranking, so even though you have a beautiful site, fewer people will visit.
Nowadays, most of the traffic to our websites comes via mobile phones (just check your Analytics if you don’t believe me). And most themes and websites look about the same on mobile – including GeneratePress.
The main difference in design comes to the home page, but again that is one of the least visited page of most blogs (again, check your Analytics to see!).
So even though on desktop, GeneratePress might not look as amazing as some other themes out there do, only a minority of your visitors will actually see the desktop version and even so, it won’t be an ugly site they’ll be seeing.
Content is the most important thing when it comes to blogging and if that’s crap, you can’t get fans and readers no matter how good the design is.
This is one of the most important lessons that is also really difficult to learn: design doesn’t matter that much and most readers don’t see that extra splash of color that you add here or there, the extra line that you put at the end or whatever.
It’s the text that matters and the loading speed – and for that, GeneratePress is perfect!
If you’re just starting out (or haven’t started yet, but you want to launch your own travel blog), and you don’t want to invest much money early on, you can also go for the free version and use it until your blog picks up – and afterwards upgrade to Premium.
But there are few businesses that you can start with $50 (if any), so investing in the Premium theme could be the better choice in all cases thanks to the added customization options.
How to install GeneratePress Premium?
The Premium “theme” is actually a plugin that adds more features and code to the base, free version of GeneratePress – this is why upgrading from free to pro is extremely easy!
After purchasing Premium, simply go to Plugins -> Add New, hit the “Upload Plugin” button and install the archive from your computer.
Then, you will get access to the options that you can activate or deactivate, as seen below:
I recommend activating them all first and disabling the ones you don’t need (if any) afterwards. And that’s it! Head over to Appearance -> Customize and start taking advantage of all the new features!
Tip: Extra plugin to install
The developer of the theme, Tom Usborne, also has an extremely useful plugin that I recommend installing ASAP: WP Show Posts.
It is available for free (just search for it in Plugins -> Add New) and gives you full control over sharing and customizing lists of articles (like the ones I have in the sidebar or the ones at the bottom of my home page).
This is vital and even though I said that design doesn’t matter that much: but making those articles a bit more clickable with nice photos is definitely a bonus.
This would be all for my analysis of the surprisingly amazing GeneratePress theme for your blog. It is blazing fast, it helps you pass Core Web Vitals without a problem to boost your blog’s ranking and, even though a premium theme, it’s not cheap.
I am using it happily since 2019 and I have no plans on stopping. Sure, I love Mediavine’s Trellis theme which is blazing fast and optimized for ads, but that’s more expensive.
Beginners (or those who don’t make that much yet with their blog) have an amazing option here with GeneratePress.