GeneratePress is one of the most popular themes out there; its rating in the WordPress repository is one of the highest, with 848 out of 858 reviews giving it a 5-star rating and it has 200,000+ active installs (as of this writing).
Clearly, this theme has a card up its sleeve. But what is?
In this article, we’re going to dig deep to try and work out the secret sauce so that we can ultimately decide whether GeneratePress premium is worth the money or not.
In reality, even if there are 200,000+ active installs, the question really should be: it is right for your business? As users of this theme ourselves, we give you an honest, unbiased, and truthful GeneratePress review so you can make an informed decision yourself.
Let's dig right in.
GeneratePress Review Summary
GeneratePress has a strong focus on excellent performance and small, clean code. The theme size is less than 30 kB, which is the smallest WordPress theme you'll find. This makes it incredibly fast to load and one of the fastest WordPress themes out there.
Ease of use
Value for money
From free, Premium starts at $49.95
No, but the core theme is free
Ease of use - getting up and running is very simple
Performance – The theme performs excellently even with all modules active
Quality site templates – Even the free templates are well designed
Price – The core theme is free and premium themes are well priced.
Customization – Extensive customization options, for anything and everything you need.
Sole developer – Sole developers without the backing of a largish company have a small inherent risk.
Lack of drag and drop support with pagebuilders
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Are you intrigued? Why did we give it a perfect score? Is it really that good?
Only one way to find out. Read on and let's get started with our GeneratePress review!
What is GeneratePress?
GeneratePress is one of the most popular and highest rated WordPress themes in the market today. It is a multipurpose theme that can be used to create any kind of website. In the 5 years since it launched, it has been one of the most stable, feature-rich, fast and best-supported WordPress themes available.
A testament to this is the sheer amount of 5-star reviews:
This WordPress theme lets you customize a site using the native WordPress customizer and interface, eliminating the need to learn a new UI.
That means everyone who knows how to use WordPress already knows how to use GeneratePress.
Have a look at the following short video of using this theme:
You can still use page builders to build your site, however since it’s fully compatible with the majority of popular page builders. It seems that most users opt-in to Beaver Builder and Elementor, with the latter being the more popular choice.
The theme comes in two flavors, free and premium. The premium version comes with several additional modules. To use these modules, you will need to purchase a license for a plugin called “GP Premium”, which then needs to be installed and activated.
A default, fresh installation of GeneratePress is quite plain, but this can be said about most themes unless you import a demo site. It has the traditional look and formatting of a typical blog site; a simple set of header, menu, sidebar, and footer.
Its strength is that it can thoroughly be customized to look very different from its base appearance, rivaling even those that were made using page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder and Divi (check out our reviews), and our Elementor vs Divi comparison.
The only con of using GeneratePress over page builders is that it takes a bit longer to build beautiful pages due to the lack of drag and drop. But the result is a more code compliant and lighter website.
Believe it or not, this is built using only GeneratePress Premium and HappyForms plugin.
Building sites can be sped up, however, by activating the site-library module. With the module activated, you can select and import pre-built templates to jumpstart your project.
The image above is one of the pre-built site templates that you can import to your site.
In summary, GeneratePress is a free lightweight WordPress theme that has a companion premium plugin called “GP Premium”. The latter unlocks the powerful “modules” feature containing a wide selection of additional customization options and feature add-ons that you can utilize to build a beautiful and professional looking website.
Incidentally, at CollectiveRay, we constantly review WordPress themes and create roundups with them. You can find plenty of more themes for WordPress on this site.
GeneratePress is one of the most lightweight and fastest themes in the market.
We’ve performed several speed tests on a freshly installed WordPress site hosted in a shared hosting environment. This is the environment most people will use it on. You can expect even better results if you use managed hosting on a VPS.
There are no plugins activated by default, except for the GP Premium for GeneratePress. We’ve tested the site via Pingdom Tools with the testing server set to North America - USA - San Francisco.
First, here’s the result with only GeneratePress and GP Premium active. No modules are activated.
It loaded in less than a second, performed 12 requests and only weights 61.5 KB. It cannot get any leaner than that!
In the next test, we deactivated GeneratePress and GP Premium and used the default Twenty Nineteen theme.
Even though it performed 1 less request, it loaded slower and has a larger page size.
Next, we tested again with GeneratePress and GP Premium active, but this time all modules are activated.
The difference between the default GeneratePress and with all modules activated is VERY small. It performed one more request and loaded about 200ms slower but the page size remained almost the same.
While it's .02 of a second slower than Twenty Nineteen now, we have to keep in mind that it has all modules active, giving it plenty of new features ultimately making GeneratePress far superior to Twenty Nineteen.
Let’s try testing the same site again, but this time, with the Hestia theme installed and activated.
The number of requests, the page load time and the page size is significantly worse.
What about OceanWP?
We can see that it's better than Hestia, even if the page size and the number of requests are larger.
GeneratePress’ performance is blazing fast compared to other themes even on a shared hosting server. Even after activating all modules, there’s only a slight difference in the results, giving it a clear advantage of speed when compared to features available.
The performance drop is NOT noticeable in a live environment, especially if we consider the massive set of features that we gain in exchange for the small drop.
In the next section, you will discover the massive array of features GeneratePress offers and you will realize why the measly performance drop is a price we're willing to pay.
Need fast web hosting for your next project?
Given that you're looking to learn about GeneratePress, it would be fair to say that you would also be interested in fast web hosting for your next project. Did you know that SiteGround is has specific plugins for WordPress together with many advanced optimization techniques to make your website perform faster?
But not's the only thing you want from a website hosting service. You want your website to be reliable and at a price that makes sense. That's why CollectiveRay recommends SiteGround for hosting GP sites. We host many of our own projects with SiteGround and have been doing so for more than 5 years now, and we're not planning to change this any time soon.
It's a great mix of flexibility, power and price that you won't find often.
While GeneratePress at its default settings looks somewhat bland, anyone can quickly transform it to achieve beautiful results.
The huge range of customization options and advanced features that it offers makes it very easy to build the website you envisioned.
In this section, we’re going to deep dive into the features and modules and what you can do with them.
While we’re not going to give you an in-depth walkthrough of everything since their documentation already does it perfectly, we’re still going to ensure that you can have a good idea and overview of what you can expect when GeneratePress Premium.
Let’s get started!
GeneratePress’s customizer is built into WordPress’s default customizer, so you don’t need to learn anything new in terms of the user interface.
The customizer contains most of the things you need to alter the appearance of your site.
Here, you can access the settings for colors, typography, layout, widgets, background images and other customization and layout options for almost all elements of your site.
There’s also a unique WooCommerce customization section. This will appear if you have WooCommerce installed and activated and if the WooCommerce module from GeneratePress is also activated.
The WooCommerce section gives access to settings that can change how your shop, product and checkout pages look and behave.
Colors and Typography
The color and typography options of GP premium is vast, almost overwhelming, in a good way.
There are about 60 color options available for configuration and customization. You can access the color options by going to the Customizer and selecting Colors.
In the colors panel, you can edit the color of almost all elements of your site. You can customize background colors, font colors, link colors, or whatever else you may need to change to suit your design.
Selecting your desired color can be done either via the color picker or by entering a hex color code.
Reverting to the default colors can be done easily by pressing the “default” button beside the hex color code input box.
Just like with the colors, GeneratePress lets you customize your typography as much as you need, changing the font and styles of almost all elements of your site. You can change the typography settings of your header, body, widget, sidebar, menu, and most other elements.
You can select what font family to use, change the font weight, apply text transformations, customize font-size, etc.
For the font family, you can choose between system fonts or Google fonts.
There are three ways to control layout in GeneratePress. One is via the customizer, the second is through individual posts or pages and the third is through the use of “Layout Elements”.
In this section, we’re going to focus on the first two.
The layout controls on the customizer have far more options as compared to the individual post and page layout controls.
In the customizer, you can control the layout of almost all elements of your site, similar to the colors and typography controls.
You can control how many sidebars should appear, the width and layout of the menus, change the width, height, and padding of an element to display differently depending on the visitor’s device, etc.
Layout options in post/page editor allow you to configure specific post or page layout. You can change the sidebar layout, footer widgets, and the page builder content container type.
You can also disable certain elements like the top bar, header, navigation, title, footer, etc. if you have activated the Disable Elements module.
The theme is responsive, out of the box.
Irrespective of any kind of customization you apply, the theme will do an excellent job of making sure that it stays responsive and displays properly on any kind of device and screen resolution.
The Responsive Options go a step further. They allow you to control some responsive layout and typography settings, however. For example, you can define a different header padding size for desktop and mobile.
The responsive control is not extensive but is more than enough to allow you to customize how your site is displayed based on the user’s device.
Advanced Responsive Controls
If you want to have more control over your site’s responsive layout, you can employ advanced tricks and tweaks. They have excellent documentation that can help you with that here.
The advanced tweaks are quite handy. One example is the built-in CSS classes which you can use on your HTML elements:
You can probably already guess what they do.
One of the things we love the most about this theme is the built-in schema support.
Google has said time and time again that Schema is important for them to be able to understand and show better your website's contents and details in the search engine result pages (SERP).
While there is sporadic evidence that adding schema markup to your website improves SEO, it does improve your SERP prominence, as can be seen below (the dates are event schema).
This prominence, in return, can generate more click-throughs, which is always good for SEO, and ultimately for your business.
From the image above, you can see that you will be able to certainly grab the attention of the visitors because it makes your website stand out in the results.
Instead of diving deep into every premium module, we’re going to give you an overview of them since the documentation already covers each module thoroughly. This section will help give you an idea of what you can get for its price tag of $49.95.
As of version 1.8.3, GeneratePress has the following premium modules:
- Disable Elements
- Menu Plus
- Secondary Nav
- Site Library
This module enables background image customization. This will let you configure background options for all eligible elements of your site.
Every element comes with a slightly different background image option.
Activating the blog module lets you access advanced layout controls for your blog.
For example, you will be able to control the visibility of the post author, date, tags, category, etc.
There’s also an option that lets you choose whether to display an excerpt or not and how many characters the excerpt should have if you choose to enable it, along with many other layout and display options for your blog posts and blog page.
The colors module enables the advanced color options that we discussed earlier.
The copyright module lets you change the copyright message displayed in the footer of your site.
We’ve already seen this is a powerful module earlier in the layouts control section. This module is the one that lets you disable certain elements on a certain post or page.
You can access this by selecting the layout options on a post or page and then selecting the Disable Elements option. Just check which elements you want to disable, save the post or page and you’re done.
This is one of the most powerful modules GeneratePress has to offer. It lets you add advanced tweaks and customizations to your site with ease.
Advanced users and developers are the ones who will mostly use this module and its features, but casual users can also benefit from it.
There are three types of elements: Header, Hook and Layout.
- Header elements let you add a custom header. You can build a custom header using HTML and CSS.
- Hook elements let you insert content to any available hook on your site. This is a powerful feature that lets advanced users and developers customize the site’s output without the need to use a child theme.
- Layout elements are another way to apply a certain style of layout to a specific post, page, or parts of your site. We’ve glanced this earlier in the Layout Control section; this is the third way of controlling your layout.
Every element has a display rule that you can configure. For your elements to work or display anywhere, you must set conditions on the display rule.
You can select to display an element on your entire site or only on specific pages, posts, categories, tags, etc.
Activating this module lets you configure additional options for sticky navigation, mobile menu, mobile header, off-canvas panel, etc.
Adds a secondary menu location.
Activating the section module gives access to a mini page builder. Once activated, you will have the ability to enable or disable sections on a post or page.
Activating the Sections option replaces the default editor with a panel that lets you add and arrange sections. It will also remove the sidebars.
Clicking on the Add Section button will let you add a new section block.
You can configure your section blocks by using HTML and CSS. A skilled web designer can make lightweight pages that rival page builders using this feature.
You can take advantage of plugins like TinyMCE Advanced to extend the section block’s content editor’s functionalities. This will help you create better blocks with ease.
Each section block has its settings where you can configure the block’s layout, color, background and custom CSS options.
This module adds additional spacing and padding options in the customizer.
This module activates additional typography options that we discussed earlier.
This module can only be activated if you have WooCommerce installed and activated. It lets you control your WooCommerce store, product and checkout pages’ layout, color and typography settings, which you already saw in the customizer section above.
We’ve gone through the available modules and features in GeneratePress. While we’ve barely touched the surface in terms of actual functionality, you now have a complete overview of everything in the theme.
If you want to learn more about them, you can always check out their documentation.
The site library module enables access to dozens of pre-made site templates.
These templates can help you get started with building a website very quickly since it includes basic pages and demo content.
There is a filter that lets you select templates that are built with either Elementor or Beaver Builder. If you do not wish to use any of these, you can select none.
The image above displays shows that are not using page builders at all. Notice how fancy they are. At first glance, you will probably think that they were built with the help of a page builder, but in reality, they’re not.
That’s how extensive and customizable GeneratePress is.
Selecting a template will let you view its details, such as what plugins were used.
You can also configure whether to import the demo content or not. The image above shows a template that doesn’t use a page builder.
You can see how the template author utilized a combination of GeneratePress’s built-in features and external plugins to produce an excellent looking site.
Site Library Examples
If you’re wondering what kind of templates GeneratePress offers, we’re going to give you a sneak peek at some of the more interesting ones the site-library has.
Different templates have different authors, but all of them are approved by the theme’s developer so you can rest assured that all of them are high quality and conformant to the theme.
The first one is the Prime template by LH Consulting. It looks very similar to Amazon. If you want to start an e-commerce site, this could probably be one of the best template choices.
This template uses the following plugins: AJAX Search for WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, MailChimp for WordPress, Simple CSS, Responsive WordPress Slider - Soliloquy Lite, WooCommerce Blocks, and WooCommerce.
Check out the full demo and preview here.
2. Head On
If you want a strong landing page, then Head On by Flint Skin is a good choice. It has a big header landing page with bold type which immediately catches the attention of your visitors.
This template uses very few plugins and is therefore very light: Contact Form 7, Lazy Load for Videos and Lightweight Social icons.
A full demo and preview is available here.
Next, we have the Volume template, again by Flint Skin. It’s a template that was built with content creators in mind. It has a strong focus on readability and cleanliness.
This template uses nothing but GeneratePress premium. You can see the live sample here.
We’ve seen templates that only use the core GeneratePress as its base, but what about ones that use page builders?
Like what you’ve learned earlier, the site-library has templates for the core theme, Elementor and Beaver Builder, so with that in mind, we are also going to check out some of the templates that were built with the help of page builders.
The following templates will be using Elementor. If you are not familiar with this page builder, we've reviewed this plugin fully on CollectiveRay here.
Perfect for freelancers, agencies, and studios to showcase their services, Vibe by Flint Skin is a site template focusing on giving you the ability to create a beautiful presentation of your work and services.
While it's built with Elementor, the template uses the free version so you don’t have to worry about having to pay for another premium WordPress product to get this look. No other plugins are required. You can visit the live demo here.
The next template, Uno which, again, is crafted by Flint Skin, is an excellent landing page template. That image on the right has a hover animation.
Like the latter template, Uno also uses the free version of Elementor. Check out this sleek theme on the live demo here.
Aspire by FlixFrame is a site template focusing on helping you showcase your brand. It’s clean and simple.
It uses Elementor Pro and WP Show Posts Pro. Check out this premium template’s demo here.
Next, we’re going to see templates built around GeneratePress and Beaver Builder.
Studio by Paul Lacey is a minimalist template that takes advantage of contrasting colors.
It is quite heavy in terms of plugins, it uses Beaver Builder Plugin (Pro Version), Lightweight Social Icons, MailChimp for WordPress, Menu Icons, PowerPack Lite for Beaver Builder, WP Show Posts plugins to achieve the look.
See it in action in the live demo.
If you want a corporate style template, Pivot by Mike Oliver is your choice.
Most Beaver Builder based templates are quite heavy, with this one using Google Map, Beaver Builder Plugin (Pro Version), Black Studio TinyMCE Widget, Lightweight Social Icons, MailChimp for WordPress, WP Show Posts plugins to deliver the look.
Check it out the demo here.
Finally, we have the Branded template, again by Paul Lacey. The template author claims that it was designed based on the feedback of actual branding experts.
It uses the least number of plugins compared to other Beaver Builder based templates we saw earlier. To achieve this look, the template author used Beaver Builder Plugin (Pro Version), Menu Icons, PowerPack Lite for Beaver Builder, WP Show Posts plugins.
Check out this professionally built template here.
Support and Documentation
Aside from the excellent performance and features, GeneratePress also comes with excellent support and documentation.
This theme probably has the most exhaustive documentation ever.
If you visit https://docs.generatepress.com/, you can find everything you need to know; from installing and updating the GP Premium companion plugin, to using hooks, filters, and adding custom CSS and PHP.
Every topic and module are thoroughly documented down to the very last detail.
Take a look at their Typography module documentation and see how extensive it is. There’s an overview, which contains the basics and general options and there are advanced topics such as customizing Google font list, adding local fonts and others.
Aside from directly browsing the documentation, you can alternately do a Google search of your problem or question and one of the top results will always be a link to the official documentation or their support forum, making it very easy to find what you’re looking for.
Speaking of support, theirs is one of (if not) the best. From free to premium users, everyone gets the same quality of help and support.
Remember earlier that you can google your problems and questions regarding GeneratePress and the top of the SERP is either a link to their official documentation or a link to their support forum?
You can see the quality of their support by browsing the support forum.
When you click the link to the support forum, you can view responses from the staff and Tom himself. They are very helpful to their users and go the extra mile to help them (the thread in the screenshot was created in late 2015 and still gets a response 4 years later).
Even the support forum in WordPress for the free version is very active and most questions are answered by the team or by Tom very quickly.
You will surely not get stuck with something with GeneratePress.
You can easily find answers to your questions and problems since most of the time, what you’re looking for is in the documentation or has already been answered in the support forum. If those scenarios don’t apply to you, you can easily get an answer to your question or problem by posting in the forum yourself.
Another great thing about GeneratePress is its pricing.
The theme itself is free, but to unlock the premium modules, you’ll have to buy a license for the companion plugin called “GP Premium”. Once the plugin is installed and activated, you can enjoy all premium modules and you can get access to the Site Library, which contains beautiful pre-built sites to speed up your projects.
The license for GP Premium costs $49.95 per year and can be used on unlimited websites, whether it’s yours or your client’s, it doesn’t matter. You’ll get access to their priority support forums and free updates for the duration of the license.
Should you decide to renew your license, you get a whopping 40% discount.
They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, if, for some weird reason, you didn’t like the premium version. No questions asked.
Overall, it costs 50 bucks for the first year and then 30 bucks thereafter to use GeneratePress at its full potential in as many websites you wish.
It’s an insane deal.
Coupon / Discount
Whenever a GeneratePress discount or coupon code is made available, you will find it below. To get a 10% discount, please use the link below, which will take you to a specific page where you can use a coupon code.
Testimonials / User Satisfaction
You don’t have to look for testimonials and reviews elsewhere.
Just by browsing their support forum and WordPress help forum you can see how they helped users with their problems and how happy those users were. You can see that their users are extremely satisfied.
Furthermore, you can count on the fingers of your hands the number of non-5-star reviews in the repository.
Looking up the phrase “GeneratePress review” on search engines would return articles, blogs, and reviews that contain nothing but praise for the theme. For example, see what Adam from WP Crafter gave it as a rating:
From casual users to developers, everyone recommends it and most of them even call it “the number one theme for WordPress”.
Another glowing review, this time from Brian Jackson, who is the CMO at Kinsta and also runs the blog Woorkup:
Clearly, 99% of users are satisfied with GeneratePress.
GeneratePress is already an excellent theme, but of course, we always like to feature alternatives, for anybody who is still considering all options. There are a few themes that can match its performance, features and support level. Here are some of them.
If you are not looking to spend any money on a theme, OceanWP is your best choice. It's a multipurpose, page builder friendly theme. CollectiveRay has reviewed this theme here.
It’s highly compatible with Elementor. It's even a recommended plugin when you first install OceanWP on a fresh site.
It comes with tons of customization options and its integration with Elementor makes it one of the best free themes that can build pretty looking websites without spending a dime.
Of course, it also comes with a premium version that further extends its functionalities and gives you access to tons of pro templates that you can use to speed up your project.
Astra, like GeneratePress and OceanWP, has two flavors: free and premium.
Astra focuses on utilizing page builders to help you build your site. It’s highly compatible with Beaver Builder, Elementor, Brizy (this is a new page builder, in case you haven’t heard about it) and Gutenberg (the current default WP editor).
It relies heavily on page builders for design and customization, so it only makes sense that it offers 40+ free website templates that you can use. This probably has the most number of free templates of any theme.
Like GeneratePress, its premium version will let you activate a bunch of premium modules.
Another advantage of Astra over GeneratePress is that it comes with free plugins that can extend its features. This, coupled with over three dozen free site templates, overthrows GeneratePress in the free version department. if you want to see our full Astra review, you can go here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is GeneratePress free?
Yes, GeneratePress has a version of the theme that is completely free. Some modules such as the Site Library, Colors, Typography, WooCommerce, Menu Plus, Import/Export and others require to opt for the premium version which starts at $49.95.
How do I use GeneratePress premium?
To use GeneratePress premium, first click here to get a license. Once you do you will be able to download the installation of GP Premium. You can now upload this file as you would any WordPress plugin. This then gives you access to all the GP Premium modules. You can now activate the modules you need. To keep the theme fast and lean, only enable those modules you need.
What is the fastest WordPress theme?
GeneratePress is certainly one of the hot contenders for being the fastest WordPress theme. It is incredibly lean with the default install only being 30kb in size, which is a very small footprint. The theme has very clean code and no bloat giving it excellent load times.
The performance, feature set, support and pricing of GeneratePress is really good. Everything about it is nothing but positive.
Paying for the premium version will get you far. With modest pricing of $49.95, a 40% renewal discount and unlimited website usage, that price tag is a steal.
The only downside of GeneratePress is its free version. Compared to other popular high-rated free themes, GeneratePress’s free version pales in comparison to the premium. You need to purchase the premium version to truly enjoy its benefits. So if you don’t want to spend any money, GeneratePress is probably not for you.
Having said that, we strongly believe that GeneratePress is well worth the money.
The code quality and the level of support along with unlimited website usage make it worth every single penny. So if you've already got your eyes on it, there’s no better time than right now to get the premium version and start using it for your projects.
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