GeneratePress is a great theme developed by Tom Usborne, no doubt about it. The free version of GeneratePress has been downloaded more than 300,000 times. But, as you already know, a premium version adds many more features and functionality to GeneratePress.
At this point, you might be wondering whether you should stick to the free version or upgrade to GeneratePress premium?
In order to resolve this dilemma, I have created this GeneratePress Free vs Premium comparison where I will first walk you through the features in the free version of GeneratePress. After this, I will list the features available in the premium GeneratePress plugin.
Then I will help you to pick between the Free and Pro versions of the GeneratePress WordPress theme. After all, there’s no point in paying for something if you can get by with the free features on offer.
Sounds good? Keep reading till the end.
GeneratePress Free: What’s on offer?
As I mentioned earlier, the GeneratePress theme can be downloaded for free from the WordPress theme repository. It has some nice features to get you started that I will describe below.
The WordPress Customizer is the command center of the GeneratePress theme. All the theme options are available in the Customizer. The earlier generation of WordPress themes had a separate theme options panel but this is not considered a good practice by the WordPress community that intends the in-built Customizer to be the place where you edit your theme settings.
So, GeneratePress follows this practice in tune with official WordPress recommendations.
The customizer is fast and responsive with helpful quick access links at the top of each panel.
I really love the default boxed layout of GeneratePress. It is clean with a white background and space between different containers. Perfect for bloggers. The container width is also adjustable.
You can also switch to a single layout if you want the layout to appear as a single container. This option is ideal for full-width layouts without a sidebar.
However, there is no option to display your blog posts in a column layout in the free version.
There are multiple header presets available. You can choose the logo to appear before or after the navigation menu. You can also keep it centered or position the logo after the navigation or before it.
GeneratePress offers a single navigation menu in the free version. The premium version offers three menus.
But you get multiple menu location options even in the free version like above or below the header, right or left of the header, etc. You can play around until you’ve found the right placement.
Also, you can enable the search option in the menu itself which comes in handy for no-sidebar layouts.
GeneratePress free offers a choice of two sidebars with different layout options. What’s more, these settings can be customized individually on every post and page in the WordPress editor.
Additionally, you can turn off the sidebars on pages and archive pages like the blog page while displaying them on single posts.
You can display up to 5 widgets in the footer in the free version, just like in the Premium version of GeneratePress. Also, you can enable the useful Back to Top button as you see on this page to allow readers to quickly scroll to the top of the page.
Blog Archive and Single Posts
The blog page and the single post page have almost no customizable options in the free version except the option to choose between excerpt and full content on the blog page.
This seems like a downside since we all want to customize some or the other aspect of our blog and category archive page.
So, you need to just live with the default blog layout in the free version of GeneratePress.
Colors and Typography
A blog looks appealing when it is supported by the right color patterns and typography. How does the GeneratePress theme score on this count?
The colors menu in the theme Customizer allows users to select the colors of the following elements: background, text, link and link hover, blog post title, and hover. Additionally, you can select from among 6 color presets for the main navigation.
Coming to typography, you get a handful of options in the free version. You can select the font, font size, and line-height for the body text and the H1, H2, and H3 headings.
To summarize, the colors and typography options that come loaded with the free version of GeneratePress are not extensive but good enough to whet your appetite.
Every theme allows users to place widgets in the sidebar. Nothing unique.
But GeneratePress also allows users to place widgets in the header, footer, footer bar and top bar. One of the ways you can use this feature is to add custom HTML (like a button) in your header or other locations.
All you need to do is add a widget to the desired location, say the header. Then choose the Custom HTML widget from the list of available options. Finally, using some HTML, you can display a button and also style it.
To summarize, the free features offered in GeneratePress are good enough to get you started on your blogging journey. But are they enough to stick to this theme? You will get the answer in the end.
GeneratePress Premium Features
Now let’s move our attention to the premium features of GeneratePress. What if you wanted to customize every small detail on your blog or wanted to create an online store?
This is where GeneratePress Pro steps in. Before we deep dive into the premium features of GeneratePress, let us first get a hang of it.
What is GeneratePress Premium and how is it installed?
The premium version of GeneratePress is a plugin and not a theme. So, once you upgrade, you can download the plugin and install it just like you would install any other plugin.
The advantage of offering the premium features in a plugin is that the primary theme framework remains lightweight and fast. Also, you can switch off modules in the plugin that you don’t need presently.
Once you have activated the plugin, all the pro modules or addons are available under the GeneratePress tab of the Appearance menu (Appearance > GeneratePress).
A total of 13 GeneratePress premium addons are currently available, including, the WooCommerce add-on. You can choose to activate only the modules that you need or activate all of them with a single click.
Now, let’s see what is offered in the premium version of GeneratePress.
Site Library or Templates
If you have recently launched your blog, then you should definitely check out the different pre-built templates available in the pro version of GeneratePress.
There are templates for page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder. There are also templates for the WordPress block editor if you don’t wish to use a page builder to create your website.
At this point, I should highlight that the GeneratePress theme is completely compatible with the popular WordPress page builders. You can use either the free or the premium version of this WordPress theme with the leading page builders to create your website.
If you have an established website, then you may not wish to use one of the built-in templates. In that case, you can easily create the design and layout of your choice using the free GenerateBlocks plugin developed by Tom Usborne, the GeneratePress creator.
We are using this combination of GeneratePress premium theme and GenerateBlocks plugin on PassionWP.
You might be wondering why am I mentioning the spacing feature before the other premium features? That’s because GeneratePress Premium allows you to set the spacing (padding and margin) for all the elements in the theme customizer.
So, the spacing option is standard across all the other features that I will walk you through and I will not again mention that you can set the padding and margin (spacing) for individual elements like header or containers.
You get two cool options for your header. The first is you can use the navigation as the header so the logo takes the height of the primary navigation and both appear in-line.
The second option is to set a different mobile header with a different logo for display on mobile devices. You can also make the mobile header sticky.
I mentioned that you get only one navigation menu in the free version of GeneratePress. But in the premium version, you get three navigation menus (primary, secondary, and off-canvas menu).
Also, you can turn on sticky navigation as you see on this post and even animate the navigation menu. Further, you can set a different logo for the sticky navigation and also hide the menu on scroll.
Did you know that you can also create custom headers for displaying on specific posts, pages, categories, or site-wide? This is possible thanks to the Elements feature in GeneratePress premium. I will elaborate on this feature later on but right now you should know that you can easily create beautiful-looking headers and page hero using this feature.
Think of it as your own page builder with header and footer capabilities.
The primary and secondary menus are easy to grasp. But what is the off-canvas panel? It’s a panel that sticks to the side of the page and can be toggled on and off with a click.
You can add a navigation menu in the off-canvas panel or even a widget containing some custom HTML or text. Maybe you want to display exclusive offers for your readers. You can do so here.
The premium version of GeneratePress opens up a whole new world of possibilities for your layouts. Apart from the options for the header that I have already explained earlier, you can customize the blog post and blog archive layouts completely.
For example, you can choose whether to display the author name, published date, category, tags, comment count, featured image, etc. on your archive pages as well as single posts.
You can also set a custom size for the featured images. This will help to specify the image dimensions while rendering images thus reducing the page load times.
The Pro version also enables a column display option for your blog posts on the blog archives page. Remember that the blog posts appear one below the other in the free version and there is no column layout option.
In the footer layout options, you can customize the footer text using HTML. The free version of GeneratePress does not allow you to modify the footer content and you will need to use custom code and tinker with theme files to alter the footer content.
Colors and Typgraphy
This feature alone is worth subscribing to the pro version of GeneratePress. I mentioned earlier that the free version of GeneratePress offers very limited options to tinker with the colors and typography on your site. Heck, you can’t even change the header background color!
But GeneratePress premium allows you to go the whole hog.
You can customize the color of practically every element on your site. From headers, menus, links, to the body text, headings, widgets, etc. Play around to your heart’s content (on the flip side, this could be a serious time killer 🙂).
The same holds true for typography. Once you have GenereatePress pro activated, you can customize the font type and size of all elements like the header, navigation menus, footer, body text, title, headings (H1 to H6), buttons, and widgets.
You can also set the line height for the body text and headings.
So many options can appear intimidating to some. That’s why you can set the font option to inherit. This will inherit the font set for the primary container, which is the body, for all the elements that have their font set to inherit.
What this means is I can choose a font say Verdana for the body font and set the heading font to inherit. Now, the heading fonts will inherit the body font i.e. Verdana. This will help to maintain font consistency across our website.
Apart from customizing the background colors, you can also set background images for different blog elements like the body, header, navigation menus, content, sidebar, and footer.
Now it’s quite doubtful that you would add a background image to every element on your blog. But if you wish to make your blog’s design appear unique, you could add background images to the body, header, or navigation menus.
At least, you have a choice.
The Elements feature in GeneratePress premium is what makes this WordPress theme stand apart from its competitors.
You can add 4 types of elements: Block, Hook, Layout, and Header.
Use the power of the WordPress block editor to create blocks and display them at any location of your choice. Just imagine how powerful this feature is.
You can create an ad block and display it within the content on selected posts, pages, or categories. Or maybe you wish to add a banner below your header? Or create a custom widget for your 404 pages?
The hooks feature allows developers (and non-developers) to add custom code to any location on their website.
The hook can be inserted in any location of your choice like the head, content, footer, comments, etc., and on any post, page, or category.
If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will notice that we have added an affiliate disclosure in the footer area using a custom hook.
The layouts feature enables users to create custom layouts for display on specific posts, pages, categories, or tags.
Maybe you have chosen a no sidebar layout in the theme customizer settings. But you wish to display a sidebar on your archive pages only. How is this possible?
You can achieve this using the layouts feature. Apart from sidebars, you can also create a layout based on a custom number of footer widgets from 0 to 5.
If you don’t wish to display any footer widget on particular categories, just a create layout with zero widgets and select the category or categories on which this layout will be displayed.
Finally, we have the header element using which we can create stunning headers using a page hero. A page hero can contain custom code like HTML or CSS or predefined template tags like post title, post date, post author, post taxonomy (category or tag), and even custom fields.
This page hero can then be merged with your existing header or can be displayed separately from the existing header.
To summarize, the possibilities are endless with the Elements feature in the GeneratePress pro theme.
If you plan to sell a product or service on your website, then the WooCommerce plugin is probably the best way to start your online store.
But starting an online store is the first step. You will need an appealing design to display your products and services, not to mention the special offers and discounts that you will be running from time to time.
Fortunately, the WooCommerce addon in GeneratePress premium will make your task of running an online store much easier and more fun.
Here’s what you get with the WooCommerce extension:
- Display shopping cart in menu or sub-menu
- Extensive shop options
- Extensive single product options
- Distraction-free checkout
- Customize the colors and typography of your store
Block based theme-builder
Yes, you read that right. If you use the combination of GeneratePress premium and the GenerateBlocks plugin, you can say goodbye to your favorite page builder plugin.
The GenerateBlocks plugin brings the block-building experience to your doorstep. But what’s the big deal since there are tens of block-based plugins in the wild?
Well, the big deal is that the GenerateBlocks plugin when paired with the GeneratePress Pro theme allows you to add dynamic elements like post title, author name, featured image, category terms, updated date, etc. to the blocks that you create.
So you can create content templates for your posts, pages, blog archives, site header, etc. utilizing the power of dynamic content.
If you’re a stickler for high coding standards and prefer block-based theme building over fancy page builders, that slow down your website with hundreds of lines of code, then you will truly appreciate this priceless combination of GeneratePress Pro and GenerateBlocks.
No comparison between the free and premium versions of GeneratePress will be complete unless I touch upon the support aspect. After all, you will need to contact support once in a while and it should live up to your expectations.
If you’re using the free version of the GeneratePress theme, you can use the free support forum on WordPress.org to ask your questions. The support staff, including the theme author Tom Usborne, reply to user queries pretty quickly. But you should know that their support will be limited to the features offered in the free version of GeneratePress.
On upgrading to the Pro version of this WordPress theme, you can access the premium support forums. The forum discussion is quite lively and all sorts of questions are replied to by the support staff.
As I mentioned in my GeneratePress review, one of the advantages of forum-based support is that you can search for questions similar to yours that have already been solved by the support staff. So you can save time and energy by going through the discussion instead of starting a new support thread.
But if you do not wish to upgrade to the premium version presently, you can expect high-quality support even in the free support forum on WordPress.org.
GeneratePress Free vs Premium: Features compared
I have explained the features and benefits of the free and pro versions of the GeneratePress theme in detail. But for sake of readability, let’s compare the free and pro features side by side.
|Feature||GeneratePress Free||GeneratePress Premium|
|Page Builder Compatibility||Yes||Yes|
|In-post layout options||Yes||Yes|
|Scroll to Top Button||Yes||Yes|
|Header Background Color||No||Yes|
|Customize Footer Text||No||Yes|
|Other Background Colors||No||Yes|
|Layout||Basic options||Advanced options|
|Colors and Typography||Limited options||Extensive options|
|Support||Support via WordPress.org forum||Premium forum support|
|Price||Free||$59 per year or $249 lifetime|
|No. of websites||Unlimited||500|
GeneratePress Free vs Premium: Which is right for you?
You have seen the features as well as the benefits of the free version and the pro version of GeneratePress.
At this stage, you might be wondering, whether you should stick to the free version of this popular WordPress theme or upgrade to the premium version?
To solve this dilemma, you should first define your requirements clearly. Are you only looking for a theme that can help you get started on your blogging journey without the need to customize every minor detail on your website?
Then the free version of GeneratePress is adequate for you. You should remember that the free version does not offer a truckload of customization options. In fact, you cannot even change the header background color, and you are stuck with the white background whether you like it or not.
Also, you won’t be able to change the look of your blog archive pages or blog posts and will have to live with the default options offered in the free version. For example, you cannot set your blog posts to display in a column layout.
Additionally, you don’t get access to the powerful Elements features or the WooCommerce features if you intend to sell any stuff on your website.
But you will get a nice-looking default layout for your blog as I mentioned at the beginning of this comparison.
In my view, the free version of GeneratePress is more of a teaser or a demo and should only be used by hobby bloggers.
Why do I say this?
Because, once you start blogging, there are many things you would like to change like the colors, fonts, your post details, menu location, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to modify these options with the free version of GeneratePress unless you are a developer.
That’s why, If you do not wish to upgrade, you should consider other free themes available on the WordPress theme repository that offer much more as compared to the free version of GeneratePress.
The second alternative is to use GeneratePress as a basic theme framework and use a page builder like Elementor or Beaver Builder to edit all aspects of your website. Many people using Elementor prefer this option and you can too.
However, if you don’t want to use a page builder plugin but are serious about blogging and want to make your blog appear exactly as you want it to, you should consider upgrading to the pro version of GeneratePress. You will get access to all the awesome features and benefits that I have described in detail.
Moreover, you can easily sell stuff using the built-in WooCommerce addon. Just make sure to harness the power of the GenerateBlocks plugin in order to completely replace your page builder.
How much does it cost to upgrade?
GeneratePress premium has two simple pricing options, annual and lifetime.
You can subscribe to the annual package for $59 a year and use it on up to 500 websites, including, your clients.
The lifetime package costs $249 and you receive lifetime updates and theme support. Further, you can install this wonderful theme on up to 500 websites.
I really feel it’s a small investment you are making in your blogging journey to reach the goals that you have set for yourself.
We have seen the pros and cons of the free GeneratePress theme as well the benefits of the premium addon.
Hopefully, you were able to pick one of the two versions for your blog or website. If you did, please let me know in the comments below. If you’re still undecided, again let me know so I can complete the missing pieces of the puzzle for you.
Thank you for reading this post.
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