WordPress Themes Review: Think Of It As a Beauty Pageant

Today I’m taking a beauty pageant approach to comparing the top premium WordPress themes in this review. Whether you’ve ever watched a beauty pageant or not, we can all relate to having different favorites running for the top spot.

When it comes to this WordPress themes review, I’m going to break down the three most popular themes by criteria. We’ll be looking at Thesis, Genesis, and Headway.

The judges (you and me!) will be assessing beauty, brawn, and brains for each of these themes. That means that for some of us, a theme’s ability to answer a tough technical question will give them bonus points over a similar looking theme.

So without further ado, let’s present the WordPress theme beauty pageant contestants and get this show on the road…

WordPress Themes Review Video

Visit the themes at: Thesis, Genesis, Headway.

The Criteria For My WordPress Themes Review

Just like a beauty pageant I decided that we needed to have a couple different categories in order to compare WordPress themes. I decided on beauty, brawn, and brains.

Please keep in mind that these are my opinions, and your perspective on these premium WordPress themes may vary depending on your particular situation and wish lists.

Beauty: WordPress Themes That Dress It Up

Right out of the box these three themes look very comparable, because they are theme frameworks and don’t have a lot of formatting applied to them by default.

That’s where hiring a designer, doing your own customizations, or getting started with a child theme or skin comes in handy.

You can grab some Thesis skins at Kolakube – hat tip to Lisa League for this resource. Both Genesis and Headway have their own child theme directories on their websites.

If you’re going to hire someone to design your website and use one of these premium WordPress theme frameworks, you need to keep in mind that your designer or developer should be comfortable with this theme. I’ve seen it many times, where if you decide to switch designers you might end up starting from scratch on a new theme framework, because not many developers know how to use the theme that you chose.

Luckily, all three of these theme frameworks have a large developer community that you can tap into.

Brawn: Functionality Overview

When it comes to functionality, these WordPress themes are neck and neck. All three have built in WordPress SEO, and a substantial list of settings that you can alter in the WordPress dashboard.

If you want to alter the functionality of Thesis or Genesis, you may need to dive into a little bit of code and use their “hooks” system. Headway, offers you additional blocks and extras that you can install for additional functionality, along with their own hooks system.

All three themes are stable, tend to load quickly, and are very user friendly for your viewers. Thesis also has some cool font formatting that spaces your paragraphs nicely.

Brains: Do You Need To Code Or Can The Theme Handle It?

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you’re a developer or you know CSS coding, then you’ll feel right at home with Thesis and Genesis.

On the other hand, Headway is ideal if you are more of a beginner, and you don’t want to get your hands dirty trying to learn some new coding techniques. I personally prefer to develop websites using Headway themes, even though I’m a seasoned programmer and have been making websites and coding HTML since I was 12 years old.

If you’re looking to have custom pages, for example a sales page without a sidebar, then all three themes will let you do that. Genesis will give you an option where you can choose the number of side bars on the edit page section.

In headway, you can just drag-and-drop the different sections that you want to appear on each page. This allows you to fully customize each page on your website, to give you an even more distinct look and feel.

WordPress Themes: Thesis, Genesis, or Headway

So what’s my final recommendation? I’ve given you my opinion, and now it’s time for you to do a little research of your own and see which of these themes really calls out to you.

Take a look at the Thesis website, and see what customer example sites look like. Then do the same for Genesis and Headway, and see how they stack up.

The most important thing you need to ask yourself right now, is how much time and effort you’re willing to invest into your new website. If you want something that’s ready to go off the shelf, then consider one of “theme skins” that I recommended in the beauty section. This will get your business up and running, and you can tweak the design over time as your business evolves.

If you’ve been in business for a little while longer, or you want to create a unique look for your brand and website from the get-go, then it’s time for you to invest a little time or money and design something that will truly reflect you and your business. That might mean learning how to do some customizations yourself, or finding someone who can do them for you.

Since I personally used all three of these theme frameworks before doing this WordPress themes review, I’ve given you my biased opinion, and I’d love for you to leave a comment below and tell me yours. Pros and cons, share it all, so that other people can make the right decision for them.


  1. myfreelance101 on September 12, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Nice little vid!

    Well, for me beauty of wordpress themes will really depend on who will manage the site, the knowledge he or she posses about manipulating the functionality and contents. For less savvy, one might prepare ready made themes and will prove to be the best option even though they might sacrifice some missing functionality, on the other hand a savvy person would prefer a framework rather than a ready made one as framework themes gives you all the ability to manipulate almost everything with ease. I have been working with wordpress for quite sometime and I find myself loosing much time dealing with some changes in pre-made themes (and I guess this is true with some other pros out there) as compared to making changes in frameworked themes.


  2. Lisa League on September 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Nathalie!

    Thanks for the hat tip! I think all of these are good themes to use, it just depends on your/your client's needs.

    I always love when I can find something with the features and functions I need – then content, fonts, colors, and graphics can make it unique.

  3. The Go2 Expert on September 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Great post Nathalie. I haven't used either of these themes yet but will be using the Thesis theme soon. I have some friends (newbies) who've had problems so I'll pass this post on to them.

    • Camila Prada on September 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      I needed to read this. Thank you :)

  4. Arynetta Floyzelle Northcutt on March 26, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Thanks for this! Decided to go with Headway.

  5. Eddie Halpin on June 3, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks Nathalie -some great ideas here …you expressed the pros for the three themes so well. I’ve found in the past that ‘window shopping’ for themes can take SO much time so ‘hat tip’ to you for putting some great info out there :-)