Divi vs. Oxygen vs. Genesis
From the perspective of an agency owner and web developer.
April 25, 2021
If you are reading this then I think it's safe to assume that I can skip the introduction about WHY you are here and get right to the point! The lists below go over what I think the (+) advantages, (-) disadvantages, and (!) open questions about the above approaches to WordPress website development. Note that I used Divi for around 1 month (never in production), Genesis for 5+ years (in long production) and Oxygen for around 2 months (in production and in development).
TL;DR: We've used Genesis for years for all of our builds, and we're now slowly starting to move new builds to Oxygen.
For a video look at the backend of all three products you can check out the video below from our YouTube channel.
Divi - New WP Users Start Here
If you are new to WordPress and want to get a website up and running very quickly, and you like one of Divi's premade designs, then Divi is the way to go. You can easily add your logo and your colors, and you customize the overall look and feel of the site very easily.
Divi has a huge community that can help you and there are a ton of free and paid tutorials to get you up and running.
Divi does not seem to be built with the developer/coder in mind. As a developer I like to start with a blank canvas and clean out my stylesheet and have styles in one place, whereas it seems that Divi wants you to work on the element level. That's not to say that developers can't use Divi, but Div tries to hide the code from you so you don't have to see it.
It's very difficult to find the line between "I can do this easily in Divi and I just have to figure out how" or "this can't be done in Divi and this needs to be coded." I found myself wasting a lot of time on this line trying to figure out which way to go.
I didn't stick around long enough with Divi to go through a Divi or WP update cycle, but from what I've read there can be challenges when you update Divi because updates might cause your custom code to break or to not apply.
Genesis - Developers are VERY Welcome!
We've used the Genesis Framework from StudioPress for years, and it's been a dependable and reliable work horse for our agency.
Genesis just works. In the past we'd worry about what would happen to a theme/framework when we updated the framework or WP. With Genesis we never had to worry, and in all of these years Genesis NEVER broke a site when we updated it.
Genesis has a fantastic system of hooks that let you put content wherever you want, and no WP plugin has every complained that it didn't like working with Genesis.
Genesis plays well with Gutenberg.
Genesis has a decent learning curve and you have to get used to the Genesis way of doing things -- which is functions.php, child themes and code. It is NOT a WYSIWYG builder.
Of the three products examined here, Genesis ' themes are the least modern in terms of design and style. It's easy to take a prebuilt theme if you like it, and then customize a few things (logo, colors, etc.) but if you want to convert a .PSD to Genesis, you will be eyeballs deep in code (which is a plus for many of us).
Oxygen - The Hybrid Approach
The Oxygen Builder lets us rapidly develop WordPress websites without a ton of code bloat, and while the line between WYSIWIG builder and code-based development isn't 100% clear, it's pretty darn close.
Oxygen has a few beautifully designed starter themes with a ton of design components you can use right out of the box.
Oxygen was built for developers who want to speed up the website building process. I like to think of Oxygen as a web-GUI for CSS.
You NEED to watch the Oxygen training videos in order for things to make sense. If you jump right in you'll wind up wasting time (been there done, that).
There is a learning curve, and there are multiple ways to get things done - which can be great but can also be frustrating for new users. Their FB Group is a great source of community help.
Since we've just started with Oxygen I can't comment on how it integrates with other WP Plugins and if any fixes or workarounds are needed for compatibility.
Oxygen has a growing community of third-party plugins which enhance oxygen's functionality; at this time I'm not using them until I can learn more about any security risks and update considerations.
We have not been through an Oxygen update cycle (the plugin or with WP) and our final verdict will be held until we can be sure that updates won't break sites.
More to come...
I hope you found this overview helpful, and I'll update it as our experiences change. Feel free to leave your comment below about what you think about Divi, Genesis and Oxygen!