Thesis Theme Review

by jim on February 19th, 2010

This is a guest post from Pete of BibleMoneyMatters.com.

When you’re starting a blog, one of the first things that you’ll need to do after purchasing a domain name and setting up WordPress is to give your new website a design by choosing a WordPress theme. While most can probably agree that having a premium theme from the get-go isn’t essential (there are more important things like creating good content, testing and optimizing ads and promoting your site), I think most can agree that some premium themes will give you a leg up by giving you a superior look and feel, in addition to having more functionality available behind the scenes.

When I first started my blog at BibleMoneyMatters.com I was using a free template that I had found through one of the free WordPress theme websites. While the theme I chose was functional, it certainly didn’t give me the flexibility to make the kind of changes i wanted to, to take my site to the next level. After doing some research, I discovered a theme that did everything I wanted, and more. The Thesis WordPress Theme.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Coummunity

The Thesis WordPress Theme

Thesis Theme is a WordPress website framework that gives you a ton of flexibility to create the blog that you’ve always wanted. It gives great design, easily changeable layouts, optimized SEO (without the use of plugins) and a great support community.

Chris Pearson, designer of Thesis talks about why he designed the template:

I built the Thesis Theme because I wanted a framework that had it all—killer typography, a dynamically resizable layout, intelligent code, airtight optimization, and tons of flexibility. Now, after months of field testing, I’m confident enough to offer it to those of you who have come to expect nothing but the finest themes from me.

The theme definitely has those things and more. let’s look at a few of the reasons why I love the Thesis theme.

Superior Design And Backend Options

One of the first thing I noticed when looking around at themes is that so many of them try to do too much with the design, and become a bit too busy while not allowing you easy access to change things you don’t like. Thesis on the other hand has a nice clean design out of the box, has great readability, and if you like to tinker – is easy to customize to your own tastes. The Thesis back end tools allow you to change fonts, swap colors, update menus and change the complete layout of the site. You can have 1, 2 or 3 columns and order your columns however you want. Just about anything about your site that you might want to change, you can do it through the Thesis design and site options menus. If you’re a more advanced user, you can also customize your site further using CSS and PHP, which is made readily accessible through another menu option in the WordPress Dashboard. If you’re not as advanced there are hundreds of tutorials available that will walk you through more advanced changes.

SEO Optimized Site Framework

One of the great things about the Thesis theme is that it is search engine friendly out of the box. While WordPress sites in general do well with search engines, there are things you can do with your theme to help improve your SEO. For example, Thesis has the ability to specify each post’s title tags, keywords and meta tags without a plugin like All in One SEO Pack. Thesis also gives you the option to use canonical urls so that the search engines can index your content correctly. All of these things can be done with other plugins, but having them built into your theme is even better.

Easy Upgrades

One thing that sets Thesis above a lot of other themes is the fact that it is so easy to upgrade the theme when a new version comes out. To customize all you have to do is change two files, custom.css and custom_functions.php. If you’re upgrading the theme you just download the “custom” directory with those files in it, upgrade the theme, and then re-upload those files to the new version of the theme. Done. Upgrades only take a few minutes at most.

With a lot of other themes to make changes to your site design and layout you have to modify the theme’s core files. If you have to do an upgrade, you then have to figure out all the modifications you made to the theme’s core files, and then re-modify the theme once you’ve upgraded. That could take hours or days depending upon how many changes you’ve made to customize your site!

Support Community Second To None

One of the biggest selling points of the theme in my eyes is that it has a support community second to none. When you purchase the theme you get access to the member’s only forum where experts in Thesis are always ready to give a helping hand. In addition there are hundreds of Thesis tutorials out on the web that will help you do anything from change a background image to adding a header. If you’ve dreamed of doing something, someone else has already done it – and put out a tutorial on how it was done.

Thesis Theme Isn’t Perfect

As you can tell I’m a big fan of the Thesis theme, however, it does have its flaws. The theme does have a learning curve for newer users, especially if you want to do anything beyond the basic site changes. The theme uses what is called “hooks”, a framework that allows you to insert your own custom code or programming just about anywhere in your theme. If you want to use hooks, you’ll want to find a good tutorial on them, like the ones found on http://thesishooks.com/. Another downside of the theme is that if you don’t opt to customize your installation, the basic Thesis theme can have a pretty bland, vanilla look. So many people use the theme that your site can get lost in the shuffle if you don’t make changes.

Plugins To Make Thesis Even Better

While Thesis is great, it doesn’t address every need that users might have. Two plugins that I would suggest every new user of Thesis install once they buy the theme are:

  • Thesis Openhooks: This plugin makes it easer for all users to use the hooks framework, and allows you to insert ads, text, graphics, etc anywhere in the theme that you want.
  • Thesis Import/Export: This plugin allows you to export your Thesis theme and openhooks settings in case your site has a catastrophic failure and you need to re-import them from backup.

Conclusion

Since becoming a blogger I’ve tested out and installed countless themes on the websites that I operate. None of the themes, however, have come close to the Thesis Theme for WordPress when it comes to design options, optimized SEO, usability and flexibility. If you’re looking for a theme to use on your site, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase your copy of the theme.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Coummunity

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One Response to “Thesis Theme Review”

  1. J. Money Says:

    Yeah Thesis!!! I’ll be tweaking you like a motha next month – I’m excited!

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