Thesis – the best CMS-style WordPress Theme

Lately someone bought Thesis off the affiliate banner on this site. I felt somewhat guilty. After all, it’s been years since I did my Thesis review and I have no idea if Thesis is still the best theme on the block for affiliates. 

The new Thesis (Thesis 2.*) is so different from the Thesis I bought two years ago that to buy the new based on my review of the old seems rather foolish to me. Fortunately though, that old Thesis is still available for download (Thesis 1.8.5) and yes, it does everything I said it does. 

And I have to admit, I’m a happy Thesis user. The theme does everything I want it to do and is (for me) easy to use. The new Thesis is perfect for creating just the right theme for client sites as I found out last month. Note the different widgets on different pages – for an earlier client (yes, that’s Thesis 1.8.*) I used a plugin to get the same functionality: way more hassle. To move the top menu around I needed to copy-paste PHP in a functions file. 

So for real world customization to get a client site to look just so – yes, Thesis really is a great theme. 

However – the new Thesis is not so easy to use for most users. Do look at the site itself for understanding ‘boxes’, ‘skins’ and ‘packages’. And do Google ‘Thesis 2.0 Guide’ to get the most out of Thesis with the least messing with code. Fortunately the theme is popular enough that devoted users have created Thesis 2.0 user guides already. 

The sales copy for the new Thesis promises easy to use, but you should note that what they talk about is how easy it is to get rid of elements you don’t want. It doesn’t say anything about how easy it is to add  a background image. Sure, once you figure it out, it’s not that hard. Still, there are themes out there (including the old Thesis 1.8.*) that make this a lot easier. In the default WordPress Themes and the Old Thesis you simply went to a prominent menu item that said ‘background’ and you would upload an image there and your theme was changed.

The New Thesis (Thesis 2.*) allows you to upload images and allows you to edit the appropriate box to copy-paste the path TO that image and once you save you have a background image. Not very difficult, but still – you do have to first FIND that box. I’d found out the official route only AFTER I had already created that client site.

The user case for the New Thesis is as far as I can tell the following:

  • You know your way around CSS and HTML. It may be that uploading the free packages eliminates much of that need as the sales copy suggests, but I’m not convinced. Think Greekgeek level CSS understanding to get to that theme I keep bragging about. 
  • You need a professional CMS style theme with the ability to have different skins for different type pages and posts, including custom sidebar widget areas

In short: you’re a webdesigner who knows their trade. 

If that’s you, Thesis is definitely the theme for you. If you get it, you’ll also get:

  • A theme that allows for adding an affiliate code or video to the sidebar on a post-by-post basis through the ‘multimedia box options’
  • A theme that allows for adding a post image where you want it to go – it will also show up on category and archive pages, if you want. 
  • A theme that allows for getting rid of elements like dates, authors and the addition of elements like categories to all posts, where ever you want them to be.
  • A theme that has the latest SEO advice by Google built in. 

In short: Thesis is a theme for perfectionists like me who aren’t afraid to get their feet wet with some custom CSS coding. 

I’m happy to note that in the new Thesis you won’t need to copy past PHP in a functions file to (say) add a description to a category page. You can just give that category it’s own skin by copying the default skin and then adding a custom widget box on top of the posts and then adding a text-widget with the precise text you want to have on that category. Great SEO. 

However – you really only need a theme like the new Thesis if you want that kind of customization and are a stickler for details. 

If that’s you – do buy the theme through the affiliate banner above. 

If it’s not – Many of my Squidoo colleagues end up with Genesis. 

BTW – no, I do NOT recommend upgrading if you’re already using Thesis 1.8.* – it’s fine to stick with it.