Thesis 2.0 Theme Review

Chris Pearson launched the Thesis WordPress Theme just a few years ago. It took traction… pretty much right from the start.

Thesis already has the pedigree that other WordPress Themes don’t have. Top sites and bloggers like the Domino Project, Tony Hsieh and Matt Cutts use Thesis as their Premium WordPress Theme of choice.

As we all know… building a new site is hard.

Its even harder when you look at the sea of WordPress Themes, and the fact that some of them are pretty bad. Even the premium ones! That’s why I wanted to take a serious look at Thesis.

Chris Pearson has a great sense of design aesthetics… so I’ve always been a big fan. Going back to his free WordPress Theme days.

You may be asking yourself… “Is Thesis worth $87?” Especially since WordPress has thousands of free themes, even Chris has free themes available for download.

I hope to answer these questions and give you my honest review of the Thesis WordPress theme below.

This review has been continually updated since it was first released in 2008.

A little backstory, I kept seeing Thesis everywhere. I decided to pick it up and take a serious look at it. Immediately I saw its potential and wanted to using it on some of my other sites.

I had first bought the single user license. So I wound up upgrading to the developer’s license so I can use it on this site and on my other blogs.

So here are my takeaways from having used Thesis on a number of sites:

Flexible Design

Thesis 2.0 is so much more than just a theme. With the release of 2.0, Thesis is now more of a template engine that will allow you to build your own designs from scratch. No longer are you starting with the base Thesis design then overriding HTML and CSS to get your preferred design.

This was a brilliant idea on Pearson’s part.

I love the fact that I can now easily add widgetized areas to my website by dragging a box onto the skin editor. This simplifies my life and makes for much less coding.

Thesis Page Skin Editor

The DIYthemes will also be releasing Thesis add-ons including packages, boxes, and skins that will help you quickly build beautiful websites.

Best in Class SEO

One of the biggest selling points of Thesis is that it’s developed with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. Wordpress by default is one of the most search engine friendly blogging platforms out there.

However, it’s still not perfect and how your theme is laid out affects how search engines see your site. What does that all mean? It means that your customers are going to find you a lot easier.

I’ve seen themes out there with crazy code bloat, doing things that are terrible for search engines. Thesis is very clean and presents your content well, it uses a clean code structure, canonical urls, and the like.

Thesis has the ability to specify each post’s title tags and meta tags without a plugin like All in One SEO Pack.

Thesis also has built-in Schema and Google+ Author support which will help your website be better indexed by Google, and in many cases appear higher in search results.

Thesis Home Page Seo

Unique Features

As of 2.0, it does appear as if the Multimedia Box is still included in the theme. But, much of the same functionality can easily be replaced by using a container box in the skin editor.

Thesis 2.0 is now an entire template engine, and as such there are several unique features. Some of these are:

  • Skin editor which makes building a website from the ground up insanely easy.
  • Add functionality anywhere in your theme by dragging a “box” in the skin editor
  • Visually edit the output of HTML Head
  • Customize your 404 page just like any other page

Also:

  • You can specify which pages appear in your navigation menu and reorder them on the fly. This part is really flexible – you can even use a specific category’s posts or add a custom blogroll to it.
  • Configure how your Title tag is laid out.
  • Add Mint or Google Analytics tracking code without messing with your files.
  • Specify a post image and how it should be used in the layout. Just to name a few.
Thesis HTML Head Editor

Under the Hood

As impressive as the user-interface side of the feature list is in the new iteration of DIYTheme’s theme is, the inner workings might be even more impressive.  Full support for WordPress 3.x features such as the navigation menu are in place, Page Options has now grown into a complete tool that allows the easy tagging, categorizing, and taxonomy of pages, all of which are important for SEO purposes and come complete with optional per-them/per-category/per-taxonomy page headlines and SEO tags.

Easy to Understand SEO with SEO Character Counts

Back on the SEO front, SEO character counts are now available for the title and meta description fields.  These figures are important to keep track of for anyone who is optimizing their site. If you are one the few who aren’t, here is a guide.  Also important is the use of the all-important favicon, which can now be uploaded simply in the new HTML Head editor.

Support

This one is one of the biggest advantages of the Thesis WordPress Theme over other themes.

Support is stellar!

A big win for Thesis and future upgrades are FREE, also if you have any questions about the theme, Chris and the Thesis community is really good at helping you out.

I checked out the forum – Chris and his team have been answering all the questions they have been asked and have gone out of their way to really help people customize their sites. (You simply don’t get this from a free theme).

It’s Almost Perfect

Thesis is by far the most impressive theme I’ve seen out there when it comes to design, SEO, and features. After playing with Thesis 2.0 for several days, I feel confident saying this is one of the most powerful themes I have used.

With that said, the interface for Thesis 2.0 is confusing. Unfortunately, the DIYthemes team did not include any documentation with the launch of Thesis 2.0. This has left many developers out in the wind trying to figure out how to use the new 2.0 by themselves. There is still a ton of support from the community, which is keeping me on board. But, until documentation is released, I have decided to lower the rating on Thesis 2.0.

Conclusion

Over the years I’ve installed, tested, hacked, and played with a lot of WordPress themes (and have even created a few). The Thesis WordPress Theme has definitely impressed me.

It’s beautiful, very easy to customize, and comes with features you won’t find in any free theme.

Is it worth it? In my opinion, YES! $87 is not a lot to spend for something that will save you a ton of time, even if you end up customizing the heck out of it (which I know I will) all of your changes will be future proof due to how Thesis is designed.

Being SEO optimized from the start… was such a big win for me.

That meant more that MORE people would be finding me. And not just more people… but the right kind of people, people who where actually interested in what I was writing about.

Since I’m using Thesis on multiple sites. I paid $164 for the developer’s option. (price can be a negative to some, but it outshines other themes)

Just having as solid a foundation as Thesis provides makes it worth much more than that to anyone who’s serious about blogging.

So if you think that having a solid, flexible, straight forward WordPress Theme with an entire community of supporters, is important to you. Then Thesis is your Premium WordPress Theme of choice.

If you decide to get Thesis for yourself, I’d appreciate you clicking the link below to support Art of Blog and future posts regarding WordPress, themes, etc.

Thesis Pricing

 

Once you have installed Thesis… come right back. I started a series on customizing it. You won’t want to miss it. I’ll show you how to really pimp it out!

You’ll be tweaking Thesis to your hearts content.

Also use the comment section below as a forum for your Thesis questions.

Eric Binnion is a computer science student at Midwestern State University. When Eric is not online, he is usually volunteering in his community or enjoying time with his family. You can find Eric on Twitter.