Review of Thesis 1.6 for WordPress

by Martin Malden

I recently upgraded to Thesis 1.6 on three of my sites and installed it from new on a fourth. Here are my thoughts.

Firstly, just so you know, I’m an affiliate for Thesis. That means I get a bit of beer money if you end up buying it through my affiliate link (the Thesis links on this site).

I also use Thesis exclusively on my WordPress sites and I use it when I’m building sites for customers whenever they want design included with their WordPress package.

OK, on with the good stuff 🙂

I hesitate to call Thesis a theme, because it’s so much more.

It’s a platform that enables you to make full use of WordPress’ flexibility and, whether you’re a techie or not, it’s a wonderful WordPress design tool.

I reviewed Thesis 1.5 here where I talked about its SEO capabilities, among other things. Thesis’ SEO capabilities enable you to drop the All-in-one-SEO-pack or Platinum SEO plugins, and dropping plugins is always a good thing.

So what’s new in 1.6?

The biggie is drop down menus.

Plus, both navigation bar management and colour management are now done in the Design Options screen rather than the Custom CSS file.

The benefit is that it enables people who aren’t familiar with CSS to do a heck of a lot more with colours, layouts and the navigation bar than they could before.

Drop down menus.

The drop down menus are simply magic. All you need to do is set up your Parent/Child page hierarchy in WordPress and Thesis takes care of the rest.

Same goes for Categories, which you can include in the menu.

There’s really nothing more to say – it’s that simple. And just brilliant.

Colour management.

You can now manage the colours of various backgrounds (page, content and sidebar), text, links, the multimedia box, and your navigation bar from the Design Options screen. In fact the colours of every element you use on a page.

If you don’t know the colour hex code there’s even a colour palette from which you can select the colours you want.

So what was my experience of upgrading?

A word of caution here: if you’re upgrading from an earlier version of Thesis and you did a lot of colour and link customisation with the Custom CSS file, those customisations will over-ride colour settings you make in the new Design Options screen.

That means they’ll appear not to work.

So you have two options: either continue to do your customisation through the Custom CSS file, or wipe all those colour and link related customisations and start again.

Wiping and re-starting is not such a bad plan, because one of the benefits of the new Design Options screen is that you can greatly reduce the size of your Custom CSS file.

Plus, of course, it removes the chance of coding errors and the wasted hours searching for that missing semi-colon.

One thing that you’ll definitely need to change, no matter what, is your menu settings.

They’ve re-structured the coding for menus in 1.6 with the result that your old menu customisations will no longer work.

The new coding structure is much tidier and easier to work with, though, so if you prefer to style your menu through the custom stylesheet I think you’ll be pleased.

I did that on one of my sites and on a couple of others I blitzed the custom stylesheet settings and did all the navigation bar design through the Design Options screen.

It worked great and I just nipped into the custom stylesheet to adjust the font weight and font family.

The result, on that site, is that the menu now accounts for 1 line in my custom stylesheet, whereas it previously accounted for 11.

There are a couple of other nice touches in 1.6 too: you can remove all the borders separating the sidebars from the content area by unchecking a check box, and you can add a shadow effect to your content area by checking a check box.

Neat, both of those.

Chris has released a series of video tutorials for Thesis 1.6 and, as ever, the forum is extremely responsive and helpful.

If Thesis sounds interesting you can get more information here.

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