The last WordPress theme you’ll ever need. Bit of an extravagant claim, I know, but consider this:
The Thesis theme for WordPress has been designed from the ground up specifically to enable non-techie users to customise and change the look of their site at will.
Full Disclosure up front: I use Thesis and I’m an affiliate for Thesis.
So how do you want your site to look?
Want a left main text area and 2 right sidebars? No problem – just select this in the options panel (and select your preferred widths of each), and you’re done. Want a central main text area with a sidebar on each side? No problem. Select that, click save and the look of your blog is changed instantly. Want no sidebars? You get the drift.
You can change the font types and sizes in different parts of your site, define how your page titles will be displaid, use the multi-media box or not, as you please, and a whole lot more, just by selecting or de-selecting options in the options panels.
To take things further there’s a custom CSS file. This file has been set up so that you can define any design element you want and it will over-ride the main stylesheet, without actually touching it.
Don’t like what you’ve done? No problem. Just delete the relevant lines in the custom CSS file and you’re back to the defaults, where you can start again.
And for those who really want to push the boat out there’s a custom functions file too. This uses a system of hooks which allows you to move different elements of your site to wherever you want.
Prefer your menu items to be under the header graphic? No problem. Un-hook them from before the header and re-hook them after the header, click save and you’re done.
To see some of the top sites that use Thesis click here and then click on the ‘Awsome Sites Like These Run on Thesis’ link.
A quick reality check here: the more complex the customisations you want to make the more you’ll need to know (or learn).
For example: making changes to the custom CSS file does mean that you need to know (or know how to get access to) the correct CSS definitions.
Using the custom functions file does require that you learn about hooks.
The CSS part is easy: you can find dozens of CSS tutorials on the web and, if push comes to shove, let me know and I can help with your CSS coding.
Hooks were new to me. I’ve got the logic behind hooks down, now, but I still need to look up the actual hook names.
But one of the best things about buying Thesis is that you become a member of the Thesis community, which gives you access to support through the support forums.
And if your experience with forum style support is not so good (that’s not the case in my experience with Thesis, but with many products it is), one of the first things you’ll find is how to search the forums for the answer you want from Google (rather than from within the site).
This worked like an absolute charm for me and enabled me to get the hang of hooks and set up a couple of custom functions in the space of about 20 minutes.
Search Engine Optimised
The earlier versions of Thesis were not compatible with the popular WordPress SEO plugins (All-in-One-SEO-Pack and SEO-Titles) but from version 1.3.2 on this has been corrected.
So if you’re using either of those plugins, just continue to do so as normal.
And if you don’t have those plugins don’t worry – Thesis is, in any case, well optimised for the search engines through the correct use and structure of its HTML, CSS and PHP.
In addition, you can also define specific META tags for each post through custom fields – full instructions are included – which is what the All-in-One-SEO-Pack and SEO-Titles plugins enable you to do.
So why did I say that this is the last WordPress theme you’ll ever need?
Because the continual development process at Thesis keeps pace with (and incorporates) new functionality in new WordPress releases as they come out. Add to that the ability, as I’ve described above, to completely change the look and feel of your blog at any time and you have a completely future-proof theme.
For more information on Thesis and a video tour showing its capabilities and ease of use …
Check Out Thesis Here
Update – 19 March, 2009:
They’ve just released Thesis 1.5 in Beta form.
It now includes the ability to select a Teasers and Features layout (like a magazine style) simply by selecting options in the Thesis Options Screen.
Also included now is a Features box and the ability to define the width of each column individually. So you can now have 3 columns of equal width if you want.
All of that just by selecting options in the Options Screens.
I wrote some more about Thesis here.
Update 4th May, 2009
The official release of Thesis 1.5 hit the streets this weekend. I’ve reviewed it in detail here.