Thesis Theme for WordPress

Thesis theme logoFull disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Thesis, as well as a rabid user.

I’ve used the Thesis framework on this, and all my WordPress sites, for some years now.

You’ll see that I refer to Thesis as a framework, not a theme.

That’s because it works differently from the established perception of a WordPress theme: you should think of it as a platform that enables you to create any design you like, in the same way as you would if you were building a traditional HTML website.

It enables you to unlock the power of WordPress without having to get into the core code (which means that your customisations will always be preserved through WordPress upgrades), and without having to add a gazillion plugins (which means your site will be more stable and its page-load times will be faster).

In fact, as a result of Thesis’ functionality, I’ve been able to reduce the number of plugins I was originally using on this site by more than 30%.

The strength of Thesis, then, lies in two areas:

  1. The quality of its underlying code
  2. The power it gives you to configure your WordPress site

The quality and efficiency of the underlying code

WordPress is often accused of being slow to load.

Some of that is due to the fact that it’s based on PHP, which means that it makes multiple calls to the server during the page-load process. It’s not just a one shot deal.

But a lot of it is due to poorly, inefficiently coded themes.

These also have to be PHP-based to work with WordPress and, if they’re poorly coded, they’ll make more calls to the server than necessary (referred to as HTTP calls), which slows down page-load times.

The DIYThemes team updates and re-organises the underlying code in each version of Thesis they release, and each time the page-load times improve noticeably.

The Power to Configure Your WordPress Site

The second factor is the way Thesis enables me to completely alter the layout of my WordPress sites, just by selecting options in the options screens.

I can structure items like my menu (navigation bar) and site layout (number and positioning of columns, full width or page style, etc) quickly and easily without getting into the WordPress core code.

As powerful as the design and site options screens are, when you start to use the custom stylesheet and the custom functions file that’s when your design creativity really gets a free rein!

The custom stylesheet enables you to add as many design customisations as you want and the custom functions file enables you to move different elements of the page around and add conditional functions.

For example, on this site I’ve set up functions to display specific banner ads based on the category of the article that’s being read: a banner ad for Thesis if the article is in the WordPress category and a banner add for Aweber if the article is in the Internet Marketing category.

I can create landing pages, on which the sidebars and top menu are removed, in no more than 2 or 3 minutes.

And all without the use of any plugins.

Highly focused SEO controls

Thesis is also known for its very focused controls over the SEO features of your WordPress site, not only on a site-wide and post-by-post basis, but also for category and tag pages.

As a result, some of my category pages rank extremely well (top 5 positions) for search terms with hundreds of millions of competitive results.

All that said, you’ll hear a lot of moaning about Thesis.

It’s absolutely true to say that Thesis does involve a learning curve, which can be frustrating and time-consuming at first.

But, in my view, time invested in learning Thesis will be repaid with interest in terms of your site performance.

Some tutorials to get you started

Here are some tutorials I’ve written on using Thesis. They focus on setting up the basic site design and layout – think of these as Thesis 101:

Thesis design options: colours and fonts

Thesis design options: site layout

Using the custom stylesheet

Customising your navigation menu bar

Extending the width of your navigation menu bar

You can see all my Thesis tutorials here. And if what you’re looking for isn’t among those the DIYThemes site will definitely have the answer, but you will need to log in.

If you’d like to be notified when I publish new tutorials on Thesis, get regular Internet Marketing tips, a free eBook on starting and running an online business and links to new articles as I publish them, sign up below:

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Martin Malden