Review: Thesis Theme by DIYThemes – Premium WordPress Theme

by Robb Sutton

If you are using WordPress and you do not know what the Thesis Theme is…you have been living under a rock. For the past year or so, Thesis has climbed to the top of the “must have” WordPress themes on the market. With multiple features and an easy to use administration panel, bloggers have found that they can get up and running pretty quickly with something that is professional. So…let’s take a look inside and see what makes the Thesis Theme from DIYThemes click…

Installing Thesis

You install Thesis just like you do any other WordPress theme so that part of the equation is simple. Once you install, you have to change the custom-sample folder to just custom so you can edit, change and customize your theme. Once you have that done, the administration functions of Thesis are found at the bottom of your left hand toolbar. Within these options you are going to find the Thesis Options, Thesis Design Options and the Custom File Editor.

Thesis Theme Options

Thesis Theme Design Options

Within these screens, you can do everything from customizing layout and colors to adding in your tracking scripts from Google Analytics. Basically, if you have something you need to add or edit outside of your content…it is all here.

Within the post screen, you are going to find another box. With these Thesis administration boxes, you control the automatically placed image in your article. You can also specify a different thumbnail than the picture and the placement of those items if you want them to display differently than your global settings that you specified in the Thesis admin.

Post Options Thesis ThemeSEO Box in Thesis Theme

Making Thesis Look Unique

The Thesis Theme is built around DIY’s own framework. DIY uses a series of “hooks” that allow you to customize layout options and add in your own personal flare to the homepage, single.php, archives and others. By adding hooks, you are able to customize content layout and design. This video from DIY will show you the basics on how you can change colors, layout, etc.

Review Of The Thesis Premium WordPress Theme

For those of you that haven’t had any experience with Thesis, you now know the nuts and bolts that go behind the theme. So…not that all of the formal stuff is done, let’s take a look at what I think of the Thesis Theme from DIYThemes.

First, the base code for Thesis is very well written for a premium WordPress theme. What does this mean? Out of the box you are going to have a site that loads quickly, is efficient at handling the typical blogging tasks and is search engine friendly from a spidering standpoint. Clean code is an essential part of blogging as you are reliant on load times and spiderability to really see growth over time.

The backend management system within Thesis is extremely easy to use for everyday tasks. Simple things like excluding items from the navigation bar can be done by bloggers who have little to know WordPress or coding experience. This is huge for beginning bloggers as there are less questions you have to ask to get things up and running quickly.

The hooks system is easy for coders to figure out, but for those of you that haven’t dabbled in coding before…it is going to be extremely confusing at first. Luckily, there is a great support forum available that you can ask for help as you move along in the process. For most users (and you can see this throughout the Thesis sites online), mess with the hooks a little bit to get functionality of plugins…but that is where they really call it a day. For web coders, the possibilities are really endless using the hooks system just as you would with regular website coding.

The designers of the Thesis Theme want you to use their built in SEO functions within the theme. Personally, I strongly disagree with this method as it ties you to the Thesis theme for your SEO. By using a plugin like All-In-One or Platinum SEO, you are accomplishing the same task…for free…and just  as efficiently. But…when you go to change themes sometime off in the future, all of your SEO work is tied to the plugin you are not changing instead of the Theme you are. DIY has done a great job promoting the SEO aspects of Thesis as a selling point, but I do not agree with it.

Another thing that DIY has done a fantastic job with is marketing. With a great affiliate program and a big push by big name bloggers, the Thesis Theme has become big business. Great for DIY, but that also means that just about every blog reader on the planet has seen a Thesis Theme’d blog. While you can make Thesis look incredibly unique (almost to the point you do not recognize it anymore), most of the Thesis sites out there all look the same with a couple of different colors. This does not have to be a bad thing, but if you are looking for an original look, Thesis may not be where you want to head unless you are a designer or are ready to pay a designer.

Final Thoughts On The Thesis Theme

There would not be so many people using Thesis today if it wasn’t a great theme. It works for 90% of the bloggers out there by focusing on content and ease of use. While the hooks system does work well, beginning bloggers are going to have trouble understanding the coding (but they would with any theme). If you are looking for a lightweight, well coded option for your blog, Thesis is worth taking a look over. If you need something with more of a unique look…it might not be.

What I Like About Thesis
  • Clean coding and fast load times out of the box.
  • Easy to use backend management system.
  • Incredible support and affiliate program.
  • Price is average for premium themes.
What I Don’t Like About Thesis
  • Most Thesis based sites look the same.
  • SEO marketing ties you to theme.

Click here to pick up a copy of the Thesis Theme for your blog.

What are your experiences with Thesis?

21 comments

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21 comments

Aaron Mielke January 29, 2010 - 10:55 am

Good Review Robb and your timing, as always, is spot on.

Thesis affiliates are popping up all over the blogosphere and no sooner than I type “Thesis Theme” into google, you pop up with a review.

I’ve been laying out framework for my next project, and I wanted to research the Thesis Theme to see if it would work for me. I’m thinking I may be after a theme that will allow me to be more “unique” in my particular niche so it may not be what I’m looking for.

I’ll keep you posted on what I decide works best.

Good post!

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Jim Munro January 29, 2010 - 11:08 am

The last point is good, so many themes look like Thesis. That’s not the fault of Thesis IMO. (Though I am guilty of it myself.:)

This could be said of WordPress in general, don’t all blogs have the same sort of format generally? They don’t all have to follow the formula:header+content+sidebar widgets+footer.

As you point out, it would be the website owners fault for not either a) customizing, b) hiring a designer.

Thesis themes smell like thesis themes when you view a site “powered by thesis”.

Thesis bills itself as a framework and should be treated as such — used as a basis to build upon and customize.

I hope that the era of plug-and-play theme usage may come to an end and give more designers a chance to work with this nice framework as a starting point, not an end goal.

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Robb Sutton January 29, 2010 - 11:11 am

I completely agree. The problem I am seeing right now with Framework designs (and there are more out there than just Thesis) is that people are not using them as frameworks…they are using them as the Theme. So they buy it…and then they do not invest anything into making it more unique. That is not the fault of DIY…it is just where things are right now. I hope that changes with time.

I also think that since Thesis is so common now…it is more prevalent. I am sure most people…if they have shopped for themes long enough…can tell this is a WooTheme that has been hacked up, but the difference with Woo is the different design options. It makes them less common. With Thesis…everyone is getting the same thing right out of the box.

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Jim Munro January 29, 2010 - 11:44 am

Seems also that they make the theme look so easy to use in their demo video, that “anyone can do it” but in reality design is more than picking a header color and column layout.

So now there are a lot of people that get the impression that they can customize it with a few mouse clicks, but then realize that actually to use it requires some level of PHP knowledge (to use hooks), and CSS, etc. I’m sure many people don’t either know how and/or don’t want to learn, which is fine.

But now that they’ve invested a hundred and some bucks on a theme, they’d better use it, so we get a lot of out-of-the-box default themes.

I’ve customized a bunch of themes for others, now I need to shut up and get mine updated. 🙂

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Hans-Peter June 21, 2010 - 5:50 am

They guys from diytheme also offer some themes like the minimal skin http://diythemes.com/thesis/minimal-skin/#more-219 which people can use too. But most of them are really just lazy. It doesn’t take much to make even the default theme outstanding. most of the changes are straight forward within thesis administration or you just edit the custom.css file…

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Playstead January 29, 2010 - 1:07 pm

I’ve been using Thesis for about a year and like it, but I’ve been wondering how Headway stacks up. I’ve heard great things about their interface, you get more licenses for your money, and the sites look great. Anyone have any thoughts on Thesis vs. Headway?

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Robb Sutton January 29, 2010 - 1:08 pm

Headway is next!

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Ahmad Wali January 29, 2010 - 3:57 pm

Hey,

Before buying the thesis I was thinking that so many people have owned this theme and if I use the same theme it wont be unique for my web. Looking to see the headway..

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Playstead January 29, 2010 - 5:24 pm

Well, I’m no designer; I’m a writer with a web presence, but the great thing about these premium themes is that if you know any CSS (or know someone who does) you can tweak the theme you buy to look very custom. You’d be shocked to see all the different looks these themes can have with a little work.

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Doug Montgomery January 29, 2010 - 7:43 pm

I’ve been using Thesis since the beginning, and I love every second of it. I am a coder, so not only was it easy for me to customize Thesis, but it kept me from doing a lot of the grunt work.

I’ve posted a few Thesis related items on my blog as well, take a look.
http://douglife.info

Great post!

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Nathan Green March 22, 2011 - 8:17 am

Pretty excellent to see the Thesis Theme. I almost like WordPress theme especially DIYThemes. Thanks buddy!

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paint pad pro June 1, 2011 - 5:02 pm

Lots of diy themes available on the web nowadays but even bettrer, I would recommend to anyone interested, to try to build on their own by using the WP theme creation software. shopping channel and fast too!

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seo company June 23, 2011 - 9:52 am

WordPress themes are also very good from the SEO point of view especially.

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Jprmarketing June 24, 2011 - 9:36 am

This theme looks very nice, we have made thesis before never thought there are available themes in wordpress. Nice

PR Agency

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Copywriting Nottingham June 27, 2011 - 12:15 pm

You have provided excellent theme that is good for thesis. This is also not hard for us to own since the installation is as easy as the wordpress theme process. Two Thumbs up for you!

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Dog beds July 6, 2011 - 3:01 pm

I am so thankful that this Thesis theme is being out because it helped me to save my money and I was able to build my site on my own design. Thanks a lot!

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web design bangalore July 7, 2011 - 7:47 am

You have done good job It was interesting and I like this  tips  

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Protein Supplements July 10, 2011 - 9:30 pm

Almost all Thesis based sites looks the same, this is quite a problem.

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Guest October 15, 2011 - 6:09 am

 Wow it’s truly a great theme used by Thesis Premium
WordPress Theme……  Learning the vital importance I want to buy this
theme for my personal uses. Thanks for expressing this awesome theme 🙂

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Mark November 23, 2011 - 11:58 am

I’m looking for SEO optimized WordPress themes and found your article.This was really helping but I’m little bit confused on wwhat to choose between thesis / genisis

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Robb Sutton November 30, 2011 - 4:06 pm

Do you want control over the design (design it yourself?)

Reply

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