Premium WordPress Themes Review: Thesis

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support CommunityOf all the premium themes available, Thesis is probably one of the most popular themes available. In the world of templates and standard themes, popularity might not always be a good thing but thanks to the unlimited customization features, repetition between unrelated sights doesn’t need to be problem.

If your site is hard to read, people won’t bother. Thesis offers a clean design featuring stellar typography combined with a generous use of white space. It is pleasing to read and looks professional right out of the box. For bloggers who focus on the written word, the default installation looks great. However, it’s when you start digging into Thesis that the theme comes to life.

SEO, SEO and More SEO
One of my favorite features in Thesis is that it is built for search engine optimization. SEO customizations that would take some serious coding or plugins in other themes come standard. Along with custom fields for title tags and meta descriptions, you get the ability to optimize everything down to the categories and archive pages. You can guide the search engine spiders through your site using “nofollow,” “noidnex,” and “noarchive” settings for each page and can even optimize the “read more” link on particular posts.

Another feature new in 1.8 is character counts in the meta fields. Title tags and meta descriptions are limited to around 72 and 180 characters. The character count lets you know where you stand. Although it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s one of the little things that makes Thesis nice.

Even if you know nothing about SEO, Thesis by default will put you ahead of the game. I personally saw one of my blogs jump from about the fifth position in the Google search returns to an alternating first/second position after switching over to Thesis. While I can’t verify that Thesis is the reason for the jump, I can’t believe it didn’t help.

Custom Control Panels, No Coding

Thesis WordPress theme review

Fonts and colors for the nav bar can be changed through the Thesis design options

With some themes, changing basic elements such as background color, number of columns, fonts all take custom coding. Thesis includes an extensive design panel that allows you to select colors, fonts, etc without the need for coding. Teaser display options, post date format (or no date at all), number of columns, framework options, to name a few can all be managed through the design control panel.

But that’s not all you can do through the control panels. Header and footer scripts such as those needed by Google Analytics can be directly added through the control panel. You can select pages, posts or links to include in the navigation bar, drag and drop to change the order in which they appear and even create drop down menus using the control panel. You can even change the display order of comments, trackbacks and comment forms with simple drag and drop.

With version 1.8, one of my biggest complaints with the theme has been fixed. With past versions, something as simple as adding a custom banner to the top of the page required custom coding. Now, header images can be uploaded through a control panel that automatically resizes the image and drops it into place.

Thesis also comes with a multimedia box that can be set to show throughout the site or on a per page/post basis.

Hardcore Design Customization
Thesis goes way beyond the basic blogging platform. Armed with a little coding knowledge, it can become a powerful web design tool. Developers can quickly save options and upload them to new sites, javascript libraries can be turned on with the touch of a button and custom pages can be created from scratch if needed. Customizations can all be done directly through the WordPress control panel without the need to upload files to the server.

Don’t Know Code? Problem With the Site? Help is Available
By far, one of the best features of Thesis is the support forum. Although the theme gets better and better with each upgrade, if you really want to customize it, you will need to do some custom coding. When I first started using Thesis, I knew very little about web design. However, as I’ve built more and more websites with it, I have always been able to get the code modifications I need through the support forums. When I couldn’t find the code I needed in the forums, I started a new thread and the code was provided usually before the day was over. All I needed to do was cut and paste it into place. When I was first learning, they even helped me paste it in the right place.

Personally, I think the support forums alone justify the price. They are always quick to respond and most important, they are patient users of all ability levels.

Pricing Options
DIY Themes offers a number of licensing options. A personal license which allows you to run Thesis on one site costs $97. A developers option which allows for use on unlimited sites you own is available for $164. Developers can purchase additional licenses for clients for $40 apiece.

Want to see more?
Check out the video below to see how Thesis can unleash the web designer in you.

Click here if you’re ready to rock The Thesis Theme for WordPress

Looking for other Theme Reviews? Be sure to check out my reviews of Headway and Studiopress.

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