When it comes to WordPress themes, Thesis is at the top of nearly every list and for a pair of very good reasons too: great looks and ease of use. That is not to say that other themes do not look great or are harder to use, but Thesis looks really slick and professional in its default setup. In fact, it would be fair to say that there is clear evidence that a great deal of time and thought went into the default appearance as well as the user interface. This combination is ideal for people who just want to manage their blog(s) and post content without worrying whether first impressions are driving visitors away for good. In fact, save for one small flaw, it would be fair to say that Thesis is almost the WordPress theme equivalent of the Mac OS: it is decidedly easy on the eyes, looks great without trying to, and just works.
Download the Latest Version of Thesis »
The one aspect of dealing with Thesis that is sub-par for a pay-for WordPress theme is that one has to manually download it and install it via FTP. FTP is an aging standard and can be unreliable at times, but that is not the main complaint here. The main complaint is this: WordPress comes with an integrated theme finder, but Thesis is nowhere to be found. This is not the only top notch theme that is not available via the WordPress theme finder, and there may be reasons for this omission. Perhaps all the themes in the WordPress theme finder are free, but why can’t a demo version with limited features or an outdated public-license version be available? It would certainly make installation so much easier and more user friendly, which are two of Thesis’s strong points. While this might seem like a minor annoyance, especially to countless tech savants of the world, it could be a roadblock for bloggers who are not overly tech-oriented. While it is easy to suggest that such bloggers may have a way to go before they are ready for the world of blogging, the beauty of the Internet is that it should give everyone a voice. True, WordPress looks decent by default, but Thesis is almost drool-worthy out of the box, and not being able to install such an intuitive and user friendly theme without getting into FTP is a tiny bit of a let down in some ways.
Installation the FTP Way
On the subject of installation, the fact is that not everyone will be daunted by what amounts to a somewhat standard routine for a premium WordPress theme. Here is a list of what anyone will need to have handy before attempting to install Thesis:
- An up-to-date version of WordPress
- A Good FTP program
- Your FTP account information (user name, password, host, and possibly port)
- A copy of the Thesis theme unzipped on a local or network drive
- A few minutes depending one’s broadband connection
- WordPress login credentials for the site or sites to be updated
After ensuring that the site is backed up, and WordPress is up to date, it is time to begin. Start by logging into the FTP/SFTP account and locate the wp-content/themes folder. The Thesis folder needs to be uploaded in its entirety here, so that in the end there will be a wp-content/themes/thesis folder. The actual name of the folder does not matter, it could be called wp-content/themes/mytheme and WordPress will still be able to use it.
To install any theme in WordPress, simply click on the appearance menu and any FTP-installed theme should be available. In this case, the Thesis theme is ready to install by simply clicking on the ‘activate’ link. Once installed, there are a few things worth taking note of, including the site(s) affected by the upgrade as well as the new menu items.
Get a Towel Before Looking At The Updated Site(s), It’s For The Drool
If there was one thing that could be taken away from the stock appearance of Thesis, it would probably be just how great it looks. There are always ways to tweak and modify any WordPress theme at the code level, and Thesis certainly is no exception, but it does look genuinely amazing right out of the box. This same quality look extends to menus that look as if Apple’s crowd of software artists/engineers thought of and executed them. There are numerous Thesis tutorials that can make features that seem advanced look like child’s play in no time. This is not only a product of great tutorials, but also the genius of a well designed theme that empowers so many people to make truly amazing websites.
The menus are broken down into Thesis Options, Design Options, and Custom File Editor menus. Each menu is well laid out with expandable/collapsible sub-menus that are well organized and thematic. Unlike some other notable themes, these menus are small and bite sized which makes them ideal for novices and pros looking for quick answers. Surprisingly, there is a lot to tweak in these menus as well as an incredible amount of helpful advice contained within each sub-menu. While it is great to see the work that Chris Pearson, the mind behind Thesis, in this particular regard, his talent for UI/settings is so desperately needed by hundreds of companies around the world that it seems like some sort of crime that he limit himself to helping bloggers. Anyone who has ever wrestled with a poorly designed settings menu or preference pane will probably be delighted by how easy to use, change, and understand Thesis is.
Even without tweaking, Thesis looks great. Better yet, simple cosmetic and internal changes are really easy to make. This is absolutely ideal for bloggers that cannot be bothered with learning all the nuts and bolts of a WordPress theme, but simply want to start blogging. With no tech degree needed to make a site like amazing, this might very well be the best theme available from the perspective of a novice, but it also has a lot to offer gear-heads that want to tweak code to their own satisfaction. If you are looking for outstanding hosting for Thesis, we recommend WP Engine.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Thesis is a great skin for those who want to start a great looking blog but do not want to spend endless hours trying to learn CSS, html, PHP, or any other nearly arcane art. Looks are, of course, subjective, and thus something that looks great today may look dated in a few years. With frequent updates, it would seem likely that an investment in Thesis would be sound from an aesthetic standpoint, but tastes do change. Thesis also has a lot to offer coders, and is very well remarked. Other than that fact that Thesis is not free, there is absolutely no reason not to give Thesis two thumbs up.