Thesis Theme Review
How Thesis Theme Compares...
Let's start this review out with a list! Here are just a handful of people that exclusively use Thesis on their blog:
- Simple Mom (mommy blogger)
- Matt Cutts (head of the Google Webspam Team)
- Chris Brogan (new media rockstar)
- Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction)
- Ramit Sethi (NYT bestselling author)
- Brian Clark (Internet entrepreneur)
- Jeremiah Andrick (Microsoft search engineer)
- Chris Hardwick (host of Web Soup)
OK, so maybe you recognize some of these people, maybe you don't. It doesn't matter. I'll tell you - they are influential people on the internet and there is a few reasons why they choose Thesis.
Let me tell the good (and there are a few things that bug me about it, too)...
First, let me explain what "Thesis" (developed by DIYThemes.com) is. This is a Wordpress theme that is installed "on-top-of" a current Wordpress blog installation. Now Wordpress is a free blogging platform and perhaps one of the most common platforms (for both blogging and general website development) on the internet today.
But Wordpress itself is kind of dull. It is great in that it allows users to create web pages and blog posts simply by logging into their own web portal and managing their website without any technical skills.
But again, Wordpress is kind of dull and (baseline), it is not necessarily optimized or aesthetically pleasing. I won't bore you too much about Wordpress in general (you can read my full Wordpress Review), but understand that most people who use Wordpress choose to have nicer looking blogs with a bit more functionality.
Luckily, there are plenty of "themes" and "plug-ins" on the internet that are free to download and install into your Wordpress installation (the Wordpress Themes Directory, for example). Still, you will find that most free themes may look cool, but they are not very "flexible" in change (unless you are a PHP guru). The plug-ins are good, too, but there are a lot of them out there and many don't integrate well with some themes.
This is where the Thesis theme is so valuable. Yes, Thesis is a theme, but it is more than that. It combines both the necessary tools and features to optimize your blog for the search engines and social media outlets. (We used to use plug-ins like the All-In-One-SEO plug-in, which is great, but this does that only better!).
It also provides you with tons of flexibility to control you own on-page Search Engine Optimization efforts (like manage the header, optimize or create a robots.txt file and define how tags and titles will be represented). This is all important. And if you don't know what I am talking about...don't worry about it! By default, most of the important stuff is done for you.
Analytics (like Google Analytics or StatCounter) code can be inserted, too (without the use of additional plug-ins). I like the feature a lot.
Despite all of the optimization that goes on, Thesis' most admired property is its style and formatting management. Like I mentioned above, most free themes are quite static; they cannot be changed very easily. If you prefer 2 columns to 3, there are simple buttons to do that in Thesis. If you want to define the widths of these columns, you can do that, too. You can change font styles easily and even color schemes...all with the internal forms (no technical experience required...though, you can modify and create custom style sheets if you know how to do that!).
So Thesis currently costs $87 for a single personal license right now. You can purchase a developers license for $164, too. If you have multiple sites you wish to install Thesis on, this is your best option (but you can always upgrade to the developer's license at a later date, too). The developer's license allows you to install this theme on as many Wordpress sites that you like, as long as you are the owner of these sites. (Great value, actually).
With these licenses, you get the theme to download onto your server (watch the HostGator to Thesis in 5 minutes video below to see how easy it is to install). You also get access to their support forum and future upgrades to later revisions.
Now a few of my "issues" with Thesis...
My biggest gripe is their support. The support forum is nice and they seem to respond to "support posts" rather quickly, but it is very busy and frankly, I wish I could just contact someone via email if I need help or have a question. They prefer everything to be public, I suppose.
Because this is a very "dynamic" theme, you are still quite constricted to the "rules and design" of the theme. Making code changes to the Thesis theme is not easy. I understand that most of you are not programmers and this would never be an issue, but if you DO want to force a change that is outside the scope of the baseline thesis options, it is more difficult than most themes.
"Do I really Have to Pay for a Theme?" That is kind of my biggest question. There are SO MANY themes out there that are for free. I've used tons of them in the past, too. But once I started using Thesis, I do find myself returning to it constantly. It does save me a lot of time and energy in loading up other plug-ins (that are really needed). I find the theme to be very "clean" looking and very robust (two things that are hard to find in a free theme). And still, I am able to make each one look rather "unique" with a few clicks of a button.
I currently run Thesis on about 6 websites right now. (ThatSEOExpert is one of them, for example). I DON'T have it on my own personal blog, though. That is because I paid a whole heck of a lot of money developing it (before Thesis was available). If I was starting over again, I would start off with Thesis.
So yes, the one-time investment of $87 is trivial, in my opinion, to what you get. And if you like it (which you probably will), you will always have the option of upgrading to a developers license. After that, it is virtually free to all new websites you create.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR WORDPRESS USERS!