Thesis WordPress Theme — A Critical Take

Update1 (10 Oct. 2008): I have now chosen to buy Thesis and this site currently uses that. I don’t know why I bought it, may be the curiosity killed the cat and to risk the investment to give an unbiased review. For whatever reason I bought it and set it up. Since I’ve already done all this investment I’m yet to find a reason not to use Thesis now. However here’s my original review.

Update2 (04 Nov. 2009): With the improvements in Thesis Theme in the last one year, Thesis has come a long way stepping through many versions and changes. As of Thesis version 1.6, I find it considerably user friendly. Not only that, it even is developer friendly and many developers use it as a starting base to design sites for their clients. I’ve thus chosen to promote Thesis for the excellent theme framework it has become. I’ll let this article remain here for historical reasons and… nostalgia.

The recently released version of the WordPress theme – Thesis – is hot in the news especially in the blogger arena. It’s developed by Chris Pearson. The theme has been talked about at popular sites like ProBlogger and others and all the hype carried me to DIY Themes. Finally after taking a look (whatever I could do for free) at the theme, I have serious doubts whether a professional blogger would like to buy it. They say there’s nothing like bad PR (point 23). I believe that with all my heart and soul. So with all due respect to the developer here’s what I have to say about this theme.

  1. Body font

    The first impression is lasting but not necessarily useful in the long run. It’s worse if you try to impress a web designer with this one. We are talking about the font-family here. The use of Georgia and serif font in the body text goes against the principles of typography. This makes the text harder to read while putting a lot of stress on your eyes. When you’ve chosen to purchase a premium them, you expect better. I seriously doubt any established web-designer would approve of such quirks to lure prospective customers claiming beautiful typography. Its lame.

  2. The features

    Are there any at all? The claims point to the theme options or the configurations options panel feature. You can put the Google Analytics code and have your feeds redirected to feedburner. You can customize navigation from the options screen and put in a few images that cycle everything you reload the page. You even can add your custom CSS and images to a custom folder that comes with the theme. Guess what? I’ll give you some very easy alternatives for $999. And I’ll also give you an option not to pay at all 🙂

    • Get the feedburner feed redirection plugin from wordpress codex. That will take care of it for you.
    • Get the all-in-one SEO plugin to take care of Search Engine optimization.
    • Use the text widget from the widgets section and put in all your ads, tracking code there. You want to pay for that? You have my email.
    • And finally if you are so intent at customizing the CSS, navigate to the Theme Editor option under Design in the default WordPress theme. It will allow you to customize anything and everything without you needing a developer license. Put in a GPL license and you can even distribute on the newly gone public WordPress Theme site. Customize it all you can.
  3. The price

    $87 for a personal license and a $164 for a developer license. My take – I submit to you that if you are a developer, you start from scratch. Build some rocket-science features and then sell them for $10. That will only underline your authority as a developer and a creative one at that.If you are a blogger and more intent on using the theme, take a look at some of the best themes out there on the WordPress Theme site. Also take a look at the free UBD Moneymaker Theme.

  4. Accessibility

    You want to take another look at the WordPress default theme? You can customize the header no end and it works on almost every known browser and mobile device. Pep it up a bit and it’s all yours to claim. There are better options than paying for this theme.

  5. What it doesn’t have

    I’m also looking for some beauty and style here (other than threat created solely by the image rotator bore). I expect a lot of polish from a premium theme that I pay for. Gradients, colors, rounded corners, anyone?

  6. The big problem

    Now you are left with (less or more) about a hundred some dollars. Well, you can forget about it or else send them to me.

Before I conclude, here’s another things I’d like to mention. They say “Great products polarize people”. So you are all free to buy and find the truth yourself. With that said, I’d like to hear what you have to say. And by the way if you are Chris Pearson don’t hit me please. Your comments go right here…

Posted In:

UX & Frontend Design, Thesis WordPress Theme Framework


  1. I agree, the look of it isn’t very good, but the concept behind it (the options) is great. Personally for something similar to this theme (with better looks) I would side with a theme called OneTheme.

  2. ditto. OneTheme is more polished and finished.

  3. I’ve never read something so uneducated in my life.

    You clearly have little understanding of the nuances that make the theme great.

  4. Robert,

    Since you have, wouldn’t you like to enlighten us?

  5. I don’t know where to begin.

    Let’s start with the facts. I am a professional blogger and I use Thesis on multiple websites.

    You mention that many of the Thesis features can be found elsewhere and that’s the whole point. All features can be found elsewhere. Thesis includes them for convenience and it lets the blogger focus on writing as opposed to Googling WordPress Plugins.

    Overall, I’m happy with Thesis and I would still recommend it to people.

  6. Noted. How many professional bloggers would still not want to save this sum and do a one-time setup of the free plugins? Bloggers have the know-how of themes, plugins, CMS and even of CSS and php etc. Should they still be spending on this?

    Convenience comes at a price, but not that high, especially when there’s competition. Have you taken a look at the UBD MoneyMaker theme?

  7. You have a killer header. The Thesis theme could definitely take note.

    The blueheader along with the two-tone logo…don’t forget the tagline, Make Meaning Blogging. Thesis has nothing on this theme!

  8. It takes a simple custom stylesheet declaration to change the body font.

    A good theme is so much more than the default styling. A good theme — a good framework really — flexibly accommodates many different style mods, but still retains a core integrity.

    Check out the Thesis Theme Showcase to see what can be done.

    Never underestimate vanilla as a base for other flavors. : )

  9. I don’t know anything about the theme, but I have an issue with your comment about the body font and when you say “[using a] serif font in the body text goes against the principles of typography.”

    That’s actually totally wrong. Serif fonts were actually created for the purpose of making print easier to read at smaller type sizes. The letters flow together better allowing the eye to work less hard to read the material.

    For reference, check this Usage section of this article on Wikipedia:

  10. Thanks Dave. I agree. However Wikipedia is missing the usage for sans-serif fonts.

    Sans-serifs are neat and simple. I’m sure you know about it but here it is for my reference.

  11. Thanks for that article – actually it’s the first one which does not try to sell thesis and gives me also the dark side…


  12. Thanks for dropping by Andreas.

  13. Take a look at the options that are now available in the 1.1 version of the Thesis Theme:

    Sure, if you are a designer or advanced blogger you might want to handle everything yourself. But if you aren’t, and you just want the benefits of a blog (like traffic and a nice appearance), buying a theme that works well out-of-the-box, comes with free upgrades, and is well-supported, is worth the money. At least in my opinion.

  14. I’m a user of the Thesis Theme and absolutely love it! The best part of the whole package is the amazing support behind the scene. Not being a professional designer I appreciate the fact the theme has tireless support that doesn’t insult the user.

    Just my 2 cents.

  15. And by what authority do you claim this is a bad theme? From what I see, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re a developer much like myself.

    I work with a lot of designers, and I know enough to know that I don’t know much. With all due respect, can you tell me about color theory? Typography? Balance? How about usability?

    A lot of people take design work for granted, much like they gloss over the naunces of *any* skilled profession. Any monkey can with a text editor and GIMP make a *theme*, but it takes someone who knows their stuff to make a real *design*.

  16. Hey, I think it’s useful to look at things critically, but you seem to be missing the point — that you don’t need to be a genius coder to customise this theme. Although if you are I think you’d still enjoy using it.

    How many professional bloggers would still not want to save this sum and do a one-time setup of the free plugins?

    Professional bloggers should recognise that by using these plugins they’re dependent on others to upgrade the plugins and keep them working with WordPress. You have to go to the trouble of upgrading them, and what happens when the owner decides to discontinue development?
    Plugins are great to enhance your site, but I don’t think essential functions should be left solely up to them. For example, the All in One SEO plugin is great, but how much better to have a theme that’s already got great SEO?

    In terms of fonts, you can actually change all fonts and sizes through a design options panel in the admin — don’t even have to use CSS. This post is a little old so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt when I point out that you currently have serif body font!

    You can read about some of the latest features in version 1.2 on the Thesis blog.

  17. Why do others seek to validate themselves by discrediting others?

    I remain a very happy user of Thesis. It does what it says on the label – with ease.

    You are entitled to your view and I defend your right to say what you think. Ditto for myself and I think your time would be better spent promoting your own ideas rather than rubbishing others.

  18. The choice of a theme for your WordPress blog is a personal decision. I certainly wouldn’t expect everyone to fall in love with Thesis. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a solid product.

    @Andreas – I can understand being skeptical. At the same time, I don’t think there is a dark side to Thesis. Lots of people have been using it for their blogs, such as my Thesis Theme blog, and I think the results speak for themselves. Their blogs look great, and place well in search engine results, with very little effort on their part.

    @kristarella – I agree with your points and want to say how impressed I am with your contributions to the Thesis Theme Forum. You are a real asset to the Thesis Theme community.

  19. Damein: No one has any authority to tell you about your work. But I have an opinion and I certainly have the authority to express it. Yes, I can tell you the ins and out of color theory, typography, usability, photography, blogging, theory of relativity but that is not the point. No one has any authority to jump to conclusions about me. But then as I said you have the authority to express yourself and your comment is in the list for everyone to read. I’m not sure on what is it that your conclusions about me are based upon.

    Speaking of color theory and other stuff, sometimes designers tend to blow those things out of proportion. Most of the visitors wouldn’t be able to tell a free theme from a premium one. And after investing in a premium theme the last thing you want to read is someone criticizing your judgment and investment. When you are happy with it what gives?

    lan: For the serifs vs. sans – there have been endless debates about this point in the forums. Serifs tend to become unreadable at smaller sizes while sans-serifs stay clean. Ask that to someone who uses glasses of a power of -1 cyl. 180deg BE (I can certainly tell you a thing or two about ophthalmology as well 🙂 ).

    I have played around with Georgia for a long time and I love it as everyone else does. Note the larger size I use on the single.php in combination with Georgia.

    Don’t compare Thesis to my blog’s theme. I don’t have the time to polish it. But the day I do I may as well create a theme under GPL or just buy Thesis. Heh… after all this tech-banter and broo-haha buy Thesis? Well any premium theme will do. One time set up… and the works. It’s just not the theme but the blog setup as a package.

    So let me summarize; I think Thesis may or may not be good investment but given the fact that there are other premium themes out there, I think Thesis certainly has created some hype. Someone knows about the Options WordPress theme? That said as a blogger and end-user I have suffered from the technical quirks of computers. But Thesis can’t take them out. LOL. I stay unconvinced about Thesis and the day I am you know what to expect.

    And lastly I’m not discrediting anyone. I’m a professional and so are others. Doesn’t make sense for me to be making this beyond what it is – my opinion of a product.

  20. I am late to the game here, but I want to leave a quick comment on point.

    You mention serif body copy being hard to read, and that you would expect more out of a premium theme. Aside from the fact that you can change the body font to a sans serif option in the Thesis Design Options, you yourself use a serif font for your body copy.

    And actually, it looks like it might just be Georgia. Oh wait, here it is in your style sheet (

    #content .post {
    font:14px/1.5 georgia, serif;

    Speaking of typography, I see that you use Arial for other portions of your site. Speak with some designers and see what they think of Arial. You might want to pick a better sans font.

    I realize that you did not pay for this design, and that is most likely the main gist of your article, but Thesis is a well-made theme that facilitates ease of use. It is not meant to be a theme for design gurus, although I have seen people do some great design work on top of the Thesis back end.

    You get what you pay for, and Thesis was worth the purchase price. Some people may not agree with the concept of premium WordPress themes, so there’s always going to be some amount of disagreement on the subject.

    Of course, there are reasons to switch to a premium theme (

    Be well.

  21. Shivanand,

    Thanks for the reply. I know nothing of ophthalmology other than I am severely near-sighted (no pun intended). To the tune of -8 diopters. I can see less than two inches without corrective lenses.

    Anyhow, I wasn’t criticizing Georgia as I love that font, too. I just thought it ironic that you were critical of its use as a body font in Thesis, but then you use it as a body font yourself. And at the same size that Thesis does.

    I, too, lack the time to polish my site’s theme and design, so that’s part of the reason I grabbed Thesis… as a base to modify over time. I still dislike Arial as a sans serif font though.

    One thing that we agree on is that sans serifs is the way to go, especially if scaling to small size on screen. I’ve seen some argue that sans should be used for all elements on screen; however, a lot of designers do not do this for a variety of reasons.

    Be well.

  22. I should say your comments have been pursuasive and I’m seriously resisting the temptation to buy Thesis. I’ve fiddled with the code too much and just want to give up. Focus more on real development – my software and blogging. Let Mr. Pearson take care of my blog design 🙂
    But it would be good to know your comments about the downside of Thesis.

  23. @Shivanand – The new release of Thesis, version 1.2, added even more options to the WordPress admin screens. I’ve got a new post about them on my Thesis Theme blog here:

    Thesis Theme 1.2 Revealed

    I hope that post is helpful to you in your decision-making process. I wouldn’t say that Thesis is perfect as there are definitely a few things I would like to see added to it. But I do think it allows you to focus on real development, like you said. I’m quite happy to let Mr. Pearson take care of my blog design. 🙂

  24. Well written and very true. I cannot believe some of the comments here though they are funny. I like when people get passionate about things, but I hate it when it turns mean and childish. People would have so much more credibility if they could make their point and not have to insult or offend to do so. Thanks for the in-depth look at the theme, V

  25. Here’s my take. I currently have a craft/mom blog on Blogger and am moving it to WordPress. I don’t know much about coding (or the la-de-dahs of fonts and typography- same as the majority of internet users- we’re heathens), but I can figure stuff out if you speak slowly. 😉

    I do want something that I can customize, but doesn’t require an ridiculous amount of work or coding knowledge. I’ve read lots of good stuff about Thesis, but haven’t been completely convinced that it’s worth the money. I was looking for the downside to it. From what I understand, if you’re a professional, you could do it yourself for free. But if you just have a basic grasp of html and css then it would probably be worth it. Right?

    When moving to WordPress I’m worried that I know just enough to be dangerous, so I want to keep things as simple as possible. Thanks for all of your opinions.

  26. Wendy,

    With thesis you can quickly and easily changed fonts, you can add or remove tag links, category links, author name and date to posts without having to deal with code and you can choose different layouts without touching code. Beyond that, you can add CSS to your heart’s content and there are some things that you might want to do that need code, which you can get help with on the forum.

    When moving to WordPress I’m worried that I know just enough to be dangerous, so I want to keep things as simple as possible. Thanks for all of your opinions.

    I find that people who know nothing about code are dangerous with Thesis because they think they’ll be able to create a completely different site without any CSS or PHP. Hopefully if you get thesis you will be alright and learn a lot in the forums. You can check out the forums, but not be able to post, before you buy (I think).

  27. I have to go with Patrick. If you want something easy to work with out-of-the-box, go for it. I bought RevolutionTwo/church and it’s a WASTE of money for ME. Why? I’m not a pro, clueless about CSS and HTML and all the stuff I’d have to do to make this great looking theme work for ME. Great for Brian, sucks for me. I’d rather have my $59 back and get thesis – if ONLY because I don’t have to spend a month learning a new skill to get a basic blog site. I love the revolution themes but I will never recommend them to anyone unless I know the person is a competent coder and likes spending time figuring out hidden codes. Even the coders I know don’t like all the hoops and hidden paths in the theme. Looks great, but it’s high maintenance. Do you want to sell themes to the majority of the people who are NOT geeks but want a simple site that looks good? Or are you trying to impress other webbies? Depends on whether you want $$ or not. If you want to make $$ then sell simple, easy and quick to the majority and save your complex stuff for the pros.

  28. Becky — you paid for RevolutionTwo Church?! It’s free to download! If you paid any money it was to become a member of the RevolutionTwo forums and get all your questions answered and support on using your theme.

    Anywho, I agree with you. I was amazed when I tested out RevolutionTwo themes that they didn’t have any options from the back-end. Even Kubrick had an admin option to change the header… I actually wasn’t that impressed with those themes in terms of elegance of code and ease of use.

    As much as I love Thesis, I’m not beyond recommending Hybrid to you either. I’ve been working with it this week and it has some good plugins associated and child themes and so on (still, you need to pay to get support for the forums, if you need that, so Thesis is still a good way to go there).

  29. It USED to be free. I don’t think he got the monetization thing going…or its all semantics. Regardless…all the revolution themes are great looking and if you’re a geek and enjoy working with code etc. then the forums are probably okay too. I’m just the average person who wants a great looking theme I can use out of the box. I’ll check out hybrid, but I still think – for what I want/need, it was a waste of money for me. Thanks for the heads up on hybrid though!

  30. I just got Thesis a few days ago and so far I’m really liking it. Rather than spending hours trying to figure out how to customize it to fit my needs I spend 5 minutes asking for support and I generally get an answer within a reasonable time. On top of that most of the basics (such as changing fonts) are already built into the control panel. For $87 I can’t complain and I will be spending the other $77 for the upgrade for a developer license before long.

    Now if I had spent $2500 on a custom theme would Thesis be acceptable? No, but for what I paid, the fact it is in continual development, and support is so easy to get there’s no better deal out there.

    Just my 0.02

  31. Well whatever the case, it seems that we have a conversion in our hands. You’re a believer now? This is definitely a Thesis theme.

  32. I can only smile.

    But the last two upgrades haven’t gone smooth… Just abstaining from upgrading for now.

  33. IMO, Thesis sites are ugly and all look pretty much the same. I’ve checked out Thesis, and the options have gotten out of hand. If you are not a coder, there are tons of free WordPress themes out there. Just pick one you like and load it up. If you really want some custom changes, put a bid on elance. If you want a system like Thesis to start designing child themes yourself, check out That one is free, so if you start and get frustrated you aren’t out any money.

  34. Dan, your opinion on Thesis is totally valid and the comment about Hybrid is almost fair, except that there are some things in Hybrid that even a developer might need the documentation for. I’ve developed with Hybrid and wanted some of the docs on the specific filters used. I almost paid the yearly membership fee to see some of it, but I asked someone who’d already paid to check it for me. If I had paid for the theme club I’d have seen a page go from saying “You need to be a paid member to see this page.” to “This page is a placeholder for when I get around to writing the documentation.” I’m sure glad I didn’t pay for that.
    You also only get access to some of the plugins when you’re a member of the Theme Club and membership to it is an annual fee. If you get Thesis now you get a lifetime membership. Hybrid also recently changed its widget functionality to become more like Thesis… interesting.

  35. I found this site while searching for other thesis developers – I was pretty surprised by what I was reading since I was obviously looking at Thesis! I made my way to the bottom to discover you did, in fact, switch 🙂 I have one site up running Thesis 1.4.2 and another on the way (hopefully in the next couple of days) using 1.5. Kudos to Kristarella and KingdomGeek who take care of the Thesis forum and provide tutorials.

    I hope you’ll be staying with Thesis 🙂

  36. I’ve come to love Thesis for it’s beautiful typography and custom_functions.php. That makes sure every time I change something I do not end up breaking something else. With my other theme earlier I was spending more time working on the theme than on blogging itself.

  37. Good discussion…and very interesting culmination. 🙂

    I’m not a coder, programmer, professional blogger, nor a developer. I was, however, an early adopter of Thesis (7/5/08). It wasn’t perfect, had LOTS of room for improvement, and certainly wasn’t “pretty,” but what it did have was a passionate and innovative developer and a great vision. I didn’t necessarily purchase Thesis for what it was, but what I believed it would become.

    Chris et al, have done an amazing job of building long-term value into Thesis. The support, forums and lifetime upgrades alone are worth the price of admission. Oh, and did I mention, it also happens to be a very close friend of the search engines.

    There are plenty of premium themes available, but very few offer the complete package. I wanted to focus on blogging – not coding, PHP, hacking, etc. – Thesis allows me to do that.

  38. Howdy

    Since you’ve come to the conclusion that you love Thesis, how about updating your post to note that while still keeping the original? Right now you have to read all the comments to find that out.

  39. So much hype and all about Thesis has gotten me excited about buying the developer’s option to use on my many blogs. But what I encountered upon my purchase is something that has never been said by anyone in their blogs…that the new Thesis version (1.4.2 and 1.5 beta) have lots of problems to be installed! From the support forum alone, there are so many people unhappy with not being able to use the theme at all, including me. I wonder why no one has ever blogged how unusable it is because the problem of not installing properly has been there for ages!

  40. Hello,

    I see a lot of honest, critical thinkers in the comments section here.

    I have some questions about WordPress in general that you all may be able to answer.

    Are there any themes which can perform boolean category searches? In other words, can I use ANDs, ORs, and NOTs in a category “regular expression”? A few arbitrary examples might be:

    *food* AND (NOT *spicy*) = posts of non-spicy foods.

    *apples* OR *oranges* = posts pertaining to both apples and oranges.


    Also, are there any themes which allow for private categories and/or ACL (access control list)
    controlled visibility of categories. Why? Let’s say you have users/clients who can log in to your blog. Let’s say that your blog is essentially a client history that you maintain. You create a category for each user. Three possible blog posts, two users, Joe and Mary.

    1. I sold Joe a bushel of apples.

    2. Oranges on sale through Friday.

    3. I refunded Mary her money for avocados which arrived smashed.

    Guests see only post #2 and do not see categories Joe and Mary. They do see all public categories. Mary as a guest sees only post #2 and no user categories. Mary logs in and sees posts #2 and #3 and her own category. She sees neither Joe category nor post #1. Likewise for Joe.

    Do you see the benefit of this? You can maintain a unified client history blog with no data redundancy.

    WordPress may be capable of this, but I have not found anyone who has added these features. Since I do want these features, I have turned to Drupal as a potential solution, but there is a learning curve which would be nice to avoid if the solution already exists.

    Thanks all. Feel free to rip off my ideas. Just email me so I can download your solution.

  41. What looks so complex could be resolved intelligently with a plugin or better yet by adding your custom code to the custom_functions.php file in the Thesis theme directory.

  42. Let’s face it, Thesis is the most over-rated WordPress theme out there.

    Theme Hybrid by Justin Tadlock, Vigilance by Jestro and ThemeShaper by Ian Stewart do everything that Thesis does, they look a lot better than Thesis and they’re free.

    I have no idea why anyone would pay $87 for Thesis when they can get the same support, features and options in other theme frameworks.

  43. Steve, I’ve used Hybrid. Yeah, I think there’s a pretty good thing there. However, something that I thought it really did well was widget behaviour, until Justin changed the widget behaviour to be exactly the same as Thesis. Then it had nothing over Thesis because when you get Thesis you get a lifetime membership for future releases and support. With Hybrid you pay for yearly membership to mis-advertised, incomplete documentation (not a comment on the forum support, but the support pages that say “you have to be logged in the see this” and then if you pay and log in the page then says “this page is a placeholder”).

    As for looks and options: Vigilance looks pretty good, haven’t used it though… Thematic in no way looks better than Thesis and none of these themes have the excellent Em based structure that Thesis is built on and which is extremely flexible via an options page to change font sizes all over the page as well as column widths and arrangement.

    No one would blame you for using another theme, because they are good, but I think your claim that they do everything Thesis does is wrong and there are plenty of themes that are more over-rated. 😉

  44. The good thing about Thesis is the fact that it is HTML optimized. New themes are themed for Thesis, not WP. This means that your HTML will NEVER have to change, which is SEO suicide.

  45. @kristarella
    I find it sad that you’re out here misrepresenting other people’s work, namely my Hybrid theme.

    One tutorial, a single piece of documentation, is incomplete out of over 30 tutorials. I would hardly call that as being “mis-advertised.”

    I’ve never changed the widgets to be more like Thesis. If anything, Hybrid trumps Thesis’ widgets and widget areas completely. Hybrid comes loaded with 9 widget areas and 8 widgets with loads of options.

    If you like Thesis more than Hybrid, that’s fine. That doesn’t concern me. They’re two completely different types of themes. But, please don’t misrepresent someone’s work by making inaccurate statements.

  46. I was using One Theme for a few months and the admin side was encoded which made making changes a nightmare. I then opted to try Thesis and have not looked back, the support community is just awesome and there are many sites with tutorials of custom functions and css changes.

    Some might say that all Thesis themes look similar. Some do and some don’t, I guess it depends on the site owner. There are many ways to adjust and change it to look unique. Any one can do it and it’s not limited to developers only.

  47. I left a comment giving my impression of the Thesis theme, and honest impression as I actually run one of my blogs on Thesis. It seems that it may have offended someone because it was deleted. I’m not sure why, my intention was to merely give an opinion. I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave any links so it couldn’t be classified as spam. Still, if my comment did cause offense, I am deeply sorry and I will remove myself from commenting on this blog.

  48. Sire: I had to take off that comment due to the use of certain words. I’ll take this offline with you on email. We do welcome your honest feedback and comments.

  49. No worries Shivanand. I appreciate the email and now that I know what can and can’t be said I will be a lot more careful with my comments. 🙂

  50. No problem at all, after all I’m a blogger that also has rules and therefore understand that I must follow those of other bloggers. It’s only fair.

  51. I did not like Thesis theme. Good job at PR but highly pricey for what they claim to offer.

  52. Thesis is a great theme for anyone who doesn’t care about design, cross browser compatibility or customization. Every site I’ve see that uses this theme(including all the sites on the theme’s own page) ends up looking like a 14 year old kid designed it for his 9th grade intro to the internet class. Amateur at best… but I guess somebody needs to keep the “I built my site in 1998” look going.

  53. We’re using Thesis and loving it. Our site is on it. I bought the dev version and feel like I’ve already made my money back from one client site.

  54. Client site…? The license restricts you from distributing Thesis to clients. But I must really appreciate Chris Pearson for the continued development and introduction of new features.

  55. Hey,

    Thanks a bunch for your view on DIYWORDPRESS THESIS. I appreciate your honesty and the great sense of taking it for the team attitude.

    I feel like I owe a sales commission for helping me save my money. ..

    Okay, I’m over my sense to thank you with any monetary compensation now. 😉

  56. Your comments are useful.

    However, what has been your experience with WP plugins and Thesis?

  57. The only drawback that I’ve seen in regards to this theme, is that it allows the less than fully knowledgeable tinkerer access to a LOT of different customization features. In some cases, too many choices is not a good thing.

    If they really don’t know what makes for good site design, then of course the website is going to look like it was done by a 6 yr old with a box of crayons.

    The only real difficulties I have experienced while experimenting with this theme are directly related to my lack of knowledge.

    That being said, there is absolutely NO shortage of easily accessible information about ANY feature or customization that you want to know about or implement. The community based around this theme really rocks and are happy to help.

    If you’re not already a developer, this is an EXCELLENT platform with which you can start learning and see immediate results or failures (using a local thesis install.) The basic user settings are easily accessible and are designed to keep you from destroying the core of the theme. Mistakes are easily found and repairable.

    Put this side by side next to the premium WP themes out there. The value you get with Thesis blows any other out of the water.

    It’s got solid framework, and allows for practically limitless possibilities.

    BUT…. if you just want plug ‘n play, there’s a ton of free or premium themes out there that MIGHT have all the features you want.

    All I know is that I’ve never found one.

  58. I’m new to WP but decided to give Thesis a try on a little project site to test some SEO ranking theories.

    In about 45 minutes, I got it installed, added a contact form, customized the nav a little, and added a widgeted footer.

    I was impressed with the ease of all this and I’ve never used WP before.

    Will see how it goes moving forward as I try to really add some contect to this site.


  59. Thesis claims to have excellent support. Not true.
    I purchased Thesis and found that I could not do threaded comments. I tried to find some way to get a question answered. The programmer is impossible to email. I joined the forum, but I could not post a question. Yes, I can read the forum, but not participate. I tried YouTube, and also did a Google search on the topic.

    In short. Zip.

  60. Thesis 1.61 sets page/post TITLES to H2 instead of H1 every time when you make a sticky page or post.

    This is a serious slap in regards to ANY SEO efforts – because if you have a static front page all of a sudden your blog tag-line is in H1 tags, not your post/page title for the front page.

    I tried to understand their reasoning for this – but whatever they gave as reason to all of a sudden use the tagline in H1 tags is totally beyond me.


    Thesis throws HTML validation errors like you wont believe. Even some of the showcase sites come up with a LOT of w3 validation errors. Now, proper W3 code is not the most important thing, but it IS also important for SEO. Why a simple one page made with thesis would throw over 70 (!) html strict validation errors is beyond me.

    I also think its not very nice that you first need to buy/order the theme to even access their support forum.

    Unless thesis fixes their weird philosophy with exchanging H1 H2 header tags and starts producing CLEANER code with less W3 validation errors i will not purchase this theme.

    The “BUY before you TRY” philosophy is also very much against my own philosophy and i strictly oppose this. Its almost like they want to hide something (including their own forum)…and you will only see the flaws AFTER you buy.

  61. Hello ,
    First of all today is april 28 2010 and i will agree with Mariner and i will quot him
    ” Thesis claims to have excellent support. Not true.”

    I purchased Thesis and found they dont have a real support nor they have any admin to contact. No really their support sucks and their videos and everything else is not as good as it seems. I tried to find some way to get a question answered 12 hours pass i send an e-mail to their admin asking them to refund my money back and waiting for them to refund my money.
    Thesis might be a Google SEO Friendly but for sure it is not a custom design theme nor it let u design a website on fly… Only thing Thesis does is change colors and background and mybe chnage the layout from 1 to 3 comloms and we are talking about thesis 1.7 . I am not happy with it and dont like it.
    It is almost impossible to email them they dont have sales departmnet to answer any questions nor they forms admin.


    Thank you

  62. As a moderately competent end-user, I’m relatively happy with Thesis. I got it because it had post thumbnails and post images out of the box, and I had stretched my coding ability far enough using custom fields to do thumbnails on a more standard theme. There are probably other magazine-style themes which do the same thing, but Thesis is the one I found which seemed to be more flexible and fool-proof than the rest, and my readers responded positively to the change. Other things I like are
    • Its flexibility to change font size, layout, sidebar width etc (not that it’s something I do regularly, but it was nice to be able easily to replicate some of the styling of my old free theme)
    • Its system of “hooks” so that you can easily add bits of code to different bits of your page
    • Drop down menus (at the time there wasn’t a robust plugin to do it)

    Possibly what I like least is the “framework”. Plugins are generally built to work with the default WP theme and templates. Thesis completely rewrites the structure of the php code so nothing is where you expect it to be. That means that plugins that work with normal WP themes won’t always work with Thesis. I managed to hack one plugin to make it work with Thesis 1.6, now I’ve got to redo the hack because Thesis 1.7 has changed its coding structure again.

    Support is fine for me, but then I never seem to have any problems. There are one or two forum members – presumably DIY Themes employees or associates – who answer questions quite responsively.

    My fear with Thesis is that the “framework” gets further and further away from the way things work in “standard” WP, so that if ever I want to change to another theme I’m faced with a bunch of work to do. For that reason I’ve tried to minimise my dependency on Thesis functions – for example I’m still using the All-in-one-SEO plugin rather than rely on the inbuilt Thesis SEO.

  63. As a web designer, I hate Thesis for many reasons. It’s a great toy for someone who’s starting out, wants a basic layout and the ability to change some fonts around but if you want to extend beyond that, why use it? I had a client tell me they saw “some of the best designs” using Thesis. Wow, great…but is that attributed to Thesis? Nope. A great design does not make a great framework.

    Much of my beef with Thesis has to do with their marketing ploy. Who cares if the theme is upgradeable? Airtight SEO? Pleaaaaase. SEO is not something you just get because you have Thesis – as they mention, “just fill it with killer content”. Does thesis do that for you? Nope. And who cares if you can make the sidebar wider? Once I have a layout or design set up, I don’t want to change it.

    And as others mentioned, the support forums SUCK. I posted a question and got no answers. I looked at the forums, which are littered with unanswered, or poorly answered questions. If it’s so easy to use, why do so many people have trouble moving the menu, or adding a header file, or making a custom page template??

    I especially like how one commenter said “Every site I’ve see that uses this theme(including all the sites on the theme’s own page) ends up looking like a 14 year old kid designed it for his 9th grade intro to the internet class.”

    For my own rant on Thesis check it out at my site:

    LOL so true.

  64. I have used Thesis for about a year. I came from hand codeing everything on a non-WP PHP site.

    So initially, moving to WP and a Theme was very nice and allowed me to be very lazy. Over time, my site(s) have all started to look alike and rather boring. I used to get very creative and come up with many unique things.

    On the flip side, I’ve had none of the nightmares that hose your site for hours while you are tracking down some inane PHP mistake!

    It all depends on what you want.

  65. Rob: WP and it’s theme/template system are wonderful. However speaking specifically about the Thesis theme, it has polarized the WP community.

  66. Shiv,

    That makes no sense. Thesis is just another theme, one with a control panel and some hooks. Why would THAT be polarizing?

    None of the other themes out there were “polarizing.”

    Plus, who cares about WP themes to the point of needing to rant or rave about one or the other?

    So what if Pearson makes marketing claims about Thesis? Each one is at least somewhat valid, as far as I can tell.

    If Thesis was so stupid, why is it so popular, even with high end web developers and bloggers? The market will tell you the truth, normally. If a product sucks, nobody buys it. If it’s excellent, lots of people buy it.

    Sounds like some basic Player Hatin’ to me. Sorry dood.

  67. Just to mention this article was posted a long time back. We use Thesis ourselves and it makes our life easier.

    As per the comments here and on other Thesis related articles, I’ve only realized that people feel strongly for/against spending money on premium themes, for the support (customer care?) they offer. In this case Thesis seems to have affected user-opinion because of it’s aggressive marketing. If it was just another theme with a control panel and hooks, I’m sure some of the internet celebrities like Matt Cutts would be difficult to impress.

    Popular products tend to polarize people, they either love them or hate them (Dell for one). People care about WP themes to the point of drawing their swords out for or against one or the other. These premium themes cost them their money. Add another angle to this: the creators of WordPress claim that it’s illegal to distribute non-GPL themes. I do sell WordPress services and some of my customers just hate Thesis. Likewise the other half won’t take my services without Thesis.

  68. Shiv,

    I hear you.

    I have little to no respoct for “fan boys” of products. Life is too short to get passionate about say a DELL vs HP laptop debate.

    People like that basically have NO LIFE. And there are plenty of them out there for sure!

    Here’s a real good example: Blackberry vs iPhone. I carry both. Both are undeniably better at different aspects of what they do. But some people would nearly go to their graves to defend one or the other. Unreal.

    Nice blog you have here. Keep up the good work!


  69. Bla bla please if you have so many problems with thesis then don’t use it on your own site pitty things huh and the georgia is the best font to read not the dirt font used here

    1. Quite an irresponsible comment to make, especially if you haven’t read the entire post and related posts.

  70. Most Thesis reviews end up being biased and even misleading. I must say this review is a good effort in trying to stay neutral.

    I have also tried to stay objective in my review of the theme. Take a look in case anyone is considering a Theme switch or just starting out

  71. Another one – You should consider making your font a bit darker. The font itself is great and friendly, just needs to be darker in my opinion


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