Update: Thesis no longer rocks
We are no longer Thesis advocates, and in fact strongly dislike it now. Our dislike started with a mass change of the HTML classes and IDs, which was a huge ordeal since the styling settings in the admin settings are just enough to make things more difficult, but not enough to actually make your site look nice. Our dislike continues to grow as we deal with their issues and bad coding as we support Formidable Pro, and they refuse to correct those issues. For example, if you add multiple custom post types, Thesis forces a position in the top menu section and makes other menu items disappear. Awesome Chris, awesome.
There are thousands of WordPress themes, both paid and free. Some are pretty, some aren’t. Some are functional, some aren’t. Some just plain suck and require lots of work to get working right. I started using Thesis because I was told to for a project and didn’t really understand why others thought it was so cool. Now the more I use it, the more I like it, and the more I wonder why I can’t find any other themes that get it right.
Tip: Click the options screen shots for a larger image.
- Strong SEO capabilities. There should only be one h1 tag per page with h2 subheadings in order for Google to index your site correctly. Very few WordPress themes do this correctly. For higher search engine rankings, the less code in your pages, the better. Add this one to the list of SEO practices Thesis does well. There are also many built-in SEO options that replace the need for All in One SEO Pack plugin.
- Sweet comment template with great ping features. You’re lucky to get a comment template with most WordPress themes. Not only does Thesis sport a comment template, but it also does it well by incorporating avatars, allowing pings on pages as wells as posts, and displaying them well. I like the way Thesis has given pings meaning by listing the post title from which the ping originated instead of simply “[…] Display Widgets […]” or something along those lines. I thought pings were a waste of space until I saw the way Thesis approaches them.
- Amazing Cross-browser Compatibility. Thesis HTML and CSS is very well written. Even after applying my own skins, my sites still look good in other browsers, potentially saving hours of time with Internet Explorer.
- Widgitized Sidebar functionality. Many themes either fail to allow widgets in the sidebars or hard-code extra junk that requires editing the code. The built-in Thesis multimedia box is great for images, video, or HTML (adds, links, etc.), which can be defined on each page or post. However, there isn’t any flexibility for adding extra sidebars to vary the widgets from page to page. This is where the Display Widgets WordPress plugin proved its necessity.
- Built-in WordPress options work! There are so many times that I select an option in the admin settings that aren’t reflected in the theme: show avatars, allow comments and pings…. With Thesis, they all work. What a pleasant surprise.
- Hot post thumbnails. Not only is the behind-the-scenes functionality cool, but also the front-end skin. I really like the thumbnails that show up on the excerpt version of the posts. They are even automatically resized and cropped for quicker load times.
- Extensive Byline Options. Easily add or remove author name, post tags, categories, dates, and comment counts from the page and post bylines. I’ve tried using many themes that either omit some of this info, or add it to pages as well as posts with no simple way to remove it.
- Options galore. Not only is Thesis equipped with the options described above, but it is also characterized by many others: customize the “Read More” link, show excerpts, teasers, or titles only on archive pages, select 1, 2, or 3 column layouts and specify width and position of each, and designate fonts and font sizes in various locations throughout your site.
- Fully Customizable Skin. Like this site? It uses Thesis. Thesis includes an extensive API, so those familiar with PHP and CSS can be virtually unlimited by skinning barriers. For those unfamiliar with PHP, in the near future, we (Strategy11) will be selling Thesis skins. In the meantime, we can create a custom Thesis skin for your site for $2000. If you have your own design you would like implemented, we will incorporate most designs into Thesis for $800. Designs we have implemented into Thesis include: WhiteCap Institute and Candeo.
Although in my experience, the benefits of using Thesis have far outweighed its constraints, in some cases these drawbacks may make Thesis unusable for certain applications. Thesis will work in WordPressMU, but not across more than one blog. If an option is changed for one blog, it is changed on all others using the same Thesis theme. However, this can be overcome by copying and renaming your Thesis folder and only activating each copy for one blog. The nav is easily reordered if using only traditional page links, but if an additional link or category is added its order is inflexible.
If you still need more reasons to use Thesis, check out this post for more SEO-related explanations.