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In the comments to that review, some people mentioned they were using the Thesis Theme, which is also a very powerful theme for WordPress created by Chris Pearson and Brian Clark, two very respected bloggers.
Custom themes for WordPress like Thesis and Affiliate Theme make it MUCH easier to maintain a professional blog, especially if you don’t know how to manipulate code like HTML and CSS. You can use these themes to easily change the design and look of your blog, they are very well optimized for search engines and give you a lot more power of your blog than the default WordPress set-up.
In response to feedback on my Affiliate Theme review, it was clear people wanted to compare it to the Thesis theme.
Joel Williams (BlogTechGuy.com), who is the technology mentor in my private forum for paying students, is a regular user of Thesis, so I invited him to write a review of it and then do a cross comparison between Thesis and Affiliate Theme.
If you’re looking for a robust and powerful theme for your WordPress blog, have a read of what Joel has to say below, read my review of the Affiliate Theme and then decide which one to go with.
A lot of blog owners are looking for a middle ground between a free, but generic blog theme and a unique, but expensive custom theme. This gap has been filled with the “premium” theme, a paid for theme that is not unique, but comes with admin options and customer support. There are a wide variety of premium themes out there, but Thesis is perhaps one of the most well-known and used.
Simply, it’s a WordPress theme, but it is much more than that. It is often described as a “theme framework” due to the fact that many different styles and types of theme can be created from Thesis.
Created by Chris Pearson, and expertly supported by Rick Beckman, the theme has been through a major series of regular updates, continually adding new and user requested features from the 3,000+ users.
It allows the user a huge amount of control through two control panel menus. One is based on configuration options that I won’t go into detail but include options such as what pages to include in navigation, what information you want to show about each post, some display options, Feedburner feed URL and any header or footer scripts that you wish to include.
The other menu, Thesis Design Options (pictured) really give the theme massive flexibility. In the current version (1.5) some of the options include:
“Features and teasers” is a new option that allows you to have a front page that is more of a magazine-style theme, showing featured posts and a short excerpt of other posts. Previously you would have to choose between a theme with a traditional blog homepage or a magazine-style theme. Thesis gives you the option to choose either version within one overall theme.
The theme also adds a large number of options to the Write screen, including the ability to add custom images to each post and add media to the multimedia box. This box is a superb feature that allows custom videos, images (or even ads) to be added on a post-by-post basis. You can even have a custom style just for that post if you have set it up in your stylesheet.
Last but not least are the SEO options that allow you to control the SEO of each post when you write it, making this one of the most powerful themes for SEO control.
As well as the in-built menu options, Thesis also allows great flexibility in customizing the theme using a custom stylesheet. Kept separate from the core theme files, the custom folder allows you to keep any custom changes even when you upgrade the theme to the latest version.
There is also a system of hooks that allow you to add your own content into various parts of theme. This can be a little advanced to go into here, but if you have Thesis take a look at the OpenHook plugin that simplifies this process and adds massive functionality without having to edit a custom functions file.
By default the theme works beautifully in all major browsers, and even with extensive customizations I have never noticed any problems with the core theme.
It also comes with some sidebar widgets that are automatically installed. The “Killer Recent Entries” widget allows you to show all recent posts or only those from a certain category, and you can add the widget as many times as you like.
The “Subscriptions” widget simplifies the insertion of Feedburner code to give your readers the option to subscribe to your site. Finally, the “Google Custom Search” widget helps you add your Google CSE code to your sidebar.
There are also some extra built-in text styles that you can use to add a little more pizazz to your site, as long as you know a little HTML. You can add a drop-cap, alert box, a note box, or even wrap text around adsense ads. All of these are covered in the user guide, and the styles and appearance can be customized through your custom stylesheet.
Using the configuration options you can choose what pages and categories to include in your navigation menu (no more manually changing PHP code) and even add in links to elsewhere to the menu easily.
A great theme deserves great support. While some other premium theme support forums are lacking in responses and depth, Thesis has a wonderful support forum.
Responses to queries are quick, friendly, and for the most part the solution to your problem can be usually be found by searching. I’ve never had the need to contact support directly, but I’ve been told they’re efficient and, for lack of a better word, supportive. Free lifetime access for the purchase of the single theme is a wonderful benefit.
They recently began releasing video tips and tutorials that I think will be a massive benefit to the new Thesis user who may be wondering where to start. Currently there are only a few videos, showing how to use the Subscriptions widget (one of the first things a lot of new bloggers want to add), how to customize the footer, and how to style the comments link number. A short time ago they also released a video on using a web tool (Firebug) to simplify the task of writing custom CSS code to style your site.
Check out the full list of features at the Get-Thesis page –
Paying for a theme is often the last thing a new blogger wants to do, especially when there are so many great free themes available. However, this particular theme is worth the price if you want control over your blog layout and want to be able to easily change your layout, font and display settings without having to wrangle with code.
Even those who are comfortable with code will find the theme powerful as it allows you to implement things much more easily than with other themes, yet still allows the flexibility to customize to your heart’s content.
What I love about Thesis is the constant innovation, and improvements to the theme. Even with the single-use option you receive free lifetime updates and by using the custom stylesheet you can always have the latest features available without losing your customizations.
All themes have problems. In Thesis, the options can be a little overwhelming to newer WordPress users; it’s a difficult balance between adding functionality and adding too much complexity.
I would like to see a color picker for the fonts (as well as size and type already offered). Also the fact that the custom stylesheet is in a sub-folder means it cannot be edited through the WordPress dashboard theme editor.
The multimedia box also poses a problem for some, as code has to be entered (and understood!), perhaps the addition of a media uploader would help here? The navigation menu is more difficult to style than it should be too.
The theme is also very popular, meaning that it takes some work to make it look different from all the other Thesis based themes out there. However this can be said of most free and premium themes.
It also works best with the latest version of WordPress and PHP5. For most people this is not a problem, but for those on older servers and installations this does cause some issues.
You can find out more and download your copy of Thesis here –
Yaro recently reviewed the Affiliate Theme and it’s interesting to look at the differences between the two.
|Exact layout widths||Yes||No|
|Optimized for SEO||Yes||Yes|
|Simple install and go||Sort of||Yes|
|Code free header and background changes||No||Yes|
|Support||Forums, video tutorials||Forums, video tutorials|
|Single-use Cost||$87 with lifetime upgrades||$97 with no upgrades|
Both themes are great choices and are setting high industry benchmarks with their excellent admin panels. The themes are not directly comparable as I believe they fulfill different needs.
For quick, easily changeable sites, then Affiliate Theme would be my choice, but for permanent brand-building blogs then Thesis is a better choice if you are prepared to do some work to customize the design and colors.
Thesis is a framework, and an excellent gateway to achieving a custom theme with a powerful admin panel. It takes some work to get there, but it’s worth it as Thesis is one of the most powerful and flexible WordPress themes.
If you want more details, visit the Thesis website –