Thesis theme

Thesis, a premium theme

I’ve had the opportunity recently to check out the Thesis theme from DIY Themes.

Thesis theme screenshot

At first I was a little sceptical as to what a paid theme would offer. Sure, it’s by Chris Pearson, which already makes it an impeccable theme, great for customising via the custom.css, as well as search engine optimised. However, Chris has released several excellent themes that are free; including Copyblogger (which I’ve shown can be well customised) and Neoclassical.

After looking at the theme, its code and how it behaves when you install it, some of my initial reactions were Wow, Woah, Geez… and most importantly, This isn’t just a theme, this is a revolution in the way we use WordPress.

Chris has taken WordPress (including some under-utilised features), thrown in some more PHP, some classy CSS and has come up with Thesis. It has its own options panel where you can automatically insert your FeedBurner feed address, your Google or Mint statisitics code, serve up rotating images or videos or custom code, modify your nav bar… there’s other options available and even more options to come with version 1.1!

Highly customisable

There’s a showcase of some good uses of the theme, my favourites include,

  • Lisa Firke — Hit Those Keys, check out that classy border on top!
  • Simple Mom, how cute are those shoes?! And I really like the look of the recommended resources, the RSS in the sidebar is cute, and everything in the sidebar — even though there’s quite a few things — they’re useful to the site and well presented.
  • Remarkable Ux, yep, you are allowed to completely change the colour scheme and lose the “multimedia box”… and it still looks good!
  • Eric Souten, you can even change the layout completely if you want to and still have access to the cool features Thesis provides!

If you’ve been considering redesigning and possibly looking into premium themes, Thesis is more than worthy of a look.

There’s even support forums

I haven’t even mentioned one of the best parts yet! DIY Themes have their own support forum, so you can get all kinds of help on installing and customising your theme. It’s also a great place to learn about WordPress, PHP and CSS. For example, who knew that “cursive” was a CSS font style? Not I!

The Thesis Theme from Chris Pearson and DIYthemes


You might have noticed the affiliate link for the Thesis theme in my sidebar and in this post…

I used to be quite anti-advertising on blogs. I didn’t hold it against people to have reasonably unobtrusive advertisements on their blog, it’s up to them, but I wouldn’t have them on my blog. However, as the account that funds this site seems to get depleted more and more rapidly, I realise why one might have ads.

I’m not going to be putting advertising (non-affiliate advertising that is) on this blog just now, but I might have affiliate links for products that I would genuinely endorse anyway. So, if you’re in the market for a good WordPress theme, please consider using my affiliate link.

Sidebar and Footer

I moved Twitter and the Linkblog to the footer to make room for Thesis and anything else I might put there (a link to my Haiku blog perhaps). If you’d prefer some things to be in the sidebar rather than footer, let me know.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. However, they would not be there if I didn’t support the product and genuinely recommend it to you.


  1. says

    Hi Kris,

    Awesome write-up on Thesis. I wish I knew enough about PHP to write my own code instead of relying on plugins!

    As for your sidebar, I liked it when your linkblog/delicious saves were there because I could scan over them while I was reading the main entry. But that’s my own preference for it.

    Also, I’m not sure if you know but FeedBurner has a Twitter option for ‘Bookmark this post’ – you might find that useful. :)

  2. says

    Hi Kris,

    I’d looked into paid themes a fair bit before my recent (albeit few) design changes.

    At the time, I didn’t notice any Thesis customisations that particularly stood out for me, but it’s great to see overhauls such as the ‘remarkable ux’ and ‘eric scouten’ ones you link to. It’s not obvious they’re driven by Chris’ design.

    Will you be changing anytime soon?

  3. says

    Sounds as a good theme! It’s great to see how people customize their theme, sometimes so much/good that you cannot even recognize the original.

    Nice post :)

  4. says

    Hey Gio, it’s taken me about two years to get to a point where I know enough PHP to write a simple function or plugin that doesn’t break. However, that’s without actively trying to learn PHP, it’s just from working with it and reading the occasional article and then eventually you realise you can do it.
    I’ve seen some posts recently that talk about a training/learning regime. One could probably obtain my level of knowledge in a couple of weeks. 😛 I’m no where near Chris’ standards, but I can look at what he’s written and recognise what it’s supposed to do.
    That’s one of the great things about Thesis, you only need to be able to work with WordPress posts and widgets etc, plus CSS, to create what you want.

    Haven’t heard of the FeedBurner thing. What is it? Had a brief look on the FeedBurner site, but didn’t see anything relating to Twitter.

    David, I probably won’t be changing this blog over soon, since my redesign wasn’t very long ago and it’s working for me at the moment. Although, it could be something I do in the future. I might try a few different “skins” on Thesis when I have a bit of time to play.
    I also have another blogging project loosely planned, which Thesis would work well for, so I’ll probably apply it to that first.

    Arjen, I agree. I think it’s great the way the custom.css is implemented, allowing for a complete overhaul and barely touching the main theme code.

  5. says

    Oh, Gio. Thanks for the opinion on the Linkblog. I actually feel it’s better suited in the sidebar, I will probably put it back up there soon.

  6. says

    WOW, you told me everything that I want to know except for the most important, the price? 😥 The current them that I am using on my latest blog is supposed to have over 2000 options and I was about to pay for a theme for the first time ever until I found that I don’t know how to turn the damn options on. Even so the theme is very configurable but I would really have to check out thesis to see how the two compares.

    In regard to using the blog to advertise affiliates etc., I see nothing at all wrong with that as long as you let your reader know in one form or another exactly what you are doing, which you have done. Good job.

  7. says

    Sire, you’re absolutely right. What an oversight. Although, I guess I figured it was on the front page of DIYthemes, so if you visited that to take a look at the Thesis demo you’d see it 😛

    The price is $87 for a personal license and $164 for a developer’s license (which allows you to use the theme on as many sites as you want and remove the attribution link).

    You can see a screenshot of the options panel to get an idea of how it might compare with what you’ve got. Like I said, there’s more options to come with the next version.

  8. says

    I swear I did look Kristarella, must have been a ‘male’ look. The wife is always telling me off for not seeing stuff thats right in front of my eyes. 😀

    Certainly looks like it has a lot of options. Any idea how it would work with plugins like commentluv, threaded comments etc?

  9. says

    Haha, don’t worry. I do that all the time.

    Works well with comment luv. I have no idea how it goes with threaded… which threaded are you using? Is it one that has to replace comments.php. That might be a little harder, although probably not much harder than any other theme. Just be careful not to overwrite it when you upgrade.

  10. says

    Thesis is a theme, but it comes with the admin options page and a heap of custom functions that make it do fancy stuff. As Chris adds new features he’ll make theme updates so that you can take advantage of new features.
    There’s a custom folder which shouldn’t be overwritten on upgrade, which has your own CSS and images when you make changes to the theme, if you change other core theme files you have to remember not to overwrite them too.

  11. says

    Oh, haha… my stupid.

    No, it’s not. I only made this theme a few months ago and started playing with Thesis a few weeks ago. I’ll be using Thesis for a new project I want to do and maybe one day I’ll bring it over to this blog (not really sure yet, since this is working for me at the moment).

  12. says

    Looks like it might have been a great way to go. However, I didn’t have the time, so I just searched on Google and found one that I believe is satisfactory. Great write up of Thesis, though.

  13. says

    Hi Kris,

    This seems like this is an old post, but I will ask the question here anyways: Do you think Thesis and WordPress is robust enough to use as a tool to build a corporate website? I think some of my clients are getting mixed messages about WordPress which I think is a good tool for creating blog and small sites, but not corporate sites. What is your take? And, have you found any good CMS plug-ins for Dreamweaver in case a client wants to edit small portions of text on a web page?

    Thanks as always!


  14. says

    John — In almost all cases I think WP & Thesis are robust enough for corporate websites. Many corporate websites are not a great deal more complicated than a blog and WordPress is capable of a lot more than most use it for. There may be some cases where there might be a better option, but they would be quite specialised cases.

    I don’t use Dreamweaver at all, so no, I don’t know of any plugins. However, it could be possible to do almost all the content via posts, pages and widgets so that they could be edited from the dashboard.