What is DIY Thesis?
Thesis was released around 2008 by Chris Pearson, it has always been a premium WordPress theme with a reasonable ‘one off’ price. The original version 1.x theme had a rather simple interface that could be used to quickly customise the theme, so that you could easily ‘make it your own’. I started using it in 2010 and quickly got to like it very much.
DIY Thesis Version 1.0 – 1.85 wasn’t without it’s limitations though, for one thing, it wasn’t responsive, which was an important feature even back in 2010. Also the look of the Classic Theme was rather dull, sure it was easy to read, but to customise it further than changing fonts, colors, layouts and headers was not a trivial process. There were a few third party companies who introduced the idea of ‘skins’ to Thesis, but they were complicated to use and even then there was only the option to change a few things here and there. You were still under the control of what the skin designer thought that Thesis should look like. This was all set to change when Chris Pearson introduced Thesis 2.0 in 2011.
The introduction of Thesis 2.0
In 2011 Chris Pearson introduced Thesis 2.0. The actual concept was brilliant, for the first time ever people had a WordPress theme that was more of a framework. The idea was that people could easily create their own WordPress themes by dragging and dropping ‘boxes’ which were essentially blocks of CSS. This meant that you could create quite complex designs without writing any code. Well that was the theory anyway, in reality many Thesis customers complained about seeing far too much CSS code than they wanted to. Another complaint was that there was no easy upgrade path from Thesis 1.x to Thesis 2.0. This is still true today and there are still many sites out there still running on Thesis 1.85. For these people it is a real shame that they haven’t converted to Thesis 2.x as it is really very very good and pretty much unlike any other Thesis theme.
Thesis 2.1 and beyond
Thesis 2.0 had some items called ‘packages’ which were also blocks of reusable code, so all of a sudden we were confronted with lots of CSS as well as Thesis’s own ‘boxes’ and ‘packages’. Phew! I’m not entirely sure, but I think Chris Pearson might have realised he had alienated a reasonable chunk of his clients by giving them something that was really just too difficult to use. It was also disappointing as after all the effort of converting from Thesis 1.x to Thesis 2, the result was a site that looked as uninspiring as Thesis 1.0 and was still not responsive. This all changed with Thesis 2.1.
Thesis 2.1 introduced the Classic Responsive theme. Now Thesis was truly responsive ‘out of the box’.
Free Thesis Skins and Premium Skins
Thesis is sold in 3 flavours Basic, Basic Plus and Professional. Personally I can’t think of any reason why you would not want to buy the Professional version.
The ‘one off’ payment of the Professional Edition is a very worthwhile purchase. With this option and the Basic Plus you get 3 skins:
- Classic Responsive
- Social Triggers
In addition Thesis also have these premium skins which are around the $57 mark:
All these skins are responsive and are fully customisable.
Thesis Skin Examples
The Effectus skin is used on GetMeInCheap.com with very little extra customisation. It looks like they have modified the color scheme, changed the default Google Lato font to Arial and reduced the font size from 16pt to 14pt. It’s interesting to note that the majority of the content on this site is produced by a TicketNetwork.com affiliate widget with no CSS selected. The tables produced by the widget are then styled by the CSS that is built into the Effectus skin.
The Pearsonified skin is used on a UK based motorhome rental site, MotorhomeFreedom.com. In this case the ‘Pearsonified Custom Header Image’ is used throughout the site giving different headers for each section of the site. It is also worth noting that Motorhome Freedom have used the WordPress categories and subcategories to create a very impressive silo structure for the site. In this case it is not usually possible to create a ‘Pearsonified Custom Header Image’ for the categories, but it looks like they have gone ahead and created an element for the categories pages that does include a custom header. Of course all this sort of thing is completely possible by using the Thesis Skin Editor.