Thesis 2 Theme – A Review & Overview

The WordPress Theme Thesis 2 has been out for around 10 days and is still without any formal documentation or help notes (at the time of writing this) although the forum is quite good at answering questions. The trouble is once you upload Thesis 2 and hit the activate button you are dealing with a completely different ‘monster’ than you are used to with WordPress themes. This one has skins and packages and boxes and all kinds of strange and wonderful things to contend with and so I thought I would take the time to add a few quick Thesis 2 tips to help you get started.

So what makes Thesis 2 so different? Well, instead of buying a WordPress theme you get to build your own; your very own dream ‘home’ on the web. Rather than putting up with the design and ideas of another person and moulding your blog, images, text and video around their theme you get to sit and design your own theme. Every page on a blog from the blog post to the 404 error page and even what your tag archive page looks like has to be built from scratch. They can all look exactly the same or you can make each page completely different. If you are looking for someone to put your blog up for you I can help.

I sat down on Saturday October 6th at 10am and I went to bed at 2am. Fed the kids fish and chips and only stood up every couple of hours to walk on the spot and get my circulation going, plus toilet breaks of course but that might be TMI! Sunday was similar. After the night before I woke up so late I missed church (Father forgive me), sat down at 10am and went to bed at 1am. My youngest cooked dinner for us all. What did I achieve from those combined hours?  I changed the theme on this site:

http://dianecorriette.influencer.biz (it is a test site so its not perfect right now)

Using that as my guide and copying all the boxes and containers you need to build a blog theme (who knew) I was able to complete two more Thesis 2 themes on my multi-site blogging platform

http://chessforchildren.influencer.biz

http://urbanbeekeepinglondon.influencer.biz

 

With those two complete I realized just how great Thesis 2 really is because the best bit about it is you don’t need to know CSS code. You do everything by creating ‘containers’ and ‘boxes’ then putting those containers and boxes into place on different pages. I like simplicity when it comes to blog themes but you really can go wild! Thesis 2 is no easy WordPress theme. It will drive you crazy if you don’t have the patience and mindset to learn how to use it.

Getting Started Tips – Thesis 2

Okay, with that said, let me give you a few tips to help you get started.

As I already mentioned, the best thing about Thesis 2 is the fact that you can build a blog without having to know CSS or code. No more adding bits to the WordPress theme editor. Thesis 2 allows you to build a blog without ever needing code but you will need the patience to figure out how to use it. When you first activate the theme you receive the default ‘skin’ which is a 3 column blog theme. Your blog will have one large column on the left and two smaller widget columns…

thesis theme 2

The main thing to remember is to change the look of a blog post, page or the home page you must be ON that page and then click the edit button that appears on the bottom left hand side of your screen (it looks like the image below). That takes you into the theme where the magic of creating your own page begins :)
thesis 2 theme edit buttons
But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s install it first…

Installing Thesis 2

Hopefully, you know how to install a theme. It is no different here. You upload it using your FTP software or straight into WordPress under appearance. If this is a challenge I recommend you stay away from Thesis 2!

Once uploaded you must remember to click the ‘click here to get started’ button to install everything on to your blog
installing wp theme thesis 2

 

Once done you are ready to start creating.

Thesis 2 Overview

The first button you see is called SITE and it contains everything relating to your site like your SEO page, it is where you place any scripts that need to go into the <head> area (like Facebook like script) and where you can choose your 404 page.

Click on everything and have a look. You can tell the blog what to follow and what is a nofollow and get into a lot of detail about the ‘under the hood’ element of your blog.
skins on thesis 2 theme

 

Skins, Boxes and Packages

To help you quickly build your site you can actually buy Thesis 2 skins and there will be a few free ones available I am sure -if you know of any please let me know in the comments box below.

Thesis Skins

WordPress blog themes are a collection of files made up of php code and CSS code which basically means unless you understand how to write code creating your own individually styled blog was impossible. Thesis 2 has made it easy for anyone (or at least most of us) to create our own theme using a ‘skin’ which is the basic elements of a blog template and then add to it whatever you like, images, headers, colors, link colors – all using a html editor with containers.

Thesis Boxes

This section is set to replace plugins. Now instead of needing a plugin you can add a box and just like a plugin it will get your blog to work in a particular way. Right now though I think (but am not certain) that boxes come as extras and may have to be paid for – no doubt people will develop free ones as well though.

Thesis Packages

This is an advanced feature for those developers who want to add advance CSS customization.

Designing Your Blog

To design your own blog theme in Thesis 2 you have to create ‘html containers’ and inside each of these containers are the elements that will show up on your blog. You then create matching ‘CSS Containers’ . I thought it might be easier to understand with something to look at, so looking at the image of my site below:

business blog

You will see an orange sign up box on the left and a box with a heading (that is actually the blog title) and some text on the right. In the dashboard this is what that looks like…

inside thesis 2 theme

 

First Container – Big Header Columns

I named the container Big Header Columns  and inside that container I placed a left and right side container. Inside of that container I placed a text box on the left which I put my Aweber code into and the site title plus another text box on the right, which looks like this….
thesis 2 container

Second Container – 2 Columns Container

Underneath all of that is another container (called 2 Columns) which includes the two columns below. On the left is a page with the heading promote your local business (I have set a specific page to be my homepage rather than latest blog posts) and a widget on the right. YES… you even have to create what widgets will appear on your blog. When you first start there are none.

column 2

Once you get used to creating these containers in html mode and naming them using Thesis 2 gets a little easier.

Click the link to read more on html mode on Thesis

With your containers in place you now click the CSS button so you can go in there and link the two together. You make sure you name the CSS container you create the same as your HTML container.

CSS Menu

Next to your html menu where you create all your html containers is the CSS Menu. The idea is you create a container then go into CSS to create a MATCHING CSS container. It is important it appears in both for your blog changes to work.

In the image below you will see my CSS container called big header (I go into that to change the font size and color, padding, margins and other formatting) and on the left hand side you must make sure you include the name of your new CSS and HTML container in that box. They must all have the same name to make this work.
thesis theme wp

On the right you will also see just under Big Header Columns is 2 Columns (&columns_32 on the left side under Skin CSS) – that contains the information to the bottom half of the front page with the widget.

It is a little difficult to explain this exactly using words and images. I think video does a much better job at showing you exactly what to do because this part is very important. Links to videos appear at the end of this post.

Click the link to read more about the Thesis 2 CSS editor

Then you have to do the same thing to create a page, a single post a category/tag archive page and every other element of your blog. You create containers and inside containers you place what you want to go there. A column, a widget, an image. The good news is once you create one you can use it again. So I could use that big header columns area on another page if I want to – like on my error 404 page.

Every single page and blog post can be different and that is what I love the most about using the Thesis Theme 2.0 and as long as you are willing to sit and play with it, work out what goes where when you make changes and ONLY make ONE change at a time you will be okay.

Getting Help

My journey would not have been made possible if it wasn’t for these videos I watched on the BYBO website so if you like videos check them out for help. You can learn how to create a four widget footer and how to add some color as well.

Build Your Own Website – Thesis 2 videos

DIY WP Blog 

Hire me to put your Thesis 2 theme up for you

4 Mistakes To Avoid

I wanted to end with a few things to avoid doing when using Thesis 2 theme:

1. Always make sure you are editing the correct page. It is easy to think you are on the Home Page when you are actually editing a single blog post page.  So view your site and go to the correct page/blog post to make changes.

2. Change just one thing. It is easy to change two or three things, hit save and mess your blog up. Then if you can’t remember the exact change you made you have to figure out what you did wrong.

3. Remember to hit save! If you find things are not looking the way you thought go back and save the theme. You will be surprised just how easy it is to forget to do something that simple and spend time trying to figure out why things are not working.

4. Always type in the name of your CSS container into the menu. You must always have a html container, css container and the title of your css container typed into the menu. If something is not working check those three first.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

 

Thesis 2.0 Boxes

If you use Aweber there is a Thesis 2 Aweber signup box that you can add to your site – you can find out more here.

http://orgspring.com/aweber-email-signup-box-for-thesis-2/

 

Other blogs using Thesis 2

One of my blogs I am continually working on is my self-confidence blog. It is a network of smaller blogs (a WordPress multi site) and I love the flexibility to the Thesis 2 theme to design each blog differently. I like to play around with them so they change often. The main blog is

http://inspirationalguidance.com

One of my newer blogs focus on writing a journal http://journalivity.com and was also created using the Thesis 2.0 theme.

I also have my main blog that I use to promote my Thesis 2 skills http://littlefishmediacompany.com

I have also been able to focus my work on turning blogs into websites for those who do not want to blog often. Thesis 2 is a great design tool even if it does take a while to get used to using it.

As you can see I have pretty much adopted Thesis 2 as my main theme and I am working towards getting better at blog design and putting a blog together that looks more like a website. I have been looking at themes I like from a design perspective and the different blocks that make up the theme then seeing how I can create something similar using Thesis 2. It is the best way I know how to learn this complicated but interesting blog theme. If you enjoy a challenge you will love it. If you like things to be straightforward you should probably do your best not to go anywhere near it because using Thesis 2 might end up being a frustrating experience.

 

Diane Corriette

About Diane Corriette

I loved my time as Membership Manager of Blog Success and can still be found hanging out in the forum (they will never be rid of me!) I live in the UK with my two boys and spend way too much time in front of a computer but I love it. I am a trained life coach and use NLP to help women build self confidence. I also love building WordPress websites/blogs for small business owners and internet marketers who are too busy to figure it all out.