DIY Thesis Theme vs. Genesis vs. Solostream Review
Okay, I’m not going to say that the Thesis theme for WordPress by DIY themes sucks… To be honest, the first WordPress theme that I ever used was Press Row (on a WordPress.com site) by Chris Pearson. Chris Pearson is a well-renowned and talented theme designer who’s also the creator of the Thesis theme framework.
However, I am having a hard time trying to figure out what all of the hype for this theme is based on. Read any review of the theme and you’ll be convinced that the Thesis theme is pretty much the hidden secret to creating a high-traffic WordPress powered blog. Well…Right before you click an affiliate link to buy the theme. At least you won’t be the only one since some websites suggest that DIY themes generates an estimated $2 million per year from selling Thesis for WordPress.
What you might not have noticed is that seemingly unbiased reviews of this theme have links with text like “Click here to find more about Thesis.” If you hover your mouse over the link you’ll probably see something like this:
Demo Link! http://website.com/go/thesis-theme
Affiliate link? I don’t see no affiliate link when I hover over that text. The reviewer’s just providing me with a helpful, unbiased review along with a useful link to buy thesis, right?
Well, no. The ‘unbiased’ reviewer actually is using a WordPress plugin called Go Codes to hide their affiliate id/link. You can download Go Codes from the WordPress plugin repository for free: Go Codes.
These days you see so many blogs/websites with the text “Powered by WordPress and Thesis” that you would almost think it’s a status symbol to have a blog powered by this theme. What’s funny is that most of these site have actually managed to even hide affiliate links in this theme footer text. Don’t believe me? Visit Michael Gray’s SEO Blog and hover your mouse over that text. What you’ll see is this: wolf-howl.com/go/thesis
Note: click here to visit Graywolf’s SEO blog to see for yourself
I guess this is part of my problem. Initially, I felt myself get caught up in all of the Thesis hype. I was curious about what was so damn great about this WordPress theme. On the other hand, I felt somewhat conflicted too. The spammy affiliate reviews of the theme annoyed me. Who knows what affiliate id I had hidden in my browser’s cache? Would I want to put 30% of $87 or about $26 in some venal affiliate marketers jeans for writing a biased review?
Thesis Theme Review:
Then I looked at the theme… Granted, I have seen some very good-looking sites that run on Thesis. However, like any professional-looking site, they’re designed by skilled web designers. In that case, it really doesn’t matter so much which framework you’re using if you spend the money to have a site custom designed. Yet the basic Thesis theme really doesn’t offer much except the ability to choose how many columns your want, what image your want in your rotating window, and which fonts you would like to use.
For a premium theme, you would probably expect some gradients, rounded corners, textures, PSD files, and maybe a slider. Perhaps something that looks more like this, but costs $37 less: demo1, demo2. From a design perspective, there’s really no question in my mind that the Thesis theme is the Emperor’s new clothes.
But wait, what about all of the great features included with Thesis like this:
“Insane new SEO controls and detail”
“With 1.7, you’ll be able to control the robots
<meta> tags (
noarchive) on every post and page of your site…”
Just in case, you can’t sleep at night if you’re not adding noindex or nofollow tags to individual blog posts or pages on your website, you can download a copy of SEO Ultimate that will do this for free… And no, insane new SEO controls alone won’t get you much traffic without social media and traditional SEO optimization such as link building.
Well, most premium themes do have theme option pages and I’m not convinced that Thesis has more than most in terms of styling the theme.
“Easy 301 redirects for affiliates!”
You can download free WordPress plugins such as Go Codes to do this too. Most notably, you can use the Thesis easy 301 redirects to hide your affiliate codes to sell Thesis to visitors to your site.
Pixel-perfect typography is nearly as legendary of nonsense marketing term as Corinthian leather! Who wouldn’t want pixel-perfect typography? What does it actually mean? Is it even true?
Easy to customize?
To customize the theme, you have to learn thesis-hooks in addition to basic php, CSS, and HTML. It’s an added layer of complexity which will probably force you to hire a web-design firm that works with Thesis in order to achieve the desired appearance that you’re looking for. However, you just might be able to find a Thesis skin that you like for another $50 or more…
Free version of Thesis?
Okay, so I haven’t deterred you yet from buying a copy of Thesis? You’re convinced that you want to pay for a theme that looks like it was designed before 2007? Okay, well how about a free copy of Chris Pearson’s Neoclassical theme which looks eerily similar to Thesis? Don’t believe me? Click here for a free Thesis look-alike.
Final thoughts about Thesis?
I’ve never actually tried the Thesis theme, which for most would instantly discount my thoughts on the Thesis Theme Framework. I wanted Thesis to be the answer to my all of my SEO problems… I wanted Thesis to be the elusive WordPress Theme that would do everything that I ever wanted with ease… Maybe I’m just venting at the disconnect between the perception I initially had about this theme and the disappointment that I’ve experience from not seeing it live up to its hype.
Have you tried Thesis? Am I dead wrong about it being the Emperor’s new clothes?
Update: December 2011:
As an update to the above, I have subsequently tried the Thesis by DIY Themes. Again, I still think that there’s a disconnect between the theme’s marketing pitch and the product. While the coding is pretty clean and efficient, Thesis is primarily designed for the DIY’er. By that I mean someone who’s amply able to customize their site by editing .CSS etc. Alternately, there’s a now a number of quality Thesis Skins available including those by Hesham Zebeida from Famous Bloggers at Make Thesis Awesome (NOT-affiliate link). It’s simply not a good choice, however, for those who want an easy to customize theme right out of the box.