I believe I’ve spent about four days or so with Thesis, maybe longer, time is a blur in my mind at the moment. After trying to customize my copy of Thesis, here are my further impressions.
I justwant to point out that outside of Thesis, customization is easily done. I am spending hours and hours here trying to customize things the way I like it and have to incur the time and energy of others to do so, whereas I achieved my desired results on a regular theme rapidly and on my own. It would seem that Thesis could work on a little more transparency and on implementing a easier way to access such cosmetic changes through their GUI config screens. Making things easier for the end user is always a win-win situation. Less need for community support, more customer satisfaction.
My contention with purchasing themes has always been that I have no clue how easy it is to customize: I don’t want a blog that looks like the thousands of other people who have purchased the theme. I have very specific vision, and I need to be able to craft my blog to its likeness. Thesis has some serious accessibility issues. It’s an incredibly proprietary system: everything is hidden away in function hooks. The only way you can really get around with Thesis is if you become familiar with their hooks. This requires a decent level of knowledge about PHP and, well, their hook system.So far, it’s been a pain to change the positioning of navigation links, removing comments from the homepage and on pages, and getting plugins to play nicely with Thesis. I haven’t spent much time in the Thesis community, but I can tell you this: anyone who praises Thesis and proselytizes about it is nuts. There seem to be some glaring oversights in terms of customization options (warning, rant coming up). If you can easily use the GUI to edit typology, why the on earth can’t you change background colors? Why is it that I have to look on forums for a fucking tutorial to simply add a background image or a header image? Stop hiding everything behind the goddamned hooks: if you’re going to have a proprietary system, make it more transparent by adding options in the GUI. And add more customization options for chrissake.At the moment, I’d like to customize the text for my post navigation links. You know, the ones that say “Previous Entry: Awesome Article” and “Next Entry: Ridiculous Rant”. In a plain old WordPress theme, I could easily change that. In Thesis, I’d have to write some crazy custom function. I appreciate how efficient and SEO optimized the Thesis framework can be, but it’s probably a little too Microsoft-ish tome:there’s not enough emphasis on the end user’s experience. If big tech companies made WordPress themes, this undoubtedly would not be an Apple product.
I would say that this is most valuable to people who design blogs for a living. It’s also very good for newbies who don’t mess around much with modifying WordPress themes. However, for even a moderately experienced WordPress user, who doesn’t wish to make any money off his or her blog, this really isn’t all that valuable. While there are major advantages with using Thesis to experiment with your columns and typology, dealing with the hassle of learning the hook system as well as having to rely on the community for support is a major detriment to getting your blog exactly the way you want it. I don’t know about other bloggers, but I rarely change my blog’s layout or design once I’m done and completely satisfied with it. That means that the ease of resizing columns and all that is really not that a big deal. There’s also nobody putting a gun to your head, forcing you to update your free theme and thusly reverting everything to the defaults of the theme. When I was using Pixel, it was version 1.2 (or 1.3 or something like that). I chose not to update it even as the theme’s version number incremented to 1.97.
As it stands, I’m not satisfied with having spent $87 on Thesis. In fact, I’m quite bitter about it. It’s one of those sunk cost situations: I’m only sticking with Thesis because I paid for it. It’s like having a difficult child: you can’t very well send the child back into his mother’s womb, so you stick it out, hoping for the best and trying your hardest to make him turn out the way you want to.
Honestly, I should’ve read this guy’s review before purchasing. I was foolish and made an impulsive purchase that I can’t return. So now I’m stuck with it. My wandering eye even thought about purchasing Mimbo Pro 2, which seems to be a far more attractive option for moderately experienced WordPress bloggers like myself. I just wish I could find a demo of the control panel. I think that Mimbo could benefit from selling itself better: if it showcased the control panel and ease of use like Thesis did, I would’ve instantly gone for Mimbo instead.
So what’s the bottom line? Designers and pro bloggers will probably love Thesis. Newbies who don’t care that their Thesis theme looks like everyone else’s blog will probably love it too. But for someone who just wants to craft their own little spot on the Internet, someone who wants to customize and tinker around to get things just right, stay the fuck away from Thesis.