About two months ago, Thesis 2.0 was released. Since I’ve been so busy with business travel, I didn’t see the available update until I decided write some new blog posts over the holiday weekend. Alas, I ended up spending the weekend upgrading from Thesis 1.8.5 instead.
Thesis 2.0 looks great on the surface. The new DIY Themes home page is HOT, and their blog promises that you can build the same sort of page using Thesis 2.0. And you barely even need to touch HTML or CSS because of Thesis’ new boxes and packages. At least, that’s what the claim is.
You definitely still need to know how to code to do anything besides rearrange and add colors to the basic default skin. It took me many hours to update from 1.8.5 to 2.0.2, simply to make my site look the same as it did before. And I would consider myself an intermediate CSS coder.
Here are the pros and cons of upgrading (or doing a fresh installation) of Thesis 2.0. Let’s start with the negative.
Con #1: No documentation from the theme creator
According to the Thesis blog, no documentation was released with the upgrade so eager Thesis users could get their hands on it ASAP. Ok, that’s all fine and well. As the person who used to write all of HubSpot’s documentation, I would call a product without documentation a beta release… a VERY beta release. There is no “beta” anywhere on the DIY themes website.
I could let that technicality slip, but it’s two months later, and there’s STILL no documentation available. Fortunately, there are some smart people out there who figured out how to use Thesis and know how to make videos. While a bit long-winded, these videos will teach you the basics of setting up your Thesis 2.0 site.
- Build Your Own Business Website Thesis 2.0 Launch Party
- The Girls’ Guide to Web Design Thesis Tutorial Videos
Con #2: Drag-and-drop isn’t so intuitive
To explain the unintuitiveness of this, I actually need to create the documentation to show you how to add a new section to one of your Thesis 2.0 templates. First, you need to add a new box…
When you create the box, you need to declare the CSS or ID classifier…
Then you need to create a CSS package for that box…
Then you need to declare the reference and CSS classifier (which doesn’t match the HTML class from two screenshots ago, by the way, since you need to add a period here)…
Finally, you can customize the CSS of this box in the Additional CSS tab…
But wait — there’s more! You have to add the reference from two screenshots ago with an ampersand in front to actually make Thesis recognize your new CSS package. Why? I couldn’t tell you. And there’s no way I would have known to do this without watching the tutorial videos referenced above.
Con #3: Still no skins, boxes, or packages available to download
The DIY Themes homepage makes it seem like there are tons of skins (themes), boxes (widgets), and packages (CSS stylings) available for download. But the truth is, two months after launch, there still isn’t much out there. Here’s what I could find at the time of this writing:
Thesis 2.0 Skins
Thesis only provides two skins out of the box — one is extremely basic, and one is literally a blank slate. Upon searching the web, there are only two free 3rd party skins:
- BizLife 2.0 – very basic
- ThesisAwesome – they have two free skins: BlogSkin2 and Legendary
- Kolfolio – a great free theme for people who want to set up a simple portfolio site
And only a few paid skins:
- Marketer’s Delight – this is the most impressive Thesis 2.0 skin I’ve found, and seems to make it easy to generate marketing leads
- Aroxis – very slick theme, looks great on mobile
- BizLife 2.0 Pro – similar to the free version but with a mobile-responsive layout
Thesis 2.0 Boxes
- Revolution Slider Box – looks like a fancy slider; I haven’t tried it out so I can’t say how easy it is to set up
- Author Info Box – I’m using this on this blog, see my author box below. However, I had to make a bunch of customizations to the PHP and CSS file to get it to work correctly in the position I wanted it, so it did not work out-of-the-box for me.
- Parallax Content Slider – again, looks fancy, but I haven’t tried it out yet
- Optin-Slider – this is just a blank box that slides in from the bottom of your header. There is no opt-in form; you need to configure that yourself.
As of right now, that’s just about it. I could not find ANY Thesis 2.0 packages. If you know of any skins, boxes, or packages not included here, please let me know in the comments.
Con #4: Hard to find coding mistakes
Because there are so many different boxes, packages, and places to add CSS, sometimes you’ll have conflicting CSS. Sometimes you”ll miss a bracket somewhere. And even if you can find the mistake using Firebox or Chrome developer tools, it can be really challenging to find the exact bit of incorrect code in Thesis 2.0. I nearly ripped my hair out earlier today trying to find why my nav bar suddenly didn’t want to extend the full width of the page, and it took me 1/2 hour to find the bit of code in which I was missing a close-bracket. That’s 1/2 hour of my life down the drain, when I could have easily found what I was looking for on a single CSS style sheet.
Con #5: Cannot replicate containers
It is entirely possible to clone a template, but it’s not possible to clone just a piece of your template. If you’re an advanced Thesis user, you’ll eventually have many templates. If you want to make a change to your footer, for example, which you want to be the same across all templates, you have to manually drag-and-drop the right boxes (and often boxes-within-boxes) in each individual template. This is pretty tedious, and it seems like this would be an easy fix.
Con #6: It takes forever to migrate from Thesis 1.x to Thesis 2.0
Again, it took me a large part of a holiday weekend to migrate my Thesis 1.8.5 template to Thesis 2.0.1. There’s no button you can click to automatically migrate anything over; you literally need to start from scratch. I used the first video on this page to learn how to do this; otherwise I would have been completely lost.
Alright, that’s enough negativity for now, especially because there are actually some really cool things you can do with Thesis 2.0.
Pro #1: Easy to create multiple templates and customize EACH POST with a specific template
Note the all-caps in that heading… this feature’s really exciting. This makes context marketing entirely possible. Let’s say I’m writing a new blog post about Facebook, in which I want to promote all of my Facebook offerings (the eBook, the checklist, etc.). I can create a specific template for all of my Facebook posts. This template can have any sidebar content I want, any content above, inside, and below my post — basically, anything I want — that’s different from the rest of my regular posts. Then when I’m creating my new Facebook post, I can easily select that Facebook template.
This makes it possible for you to show your readers content you already know they’re interested in. I’m eventually going to create custom templates for each high-level category on my blog, and this is definitely a feature I’d recommend Thesis 2.0 for.
Pro #2: Limitless customization
Once you figure out how, you can customize ANYTHING on your blog if you use this theme. The lack of documentation, skins, etc. is frustrating at the moment, but I imagine this will get better in the next couple of months. At least, one can hope.
Pro #3: You can uninstall the Thesis Openhook plugin
This is only relevant for people upgrading from Thesis 1.x, but if you know what I’m talking about, you know what I mean. That plugin was a pain in the arse.
Pro #4: Thesis 2.0 loads more quickly
I use a plugin that prevents me from loading WP Super Cache or any of those plugins that speeds up your blog’s load time. So this one was huge for me. Page load time is a big factor in Google’s SEO algorithm these days, so anything you can do to speed up your site will improve your search engine rankings, and help you get more traffic. Eventually, when developers create more Thesis 2.0 boxes, it will enable you to uninstall your slow-loading plugins. We’re not quite there yet, since there aren’t many boxes available yet, but hopefully that will chance soon.
Pro #5: Excellent SEO tools built in
You can uninstall the All in One SEO Pack or whatever SEO plugin you’re currently using. Thesis 2.0 comes fully equipped with all the SEO tools you need. Besides, you should know by now that good SEO is all about having great content now, not meta keywords.
Hmm… 6 cons and 5 pros. Maybe I was just in a complaining mood. Also, the hyperlink button on my WYSIWYG editor is randomly not working. Maybe it’s related to Thesis 2.0, but maybe it’s not. After all the work I put into migrating over, I’m definitely not uninstalling the theme to find out.
Think the pros of Thesis 2.0 outweigh the cons? Click here to buy Thesis 2.0 and try it for yourself. To be 100% transparent, this is an affiliate link. I hope this article helped you with your theme research!