Is WordPress Thesis Theme so Good
Thesis Great When Released
The Thesis theme for WordPress self hosted blogs has been very successful since being released in the previous decade. Online reviewers rave about Thesis. This author asks the question, “are these rave reviews justified?”
When the theme was released it may have been a masterpiece of simplistic styling and compact code. When compared to many other WordPress themes of the time, it may have offered superior performance, and several well developed built in standard features.
Is this wonderful rating still justified in 2012. If we look at the way WordPress has developed since the mid to late 2000’s, becoming a fully fledged CMS system for web sites, instead of just an easy to use blogging platform, I think not!
In response to all these reviews, many of which date back to circa 2008, I published a new review today titled Thesis WordPress Framework Theme Debunked on my company website concentrating on the more technical aspects. This article continues with commentary and my personal opinions.
The main points discussed in the article are summarised next.
Thesis WordPress Theme – Selling Points Debunked
- Validated code: So what!
- Build in SEO tools: Basic and better plugins are available
- Bloat free code: True, but hardly a reason to pay $87.00 or more – get a better hosting service with your money.
- Used by some major sites: Guess they bought years ago and are stuck with it.
- Simplicity of design: Very simple
- Visual impact: What visual impact – needs skinning
- The claim “Do More – Code Less” is a fallacy
- Options galore: Yes, there are some – all of which are achievable with plugins.
- Easy to adapt and customise: Total nonsense.
Misleading Thesis Theme Homepage
I find the Thesis Theme for WordPress homepage somewhat misleading. There is no Out of the Box demo site – the link to the Thesis Blog bears no resemblance to what comes with the theme. The blog has been styled and individualised – therefore is not a true representation of what a purchaser will get. How many people will watch the video I cannot say. For myself, if I am looking for a WordPress theme, I want to find a demo site reresentative of what the theme will look like when installed, not a movie.
The homepage lacks information, instead being loaded with motivations to buy the theme or other products from the site.
The claims by the developer and reviewers the theme is easy to modify is not strictly correct. Some basic essential requirements, e.g. adding footer copyright notices and disabling the security flaw – admin page link, requires custom code…
The statement that the theme is highly optimised for SEO is somewhat incorrect, at least one fault reduces this claim. Notwithstanding that this is a common fault perpetrated by most WordPress Theme designers, and WordPress Core developers (using <h3> markup for Widget Titles), the theme should take care of this… At least to be able to justify the claims made about the level of optimisation. Chris should really know better if he want’s to laud the ‘optimisation’ aspects of his work.
The sample sites used to portray the theme are also misleading – a normal blogger (not a WordPress developer) will look at the live sample sites and think it will be easy to build a site like one of them – not so – those sites have all been ‘skinned’ or styled using additional child themes – not only the framework
Expensive Advertising for Designer.
Here lies one of my biggest issues: After paying an above average fee for the framework, the owner is then not permitted to remove the branding from the footer without paying another $77.00
I do not grudge the designer making a living – but after paying a premium price I would not be expected to advertise his work (with a fully followed link). This is another aspect that reduces optimisation of a site using the theme – an outgoing link that has no benefit to the site owner, and bleeds away page rank from every page on the site… SEO specialists unanimously agree having this followed link to the developers website is not in the best interests of the site using the theme.
This requirement creates the impression in my mind the theme designer is a money grabber with little regard for the spirit, if not the letter, of the WordPress Open Source GPL community. Thousands of WordPress developers, site builders, coders and other members of the extended WordPress community make a satisfactory living out of WordPress. Hundreds, or thousands of Premium commercial themes are available that do not require the buyer to pay extra to remove their branding. Even WordPress.org tells everyone how to remove the WordPress brand from blogs and websites – and that is for FREE software… (I have no objection to crediting a developer with links for FREE software and themes.)
Many of the better ‘near premium’ free themes also do not insist on keeping this in place and make it EASY to remove. Personally I am quite happy to keep a credit to a free theme developer even when it is not required, however I would possibly “nofollow” the link, and give a full “followed” credit in a review post or such.’ Which would be of much greater value for a backlink than hundreds or thousands of ‘spammy’ backlinks on every site page.
Thesis Framework for Stylers
Thesis makes an outstanding basic core framework for themers and stylers to build on. From this point of view the theme can be recommended. However the excessive price demanded to remove the branding adds an extra financial burden to customers.
There is a good range of skins (child themes) available, most commercially and a few basic ones for free. Prices for the commercial themes range from $49.. to over $100.00
At the end of the day expect to spend upwards of $200.00 (more likely from $250.00 up) if you want to use Thesis Theme and want anything other than the basic framework, and to improve your sites SEO ranking by removing Chris’s footer branding link.
I believe the Theme home website should explain clearly the theme is a FRAMWORK, and the need to skin the theme clearly on the page. As mentioned the Thesis theme homepage is not what comes in the box – can Chris Pearson show exactly how the homepage was created using ONLY what comes with Thesis as standard? (apart from the one thing that is fairly easy to replace – a header image…) I don’t think so!
Relevant to my consideration the theme designer Chris Pearson is money grabbing, the previous controversy between WordPress’s Matt Mullenweg and Chris Pearson over complying with the WordPress GPL licensing requirements demonstrates this aspect. This controversy was only partly resolved, with Mr Pearson holding copyright to CSS and Java code.
How well the claim to ownership of CSS style sheets would stand up in court is debatable (I doubt it would be enforceable in South Africa, provided theses had been sufficiently modified). After all there is no real new patent worthiness to CSS – it is all simply standard HTML code for CSS. Fair enough to say the exact style sheet would be copyright protected, another style sheet doing much the same would be ‘New Property)
A more outspoken writer has mentioned Mr Pearson’s somewhat below board previous commercial activities in this article “WordPress Matt Mullenweg and Thesis Pearsonified GPL Controversy“.
“Mr Pearson ignores the licensing of the platform he profits off of because he feels that respecting it will make him less money…”