I recently had a very well intentioned blogger ask me to promote one of his products for him. His product is a skin for Thesis.

As many people I know use Thesis, I want to take this time to share with you why I don’t use Thesis and why I don’t recommend it for others to use either. Much of the following is information that I also shared with this Thesis designer that contacted me.

I believe that Thesis is not a good value for most bloggers and after having done a lot of research into it, I can’t honestly recommend Thesis to my readers, to my followers, or to my friends and I would strongly encourage you to steer your business away from it as a business model.

Their framework is incredibly bland fresh out of the box. From a design perspective it really doesn’t offer anything that really makes you say, “Wow” when you see it and in my opinion, that is the most important reason to purchase a WordPress theme.

It doesn’t offer a single SEO feature that you can’t get for free from All-In-One SEO  Plugin or HeadSpace SEO Plugin and both of those plugins are free.

And the concept of purchasing a theme for a theme is repulsive to me. I have a very good friend who has created a theme for Thesis and it looks tremendous and I certainly wish him all the best in it because for some people that may be the perfect solution.

As far as I’m concerned, however, it is uneeded. There are enough amazing looking themes from WooThemes, Elegant Themes, and others that can be combined with one of the SEO plugins that I mentioned above to create a look that creates that “Wow” effect and still actracts search engines like ants to a picnic…all at a fraction of the price.

Don’t take this response as unkind. I certainly don’t intend it be like that, but I believe in being completely honest and I hope this perspective helps you as you continue to hone your business model. Even if you continue to use and support Thesis, at least this allows you to see an alternate opinion.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.


  • Evelyn says:

    Hi Nick!
    Thanks for this post! I have been having second thoughts about it. I’ll definitely check out the links you provided. Take care!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: First Awesome Giveaway – NuWave Twister =-.

    • Don’t just take my word on it, Evelyn. Get some opinions and weigh the ones that you feel aren’t just trying to sell you something and then if you feel that Thesis is the way to go…go for it. If not, then choose another option.

      • Evelyn says:


        I do use Thesis for my blog and I am by no means a coder/designer. I actually know nothing. Just lucky to find good tutorials on-line. I have found it very difficult to work with, but I have found my way.

        Since reading your post, I have been looking at other discussions about this.

        Thanks and take care!
        .-= My Latest Blog Post: First Awesome Giveaway – NuWave Twister =-.

      • Ahmad Wali says:

        Hello Nicholas,

        I would 100% agree with you though I am very late to reply. Most of the people here supporting Thesis Theme know coding and designing. Ask me, I newbie who got attracted with high sales pitch and reviews. I purchased the theme and I was like what do I do with this plain design. I don’t have the high budgets (most Thesis NINJA’s ask for 2000$ or more). However, I search and search and did customization and found some free Skins. It was Pitty after spending 164$ on developer option I still have to purchase the skins.

        Thanks to my friend Hesham at Famous bloggers, he offered some discounts. Now I have established myself I can afford the designers, but ask me I already spent about 1500$ on Thesis designers.

        It is highly not recommended fore beginners, newbies and people with no programming knowledge or it will be your worst nightmare.

        Finally, I personally like Thesis Theme now because I know how to work with it. I do recommend it to people who are established, but not to newbies.

    • Salman says:

      Hi Evelyn if you don’t know any coding than I think you should use Catalyst for your blog. Read a review about Catalyst at http://www.salmansblog.com/716/catalyst-review/

  • Haha! Dude, Thesis is much more than you know.

    You see, it’s not recommended to alter the core code of theme (performance, SEO, Security and more) thesis solves that.

    Plugins add func. but at a cost of performance & they play with core code. Thesis takes that away.

    & much much much more…

    Thesis is not a theme.. it’s a theme framework which gives you power to mold it anyway you like. THat’s why we say thesis is the last theme you need to get.

    It’s funny you know. You don’t recommend it yet your Aff links are all over. Isn’t that recommendation? ha!

    Thesis is not theme. It’s a blessing. Ever bought it, did you? Ever used it? I believe you did. Coz you never review a product without using it so I think you must have seen something that we (thesis community) overlooked.

    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How to Handle GenY Talent Effectively =-.

    • Thomas Levin says:

      This was exactly what I was going to near enough word for word. For someone who doesn’t recommend it to their users, it happy to make money from their sales. Surely an affiliate link is a recommendation to your trusted users?

      But their is many thesis themes out their that have been worked on well. It is a framework, one of which that makes it easy for the user and the webmaster to work with.

      Not everyone wants to spend lots of time fiddling with code or messing around. Even though you wouldn’t use that, does not mean that it doesn’t serve a purpose to people.

      My aim is to build on top of my thesis theme and make the best of it and build on the foundations of the theme to create a great looking site. Something thesis allows people to do with ease.

      Blogussion and Chris Brogan are just two sites that show the potential of the theme, both of which if were sold not under the thesis bracket would command just enough respect.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Have you got a transfer policy? =-.

    • I haven’t bought the Theme personally, but I have spend time working on it at a friends site and I find generally that other premium themes that I’ve found offer a lot of similar options at the same price and look completely different and far more unique. I maintain my position that Thesis is right for some people, but we shouldn’t be grabbing new bloggers with nice sales pitches and then leaving them with a site that looks the same as a thousand other sites. Isn’t the point of spenty money to get something somewhat unique?

      Also, I removed the links as they were populated by a plugin and I had forgotten all about it. I had followed the crowd and added it back in the day before I ever dove in and looked into it for myself.

      However, I’ll say the same thing that I mentioned to another commenter. Even if I maintained the links, it would still be completely ethical. I’ve given my honest opinion, and if you still want to buy it after having seen both sides of the argument would you rather get it from the guy who filled your mind with a fluffy sales pitch or from the guy who challenged you to see all sides of it before making the purchase?

      If you’re a car salesman trying to sell someone a BMW at an absolutely awesome value, will you turn them away if they decide to buy an overpriced piece of junk vehicle? After being completely honest with them and explaining to them how you feel about the vehicle, would you be wrong for selling it to them? I don’t think so. The key is honesty.

      Nevertheless, I removed them so that I can look above reproach.

  • Boni says:

    I agree with King Sidharth,
    but I also not recommend this for someone that not have a good skill about design.
    Thesis is so customizeable. You can make it so beautiful, but it takes more effort, You need more skill about coding and design. And i think the effort is same as you make a new beautiful skin from zero…
    So if You ask me, i will not buy thesis, but if you see a good design that using thesis framework, then you have to buy it..

  • For some reason Thesis did not sit well with, I couldn’t figure it out. Months ago when I had the resources to purchase Thesis, I decided to go another route – the free route.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Hello world! =-.

  • Mars Dorian says:

    Well, I wouldn’t recommend it too noobs, because it requires a higher class of maintenance then, let’s say Headway.

    But once you into it – there’s just soo much to do – the coding of it is soo clean, and the additional options that came with 1.7 are awesome. I think the version 2 is going to BLOW everyone away !!!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 3 Tips on networking the amazing way (video) =-.

    • I agree, but I think that a lot of noobs really get pressured into thinking that it’s the system that they need to go with. I do feel that it can be a great tool for a skilled designer. My buddy, Alex at Blogussion, is a perfect example of someone who really knows how to make things happen with the Thesis theme. His site looks amazing and so do the sites that use his skin. I just can’t see most people being able to develop this framework with the type of skill that he has.

      • Chris says:

        Blogussion’s theme (specifically the new one) is one of the best designs in the blogging tips niche. I think everyone can agree on that.

  • Rhys says:

    I’ve never understood the appeal of thesis. I’ve always been of the persuasion to learn how to do basic customizations yourself, and it seems a bit useless for designers who convert existing layouts to WordPress Themes.

    Nevertheless, it has a market & all the more power to them in that respect 🙂
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: A Tip To Help You Being a Better Blog Commenter =-.

    • I agree. If someone is a designer then why not just build a design around the WordPress system itself? You would be surprised at how powerful it is and how many options a designer has at setting up a custom theme.

  • Shane says:

    Completely agree with you on this. I got Thesis for one of my first blogs, because I had no clue and the sales-pitch made it sound awesome. However, what it comes down to is that you either have to put up with the bland standard look, know how to write basic code to really customize it or pay to have it customized. That’s pretty ridiculous, especially when you look at what you can get for free or for a small fee…
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Market Samurai vs. Keyword Blueprint vs. Keyword Elite 2.0 =-.

  • Is this really true. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion Nicholas.

    By the way, what can you say about the “Ultimate Blogging Theme” of Carl Ocab?
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Video: What really RSS is and How to Use It? =-.

  • Typhoon says:

    Well, I suppose Thesis is best for those who can code and make it look good..otherwise for people like me, I will prefer ready-made themes which doesn’t requires too much technical expertise.

    A great competitor for Thesis coming soon is a newer version of Ultimate Blogging Theme. It has adopted many features of “Thesis” plus has introduced it’s own special features..And the best part is that it doesn’t needs too much work..

    Go have a look at this youtube video to see what will be new in new UBT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mam9NQdd5k
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How To Make Your Blog a ‘Sticky’ to Your Readers =-.

  • Joe Boyle says:

    I don’t find it of any value because anything you can do with Thesis, you can code on your own. All bloggers should learn to code on their own, simply to save time and money. Thesis is way overrated and overpriced. It’s like going into a store and seeing a Topsy-Turvey for $15 and a tomato that looks delicious for $15. Would I rather do something I know how to do – grow the tomato – or buy it when it could taste like crap? A bit far fetched, but it’s the truth.

  • Melvin says:

    Hmmm. Im taking a wild guess. The one you are pertaining to is the thesis skin on Blogussion? or maybe I am wrong. 😉
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Enhance Your Search Functionalities With Lijit =-.

  • Bruce Teague says:

    I kind of agree with Nick. I see Thesis as more of a frame work, a good one, but so are Theme Hybrid and Thematic and they are both free. I say kind of agree because I’ve never tested Thesis myself so I can’t form a real opinion. Perhaps I would be wowed over by it.

  • Anne Moss says:

    I have a big problem with the way Thesis is marketed. Their “code less” motto is just deceptive IMO. As comments to this thread show, the only way to properly use Thesis (as in create a unique look) involves quite a bit of coding, with its own learning curve too (you need to learn how to use the hooks system).

    It’s not that Thesis is bad, but it’s not a “theme” per se, and being marketed as a theme may confuse a lot of newbies. I would call it a mega plug-in for WordPress, maybe.

    I wrote my full impressions having used it on some of my blogs here –
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Blogging about Blogging =-.

  • I agree. That’s why i don’t use thesis. I also think it’s tough to work with thesis. If you wanna take off the credit line from the footer, you have to code (not even php, it’s thesis code). If you wanna put something below your header, you have to code. These are know as hooks. Come on, standard themes come with all necessary pages and you can make changes right from the wordpress theme editor. You don’t need additional codes to put a text after each post, for example, while in thesis you have to write extra few lines. I hate thesis.

  • Thesis is a framework! Its not meant to look great out of the box. Its meant to be tweaked and messed around with – and you can do so much faster and more efficiently than using other themes.

    Thesis is a tool for designers. It makes my job easier. Sure if you don’t know how to code than don’t buy it.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Eggs, Baskets and Some Great Advice =-.

  • Very interesting debate. Props to you Nick for writing what you are convicted about.
    I bought Thesis after using several WP themes that just didn’t cut it.
    Being a noob however, I found myself thrown into the world of CSS and it was kind of “sink or swim” time.
    I will say however, that the Support Forum over at DIYThemes is simply the BEST on the net. Several people on those forums have been so incredibly patient and helpful.
    Today, I am happy with the Thesis framework and the community at DIYThemes.

  • As I know, Thesis theme need hard work to make it look great (in layout term). Therefore I think that Thesis will be a waste if we do not have enough skill to customize it.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: GoDaddy May 2010 Discount =-.

  • Tushar says:

    lots of hot discussion in the comments going on…i have never used thesis but all i can say is that i have really gone bored seeing the same version and style of this theme….i need to see some variation and Blogussion skin is the only exception
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Why Using Numbers is Post Titles is Important? =-.

    • John Maskel says:

      Tushar, your comment about Thesis theme sites having a sameness is pretty much a valid observation. I think mainly because Thesis is hard, very hard, to work with (and over-hyped), unless of course one is an expert coder that can bend the framework theme to your will.

      In expert hands, just like any other web-building framework, you can produce great sites. Look at these example sites that can be achieved using Thesis:




      And in conclusion to all the engaging conversations here, we have to realize that sameness (a.k.a. boring) is not a shortcoming of Thesis, or any other WP theme, or any other website building framework, but the capability, creativeness and willingness of the website owner to work harder at creating a beautiful website.

  • That’s pathetic, sorry Nicholas but I’ve no more trust in you. You are not recommending that theme but still you have you post filled with affiliates for that theme, isn’t it unrespectful to your readers? I thought you were a serious person.

    • Woooaaah. Easy now. That’s a lot of name calling. At one time, I blindly followed the crowd and signed up to promote them. I stuck there affiliate link in my plugin that automatically populates it into the post and I let it do it’s magic. Then I forgot all about it. I’ve removed that from my plugin and so I’m not sure where you’re seeing them.

      Second, I state very clearly that Thesis may be the right framework for some people, however, for most bloggers, I don’t think that it will be overly useful and there are better looking themes that can meet or surpass the SEO benefits that Thesis offers simply by using Headspace or All-In-One-SEO.

      With that in mind, I don’t think that it’s unethical for me to use my link if someone weighs both sides of the argument and ultimately decides to go with it anyway.

      If you’re a car salesman trying to sell someone a BMW at an absolutely awesome value, will you turn them away if they decide to buy an overprices Geo Metro? You would still accept that sale wouldn’t you?

    • Keith says:

      Easy tough guy! You obviously didn’t read the comments already left before you opened your mouth and inserted your foot!

      I personally know Nick, and he is more ethical and honest than ANY blogger I have come across. So I take your insult personally.

      Maybe next time you should skim through the comments before making such a stupid statement!
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Social Media Mondays: Episode 2 =-.

      • Bruce Teague says:

        I’m with Keith on this one… get a rope.

        That’s some Texas humor there. Don’t take it too seriously. I stand by Keith’s statement that Nick’s a man with great character though.

    • It’s pretty easy for the guy to criticize when he has no blog, and barely over 100 followers on Twitter.

      The meat of the matter is that even if someone doesn’t prefer or use the product themselves, why not still make it available for people to make up their own minds?

      Does that mean that an owner of a restaurant has to LOVE every dish on his own menu?

      Or a grocery store owner has to use each and every product on the shelves, lest he be called unethical for selling something he doesn’t personally use or believe in?

      Gary Vaynerchuck does this with his wines. Even if he personally can’t stand a certain wine, and blasts it on his video show, he still carries it at his store because he wants people to make up their own minds.

      He’s one person with an opinion, and he knows that.

      No one seems to be dissing him, because he has a successful track record of sales and social media cred to back up his way of doing business.

      I know Nick personally as well, and he is the most ethical person I know. In my book, if someone has a link to a product they themselves don’t believe in, who cares? He’s leaving it up to the individual to decide.

      Besides, it takes a lot of time, and money, to run a successful blog. Something the OP may never understand.

      Dude, take a hike.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Does Your Network Performance Need a Turbo Boost? =-.

  • I certainly appreciate your perspective, but what you fail to mention is that by buying ANY theme out of the box, you’ll have a theme that looks like any site out there from anyone else who bought that theme. That’s not a characteristic that is unique to Thesis. And many of those other themes, while offering some customizations like colors and font changes,still look pretty much like the basic, out-of-the- box theme.

    As others have mentioned, Thesis is not a theme, but a framework. I personally run 3 Thesis-based sites and have built several others. NONE of them look alike. Thesis offers customization capability that is unmatched by any other theme I have used (and I’ve used many), along with SEO options that just aren’t offered any where else — even by those free plugins you mentioned (which I’ve also used).

    While it’s not right for everyone and does require some design and CSS knowledge to take it from basic Thesis to something unique, isn’t that true for ANY theme a person could use? I think it’s worth every penny.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Happy Patterns: Cloud 9 Fabrics’ Organic Collections =-.

    • Jennae, I like your response because it really gets to the point and makes so much sense. I was really surprised to read this post. I certainly respect Nicholas’ opinion, but it doesn’t seem to be a very well informed opinion. It’s a rather simplistic viewpoint, but I do see where he is coming from.

      Thesis isn’t for the beginner and the people who don’t understand it, seem to be quick to comment against it. I absolutely love the framework and use it for the majority of my web clients with fantastic results. It isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t understand how it works or how to customize it, well that shouldn’t be a reason to knock it.

      Long live Thesis!
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Blogussion Theme For Thesis =-.

      • @Thesis WordPress Theme,

        I would think it equally simplistic and somewhat assumptive (read: Ignorant) to assume that all who supposedly “knock” Thesis are noobs and have no idea what it would take to customize it. They are not all knocks, but rather, preferences for other things non- Thesis.

        Perhaps a more careful read of many of the comments, and the article itself, would shed light on the fact that it’s not always a lack of understanding of how to customize it, but rather, a lack of desire to HAVE to customize it.

        And as Nick has a careful grasp of the type of audience he is writing for, it makes sense that he wouldn’t promote Thesis or any skins for it. Having worked with him myself, he could certainly customize the heck out of it, but that doesn’t mean he wants to.

        There are many bloggers who would much rather spend their time working on their blogs as a platform for content and not so much a showcase for long-form customization.

        It’s a given that there are those who make their living making such across the board customizations. Yet, in the context of the article, and many of the comments, it is not exciting, too time intensive, and therefore unrewarding to have to fuss with a theme, when you can purchase one, or find one for free, that will get the job done, and allow the blogger to… well… blog.

        That has nothing to do with ability, or aptitude for learning how to do something as simple as figuring out a way to wholesale customize a white theme so that it actually has some color or personality. Yet, if you look at most Thesis implementations, very few seem to have either one. There are notable exceptions, of course.

        So, for my money, I would rather spend it on a theme that looks the way I want already, and I can tweak from there.

        Has nothing to do with not understanding how to do it. I find it rather boring in my case. But, that is just me.

        Long live other themes!
        .-= My Latest Blog Post: Does Your Network Performance Need a Turbo Boost? =-.

      • Ha Ha. I dislike it therefore I must not have used it or be familiar with it. Very good logic. I have dug into the code and the workings of it and I’ve also dug into the code and workings of building regular WordPress themes and I’ve decided that I can build amazing features into a WordPress template and it will look better than most Thesis templates and I’ll optimize my SEO to be just as powerful if not more powerful than people with Thesis. Anything that you can do with Thesis can be done with the WordPress codex. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean that you shouldn knock it.

        • Having read the two responses to mine, I see your point. Although after reading the other comments, I did get the impression that those who didn’t like the theme, didn’t understand the theme. Hence my observations.

          But the fact that I agree with your viewpoint here compels me to comment again. What you’re saying is that even though you may be proficient in WP theme design and customization, Thesis is still not for you. I can understand that. To each their own.

          Personally I wouldn’t speak against any particular theme of framework for its apparent failings or inability to “mesh” with my personal likes/dislikes. It’s like religion. Tough to sway someone’s faith just because you’ve seen your own “light.”

          Bottom line is to live and let live, without the need to be overly critical about each others belief system. Reading your post again for the 3rd time or so, it’s just very one-sided. Perhaps that’s what the comments are for. To voice other opinions and level the playing field.

          Regardless of all this, I’ve always admired your site. Keep up the great work.
          .-= My Latest Blog Post: Blogussion Theme For Thesis =-.

          • @Thesis WordPress Theme,

            That was very well stated.

            I agree that each person finds their own view of what truth is to suit them. It makes sense that bloggers with a passion for design would gravitate toward something like Thesis.

            It would then make sense that bloggers with a passion for content would opt for something that requires less coding and tweaking.

            Great comment, and now I see how certain tools are good for people with certain focuses for their blogs.

            Thanks for showing me a new point of view.
            .-= My Latest Blog Post: Does Your Network Performance Need a Turbo Boost? =-.

          • Thesis WordPress Theme » I appreciate that and I agree with you. I tend to write posts periodically that demonstrate a side of an argument that is seldom emphasized just for the purpose of challenging people to think in new ways. I’m just afraid that often times people follow the crowd or they get swayed with a sales pitch and they never hear both sides of an idea. We become used to things a certain way and when we’re challenged on it, we get upset instead of opening solid discussions about it and embracing others opinions just like you mentioned about religion. It’s good for us to disagree because even if you go away from this post an even stronger supporter of Thesis, then at least you’ve seen the other side of the coin and now your position can be even that much more informed.

  • Yep, seems every WordPress blogger uses Thesis nowadays. I am happily blogging on Drupal so don’t have to worry about the big T question!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How to Get More LinkedIn Recommendations =-.

  • Chris says:

    I have been wondering about this theme. It does have a bland look. A lot of people rave about it. For now, and probably for a long time, I’ll be sticking with the free themese.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: iPage Web Hosting: $3.50 a Month =-.

  • Keith says:

    Ok, now that I have read all the other comments (some of them are downright ignorant BTW!) I want to put my 2 cents in:

    As someone that has used Thesis, and I am not a coding guru (not even close) I found it difficult to customize so that the site didn’t have that “typical” Thesis look, which I see all to often from the kool aid drinkers that jumped on because Chris Brogan and Brian Clark use it.

    I have seen some unbelievable Thesis sites that you never would have guessed were Thesis. But they obviously paid big bucks for a designer to make the design. And if I have to do that, then I am going to have a designer build mine from scratch. There are free framework themes available, and one plugin handles whatever SEO benefits Thesis “claims” to offer (I have read conflicting stories on the validity of those claims with Thesis).

    A lot of themes are moving towards “framework” and then “child” themes, and are using hooks and function.php in their themes. Studio Press has some great ones with Genesis (have always liked Brian Gardner designs). So I think that there will be a movement towards this type of theme.

    I now use Elegant Themes, I like them because Nick (from Elegant) comes out with new stuff all the time, they are original, easy to modify, and have a great support forum too. All for $20 a year?!?! Hard to beat that!

    Anyway, great debate Nick, and as someone that has used Thesis, I don’t recommend it to non-coders either. Why buy a “premium” Theme for almost $100 (more for dev) and then have to hire a designer too?
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Social Media Mondays: Episode 2 =-.

  • Mikkel Juhl says:

    For the people who have the time to design and customize and not least knows how to manipulate with Thesis, it’s great…

    A guy like Brendan Wenzel can most definitely use Thesis and get an extraordinary result. Though I believe that if you just are going to use the regular Thesis theme, it is money wasted.

    Then I would rather go and hunt for an awesome premium theme.

    I know that you don’t like this Nick, but.. I don’t think that design has a such big impact as you tell us it has. In the end it is the content, that should be judging a blog’s quality.

    Though a good blog design still shows that you’re professional, it is definitely a plus to have a good looking design, though it isn’t key, in my opinion.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Why You Shouldn’t Do What I Did =-.

    • Brandon Cox says:

      Man I appreciate your work, but I’ve gotta back Nick up here on the issue of design. It doesn’t necessarily have to be melt-your-face-off beautiful, but a blog’s theme should we well-designed as it speaks to the credibility of the content. If your content is really that good, it will be showcased in a nice frame.

  • Well, I guess it’s become clear that you didn’t drink the Thesis Kool-Aid.

    However, your reasons for not agreeing to blindly follow the masses are excellent ones.

    If for nothing else, I think you have raised the consciousness of others so they may make good and informed choices when they select a theme for their blogs.

    Thanks for being willing to step outside what’s trendy for the benefit of your readers!

    Best regards,

    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Does Your Network Performance Need a Turbo Boost? =-.

  • Noah Rainey says:

    Nicholas, Thesis may not be the right theme architecture for you. Although, to others, such as myself, Thesis is one of the greatest theme architectures that exists. Nothing compares to it. Now, if your wanting an “actual” theme, Thesis is definitely NOT for you. The whole purpose of Thesis isn’t to give you a full fledged theme right out of the box. They created Thesis so you’re granted the option of creating your theme without having to learn CSS, HTML, JavaScript etc.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: ThemeSheep – 3 New Upcoming Themes – Sunday May 9-10, 2010 =-.

  • Brandon Cox says:

    Nick, I’m a developer’s license holder and I’ve attempted to deploy Thesis on a couple of projects. Each time, I’ve been extremely frustrated with it.

    Many people claim that it’s not intended to be a theme, but a framework for customization. I’ve released a number of themes myself, all coded from scratch. I’m quite familiar with theme construction and can say from experience that the whole hooks system that you have to use with Thesis is a nightmare compared to coding a theme from scratch.

    It is over-used and I agree with you that its claim to being the most SEO-friendly on the net is slightly bogus in the sense that there are a ton of themes that are equally SEO-friendly.

    I’m with you, and I feel I have plenty of experience from which to speak. And besides, why should someone invest money if all you are getting is a framework when there are a ton of great frameworks out there already?

    • Brandon Cox » I appreciate that, Brandon. With the intense level of customization that so many themes are now offering, I don’t understand why a bland looking theme can offer ask for so much in return. Some of the WooThemes templates offer amazing amounts of custimization including different color options, full page templates, etc. And the variety that you can find on ThemeForest is just out of this world.

    • kristarella says:

      Brandon’s comment definitely emphasises the way in which this discussion really comes down to personal choice.

      Unlike Brandon I’ve very rarely been frustrated by Thesis and the way it works; it clicked with me almost right away. And I had built my own WordPress theme from scratch for my site and understood lots of that stuff. At this point it’s almost like Canon vs Nikon, Lightroom vs Aperture etc. There are a bunch of good products out there, some of them free, many with different pricing structures, and with slightly different workflows.

      Thesis works for me: I find it flexible and like having a framework to work from because I don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel with each site (even though I could if I wanted), but perhaps it won’t work for someone else’s methods.

      • kristarella » I agree that it is personal choice. I’m with you 100% on that. But I don’t want people to just look at a sales pitch and then decide. I want them to look hard at the negative sides as well. That doesn’t mean that I hate it completely. I’ve already mentioned that Alex at Blogussion makes his look amazing and I know that others can also. But when they decide to go for it, they might as well have heard all the different opinions.

        I’m actually glad to hear that it worked well for you and as I look at your site, it looks great. I really enjoying seeing your header. I’m glad that it works for you and I agree that the differences can be discussed and debated the same way that we would compare xbox vs playstation or Ford vs Chevy. There are positives and negatives for all of them and we’re not helped by ignoring negative opinions. Thanks for your feedback and keep rocking out your site, Kristarella!

        • Jennae says:

          My experience with Thesis was much like Kristarella’s. I actually started using it several years ago, BEFORE it required hooks and when it could be edited like a regular theme. When it switched to hooks, I was a little lost, but I eventually figured it out and it just has worked well for me.

          I have started several sites where I intentionally started with a theme other than Thesis, and always wound up switching because it offers so many of the features I’d have to recreate manually in another theme.

          Like Kristarella said, it’s definitely apples or oranges. Either you like it or you don’t. I’m in the “like it” camp, but have nothing against other themes, frameworks, or the people who choose to use them.

          I just love that with this particular framework, I can build something absolutely beautiful on top of code that I don’t have the knowledge to create myself. I’ve found that with many other themes that come with the bells and whistles built-in, I spend a lot time trying to undo them to create the design I want. Because Thesis is such a blank slate, it’s easier to turn it into anything I can imagine.

          Again, I certainly appreciate the perspective from the other side of the coin.
          .-= My Latest Blog Post: Zora&Alice =-.

      • serge says:

        Agree with Kristen . I started my wp experience directly with thesis without any coding knowledge… It was hard to learn, but now, when I know how to and why to… I’ll never change it for something else. Even if 2.0 will not suite me, I’ll recode it to be as I wish 🙂

        Thanks for post. This was honest. The question ti ask before buying thesis is do you have enough means and time to be thesis owne? If not, go another way. If yes, buy it without any further hesitation.

  • Thesis already has a competitor. Flexsqueeze, trumping them 100 fold. 😉
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: A TRUE Make Money Online blog – Part 2 – Choose My Domain Name =-.

  • There’s definitely great discussion here, and even being the Thesis junkie I am – I do respect your opinion.

    I use Thesis on every site, and that is only because I bought it, I tried it, and I eventually liked it. I use the best option for me on my blogs, and Thesis is my best option. For some, Thesis isn’t the best option and that’s why they use something else. I recommend the theme to others because of how much I use it and how much I love it, hoping that someone would see what I have done with it and buy it too.

    I agree that Thesis is hard to use if you don’t have coding experience. It uses hooks, which most people don’t understand. I remember when i first bought it, I wanted my money back because I couldn’t figure out how to work it.

    I know that Thesis is getting better and trying to live up to its “code less” motto, as we have seen in the most recent release (with nav menu controls) and even what’s expected in the next major Thesis release. Right now, it’s definitely more for coders. I can’t deny that. But I love it, and will always be a customer.

    It’s interesting to see someone not recommending Thesis. So many of us are hooked on it, glad to see some other opinions of it out there. 😀

    • Derek Jensen says:


      The comment you left here resembles so much of what I was talking about on your latest article over at Blogussion.com

      We need to understand people’s opinion especially if it goes against the norm or our personal opinion. We need to give them some respect.

      For me I was under the same impressions. I bought it because everyone in the entire universe (Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse) recommended it. Received it, like the out of the box features, but I had no clue where to begin on customizing it.

      Then, began using wordpress themes that were coined as ‘premium’ and started editing them to fit my needs. Then I discovered Blogussion and found out you made it with Thesis. In complete awe. So I will say that Thesis has potential and is great for people wanting a good framework that’s always being worked on and willing to do the design work or get a designer, like you.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: NYU Students Going After Their Vision. You? =-.

  • Wogan says:

    Heh, it’s funny. I always wondered why I found myself at odds with the blogosphere in general. Now I know.

    I’ve never used Thesis (just getting that out of the way). But equally, I’ve never used Smarty, or ezsql. Or even CodeIgniter, though I did make an honest-to-God effort to get my head around it.

    PHP as an engine gives you a lot of flexibility right out of the box. WordPress as a CMS gives you even more. Why you would want to add a third layer on top of that is completely beyond me – especially if it’s just a half-step up from what the rest of the market is offering.

    If you’re paying for Thesis, then paying for a child theme, you’re paying twice as much as you should be. The amount of design and coding effort going into that Thesis child theme probably doesn’t amount to less than if you had to build the theme from scratch (or start with one of the sandbox templates).

    Thesis was a good way to wrap up some common-sense features into a hyped- and paid-for package. It’s worked for them and their affiliates – and so be it.

    But if you want to see true next-gen stuff, look at http://elastictheme.org/ . And ask yourself – how can something that awesome be free?

    ~ Wogan

  • Ben Cook says:

    Actually, Thesis does offer more SEO control than All in One and it also doesn’t have the known security vulnerabilities that AIOSEOP had (at least when I checked about a week ago).

    I haven’t used Headway for longer than 5 minutes so I can’t speak to that plugin but as a professional SEO, I don’t use any other theme for my many WordPress projects.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Adding a Featured Content Slider for Thesis (no plugin required) =-.

    • Keith says:

      WOuld love for you to be more specific with those claims. Just saying:

      “Actually, Thesis does offer more SEO control”

      just doesn’t cut it for me. What benefits does it have that my Platinum SEO doesn’t have. What vulnerabilities are there that Thesis doesn’t have? Details please?

      I have used Thesis, and for me, I liked it while I did use it, but the fact that I wasn’t good enough with code (hooks) to make it look different than most others, I decided a change had to be made.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Social Bookmarking Rant =-.

      • element321 says:

        Keith, good question, I was wondering what exactly Thesis SEO does better/more SEO than AIO SEO and Platinum as well. All I get is “Thesis does offer more SEO control”

  • I bought Thesis because all the big bloggers push it. I’m using it now, but I will say, I know nothing about coding it. The site looks generic and there’s not much I can do with it. I’ll have to pay some big bucks to have someone come up with a great looking design.

    I’ve been thinking about switching to a theme that has a little bit more pizazz to it out of the box. Because really, I am LOST! lol

    Given time I could figure it all out. I just don’t want to! 🙂

    • I think this is the point that Nick was trying to convey.

      Thesis is a fantastic framework. I don’t think that’s something that’s up for debate.

      The problem is people who aren’t theme designers will struggle to get thesis the way they want it, so they are left with a generic theme. For those people it might be better to just buy a design they like out of the box from a theme store like woothemes or themeforest as they can’t get the best out of thesis.

      And that’s the main issue here – people not realising the potential of thesis.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Making a living from working online =-.

      • Kevin Muldoon » You’re right Kevin. I don’t have anything against Thesis as a whole, but I think that for the average blogger, it’s not the best option. If you’re looking to do design work yourself, or to hire a designer then go for it. Can you imagine a brand new blogger who has no knowledge of html or css being very successful with Thesis.

        One of the best Thesis installs that I’ve seen is Alex’s over at Blogussion but I’m convinced that that’s for the simple reason that Alex happens to be an amazing designer and he has an eye for this type of thing that most people don’t have. Not everyone is going to want to buy photoshop, build backgrounds, develop their own css, and put all of that work into it. If you want to, then it’s for you. If you want a theme that can work out of the box and has a few buttons that you can click to customize it, then go to WooThemes, ThemeForest, or Elegant Themes and save yourself a lot of work.

        Again…Thesis is for some people like Alex but it’s not for me.

        Alex, if you read this comment, I hope my words don’t offend you. I think that your site looks amazing but I think that most Thesis themes that I see don’t look that spectacular.

    • Richard Scott » I feel sorry for you that it worked out like that for you. I think that Thesis is for some people, but for you, as the title of my article suggests, Thesis is no good. If you pick out a new template be sure to pick out the most amazing looking style that you can find. Go for the best thing you can find.

  • Chris says:

    Nicholas, I completely agree with you. I don’t understand the hype for thesis either. A framework within a framework = more restrictions. Although I have not tried thesis out myself, I see no need to. WordPress is a powerful enough alone and I find designing themes incredibly simple.

    From a marketing perspective however, Thesis is golden. Bloggers can use the affiliate system to market their themes … all of the customer support, sales page writing, etc. is taken care of.

  • Mark Johnson says:

    Hi Nick. I’m glad someone has written this post. It’s seems strange to me that people buy a theme for wordpress that is anything but stunning. At the end of the day, whatever you want to do with word press you can, it’s so incredibly easy anyway.

    What is really great is that in the vast majority of cases, all customisations are within your theme folder, so you can just swap out for a new theme if you want to experiment.

    I like to keep my blog nice and simple personally, but I always know that I can plug in a new theme with an extra column or whatever at 2 minutes notice. This is the beauty of having such a fantastic open source platform.

    Sorry to rant, but this is something that has really puzzled me, and it’s good to see that I’m not the only one who doesn’t “get it”.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: item descriptions – detailed versus vague =-.

    • Adam Baird says:


      When you change your theme, you change the basis of your HTML. This can SEVERELY damage your search engine rankings.

      • Mark Johnson says:


        Sorry, I should clarify. I’m not recommending changing themes constantly. I am happy with my theme as it is. But if in the future I did decide to change theme, I disagree that it would cause damage to my rankings, as long as pages stay in the same locations, there is no reason that a change in code would be detrimental.

        If you have thesis and you change number of columns (for example) that will still change the HTML anyway.

        At the end of the day, Thesis is a way to acheive the layout that you want for your blog. If that is the method you want to use then fair enough. I can get my blog looking how I want without Thesis and that’s an option I am happy with.

        There will always be a divide though, each to their own really.
        .-= My Latest Blog Post: item descriptions – detailed versus vague =-.

      • Keith says:

        I have changed themes several times over the last 3 months, still climbing for my targeted keywords. Matter of fact, I have other sites that I have done the same thing, and no noticeable changes in my SERP’s (and I track them daily).
        .-= My Latest Blog Post: Social Bookmarking Rant =-.

    • Mark Johnson » That’s true, Mark. I love the freedom of being able to choose whatever Theme I want of the thousands that are now available and having it ready in a matter of minutes. Of course, we understand that we don’t want to change the structure of our pages every single day, Adam. But as has already been mentioned, making the same change in Thesis will still change the structure and most of us aren’t changing themes every day. We want to simply change them once in a while…maybe once a year or something. And when we make that change, we don’t want to have to hire a professional designer. We want to simply hit the “Activate Theme” button.

      • Adam Baird says:

        Regardless of how often you change your theme you’re still changing it…and that’s still a game changer with Google.

        Thesis allows you to change designs WITHOUT changing that HTML…especially that of your main content area. Sure, some designs will change things, but really good ones will leave the format of the main content area intact as that is one of the main reasons Thesis does so well in search engines…I guess it comes down to the competency of the skin designer.

        Changing to a random theme will most likely completely change the formatting of your main content. That’s the problem.

  • Adam Baird says:


    I sincerely hope this post is link bait, and you are not as ignorant as this article makes you out to be.

    Not trying to be a jerk…just an honest statement.

    • Adam Baird » It actually wasn’t intended as link bait, and I really appreciate your calling me ignorant. Basically, we all need to hold hands and believe the same thing or we’re ignorant? Is that how you were taught?

      I was trained to be an independent thinker and to not be afraid to express what I believe. I can develop my own opinions that may conflict with those around me and still coexist peacefully with them. I believe that we can even discuss the different sides of the issue without having to call each other ignorant. I respect that you obviously like Thesis. That’s good. I don’t like it and I’ve never seen a good article pointing out anything negative about it so I thought that it would be entirely appropriate to share my thoughts with the blogging community.

      I actually believe that it says something about your character that you would rather call someone names than to engage in civil discussion around an issue that isn’t even that big of a deal.

      • Adam Baird says:

        First off, let me apologize. I honestly figured this was link-bait…and if that were the case I would say kudos…cuz this post clearly has a lot of eyes on it.

        Given that assumption, the post was meant in jest. A poor attempt at humor I suppose, and probably something that gets lost easily in written text. Again, I wasn’t trying to be a dick, and I sincerely apologize.

        Now, I do like Thesis and I do personally use it on all of my sites. That doesn’t mean I think its the only theme worth anything and it doesn’t mean I believe everyone should use it in every situation.

        My main problem with this post is that the emphasis seems to be on design rather than performance.

        As someone who derives most of his income from design work, I probably shouldn’t say this, but the visual aspect of a website’s design is almost completely irrelevant. It means nothing aside from augmenting your brand. While this is certainly a good reason to pursue an elegant design for your blog, I would argue that anyone worried about spending $1,000 on the best possible solution for their website is probably not at a point where they need to worry about augmenting their brand and would probably be best served building a solid content base, and getting some traffic to their blog.

        For example, Darren Rowse built TwiTip to 30k subscribers using the plain jane blank Thesis template. Obviously he has some resources to get traffic that new bloggers don’t have, but the point is that design is more or less irrelevant. What is relevant is using a theme that a) ranks well in search engines b) loads as quickly as possible c) is cross browser compatible and d) is flexible and scalable (because 99% of us will eventually want to change our design).

        Furthermore, the assertion that a plugin + some other theme equals Thesis’s SEO just isn’t accurate.

        • Hi Adam,

          I decided to keep quiet but I have to reply to your comment. Who told you design is not important? Are you the one to tell what is important or your readers? Why not just use the plain thesis theme without customizing it and tell me if you will not lose readers? The first comment you made made it clear that you don’t understand things better! This is the first type of insult I made on anybody online (And I am sorry, you deserve it.)

          Go to hell with SEO, I know SEO, and I just switched from thesis recently but I don’t see the essence in getting a theme that will give you traffic without value.

          You want traffic, Nick wants an audience.

          Nick has his own voice, A good following and valued readers, He saw that thesis is being overhyped and he decided to warn His readers about this.

          Thesis is not the best theme out there, I used it for sometimes and it did not add a single search engine traffic to my traffic. Thesis should try to make it clear that it is for experience coders and stop deceiving people with the “code less, do more slogan”.

          Your last statement is also Inaccurate I have used thesis and there is nothing thesis has that no other theme + All in One SEO can give you.

          You are a thesis Addict? Fine. try to observe things well before giving your opinion. There are far more factors to search engine rankings than thesis has.

          If you talk about validation errors then the Google Search engine has over 44 errors itself.

          Theme validation does not have much effect on SEO and I don’t think it can help you gain or lose rankings.

          The point is clear work towards having a valauble community (like Nick has) rather than using one Theme because others flock to it.

          One last thing, Try to be unique and have your own opinion, don’t just follow others and I think that will make you even better.

          Hey Nick,

          I am in full support of you, a lot of newbies just rush to thesis because that is what every blogger are using.

          I have never had any great experience with thesis because I don’t have the resources to customize it, just take a look at my blog and you will see it is simpler and better than many thesis customizations out there.

          They said thesis is clean code, I just checked http://www.blogussion.com with W3 validator and it has 6 errors, copyblogger has 127 errors and 18 warnings, http://diythemes.com/ itself, the owner of thesis theme has 16 errors. Then what the heck? How does it increase rankings?

          Go with a theme that has a great design and pleases you, don’t just use something because others are using it.

          Just my 2 cents,

          • Sorry, just have to chime in here: the validation errors on Blogussion are all from the TweetMeMe button. Has nothing to do with Thesis. Without it, the theme would validate.

            Just saying. 😉

            • Don Gilbert says:

              you should switch to backtype tweet count then. It’s so much better, because you don’t have to link yet another service to your twitter account in order to use it.

              Love the theme BTW.
              .-= My Latest Blog Post: Crystal Lake Web Design =-.

              • Don Gilbert » I agree, Don. I love BackType…but then you probably already know that by now. 😉

              • Thanks dude, I just installed it to Blogussion and it works fine. Blogussion validates now. 😀

                I tried to switch retweet buttons before, but the one I replaced TweetMeMe with didn’t work out too well. So I didn’t think there were alternatives!

                But thanks again man, really appreciate the suggestion (surprised I missed it in Nick’s plugin list).

          • Onibalusi Bamidele » The truth is though that I’ve found a lot of good themes that don’t validate properly. I remember the first time I ran the validation on Site Sketch 101 and it came back with 100’s of errors. Today it is error free. And Alex is right that his are caused by something other than the theme. I see plugins creating errors a lot as well.

            I do agree that people should be willing to accept the opinions of others without calling them ignorant. We should be able to have different views than each other and we should be able to express them without name calling.

            I think that Adam makes good points, and I respect his position…I simply disagree on it. I strongly maintain that Thesis is not a good value for the average blogger. Thanks for all the great input, friend. I appreciate you.

          • Adam Baird says:

            So, insulting people online is really horrible and you don’t like me for it. Fair enough.

            Your response is to tell me I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about and tell me to go to hell. Good.

            • Hi Adams,

              I am not trying to tell you to go to hell.
              All I am trying to say is that Nick has stronger points than you have: such as the difficulty of beginners to properly work with thesis, while you are trying to say that SEO matters than design does.

              I strongly disagree with your comment and also with how you said Nick is Ignorant.

              He has His point, You have Yours. The major point of the discussion is for everyone of us to understand each other.

              hope you understand?

              Thanks a lot,

    • Adam Baird » So I guess since we decided that I didn’t write this as link bait that this means that I’m ignorant? 😉

  • Dude, you can’t expect to write a post like this without experiencing some venom from die hard Thesis peeps. Anyway, to each their own…
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Blogussion Theme For Thesis =-.

    • Thesis WordPress Theme » I understand that and I accept that. I enjoy a good debate and I love allowing ideas to be challenged against other ideas. I’m not a fan of the name calling, but I am a fan of challenging each other to be stronger in what we believe about things and to challenge one another not to just follow the crowd.

  • […] is Nicholas Z. Cardot from SiteSketch101. Nicholas wrote an article a few days ago entitled ‘Is Thesis the right theme for you? I say No‘. In the article Nicholas stated that the Thesis theme was not good value for most bloggers: […]

  • Chris Howard says:

    Nicholas, your point is quite valid but I think it got lost on some people by the intensity of it.

    I think you were too hard on Thesis, but only in the sense that it could come across – and maybe it did – that hardly anyone should get Thesis.

    But basically, what you are saying is that a new blogger shouldn’t waste time on a theme framework unless they are genuinely interested in learning how to build upon a framework. And that will mean learning a bit of CSS and HTML. And I don’t think many new bloggers would be.

    Theme frameworks are exactly that – frameworks. No bricks and mortar, no roof or windows, just a framework. It’s up to you to add “the look”.

    To a new blogger I’d say, Can you justify your time on that? Or should you be getting on with blogging?

    I’ve blogged intermittently for 5 years, and right from the outset, experienced bloggers have said: “don’t waste time on that which doesn’t make you money”.

    Tweaking your stats, your theme, etc are all time wasters that we pretend are important.

    The thing that’s important is writing quality posts.

    I work for Headway plus am a fan of what Thesis are doing. I see lot of people buy them who don’t realise that you do have to put in a bit of work to get a unique design. It’s not necessarily time well spent.

    One word of warning to new bloggers: You can spend just as much time trying to decide on a theme as you can building one on a framework… Don’t! Find a nice one quickly, and go with it. You can always easily change in the future when you really know what you want.

    In the mean time: Focus on your “core business” – writing.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Tutorial: Getting started with Headway for WordPress =-.

    • Chris Howard » I think that you’re probably right that I came across a bit stronger than I intended. I think it really turned into a controversial post and I really just intended it to be an alternate opinion to what most people have toward thesis. I think that most beginning bloggers will probably have a difficult time working with a framework and a simple template with nice options is much more useful to get you off the ground in the beginning.

      I’m only slightly familiar with Headway, but I have heard some positive things about it. I’ll have to look into it a bit more and see what it has to offer. I do agree that we should definitely work to get past the work on our themes and on setting up our blogs and get to writing and improving our content. That’s a good observation.

  • Chris Howard says:

    Now, I do want to plug frameworks as well. They are godsend.

    When I started blogging in 2005, I used a free theme. When I did my first commercial site, I used a free theme and tweaked it.

    Then I started using free frameworks but I was always a little frustrated with them because I still felt they were missing something and not saving me enough time.

    Right on the cusp of writing my own, I discovered Headway and Thesis. Being paid for I had to choose one or the other. I only chose Headway because their site looked better and their video promo.

    There was a re-learning curve and I was initially going to ask for a refund. But now love it. And I’m sure if I chose Thesis, the experience would have been the same.

    I LOVE frameworks because they save me so much time in development. I can get a site up much faster with a framework than any other way. If frameworks didn’t exist, I would have written one myself

    I don’t have to continually re-invent the wheel. And frameworks’ use of hooks is brilliant. It means I never have to dig into the core code.

    I can’t recommend frameworks enough they will save devs times; however, it doesn’t hurt to get to them after a learning journey.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Tutorial: Getting started with Headway for WordPress =-.

  • Mike Roosa says:

    So just wondering what theme you’re using. I’m using Headway but it has the same out of the box problem.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: The Flip And The Flop =-.

    • Mike Roosa » I’m using a theme called Papercut by WooThemes, but I’m constantly hacking it myself to make it do what I want. The WordPress codex has enough options for me.

  • I’ve thinking why many bloggers wants to buy a Thesis theme? From the first time I saw it, I don’t like it. I prefer a custom theme made by myself or another deigner because it’s more artistic.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 5 Types of Comments That Attract Attention =-.

  • Mark says:

    I’m getting a little frustrated in working with Thesis. But with the custom CSS and functions files, I can make it do about anything I want. But my problem lately is the support there. You cannot get anything out of the developer at all, even about a big bug they have with their 1.7 version. The rep on the forums, Girlie, is great, don’t get me wrong. But the developer rarely steps in to answer some important questions.

    I am getting frustrated with having to deal with both WP and Thesis upgrades, along with the plugins compatibility for both. One less variable wouid be good.

    I’m considering throwing it out completely, and rewriting it with a real framework with child themes, maybe like ThemeHybrid. But how much work is that? Is it a big deal for a just-okay, non professional coder to handle? Any suggestions?

  • Hey Nick,

    I agree with some of the things that you mentioned, but Thesis isn’t meant to be a simple Theme like one you’d find on WooThemes and Elegant Themes. Don’t get me wrong, those themes are amazing, and great for a blogger looking to quickly set-up a stunning blog or full website. Thesis is more than that, and yes it looks bland from scratch, but there’s a reason for that. Thesis, at least in my eyes, is meant to be a blank framework, that anyone looking to customize a blog/site can use as their starting point, versus creating a new theme from scratch. That’s the power of Thesis, and I mean, go look at all the possibilities with Thesis, it’s endless. Overall, I disagree your general against-ness of Thesis!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Vinci Conseil =-.

  • Sandy says:

    Hi, I was new to blogging and mightly frustrated with trying to become a coder, in other themes that I tried out until I found Thesis.

    As an ex graphic designer, I was really pleased with the clean look and feel, although I agree, you would need to customise down the track to get an entirely non-Thesis look space. And that is possible later on.

    But in the first instance it was much simpler to just get a professional looking blog up and get going.

    For newbies, there is so much to learn – coding and how to outsource and all that was just one almighty headache which I think Thesis took away.

    I also appreciate Chris Pearson’s personal take on typography, but that might just be the graphic designer speaking here!

    Very interesting discussion, thanks.

  • Thu Nguyen says:

    Hi Nick. You know I was thinking about what you had written as well and it’s great that someone approached you with an opportunity to promote something. At least you have inquiring minds. However I kind of bit the bullet and tried the theme out.

    For beginners, it’s awesome because they don’t have to mess with code and look around for much. It’s a lazy way of clicking, adjusting and inputting text.

    I don’t necessarily like the default layout but I agree with you there are many other WordPress themes that are much better in design than Thesis.

    Second, a lot of bloggers see that having something premium means you’re serious about blogging. To me that’s a load of crap but reality is that’s the truth. You got to flash yourself a bit to be seen.

    Thesis is one of those flashing themes and it’s popular so I think it’s going to be around for awhile. Overall, I just submitted my review on Thesis for you.

    This could have been a post on my blog. 😛

    I’ll talk to you soon.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Give Value By Blogging With Your Heart =-.

  • […] week on SiteSketch101, Nicholas Cardot took an unconventional stance on the value of the popular Thesis theme for WordPress. I believe that Thesis is not a good value […]

  • Thesis helps in understanding the matter faster.

  • word press theme helps in creating the blog easier…

  • […] week upon SiteSketch101, Nicholas Cardot took an unconventional stance upon the value of the renouned Thesis thesis for WordPress. I hold which Thesis is not the great […]

  • Joe says:

    Hi Nick, I’ve noticed you have an adsense banner ad which is showing quote alot of the Thesis 2.0 image ad from DIY Themes. I was under the impression that you couldn’t control which ads show up, and it displays the ad based on the content of your page. That makes sense on this post but I’ve seen the ad appear on numerous posts on your site. I was curious if there is a trick or some way to show an ad from a specific advertiser. Of if you’re doing anything special to show this ad?

  • […] other blog post was written by Nicholas Cardot who said No to Thesis Theme. That simple short article exploded and got a lot of attention. I have enjoyed the comments more […]

  • Laura says:

    I find it a bit annoying that the only way I found a info on how to get a refund with their 30 day money back guarantee is through the support forum. Just Purchased Thesis and Nic is right about misleading advertisement.

    Quoted from the DIYThesis site:

    “Not a coder? Not a problem. The Thesis option panels allow you to command your site with ease, while Thesis does all of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. You’ve never had this much control over your site before, and this is precisely what makes Thesis indispensable to critical website owners all over the globe.”

    I have much more control with woo themes. It seems like a great framework but in my opinion it should be Open source and the ACTUAL THEMES sold. It is highly over rated and over priced.

    I am a web designer, not a CODER. I thought I would get at least some sort of flexibility in design. I find myself having to search through the forums and the net just to get information on how to use hooks and such, mind you I’m a web designer.

    I will try giving it a chance. But I have a big feeling I will ask for a refund. I feel that Thesis needs more work put into it before it can fairly price the amount that it does.

    Another Suggestion is that DIYThemes clearly states their target audience for Thesis in their sales pitch. Many of the people on their support forums are clueless when it come to customizing Thesis.

    Just had to put in my thoughts.

    • Laura » To be honest, I’ve used WooThemes (This Site), ThemeForest (My Personal Site), and Elegant Themes (Several Sites) and none have been as simple and had as many options as Elegant Themes and that’s pretty incredibly considering the fact that you have the option of 20 different themes with all of the options of each of those themes for that 20 dollars. That’s a way better deal than Thesis in my opinion.

    • Kelly says:

      Oh boy, do I want to jump in on this…..I’m going to ditto, everything Laura said here. I got sucked into Thesis -don’t know a thing about code, but by reading their front page ad; I thought, this is what I need. After spending a month and way too many headaches than I ever wanted…. I dived into the forum site, where I found a developer/designer on there who was advertising. He even had a few people corresponding on there, “saying thank you for helping me, etc.”.
      What happened next, was I emailed him for a quote, (because I had already decided Thesis was over my head) – He quoted me $500 to design the site. I showed him a sample site that I wanted to model after; he quoted me 7-10 days. I regretfully paid this person in advance through paypal, and he scammed me. Nothing….. I disputed with Paypal, and guess what they told me? They can’t protect against something intangible, such as “services”. So I was scammed by a designer on diy themes. Paypal told me to file police report- can’t do that when you don’t know where they live. I did file a report with a few places for on-line scamming, but I am not holding my breath.
      I contacted DIY themes for help, and they said they would try to help, but emailed me back, telling me to follow through with criminal online complaint.
      Luckily I did receive a refund with DIY, because I was under my 30 days with them.
      So, my stupidity for giving someone I didn’t know $500 to develop a website for me. I trusted that since he was advertising on DIY themes forum, that I would be ok.
      This is my sad experience with Thesis. I’m out $500, and alot of time – really stupid of me to pay him upfront the whole amount though.
      If you ever come across this guy right here…..steer clear…..http://www.idwpublising.info – he’s the guy that scammed me.

      Now I’m so scared to do anything – I’m currently using DreamWeaver; but I really think I’ve decided to try the Elegant Themes – they look beautiful…..
      Sorry for the long story….

  • Tamal Anwar says:

    Hey Nicholas, I read your post and for the first time I hear someone complaining about thesis theme. Thesis theme is a “WOW” when the first time I saw it on TwiTip and I was eager to have that theme. It is clean simple and elegant, this is why I love it and most of the users will agree with me.

    Before that I was used to heavy themes of woo and others that look like a mess in many ways. Hey, I’m taking the side of thesis here just because the reason I have great respect to this framework.

    I’m not a big time programmer; what I do is to design customized sites using thesis theme for my clients and they are very much interested into building a unique design.

    This is the main point, thesis theme lets you to have an unique design. But even if you have a premium theme, we know that at least 10 more people are using that.

    I feel it’s a revolution in design just like wordpress as the revolution in CMS.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Announcing my very own Internet Marketing HUB and let’s grow together with the web! =-.

  • Tinh says:

    That is really HOT here I must say but it is very useful for both current and new Thesis users even those who are against to Thesis slogan “Do more, Code less”.

    I do agree that it is good for designers and coders and not appropriate for someone like me. However, I am still using it with some investment to get nice skin like Blogussion skin 🙂

    I think Thesis needs more developement and more simplicity in terms of code and appearance like its slogans say. I myself feel hard when I bought it and as @Alex said, I have thought about money back guarantee too until I found a god skin.

    There are a lot of different frameworks out there like Genesis, WooFrame or PliablePress with existing child themes for you all but why bloggers still stick to Thesis? Because it has been well promoted and the biggest support community that I have ever seen. You can get whatever you want with Thesis that other frameworks now can not.

    Just my opinions. Thanks for the head up!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Google Adsense Revenue Share Is Officially Disclosed =-.

  • Gina says:

    I like Thesis. While I do think an attractive theme definitely can make a difference in your business, I prefer something that is clean and neat to deal with plus has great SEO.

    I love being able to mold it, and it makes it easy to add my title tags without having to dig into the code.

    I’ve seen other Thesis uses really maximize every inch of their theme to make it work for them. Classic example is quickonlinetips.com.

    I definitely give thumbs up to thesis for flexibility.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Why I Recommend Chris Farrell’s Affiliate Marketing Course to Newbies =-.

  • Wow! Seems like it is very hot here! I have read almost all the comments posted here.

    Nick, I have to praise up your braveness to post up this article. I just bought my Thesis Theme last month. If i have read this post before i buy, maybe i will give myself a second thought before buying Thesis.

    I have to agree with you that Thesis is only good for blogger who really know how to customize it. I have spent almost a week to learn how to customize the Thesis for my blog from a plain design.

    Anyway, i will still use the Thesis Theme until i find another better theme to be used.

    Thanks for your sharing Nick!:)

  • Fatih says:

    I use this theme, but I have not found excess.


  • […] Is Thesis The Right Theme For You? I Say No.: Another heated discussion and this time, it is about one of the most popular “Theme/Framework” on the Sphere. Nicolas shares his thoughts and …. […]

  • I have customized Thesis with help of tutorials in the forums, other blogs and diythemes blog. I am satisfied with the custom design as of now, but I have the option of just changing some of the css and php to make things better in the future instead of buying another theme. I love the SEO part of Thesis which works under the hood. My blog gets indexed almost instantly when I post. That’s what keeps me going with Thesis. Of course, I do get tempted with the beautiful themes offered by some other designers, but Thesis does the job for me as of now. I hope it will be easier for non-designers like me in the next release.

  • […] this isn’t a diatribe on what is wrong with Thesis. That isn’t why you should buy it. No, this is about your growth as a blogger. But first why […]

  • Hello, I’m new to this – I’m very interested in the theme that you are using is it a premium theme. thanks

  • Jan Egbert says:

    I’m having a real hard time trying to read your post. The CSS3 shadow effect gives me a head ache. 😉

  • Kimi says:


    Found this post because i googled “Thesis validator w3c”

    I love Thesis, and i think it is very handy if you want to change colors, or easy modification that can be found in “design options”.

    But what i hate is, it is XHTML strict, and i am not used to it, so it is harder for me(beginner) to validate my site.. 🙁

    I still recommend Thesis to my readers! Yes, the affiliate is great too LOL.

  • Mike Pablate says:

    Thanks for sharing info on themes and plug-ins, I also visited one blog which was talking about Thesis but I couldn’t understand well as I’m new to these terms.

    Simply I use a them and activate some plug-ins from WP-admin panel but I don’t have much knowledge about themes like which theme is for which niches.

    I too agree that using themes based on niche would look good and it would attract visitors also.

  • Abhishek says:

    I was using thesis theme but it did not help my Adsense CTR anyhow. I tried everything with it. Just impressions, no clicks.
    Then I switched to CTR Theme, crappy design but it does the work. You shouldnt overdo with it as you dont want your page to be an ADboard.
    just my 2 cents.

  • Paul says:

    As a begineer who knows some code, what would be the best way to go.. I’ve looked into headway but also the free frameworks like gantry and hybrid. there’s soo many options out there it’s hard to know where to start. thanks

    • Chris Howard says:


      That depends on just how much you want to know…

      Although Headway is very powerful in a developers hands, it’s probably not the best choice if you want to learn development first.

      If you want to learn development, start with a free basic framework, like Sandbox or Starkers. Then move onto others like Hybrid and Thematic.

      By that time you’ll know your stuff but wanting to find quicker ways to get things done. That’s when you look at things like Thesis, Builder and Headway.

      Of course, if you want to just build websites without having to think too much – maybe a bit of custom CSS, then yeah come join us at Headway from the get go.

  • […] view is Nicholas Z. Cardot from SiteSketch101. Nicholas wrote an article a few days ago entitled ‘Is Thesis the right theme for you? I say No‘. In the article Nicholas stated that the Thesis theme was not good value for most bloggers: I […]

  • Hi Nicholas,

    The most compelling reason to buy this theme is the pro-Thesis propaganda that exists about it anywhere you go on the Internet. Other than than I don’t see any arguments to pay $87 for a single user license.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Dustin says:

    This was written in 2010. Any changes to Thesis and ease of use now in 2012? Im not a developer, don’t know any coding, and don’t want to learn coing. I just want a good, quality website and theme I can use for mutliple websites. If I get Thesis and some Thesis skins, would this be good to go or would I still have to do some coding? Thanks!

  • Leslie says:

    I agree. Thesis may well be awesome if you are a coder/designer, but the problem with buying a framework is that it will take a lot of work and skill to get it the way you want it. I thought long and hard about getting Thesis, but after much research and looking around – sure there were some lovely, professionally designed Thesis sites, but the majority of sites I ran across that were lauding Thesis (for the affiliate sales) the actual sites were rather boring and bland.

    I spent years as a designer, so I’m not lost when it comes to design – but one thing I’ve learned as a professional blogger is that I don’t have time to wear all the hats and I don’t have the budget to hire a top designer. I’d rather find a theme that immediately has the look I want right away.

    People don’t talk about this part of design freedom. Do you really have web design skills (note – being and artist does not make you a designer!) and do you really have time to learn a framework and design a site?

    • Mardy says:

      Excellent comment, Leslie. I don’t have time to wear all the hats and I’m not a designer. Do it my self or out source it (cheaply).

  • Belle says:

    Looking at the comments below and their dates, I realize they are on the old thesis. I just bought 2.0 and after a few weeks of trying frustration, lack of support for their new 2.0 and different framework I just asked for a refund this last week. It also, angered me that the DIY website doesn’t have information to get your refund and buries it in the forum threads. Even people with coding skills and 4+ years wordpress experience hate the new 2.0. Don’t buy into their marketing

  • abdee says:

    hi nick,
    your review absolutely right, from my point of view thesis is bored, confusing and limiting of theme creation.

  • Evan says:

    I really don’t understand what thesis has to offer? If you say it to a “pro thesis” person, they will say you need to be a developer to understand….well I am a developer. I work for very large companies and have got many to use wordpress. BUT for the life of me I don’t understand , as a developer, why would I want to use thesis, and learn all the custom hooks and the messy control panel, instead of just starting with a blank theme, and coding what I want. WordPress has a great template system, great docs, and everything you can do with a hook you can do in wordpress’s theme/function files, in less time without the need to learn the hooks thesis uses. I really don’t see a reason for any of these “frameworks” really. I code around 3-4 sites a week, all from scratch , many with custom plugins, all with custom from scratch ( blank) themes, I just don’t get the need for thesis? I gave the benifit of the doubt and took a look at a bunch of the “hooks”…before the content….why not at the top of the page file? before the widgets…once again, why not the top of the sidebar….the cool menu tool…doesn’t wordpress have this built in? yes , yes it does…so why learn all this bs , when its easier without. Ive built massive wordpress sites, commercial plugins ( mowpop for example) everyday blogs, large ecommerce wordpress sites, etc. And have never had an issue using my functions file, and editing the theme I created for the client. And know exactly where everything is, because I put it there.

    anyone ? please explain to me what thesis offers that stock wordpress and a blank theme doesn’t offer?

  • Jennifer says:

    Well, well, well…I sure wish i would have read this 6 months ago. I am yanking out thesis for a woo theme that I am WAY excited about. I love-love-love Pat Flynn, but wish I wouldn’t have listened to him or Corbett Barr on this one. Thank you handsome devil you.

  • Raj says:

    One thing is for sure, Thesis is not for those who don’t know programming… but I think one rely on Thesis or Genesis frameworks if they are comfortable in going through the css/php files.. #IMO

Leave a Reply