Tag Archives: Web Design Tips

The Thesis WordPress Theme

Benefits and Drawbacks of Thesis

This past week, I had the “privilege” of completing a project working with the Thesis WordPress Theme. It had been a while since I had seen the back-end workings of this theme, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the improvements. Thesis has always been a decent, robust theme for beginners to work with. Would I recommend you buy it for your website? No, I really wouldn’t.

Start Quote MeLeaving any WordPress theme in its default layout is guaranteeing that your website looks exactly like a 1000 other sites.Quote Me End
    The Drawbacks

  1. You can end up looking like everyone else if you don’t take the time to customize.
  2. It starts you out with two sidebars side by side. (Two sidebars make usability more confusing for most web surfers.)
  3. It has its own set of hooks to learn about.


FYI for experienced web developers
Leaving any WordPress theme at its default layout is guaranteeing that your site will be the exact carbon copy of thousands of other websites out there. When it comes to learning about new features like hooks, you just have to dive right in. Hooks can be very helpful, or they can just be a royal pain.

Even if you know plenty about hooks, I recommend installing the Thesis OpenHook plugin. In Thesis, you are working with the custom-functions.php and custom.css files to do a lot of your changes. Because Thesis has an unusual (at least unusual compared to most themes I work with) of requiring you to use hooks instead of editing a header.php file or footer.php file.

The Benefits of Thesis

The idea behind it is that anyone can customize it, but it is not fully customizable like it boasts to be unless you really know what you are doing.

    Thesis is:

  1. SEO Friendly (This should be number one concern on any website owner’s list.)
  2. Semicustomizable (and hooks don’t make this much easier in Thesis, even for seasoned developers)
  3. The Featured Box (nice, but you still need to use a plug-in or write some serious PHP functions to get it to do anything cool)
  4. 4. Post Excerpts (I really like post excerpts with thumbnail sized images. : )

You are able to change fonts and background colors (background images are another story). See the screenshot:
Thesis Theme Design Options
Any real changes that you want to make to a professional website, you really have to jump through some hoops to get it done.

Popular and Not-So-Popular Examples

The most notable example site that I can think of who definitely use Thesis is: CopyBlogger. They have definitely customized Thesis with their custom navigation bar and homepage post excerpts.

The site: Simple Mom (which I love) is a less edited version of Thesis. If you are a WordPress designer and happen upon this website, you instantly know it is a Thesis Theme.

A classically generic Thesis themed site: Stephanie Woods. This site has some decent content, why do you think she would be OK with blending in?

Customize everything.

Keywords & Categories & Tags! Oh My!

I like labels, don’t you? Search engines do too. It’s time we all learned how to use them and make sure our work is found in relevant searches. This article is for all of those amazing bloggers and copy writers who have fabulous content, but aren’t getting found due to a lack of or inaccurate labeling!

Think of a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo as a great big filing cabinet and within their drawers you find all the websites in the entire world.  Wouldn’t you want your pages to be in the right drawer?


Keywords are the words search engines use to index your blog posts under the correct section.  You must label each blog post as accurately as possible. The more accurately you label your work, the more favorable you appear to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This will result in your content being closer to the top of the search results for your topic.

According to the SEO Workers Search Engine Optimization Analysis Tool, “normal web pages” should contain a maximum of 8 keywords. I like to use this rule of thumb for my blog posts as well. I max out at 8 or 9 keywords in the form of categories, subcategories, or tags. That doesn’t mean you can’t use more. However, if you use six categories and ten tags for one regular-sized post, then your readers (or indexing search engines) have to read through a paragraph of keywords and still may not know what information they are really going to get in your article.


For WordPress Users

Categories can have a hierarchy. This means you can have a main (Parent) category like: Virtual Assistants. Then you can have sub (child) categories like: Training, Groups, and Interviews.

Categorizing isn’t required; however it’s important to familiarize yourself with how to use them to keep your fabulous content organized. Visitors usually don’t want to wade through a lot of irrelevant information to find what they are looking for.

If your blog has many categories with only one or two posts in each category, you may want to convert the categories into tags. If you do

convert a category with any sub-categories under it to a tag, then the children (sub-categories) will become main (parent) categories.


  • Choose keywords that are in your content for tags. You can use tags that aren’t in your content like if your post is about a television show you love, you can use “television” or “TV” as a tag. However, use this type of labeling carefully!
  • Choose common keywords that people will be searching for as tags. If you use a narrow topic like “Smith Valley High School Basketball”, you have a very small window of people who may search for this topic. However, if you split this tag into two different tags: “Smith Valley” and “high school basketball” you will definitely broaden your scope of searchers who are looking for local community sites and those who are looking for sites about high school basketball teams.
  • Choose tags that are not already categories.

More Articles about Tags

Tag, You’re It! Leveraging Tagging For Your Blog – By ProBlogger article dated: 02/27/06

Tag Management – From the support forum WordPress.com article last updated: 12/31/09

For Blogger

I also recommend utilizing “Labels for this post:” which is the equivalent of categories in WordPress. In fact, if you import a blogger blog into WordPress, “the labels for this post” import as a categories.

Other ways search engines index keywords from your site are by:

  • the blog title,
  • the site or blog address,
  • each post title,
  • what you choose for headings (mostly for Heading 1),
  • and any words you type in bold.
  • A lot of these SEO tricks and other targeted inbound marketing techniques can be found at Inbound Marketing University.