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How to Choose the Right Thesis 2.1 Skin

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In this session we discuss how to choose the right Thesis 2.1 skin. While there isn’t any skin that’s better than another because they’ve all got Thesis and WordPress inherent traits each skin will display pages differently. We talk about a variety of skins and their capabilities including our Agility skin and Carta skin which have many specialized features for fundamental functionalities and are easily customized with a many design options.

Video Transcript

Rick: Okay, so you’re trying to accomplish something like this, is that correct?

Member: Well, I guess there are a variety of things on that, that I want to be able to do. So, I want to be able to, the way she’s got that sign up for…or I think you might have seen my website, it’s pretty, very simple at the moment…It wasn’t looking very…

Rick: What is it?

Member: Sorry?

Rick: What is the URL?

Member: It’s www.verticalveg.org.uk

Rick: Oh, verticalveg, right, okay gotcha.

Member: You’ve kind of given me some advice yesterday…

Rick: Sure.

Member: So remember, we’re getting ready to transfering from 1.8.5 to 2.1 and I think really, what I’m looking at is, for one it’s about 2.1. I really want to move over and I’m ready to start to work out because it’s all, this whole thing about skins and stuff is all new to me. I’m sort of, does it work out well? Do I, would I be better off choosing one particular, you know, how do I make the choice, really. Which skin to go for. There are various things at marieforleo site that I’d like to be able to do like putting the sign up bar across underneath the banner. Being able to, she’s got boxes on the side that link to content which…

Rick: So which in particular, are you talking about this resources here?

Member: That’s right, yeah.

Rick:  And so, that just clicks…

Member: And you basically go to sort of…so basically, what I want to have is click on sort of, because I’ve put quite a lot of content on my site now and I want to be able to direct people to some sort of most useful articles. For example, for beginners, I want a box there which clicks them to the most useful stuff and…

Rick: And when you do that, how are you…well, tell me a little bit more about that. How do you want to group your content so that you would, somebody could click on this and it would take them somewhere?

Member:  I guess what I was hoping to be able to do was to pick…well, one way I thought about doing it is to put a page, it was to link from there to a page to say, here’s some useful things for resources, useful resources for you and then link to various posts from the page. That was one way I was thinking of doing it.

Rick: So before you move on, let me just say, and so the way she’s doing that is she actually created this page, and then she’s written out this text, and then put a link to a specific post.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Okay, so none of this is automatic. Anytime you want it to change, you go into the page, you type something new, delete something, that kind of thing. That’s one way to do it.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Another way to do that is to have it happen automatically. So for example, you’re going to have good articles for beginners…

Member: Yeah.

Rick: You could create a custom taxonomy, don’t be afraid of that word…

Member: Right.

Rick: It’s just another organizational structure, but you could create a custom taxonomy and say, add the term “beginner” to all of those posts that you felt were perfect for beginners.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: And then you could use the Thesis Taxonomy Archive to display automatically every post you ever tag for beginners.

Member: Yeah, I get you.

Rick: So it’s very much like category or are you using tags right now?

Member: No, I’m not using tags, I’m just using category at the moment.

Rick: So you could just use tags for that then. You could just use a tag like “beginner”, “intermediate”, or I mean however you want to sort of highlight that content. You could use a  tag  for that purpose and then use a tag archive page to display it.

Member: And would it be possible to write some, when people click on that and see the posts which I’ve got that tag on it, is it possible to have an introductory paragraph above?

Rick: Yes it is. In Thesis that’s called Archive Content.

Member: Right.

Rick: And if you go to your…let’s see, so if we come over here to News for a second, I mean this is my blog page and you click on let’s see, Cafe Events. Okay, if you look at your template, you’ll see there is this Archive Intro section and there’s Archive Title and Archive Content.

Member: Yeah

Rick: The Archive Content, if you edit the Category, the Archive Content happens down here so you can create your own archive title for this category, or for this taxonomy in your case, right? It doesn’t have to be a category, this can be the same thing with tags or any custom taxonomy. You can add your own title for that specifically, and you can add your own content to that. And if you add content here, it will automatically show up at the top of the Category Archive page up here.

Member: Right, yeah.

Rick: So for example, if we come over here to this and say, let’s say the archive title is “Our Favorite Cafe Events”. Then here you can say something like “Read below to see stuff”, and this can take any kind of html.

Member: Okay.

Rick: So, you could use a sandbox page to generate a whole bunch of html and then just paste it in there.

Member: Right.

Rick: Now if we view the site. Cafe Events. Now, it has the new title. Our Favorite Cafe Events and then Read below to see stuff… I mean you can have a whole article there first, right?

Member: Yeah.

Rick: So my first suggestion would be to do it automatically. Because it takes much less energy to maintain.

Member: Yeah and you could…good idea, yeah.

Rick: And since Thesis gives you the opportunity to do your own custom title and your own custom introductory content, you can do what you want, you know…

Member: That’s great. Yeah.

Rick: And have a nice intro page there and you have complete control over how it  gets displayed.

Member: Yeah. I mean, what I want to do in there, I want to be able to put a sort of headline for the post underneath together with like a short introduction as well.

Rick: Well that’s what this is. In this case, this is the Agility skin and so it’s got the title, you know, some Meta, the featured image and an excerpt, right?

Member: Okay. Yeah.

Rick: That’s what’s being displayed here. You can manipulate that to your heart’s content because that’s just the way the Thesis Post Box works.

Member: That’s good.That’s great.

Rick: So, in terms of creating something like this?

Member: Yeah.

Rick: There isn’t any skin that’s going to be better than another at this.

Member: Right.

Rick: Because that’s inherent at WordPress and Thesis.

Member: Okay.

Rick: And every Thesis skin is going to give you the ability to create, well, if Thesis cannot show the page differently but the generation of the page is not dependent upon the skin.

Member: Right.

Rick: And this…let’s just flashback over here. These right here, those are just image links anyway.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Right, so you would just get an image link here in a widget and you could have this very same thing. So again, that is also not dependent on the skin.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: So this criteria is not going to be helpful for you in trying to determine which skin to use.

Member: Okay.

Rick: Okay?

Member: Yup.

Rick: So keep going, what else do you like about this that you want to try to start?

Member: I want to, I like having the sign up box on the top…

Rick: Yeah, yes…

Member: Underneath the header?

Rick: Yeah.

Member: I like the sort of black, a black sign up box there. And I also like, I’m sure this is very straightforward in anyone, but having the menu up there on the top right hand side…

Rick: Well, okay. So, now in the first place, really, most of this, most of what you just described can again be done in most skins.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Social Triggers has sort of a built-in thing with a Featured box and a Featured content. I don’t hear you saying that you want that but it does have that with that sort of a built-in place to create a very simple version of this.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Now, Carta, one of my skins…

Member: Yeah.

Rick: I’m going to actually just…let’s see…something that I just put in it today. And I’m just getting ready to release a new version of this. But something you can do, say on a static front page. You could, in this…well, actually your site doesn’t have a static front page, does it?

Member: It doesn’t at the moment but you know, I’m here to (12:33) I’m not…you know, I’m quite happy to make some changes to my…it’s been out there for two years so I’m quite happy to make some changes to have it up a static front page.

Rick: Okay, so if you have static front page you could easily say, take your Aweber box and…yeah, okay.

Member: So, the way it’s got that box there underneath, that sign up form, that’s not a standard feature, is it at the moment?

Rick: Well, this Aweber box is a DIY Themes box…

Member: Right.

Rick: And once you have installed it, if you’ve installed it in Agility…

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Here’s what it looks like by default. You could easily remove these two things.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: So, for example, come back over to this one and under the Options, Content Options, both delete this and delete that. Say Okay to that and come over to the name input and then you could say something like, Sign up today to be notified of new blog posts and then put Name. Save it. Refresh it. And again, in a very simple way, you have this thing setup.

Member: Right.

Rick: Just right across it.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Full width. Now, Carta does not yet have this ability but Agility has this, the styles built in so that you can do that. Or you can have instead, you can have a form that is, oh look at, I changed this form here (laughs) but you can have a form…

Member: And Agility is one of your skins, is it?

Rick: Yes it is.

Member: That’s right. Yeah, sorry. Great.

Rick: And Agility is…well, you can easily take things like the menu and put it at the top. Agility has the ability for you to put a header image and a menu in the header similar to what she’s got.

Member: Right.

Rick: Right, similar to this. Agility actually has this ability built in to it. This would not be a header anymore. This would be like the full width feature box and again, Agility has that ability built in to the front page. So, it’s absolutely possible, I mean, in terms of what skins are closest to what you’re looking at here? I would say the Agility is probably the closest.

Member: Right.

Rick: The difference between this and Agility is that, this has a two-column front page. Whereas the Agility front page is one column but you can…I mean, there’s a tutorial on the site for how to make it into two columns so you could take this content down and turn it into two columns.

Member: Right.

Rick: So, in terms of sort of fundamental functionality?

Member: Yeah.

Rick: There’s none of the skins that I know of, have fundamental differences in their functionality. So they can all do these automatic archive pages, they could all do taxonomy archive pages, they can all have sidebars and let you put it text widgets and so you can do that kind of stuff without anything extra. Social Triggers and the new one, whose name I have now forgotten.

Member: Promo?

Rick: Promo, right. They have styles built in for these email boxes?

Member: Right.

Rick: And Agility has it built in for the email boxes or the optin boxes.

Member: Right.

Rick: So at that point, either of those three skins are going to do what you want to do. In my opinion, Agility is more easily customized than either of the other two.

Member: Right.

Rick: But, that’s not to say that other two wouldn’t be a good choice. I don’t know, have you looked at Agility at all?

Member: No, I haven’t come across, I haven’t had a good look at it, yeah. I have a good, this is all quite new to me and I’ve been sort of going from one thing to another thing and I’ve just become aware that there’s these different skins and I’m now…where do I start? (laughs) So, yeah but this is very helpful.

Rick: Well Agility has a very large number of design options.

Member: Right.

Rick: Right, so all different kinds of things that you can customize simply by setting options or as, there are a handful of those in the DIY themes but not nearly as expensive.

Member: Right.

Rick: Now, what you want to do is pretty simple, really. I mean your site is fairly simple, so if you were to take your verticalveg logo and put it in this top corner and put your menu over on the right corner. Agility will let you do that very simply inside of the Skin Editor because when you go to your Header, you know I’ve got this two column header system that lets you specify the organization of columns and so what goes in the left column or what goes in the right column. If you’re going to put a menu in the right column, which menu are you going to put in and where your header image URL is, and all that kind of stuff. So, all you have to do is enter that and it automatically happens throughout the site.

So there are a number of things that Agility has that most skins don’t have, specifically designed to help you customize it.

Member: Boom. Yeah.

Rick: So, what I would do…I mean, really, first off, I take some time to play.

MemberL: Yeah.

Rick: So if you can…what would be spectacular is if you could clone this.

Member: Yes. I saw you, you’ve got links on there, I haven’t done that before but I was going to do that if I have time, in the next couple of days. I thought I’ll try and do that and then play around with it. Yeah, it’s a great idea.

Rick: Because that gives you something to play on without affecting your site.

Member: Yes.

Rick: Right? But it gives you a whole bunch of data to play with.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Right, that’s the thing, you can see first hand how the site will work. You know and you can just look at each site, you can look at it, the number of skins that you’re comparing and see which one is closest to what you want it to look like.

Member: Yeah, brilliant. Brilliant.

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