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What’s the Fastest Way to Come Up to Speed with Thesis 2.1 when Building a New Site

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In this session we discuss the fastest way to come up to speed with Thesis 2.1 when building a new site. And how to come up with a content plan, outline the pages and start building the content before deciding what the site will look like. We discuss the importance of content which is the first thing to focus on regardless of the theme being used.

We also recommend watching the Thesis 2.1 Launch Party and The Beginner’s Guide to the Thesis 2.1 Skin Editor to get an overview of how Thesis works and become familiar with the bones of the Thesis system.

Video Transcript

Member: What would you recommend if I wanted to fast path  my understanding of the latest version of Thesis in order to create a new site and I also have some consulting that I had purchased to use with you so I would like to prepare myself and then you know, use our sessions in a real constructive way. So I’m asking your guidance on how to best move forward given I’ve been let’s say cold with Thesis.

Rick: Okay, given that you’re starting from zero with Thesis, what I would do is watch the Thesis 2.1 Launch Party.

Member: Okay.

Rick: And then the Beginner’s Guide to the Thesis 2.1 Skin Editor.

Member: Okay, wait a second I’m just taking a quick screenshot of these so I don’t forget. Okay.

Rick: And those will give you a good overview of how Thesis works and then once you’ve done that you’ll know all the bones of you know, Thesis’ system. You’ll want to choose a skin that’s close to what you want in your site to look like and so you know, before you… You don’t need to do this before you start creating your content because no skin is going to look right until it’s got content in it anyway.

Member: Okay.

Rick: So you know, these will help you understand it but really, content is the most important thing to do first regardless of what theme or child theme or skin you’re using because there’s really nothing you can do with a skin until you got content to do it with.

Member: Okay by content are you talking like let’s say a wire frame or actual…

Rick: No. I’m actually talking about posts and pages and that kind of stuff.

Member: Okay.

Rick: Because in the absence of that content you have to put dummy content in.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: Right? Lorem ipsum text and stuff like that and then you’re going to go throw all that away or whatever, right so really I’m coming to the opinion that the first thing somebody needs to do when they’re starting their site is to plan the organization of their site and then start building content for it around that organization.

Member: Okay.

Rick: And once they do that then they can start asking themselves, “What should the site look like?”, “How do I make my site look like this?”, “How do I bring in the additional functionality that I need in my site?”

Member: Okay, great. So just like the gal from Scotland who’s talking earlier about her site, about taxonomies. When you’re saying “plan the organization of your site”, just around the general topics I’m thinking of writing.

Rick: Yeah.

Member: Is that what you’re talking about or I’m just thinking wrong?

Rick: That’s what I’m talking about. Right.

Member: Right. So I could just write all of that in Evernote, right and then when I have some semblance of how it’s shaping that would be a good time then to contact you because I don’t think if there’s a skin at least that I’ve seen that will suit what I’m interested in having.

Rick: Sure.

Member: Okay.

Rick: But I think that really the hardest part of this process is building the content not making it look the way you want it to look and the most important part of the process is the content and not making it look the way you want it to look. That I think is the best place to start and really that all starts with a sense of the organization of your site and depending upon what kind of a site it is, it could mean what’s the outline of your pages you know, if it’s pages and posts then what are the categories you’re going to use to divide your posts up. Just come up with a plan of the layout of the content of your site first and since you have time you and I can talk about that together one on one. I do have tools that I use in that consultation time to help you solidify those ideas.

Member: Okay so yeah because what I’ve noticed Rick is that this is now I’d say 4 years since I got this desire and I’ve not taken the action so I’m saying, “Okay, what’s in the way are we taking the action?” and it’s just about kind of having that little plan about first do this and do this and do that, do you know that kind of thing?

Rick: Right.

Member: I’m fairly technical so I’m not afraid of technology and I manage people to do work but for myself I need to have a little bit of structure so I’m going to watch those 2 programs that you mentioned.

Rick: Although I don’t think you need to do that first.

Member: Okay.

Rick: Because the organization of your site’s entirely independent of this.

Member: Okay.

Rick: I mean first, really first is coming up with your content plan, make a plan for your content and to start building that content. You know, it’s taken me 5 years to get to this perspective. I use to start off with “What do I want my site to look like?”

Member: Yeah

Rick: And I have observed hundreds and hundreds of people now starting that way and really doesn’t work. It’s perhaps more fun but it isn’t really a workable path. The workable path is to start with a plan for what the content is and start developing that content when you have sufficient content actually posted on your site and ready to go. That’s when you can start grappling with “Now, how do I make it look right?”, “How do I develop the presentation for that content?” but anything that you do before that, any kind of presentation work you do before that doesn’t necessarily take into account the actual content you have.

You know I’ve got that classes Finish Your Site in 4 Weeks class that I teach and I had a student come with a very detailed layout for what she wanted her front page to have and what she wanted it to look like except it required her to come up with literally 50 or 60 pages of content before any of that could come to fruition because it was all being populated with different categories of content, different types of content and you know, until she had that content developed attempting to essentially build a template for that was impossible because you need the content first.

Member: Okay, so this is great sage advice thank you. So how would you recommend then someone doing that like using Evernote or Scrivener or you know, just to create all this content and then how would you recommend then…

Rick: Well, me personally the methodology goes like you know, I use Google docs so I start off with an outline of the content on the whole site and then kind of move out line points around till I get to my organization and then I take each of those main organizing points and it’s just like developing a class really.

Member: Or a book.

Rick: Or a book absolutely. Let’s see just give me a new tab and Drive. So I start off with an outline, right I say okay here’s the basic outline of the class and then I take that first piece and I make an outline of that first piece and actually, this is a flesh out outline. The first part of the outline is just big pieces like Course Intro you know, Introduction, Setup Your Project, Theiss Skin File Structure, I mean those are those parts and I build the outline for all of the pages that way and then I go in again and then flesh that out so after I’ve got all of my pages essentially planned or I have my lessons planned then I flesh out the actual content of the outline of that plan and that’s the system that I use in developing content like this and in developing the website content.

Sit down and say okay, well I’m going to have these 10 pages on my site and some of these pages are going to be child pages, some of the pages are going to be parent pages, with those 10 pages I make an outline for each page so I know exactly what it is it’s going to be on that page, once I’ve got that done then I go to that page and I flesh out the content of that outline and move on to the next one and once you have those 10 pages done or those 10 posts done or whatever it happens to be then you’ve got the raw material for setting up a menu you know, styling the menus, setting up how the front page is laid out and what the front page is going to display and how your page gets laid out and all that kind of stuff but without that you don’t really have it.

Member: Okay, so if you would be so kind to recap. Can you go back to the other page that you went because I just want to get a sense of the flow. Is it first or just all the topics that you want to cover and then okay, so here’s the overall outline and then for create number 1, create the skin base that’s what you just showed me?

Rick: Yeah. Actually, a better example for a website would be let’s see Finish in 4 Weeks and then… o something like this so I’ve got here the pages that I have on my site. I’m going to have a Home page, I’m going to have an Architectural Services page, under that I’m going to have a Residential Remodel Design Services, Custom Home Design Services, Spec Home Design Services, I’m going to have a Completed Projects page then that Completed Projects page is going to have these child pages under it, an About, Contact, Testimonials and Articles and then in my Articles I’m going to have these 4 main categories and then I’m going to have these subcategories so I essentially have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 probably 10 blog posts I need to write you know, to start that up.

Member: Yeah.

Rick: So this is an example of what a site structure outline looks like to me.

Member: Okay.

Rick: And then when you do that, as soon as you’ve said that then you go to your Architectural Services page and you say let’s see you know, I break it out like this page title, whether or not it has a parent page, what its URLs are going to be, what are the search terms my ideal clients are going to use to find this page and then provide an outline essentially what are my h2 tags on that page and then with that then start breaking it down from there so this is based on this page here, right.

So I know I’m going to do a page on Budget Business Translations so I’ve figured out my outline is going to be Low Cost Everyday Translations, Why are Budget Translations So Cheap, Recommended Uses, Why Would You Choose Budget Translations and then after I’ve figured those things out I do that for each page and then I come back and write the content for it so Low Cost Everyday Translations and then I just you know, write a couple of paragraphs of content that way. So I started off very hierarchically with an outline very much like this and I don’t really know anything about Evernote but I guess if I were in Evernote you know, you might imagine this as a document where these are chapters or these are main parts of the document and these are chapters and then you just write under it.

Member: Okay so in terms of a game plan because I don’t want to have this as a “to do” anymore. What would you recommend is first come up with my own outline?

Rick: Yes.

Member: Or have a consult with you? Okay. First come up with my own and then arrange a meeting with you and then next watch the videos?

Rick: Yeah. Yeah. I mean you can watch the videos anytime but really you want to watch those videos when you’re actually going to start playing with it.

Member: Exactly right.

Rick: Were just goes in and not the other so you’re not going to be able to start playing with it until you’ve got some pages set up.

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