It’s now time to install Thesis 2 and I’ve got a website that’s running Twenty Thirteen here. We’ll begin by downloading this.
Download Thesis 2
Let’s go back over to DIYThemes home, my account and then download Thesis. You just click here to download Thesis, go down to the very bottom of this and agree and then Thesis gets downloaded.
Upload and Activate Thesis 2
Once you have Thesis downloaded then you can come back over to the site and add new and in this case, you’re going to upload. Choose the file and then I am actually installing the Thesis 2.2 beta. It just installs and activates like any other WordPress theme. Go ahead and activate it and it shows you this screen.
An Overview of Thesis
Obviously in the beta version Chris hasn’t changed the content of this screen to 2.2 so it’s going to be a little different once the beta version is out. But this is Thesis home. You have probably heard me tell people go to Thesis home and that means click on this big white Thesis button. You can get to all aspects of Thesis from Thesis home.
Now, Thesis has this admin menu over here which has links to most places in Thesis but not necessarily all of them. It also has this Thesis toolbar up at the top and we’re just going to use the Thesis toolbar primarily for wandering around the theme and we’re just going to start here at the left with the skin menu.
Thesis Skin Menu
The skin menu is different depending upon what theme is activated. So if a theme has skin content then it’ll have content, if it’s got skin design it’ll have skin design, if it uses the header image it’ll have header image.
Right now we’re using the Classic Responsive skin in fact, let’s take a look. Here’s the Classic Responsive skin and it’s essentially what you expect to see in a fairly minimalist style skin.
So since Thesis Classic is installed and since it has content and design and header image, those 3 things are going to show up. We’re going to take a look at those more extensively when we move to setting the skin up which we’ll be doing soon.
Skin Content and Design
Skin content allows you to configure both display settings and content settings. So for example, it’s in skin content where you set the menu that you’re going to use. Under design, you’ve got the design options which we’ll look at more in a few minutes.
Header Image and Custom CSS
Under the header image, obviously you can set the header image and then under custom CSS you have this spectacular custom CSS editor. This is an intermediate tool, a beginner is probably not going to use the custom CSS editor but for developers and designers and people who are accustomed to writing their own CSS, you’re going to love this CSS editor.
Manage Skins and Skin Editor
There is the manage skins section here which is where you upload and activate other skins and then there’s the skin editor. Using the skin editor really isn’t a beginner exercise but the skin editor is the place where you have absolute control over any aspect of your site. It is more of an intermediate to advanced place to play around.
So anyway, to get back to Thesis home just click the big white Thesis button.
Difference Between the Skin Menu and the Site Menu
Next you have the site menu. The difference between the skin menu and the site menu is everything you set up in the skin menu is dependent upon whatever skin is active. So if you’ve got 10 different skins active, whatever you set in here does not carry through from skin to skin, it’s whatever you setup in that skin.
If you switch skins, there’s the possibility for a whole different set of settings and so anything you set up in Classic Responsive is not going to go over to say, the Agility skin.
Site here is different than that. The site section, anything you set up in the site is going to be the same no matter what skin you use. This is stuff that is not skin dependent, it is set once and for all for the site regardless of what skin you’re using.
Setting Up Google Accounts
Google Analytics makes it very easy for you to set up your analytics just with simply adding your tracking id. For Google authorship, all you have to do is put your Google+ profile link here and then make sure that you’ve set yourself up as a contributor in your Google profile and all of a sudden all that authorship is going to work perfectly.
For Google publisher, if you’re like me and have a business that is a publisher of content and you’ve got a business Google+ page then you can set your publisher URL here and that will also be added to all your pages and posts.
For site verification you don’t need to use FTP or anything like that, all you have to do is put your Google site verification code or your Bing site verification code in these places. If you’re using specialized kind of tracking, say Crazy Egg, and you want to track users views or whatever, you do that here. Add any kind of tracking script you want here.
Favicon and RSS Feed
You can set your favicon here by simply choosing the file and adding it and your favicon will show up there. To the extent that you care about RSS feed URLs and mucking about with that you can put a custom URL in this.
Thesis SEO Tools – the 404 Page
Part of the SEO tools that Thesis has is the ability for you to set your blog page SEO. You may know that most SEO settings are done on a page and post basis and this is the only place you can do that for a blog page SEO. The 404 page is just something that’s completely cool. You can select any page on your site to be the 404 page and then you can put any content you want there very easily.
You could create a 404 page and you can put your own personal message on it and maybe some suggestions on what people can do if they find it by accident, that sort of thing. This is the easiest way to customize a 404 page ever imagined.
Finally, there’s the HTML head. HTML head is a pretty technical section but it does provide you with a place for you to set up meta robots tags all across your site. It lets you add scripts to the head of your site using the headscripts box for things like adding specialized fonts and that kind of thing.
You can choose not to use a canonical URL if there’s some odd reason for that and you could drag it back over.
If you’re a meta keywords kind of person you could choose to use the meta keywords and drag it into here and set where you want it to set. You have quite a bit of control over the title tag. Say I want to pin the site title to the other title that’s generated. I don’t recommend it but it’s absolutely possible for you to do. Anyway, you have quite a bit of control over all the stuff that happens in the HTML head of your website from that section.
Manage Boxes and the Benefits of Boxes
The next section over is boxes. We’ll install a box here a little bit later and you’ll see how to use a box but boxes are to Thesis as plugins are to WordPress. Boxes are essentially plugins but they are very efficient because they reuse Thesis code.
If you’ve ever looked at the code in a plugin and you know what you’re doing, you can see there’s an awful lot of repeated code from plugin to plugin and the reason is because no plugin reliably knows what another plugin is going to be adding. So there’s no way for those plugins to share a code base.
Well, Thesis boxes can share the code base with Thesis so that makes Thesis boxes much simpler to create for a programmer and it makes them much more efficient and running because the only specialized code they need is code that Thesis doesn’t already have. Otherwise, most of Thesis boxes are made by assembling pieces of already existing Thesis code. That’s a very powerful tool.
We don’t have any boxes here but we’ll upload boxes and I’ll show you what happens when you do that. Some boxes when you install them will add other menus below this. For example, if we come over here to the dashboard of this site and come over to Thesis and manage boxes. Now there’s a whole list of boxes that are installed in this site.
When you hover over boxes, some of them have settings pages that you can get at and they automatically add their settings page under the box so you’ll see that in a few minutes.
View Site and More Button
Next up we have the “View Site” button which takes you directly to your site, it takes you to the front page of your site and then the “More” button.
Thesis 2.1 License Key System
Something new in the latest version of Thesis 2.1 is a license key system. The license key is the first element here and the way you get your license key is to again login to Thesis, go to your account and then here’s your license key.
Once you’ve got that license key you just enter it here, save the license key and now you’ll be open to receiving automatic updates and that sort of thing. Without the license key you’re not going to get automatic updates so that’s the first thing there.
System status is really designed for troubleshooting. If you have problems I will often ask you to paste the system status in the forum. They’ll certainly ask you to do that when you’re making support request with Thesis because it gives a lot of information about sort of the underlying things that are going on.
Things like what version of WordPress, whether or not you’re using multi-site, what plugins are installed, what version of PHP, what your limits are, what the server configuration is, all that kind of thing. It all shows up here in the system status.
User Guide, Support Forums, Thesis Blog
There’s a nice link off to the user guide which can be very useful when you’re working on your site. There is a link off to the support forums that again, where you can get community support. There is a link to the Thesis blog, a link to their affiliate program and then at the bottom, it shows you what version of Thesis were running so today we are currently running version 2.2 beta 2.
Tour of the Thesis Skin Editor
I will give you a quick tour of the skin editor as well even though this is not a basic function. Inside the skin editor you have the HTML area which is the section where you can drag and drop things around in your templates and you have the list of templates available for you to customize.
You have the skin CSS which no end user should ever edit, this is the CSS that is created by the developer. If you want to add any custom CSS you’re not going to do it here, you’ll do it in that custom CSS section that we looked at earlier.
For images, if you’re going to use CSS based images then you can use this system for uploading them and referencing them. The manager is actually is a very useful beginner’s tool. I do have a seminar on how to use the manager of Thesis 2.
It actually works exactly the same way in Thesis 2.0 as it works right now. So if you want more information you can go look at that Thesis 2.0 version of the skin manager but I will redo that seminar again for Thesis 2.2. This is a very powerful tool, very useful even for beginners.
Then there’s the canvas and the canvas shows you essentially a preview version of your site while you are editing it. So if you make a change in the template you’ll see that change in your canvas.
Upgrading from Thesis 2.1 to Thesis 2.2
Ray asks, “Will upgrade from 2.1 to 2.2 be a simple upgrade?”. Yes it will. You’re not going to have to download it and install it. There will be a nag when it’s ready for you to upgrade, it’s going to be a very seamless, simple upgrade.
So far I’ve tried this on several test sites with all of my stuff and there’s no issue whatsoever with Thesis 2.2 beta and with anything that I’ve created and with WordPress 3.9.1 so you can expect that process to go smoothly.