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Lesson 6 – Part 2 – The Benefits of Using the Thesis Theme

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Welcome back to the second part of Lesson 6 in the How to Build a Website Tutorial Series. In this part of the lesson, we are going to look at and discuss the benefits of using the Thesis theme for your small business website. Thesis is a powerful and robust Theme framework that provides 3 significant benefits over most other themes in the market.

Why We Recommend Thesis for Small Business Websites

First it is widely regarded as the fastest theme available for WordPress.  As you will learn, the speed of your site matters.  Thesis Theme replaces some of the less efficient processes in WordPress thus making your site faster.

Second it has a strong set of Search Engine Optimization tools built directly into the theme.  Every element of a page that is important for SEO can be customized and optimized with Thesis.  This level of optimization ordinarily requires you to add additional plugins.

Third it is very highly customizable.  Thesis gives you complete control over the appearance of your site.  Literally with the check of a box and the click of a button you can change colors, fonts and even the layout of your site.  When you couple that power with some of our BYOB Thesis plugins you can make Thesis do virtually anything, without ever learning code.

The site that we are creating in the remainder of this class is an example of what you can do with Thesis and BYOB Thesis plugins.  If you visit you can see what we will be building in the remaining lessons.

Design Options

So we’ll start our Tour of Thesis by looking at how easy it is to customize. When we install the theme it creates its own menu in the admin menu.  We’ll start off by looking at the Thesis Design Options. So let’s come down here and hover over “Thesis” and select “Design Options”.

Design Options is the place where you set up and customize the appearance of your site. So we’ll start by taking a look at “Fonts, Colors and More”.  Click the plus sign here next to “Body and Content Area” to expand the options menu. Here you can select the font style, the site and page background colors and the typical font and link colors.  For example, right now

  • the font style is “Georgia”,
  • the site and page background color are white,
  • the primary text color is black
  • and primary link color is blue.

Let’s come back over to our site.  Here you see that

  • our page is white,
  • the background color behind the page is white,
  • this is the typical link color
  • and then this is the typical text color

So, back at our dashboard let’s use the Body and Content Area settings to

  • Change our Font to Arial
  • Change our Site background color to a nice blue
  • Change our typical font color to a dark purple

Hit Save. We’ll come back over to our site and refresh, we can see the changes we made reflected in our site.

We go back to Design Options, expand the “Content Area” settings and now we will change the font size, I’ll change it to 16 pt as that is the basic text size. We go ahead and hit save. Switch back over to our site and refresh it, and you can see the font size just got larger.

Using the same tools we can customize the appearance of many other parts of our site, including the Navigation Menu, the site title and tagline, the headings in our pages and the text and headings in our sidebars and footer.

Compare Thesis to 2011 Theme

So if you compare this to one of the default themes you can see how powerful Thesis Theme truly is.  Let’s go back to appearance and themes. Activate the twenty eleven theme. Notice that this Thesis menu has gone away entirely and there is no way to change the fonts, or colors on the site.  The only way to do that with a typical theme is to learn how to code and then create your own child theme and customize that with code.

However, when you use Thesis Theme, you have this whole panel of design options that you can set. You can also change the layout of the site using these options. For example, this is the default installation.

You’ve got one large content column on the left then you got two sidebars on the right so it’s really a three-column layout with this multimedia box sitting on top of it. If we go over to the byobwebsite, it’s just a two-column site. It has the one column for the content and it’s got one sidebar. That is a very easy thing to do.

If we switch over here to Design options and we take a look at the “Columns”. It’s set to three columns now but we can easily go down to two columns and let’s change the width of this to 640 for the main column, and choose the sidebar to 320. Hit Save.

Come back over to the site and refresh, you can see the automatic change here. Now in addition to that is, if we go here to site layout, and go to “Column Order” and if you want the sidebar on the left, you can easily select this arrangement and hit save, then refresh. And now the sidebar is moved over here on the left. So you can see there’s a lot of flexibility with the layout with just a click of a button.

If you hover over the menu you’ll also see a section called “Header Image”.  If you select that menu item you’ll find a page where you can upload an image to go in your header.  We’ll be doing that together in a future lesson.

Also if you hover over the menu you’ll see a section called “Favicon Uploader”.  As the name suggests this is the place where you can upload your own custom favicon. The favicon is the icon that shows up beside your site name in a browser tab.

So that’s an overview of the kinds of customization that Thesis provides.  We’ll look at all of this in depth in later lessons.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Thesis

The next thing we’ll talk about is the Search Engine Optimization features of Thesis. It has a variety of ways in which you can optimize your site for search engines and we’ll start by taking a look at the “Site Options”

Under Site Options you can set a variety of site wide Search Engine Optimization settings.  You can also add Google Analytics tracking scripts, Google Webmaster Tools verification scripts and other tracking scripts in this section.  We’ll be doing all of that towards the end of this series.

Thesis also gives you a full complement of page specific SEO settings that we’ll discuss as we work on adding content to our pages.  You can see an example of this by coming over here and taking a look at “Pages”.   If we edit this page for example, This is a sample page. We scroll down into this and you can see that it has this “SEO Details and additional style section.  You’ll see this for every page you create.

This allows you to have a “reader friendly” page title as well as an SEO friendly title tag.  Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense to you at the moment.  It will become crystal clear as we work our way through this series.  We will discuss how to optimize your page titles, custom title tags, custom meta descriptions and your page URLs in a later lesson.

The point to take away from this little tour is that Thesis gives us the tools to fine tune this information, to help us make the most of our site. In the next part of the lesson we’ll take a look at some of the other benefits of using the Thesis theme for creating your own small business website.

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