Good morning everybody and welcome to our first Thesis 2.1 Launch Party session. Thesis 2.1 has been working in beta for 4 months and it was released publicly in beta here last week. I expect to see it released in its final version here in the next few days.
I have a request. If you get a benefit out of this video or out of this seminar, please consider Google +1ing it or liking it on Facebook or tweeting about it or something like that. I would really appreciate that.
Scope of Today’s Seminar: Thesis 2.1 for Beginners
Anyway, we have 3 sets of seminars happening this week. Today’s seminar is going to be focused on what Thesis 2.1 can do for beginners, what it can do for people who don’t have a technical background and don’t attempt to acquire a technical background but who want to use Thesis because of its power to create a somewhat customized looking website or blog. That’s the focus of today.
Scope of the Thesis 2.1 for DIY Web Designer Seminar
On Wednesday, we will be taking it up a notch and our focus will be on what Thesis 2.1 brings to the DIY web designer. So for the person who’s building their own website and really wants to understand how Thesis works and plans on getting their hands dirty by learning how to use the skin editor. So maybe for those of you who want to do something hoopy and crazy with your site which Thesis 2.1 will certainly let you do.
Scope of the Thesis 2.1 for DIY Web Designer Seminar
Finally, our Friday morning session will be focused on Thesis 2.1 for the professional web designer. We’ll be talking about the more technical aspects of Thesis 2.1. How it can streamline your development process and how you can use it to rapidly prototype websites and develop skins and websites for clients. so that’s the scope of our sessions for this week.
I’m really excited about Thesis 2.1 because I think it’s going to knock your socks off. So it’s time for us to just jump into the middle of this thing and take a look at what’s available in the new Thesis 2.1.
Why Thesis 2.1 is a Spectacular Development Platform
There are 6 main reasons why Thesis 2.1 is a spectacular development platform for folks who are creating their websites or who are creating websites for other people.
Makes Creating a Customized Responsive Site Easy
The first one is that Thesis 2.1 makes creating a customized responsive site really easy. There are lots of responsive skins and themes and child themes out there but they have very limited ability for you to customize them.
However, with the advent of Thesis 2.1 and with the addition of the new classic responsive skin, it becomes quite simple for you to customize the skin while still preserving its responsiveness and we’re going to spend all day long today working in the new classic responsive skin.
One of the things you’ll observe is that in the classic responsive skin, embedded elements are automatically responsive. So when we put images or video or other things inside of the content of the site, those elements are going to automatically be responsive.
It comes with quite a nice simple lightweight responsive menu which you can see by viewing this site here in the responsinator.com site. This is the Responsinator site and this is what the site will look like in mobile device once we are completed with it.
Right now obviously I’m logged in so you see all that extra stuff but this is what the site’s going to look like when we’re done with it today and this is what a brand new beginner with no experience with web design, no experience with customizing Thesis can do right out of the box. Thesis Classic makes this easy.
Exploits the Latest SEO Strategies
The second reason why Thesis 2.1 is going to knock your socks off is that Thesis 2.1 exploits the latest SEO strategies. Thesis 2 employed “Schema” in the HTML and what “Schema” does is essentially identify what the different elements on the page. This allows search engines to be able to tell where the main content is, where the subsidiary content is, where the main headline is, what the subpoints are and the organizational outline of a content. All of that is built into Thesis 2.1.
As in all versions of Thesis, it gives you full control over all of the SEO meta tags. This is one of the things that made Thesis such an innovative theme when it first came out because other themes required you to use a plugin. Thesis still includes all of those tools, those that you may be familiar with in Thesis. One of the newest things though is that it makes setting up the Google authorship thing just slam dunk simple.
When you do Google searches and you see somebody’s name beside the article or beside the search results, that whole icon, author name thing is created via the Google Authorship system. You used to have to paste a whole bunch of code in different places and try and make cross links to make that whole thing work but Thesis 2 just simplifies the daylights out of that process. It makes it very simple for you to do and all of a sudden your content now can have your shining face next to it which will help you quite a bit.
The third reason why Thesis 2.1 is going to knock your socks off is that similar to Thesis 2.0, it is infinitely customizable. This really kind of falls into a couple of different categories.
The first category is for the non-techie. Somebody who doesn’t know anything about customizing web pages still has complete control over their fonts. The classic responsive skin in Thesis 2.1, comes with a cool color scheme generator and this gives the non-technical user complete control over all of the colors that are used on their site. There aren’t any colors anymore that are displayed on the site that happen automatically or that you don’t automatically have control over.
From now on, all of the colors on your site regardless of what they are can be controlled inside of the Thesis Classic Responsive Skin by simply choosing a color for those elements. And on top of that, you also have a lot of control over the layout. This is for the non-technical person, so without opening up the skin editor and simply by selecting options and content you can have a great deal of control over its layout.
DIY Technical Person and Web Designer
On the other hand for the DIY techie, you know who you are. There are probably many of you in the webinar as well as professional web designers. And for you, this is just a revolutionary product.
It makes it possible for you to have easy custom templates for everything. No PHP required, no code editing required. All you have to do is use the drag and drop interface to create custom templates and you can have various custom templates that you can assign to posts and pages. You have a template for the blog page, for a front page, you can have custom templates for any of your archive pages, your category pages, tag pages, custom taxonomy pages, custom post type archives and custom post types.
Really, if it’s possible for there to be a WordPress template then Thesis 2.1 gives you complete control over those templates and allows you to create any number of custom templates for anything you may want. There’s really nothing like that in the marketplace. And Thesis 2.1 has more template control than 2.0 did even because 2.1 has the custom post type archives that 2.0 didn’t have.
If you’ve worked in other themes or in Thesis 1.8.5, you know that to create custom templates for things like posts or for a custom archive pages required a whole bunch of extra PHP. And if you work in the Genesis theme and you want to create custom templates, you’ll end up needing to create those templates from scratch, from copies of other templates whereas in Thesis, that stuff is just slam dunk drag and drop.
As part and parcel of that is you can have widget areas wherever the heck you want them. You’re not stuck with them in one place or in another. You can add any number of widget areas to your site and you can have any widget combination you want on any template that you want. The way the template editor works, you have absolute control over all of those things.
Let’s take menus as an example of this. Something that used to be pretty complicated is very simple and that is you can have as many different menus as you want. So if you want one set of menus on one page and another set of menus on another page, that’s not a problem.
It is absolutely easy to have multiple menus, multiple menu configurations, as many menus as you want wherever you want regardless of what type of content it is or what type of taxonomy it is. Any menu, anywhere, anytime.
Really, the net result of that is that there are absolutely no HTML limitations in Thesis 2.1. There is nothing you can’t do in 2.1 and all of the HTML that you want to do, you’re going to do just with a drag and drop interface. It is infinitely customizable.
Very Complex Customization Via Drag and Drop
The fourth reason is that Thesis 2.1 allows very complex customization via drag and drop. Things that used to require a ton of PHP now require none. Some examples that I already mentioned are adding different menus in different places, adding different widget areas in different places and creating multiple widget areas. All of those elements used to require a fair bit of PHP and now it requires none.
Now, not everything is drag and drop. Not everything is as simple as opening up the template editor and dragging one box in and dropping it and dragging another box and dropping it. Because Thesis 2.1 is so powerful there’s actually going to be some things you need to learn in order to use it properly.
Still, I think 2.1 is a fair bit more intuitive than 2.0 was. Something that people stumbled on with 2.0 was that they had figured out 1.8.5 and they didn’t really want to have to learn anything new but they wanted all the new power. Unfortunately, that wasn’t reality then and it’s not reality here either.
You get an awful lot of power but there will be things for you to learn when you are taking on advanced customization techniques, when you’re doing this drag and drop customization. And there will probably still be some code for you to write, there’ll be CSS you may need to write and so on.
So very complex things can be done with drag and drop but not everything can be done that way. And as soon as you decide you’re going to jump in to the whole drag and drop massive customization opportunity, at that point you’re going to have to learn how that works.
No More FTP
The fifth reason Thesis 2.1 is going to knock your socks off is because it almost entirely eliminates the need for FTP. Once upon a time way back when everything you did in WordPress required FTP. When I first started on WordPress, there was nothing that you could do inside the dashboard, everything had to be done inside of FTP.
Even in Thesis 1.8.5, quite a bit of stuff still required you to use FTP in order to make it all come together. But in Thesis 2.1 you are no longer required to set any permissions using FTP, you don’t have to rename any folders, everything can be done from inside the dashboard.
The only reason I say “almost entirely” eliminates FTP is because I believe FTP is still a critical and crucial skill set for a WordPress site owner to have. So I still teach FTP and I still think it’s very important and useful. It’s useful for problem solving, it’s useful for getting yourself out of things that blow up on your site. But I use FTP much less frequently today than I did before Thesis 2 and in that regard actually, Thesis 2.1 and Thesis 2.0 are identical, they have the same lack of need for FTP.
No Separate Code Editor
Finally, reason number 6 is that Thesis 2.1 almost entirely eliminates the need for a separate code editor. If you are DIYer or if you are a web designer, in the first place, you are almost never going to have to write PHP. If you’re coming to Thesis 2.1 from 1.8.5, you are familiar with all of the customization that you can do with PHP. And as odd as this sounds in the regular WordPress world you learn more PHP than anything else as you’re trying to learn how to customize your site.
Well, these days you will almost never need to write any PHP code no matter what your customization is. Almost everything can be done without writing PHP and so you don’t need a code editor for that.
Thesis 2.1 does come with a code editor as part of the dashboard and now syntax highlighting is included. So if you’re writing some CSS, now you can tell whether or not you’ve written it correctly because it’s employing syntax highlighting. It’s not exactly an error checking code editor but it’s fairly obvious when something fails, when you have a syntax error inside of the code editor because of the syntax highlighting.
One totally cool new thing is the implementation of this point and click code insertion that I’m going to demonstrate tomorrow. The code editor does have this ability for you to create snippets and automatically insert those snippets into specific locations just with a click of a mouse so it’s a totally cool system.
Unless you are going to do something very advanced, say you are going to develop your own custom skin from scratch, well then you’re going to need to use a code editor. But the number of those of you who are doing that is very small. Most web design work is going to be able to be done with a combination of a pre-existing child theme or skin and then the base level of customization that exists inside of Thesis itself and in that case, you’re not going to use a code editor.