The Thesis theme is one of the most easily customizable themes in WordPress. Other themes often require in-depth HTML and PHP knowledge to customize. Thesis on the other hand takes the most common customization options and places them all into the options tab.
Using options, you can customize how your Thesis theme looks, how the search engines view the site, options for software and scripts and a lot more.
Here’s how to customize your Thesis theme.
Step 1: Access Thesis Options
Log into your WordPress admin panel. Scroll down and click Thesis Options on the left hand side.
You’ll be presented with a wide array of options. Let’s go through them one by one.
Step 2: Change Your Document Head
The document head is what goes between the <head> and </head> tags. In non-tech speak, this is basically overview information about the page that web browsers and search engines need to know.
To expand any of the options, just click the plus symbol next to an option.
For example, this is what the Title tag looks like when expanded:
Here’s an explanation of what these four different options for the <head> tag do.
Title Tag: This changes what’s displayed in the title bar of a browser. It’s also one of the most important clues search engines use to determine what a specific page is about. You should carefully craft a good title that includes your main keywords to help you get ranked in search engines.
Add Noindex to Archived Pages: This tells search engines not to index certain pages on your website. Many pages generated by WordPress are either duplicate or just plain “fluff.” For example, category pages, tag pages, daily monthly and yearly pages, etc all often have the same content. By removing these pages from search engine rankings, you increase the ranking power of the rest of your pages.
Canonical URLs: Search engines view http://www.example.com, www.example.com and example.com as different websites. It can confuse search engines if you’re switching between different URL formats throughout your blog. Canonical URLs just creates a standard way of linking within your blog so the search engines have an easier time.
Thesis Version: Puts the version of Thesis in your head tag. There’s no real benefit to doing this and it can be a security risk. If a security exploit for a specific version of Thesis is discovered, a hacker could easily search the web for WordPress blogs with specific versions of Thesis installed to target. By turning off this option, you remove that risk. Unless you have a good reason to include your Thesis version in the head, it’s best to just switch it off.
Step 3: Set Your Feed URL
If you’re using an outside feed service, input the URL here. This enables people with RSS readers to just type in your blog’s URL and subscribe to your RSS feed, without having to find the RSS link on your blog manually.
Step 4: Set Headers & Footer Scripts (Optional)
If you have scripts that need to go in the header or the footer, just copy and paste them in here. Common scripts include tracking scripts, redirect scripts, cookie scripts and split testing scripts.
If you have no scripts, then just skip this step.
Step 5: Set Home Page Options
There are two options you can set for your home page: Your meta tags and the number of posts to show.
Here’s what each of them does.
Home Page Meta – Here you set your meta keywords and description. While meta keywords aren’t nearly as important as they were the past, your meta description is still crucial. For the keywords, input all the keywords you can think of that someone might use to find your site. If you have trouble coming up with keywords, try looking at what your competitors are using.
For the description, type in a short description of your site. This is what people will see as the description for your listing in the search engines. A great description can get you a lot more clicks, even without getting higher rankings.
Home Page Display – Choose how many posts you want displayed on the front page. By default it’s 10.
Step 6: Set Display Options
Display options gives you the flexibility to change the look and feel of your site. Here are the various options and how to use them.
Header – Choose whether or not you want your site’s name and tagline in the header.
Bylines – Choose whether you want the author’s name and date showed on the bylines of your posts and pages.
Posts – First, choose whether the posts on your front page are full content posts or just excerpts. Then decide what text people will click on to see a full post. By default it’s “Click to continue …”
Archives – Choose how you want Thesis to store your archives. By default it just stores the title, though you can store them as teasers, excerpts or replicas of your home page.
Tagging – Choose if you want tags shown on single entry pages. Choose if you want tags to appear on archive pages and on index pages. Finally, choose whether or not you want search engines to follow tag links. By default they’re not followed.
Comments – Choose whether or not the number of comments is shown. Also choose if you want Thesis to tell your users what HTML they can use. Finally, choose whether or not readers can comment on pages.
Sidebars – Do you want to show sidebars widgets?
Administration – Set how you personally see your blog when you’re logged in as admin. Do you want edit buttons next to posts and comments? Do you want an admin link in the footer?
Step 7: Navigation Menu Options
Thesis’ navigation menu settings make it easy for you to choose exactly how people will navigate your site. You can choose example which pages, categories or links will be in your nav menu. You can even automatically use dropdown menus in your links!
Here are the various options for Thesis’ nav menu.
Select pages to include: Check which pages you want to include in the nav menu. Drag them around to change the order. You can also change the display text by clicking on the text. Nested pages or categories will automatically turn into dropdown menus.
Include category pages: If you want a category page to be in the menu, just check one or more of the category boxes here.
Add more links: Add more links by hand.
Home link: Do you want a link back to your home page on your nav bar?
Feed link: Do you want a link to your feed in your nav bar?
Step 8: Post Image and Thumbnail Settings
By default, Thesis will display the full version of an image when you’re reading a blog post. In teasers and excerpts however, thumbnails will be used. If you don’t specify a thumbnail file, Thesis will automatically crop them and create a thumbnail.
Here are the various options you can set for your images and thumbnails.
Default Post Image Settings – First set how you want text to wrap around images. By default the image is on the left and text doesn’t wrap around. Then, set whether you want images below or above the headline. You can also set the image to appear before the post itself.
Then choose if you want a border around your images. Finally, choose whether you want images to show in archive pages and single entry pages.
Default Thumbnail Settings – Again, choose how you want text to wrap around thumbnails. By default the thumbnail is on the left with text wrapping around it on the right.
Then choose whether the thumbnail appears before or after the headline. By default, the thumbnail appears before the actual post.
Then choose if you want thumbnails to be framed.
Finally, choose the default size for thumbnails. This is the size Thesis will resize images to if you don’t provide your own thumbnail file.
Step 9: Click the Save Button
By default, Thesis has a rather humorous save button. You can change the text, of course.
(Though they don’t recommend it.)
Those are the various options for the Thesis theme. We’ve gone over how to set your document head, your feed URL, your meta and title tags, your display options, your navigation menu, your image options and quite a bit more. This should give you all the flexibility you need to really finetune your blog.
Change Number and Order of Columns
Thesis allows you to quickly and easily customize the number of columns and order of the columns in your blog.
Want a single column blog with just content in the main area? You can do that easily. Want a 3 column design with a navigation menu on both the left and right side? You can do that too.
Here’s how to customize your columns in Thesis.
Step 1: Go to Design Options
Click on the little arrow to the right of Thesis Options. Click on Design Options.
Step 2: Expand Columns and Column Order
Under Site Layout, expand both the Columns tab and the Column Order tab.
Step 3: Select Number of Columns
In the expanded Columns tab, choose the number of columns you want for your blog.
Step 4: Select Column Sizes
Enter a width in pixels for each column in your blog.
Step 5: Select Column Order
Click one of the checkboxes in the expanded Column Order tab to select the order of your columns.
Step 6: Save
Click the save button to change your settings.
That’s all there is to it! In just a couple minutes you can easily change the number of columns and order of columns in your Thesis blog.
Customizing the Multimedia Box
The multimedia box in the Thesis theme is a true design powerhouse. You can use it to automatically rotate through different images every time someone refreshes the page. Or, you can use it to host a video. You can place an ad in there if you chose. You could even use it to host your newsletter signup box.
Here’s how to customize your multimedia box.
Step 1: Go to Design Options
Click on the drop down arrow next to Thesis Options, all the way on the bottom of the admin panel. Click on Design Options.
Step 2: Expand the Multimedia Box
Click on the + symbol next to Multimedia Box.
Step 3: Choose the Type of Box
Select from the four main types of multimedia boxes.
Type 1 is basically no box. Type 2 rotates through images. Type 3 embeds a video. Type 4 is for everything else.
Step 4: Rotating Images
To use rotating images, you’ll first need to upload a few photos to the rotator folder.
First, click the link to the rotator folder.
Then copy the URL from the URL bar.
Find this folder in your HTML editor. If you don’t have an HTML editor, you can also upload files by logging into your cPanel and using their file upload interface.
Upload any photos that you want to rotate through to the rotator folder. The multimedia box will now automatically scroll through all the different images randomly.
Step 5: Embed a Video
To embed a video, first get a piece of embed code from an online video player like YouTube or Vimeo.
Select “Embed a Video” in the multimedia box and paste the code in. Once you hit save, the video will automatically display in all the multimedia boxes.
Step 6: Custom Code
Want to place an ad, a newsletter signup box or something completely different in the multimedia box? You can, with the custom code option.
Again, just select “custom code” and copy and paste the code in. Alternatively, you can edit the custom_functions.php for more advanced functionality. For most users, just copying and pasting the code into the multimedia box options will work just fine.
Step 7: Change Your Multimedia Box Design
Finally, you have the option of customizing the fonts, the font sizes and the colors of the multimedia box.
Just press the + button next to “Multimedia Box” under “Fonts, Colors, and More!” to access these options.
Congratulations! You’ve now learned how to customize both what goes in the multimedia box and how the box itself appears.
Customizing the Fonts and Colors
Thesis gives you a lot of options on how your site can look. You can create an overall font and color scheme for your whole site, or you can have different fonts and colors in different areas of your site.
Before we jump into customizing the colors and fonts, let’s quickly go over what inheritance is.
What Does it Mean to “Inherit” a Font?
Inheritance makes it easy for you to change one setting and change your whole site. For example, if you wanted to change your fonts from Arial to Courier, rather than having to change every setting individually, you just need to change one.
Most of your font settings are by default set to “Inherit from Body” or “Inherit from Header/Sidebar/etc.” It’s best to leave inheritance on unless you want to specific a specific font.
With that explained, let’s go over how to setup your fonts and colors.
Step 1: Go to Design Options
Go to the bottom of the admin panel on the right. Click the drop down button and click Design Options.
Step 2: Expand the Body & Content Area
These settings are the most important settings, because many of your other fonts will inherit from the body’s setting.
Step 3: Change Your Body Settings
Change your body’s settings, then save your changes and preview how it looks. Don’t edit the rest until you get the body settings right.
Step 4: Set Your Content Area Font
How big should the font in your main content area be? Expand and change these settings.
Step 5: Nav Menu Settings
Change the look and feel of your nav menu by changing the nav menu settings.
Step 6: Header & Headlines
The header and headlines both inherit their fonts from the body. The tagline inherits it’s font from the header and the sub-heads inherit their fonts from the header.
The inheritance makes it easy to change your header or headline and have the taglines and subheads follow suit.
Step 7: Sidebars, Bylines and Footer
Finally, change the settings for your sidebars, bylines and footers.
These settings combined give you a lot of flexibility in changing your website. You can make any section of your website look just about any way you want. It’s easy!