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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

I’m trying to set up a second site with Thesis 2.1  It’s generally smooth after figuring out the bits and pieces of Thesis 2.1, but I still want to create this post as a bit of a step-by-step, if for not other reason than to help me as I spread to my other sites.  I’ll be adding to this page as I go, but figured I’d go ahead and post what I have so far.

  • Back up current theme. Always a must.
  • Grab favicon and header graphics, have them handy.
  • INSTALL Thesis 2.1 from the zip file. No idea why, but my admin page doesn’t load correctly when I copy the files using an FTP. If anybody knows why this gives me problems, I’d be curious to find out.
  • Export your working theme from the current site it’s on. Export is located in Thesis > Skin Editor > Manager.  Then import that file in to your new Thesis site.
  • Nav Menu.  I was working with Thesis navigation, not WordPress, so I need to create new menu structures for each of my sites.  This is done in Appearance > Menus.  Once this is done, go to Skin > Content > Nav Menu, and select your menu.  You can create this menu before you apply the new theme.

NOTE:  When theme editing with CSS.  DO NOT go back to the Admin controls for ANYTHING.  Saving there will reset a ton of values you may have changed in the CSS.  Learned the hard way…

Importing Thesis 2.1 on Additional Websites

I’m running similar Thesis themes on many of my older sites, so they’re all kind of similar in form.  Because of this, I’m able to spread this new Thesis theme to each of my sites without starting from the beginning.  I’ve had decent luck exporting themes from existing sites like this one and importing in to my new Thesis 2 installations.  There are a few things that have to be set up for each site, including navigation, favicon, header, and the sidebar.

Random Additional Things to Think About

  • Append site name to Title – Located in Site > HTML Head > Title Tag
  • Head Scripts- Located in Site > HTML Head
  • Tracking Scripts – Site > Tracking Scripts
  • Add comments to post pages. Not there by default!
  • Open some tabs.  Before I install the new theme, I’ll open a bunch of browser tabs for pages in my old theme.  Thesis Site, Thesis Design, Widgets, & any others that erase.  As long as you don’t refresh these pages, you can copy information out of them that you may need with the fresh theme.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

I’m going through the process of learning to customize my site using Thesis 2.1.  As I go along, things are starting to get quite a bit easier.  A big part of the puzzle is just figuring out which elements effect each other, and where to change different things.  Honestly, it’s a lot easier than the old Thesis, it’s just confusing at first.

My first big roadblock was a really dumb one, so I wanted to post about it.  I wanted to start adding in elements from my site that weren’t native to a WordPress installation.  This is things like ads, my top navigation bar with links to all of my different sites, and even some additional footer info.  This seems like it’d be super easy… but for me it wasn’t.  Once you know what to do, it’s a piece of cake, but I’m not sure where the heck you’re supposed to find the info to tell you this stuff.  I’ve been going through the steps posted by an awesome blog I mentioned in my first Thesis 2.1 post, called Thrifty Zizel.  He’d done the steps with 2.0, and a few things changed in 2.1, especially packages and the way you manipulate a text box.

Adding a text box is done through the Thesis Skin Editor.  First you may need to create an HTML Container (if it’s a new area on the page).  Use the box on the right, and select it from the “Select a Box to Add” drop down menu.  Add the box, then shift drag it on to your page.

Next up is to add the text box, which is Text Box in the drop down menu.  Shift drag it in to your new container, or wherever else on the page you’d like it to live.  Once it’s placed, rename it from Text Box, to something that makes more sense for what it’s going to be (you’ll see why in a moment).

Now here’s the trick.  In 2.0, you’d open it here and add your HTML, but that’s changed now.  In 2.1, you need to go to another Admin area to make this change.

Navigate to the Thesis > Skin Content page.  You’ll see a list of Classic Responsive Skin Content items.  Your new Text Area should appear here.  Click it and add your code.

To style it, you have a couple of options.  If your code has classes and IDs already, just add new CSS to the CSS page and you’ll be good to go.  However, the new thesis wants you to give this Text Area a class or ID when you add it in, which will help automate certain things as you expand your site.  To assign these classes or ID’s, you use the Thesis Skin Editor, click on the gear icon of the Text Area, and name it there.

Hopefully this makes some sense.  I had a hell of a time finding the answer to this seemingly simple issue.
Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

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wordpress-reverse

I haven’t been doing as much website work the last year or so, but I’ve just started on a big project that will be cause to update this site a little more often. I’m updating to Thesis 2.1 from Thesis 1! I was a little irritated when they changed everything up, and I haven’t had time to learn how to reskin everything across all of my sites, but this Winter I’m going to dig in and get it done.

I’m having some major speed, SEO, and Google issues with many of my sites, so I’m hoping that cleaning them up and moving the the slicker Thesis 2.1 will help me out. It’s not going to be easy, but I’d really like to make it happen.

To start off my updates, I wanted to share some of the sites that are helping me slowly wrap my brain around this mess of a new theme. I couldn’t have tackled this project without the help of these sites. The Thesis site is terrible at helping you figure this stuff out.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

  • My favorite site has been Thrifty Zizel. He goes step by step through some of the really weird new things they’ve done, and it’s been crazy helpful. Some of the older packages stuff is still used, but I was able to figure most of that out to apply it to the new version.
  • BYOB Website has mostly paid content, but some of the free stuff has been a big help.
  • One site I haven’t used yet, but plan to come back when I’m playing with boxes is WPThesisSkins

That’s it for now, but I’ll add new links as I come across them!

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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

Thesis WordPress Theme

I LOVE Thesis. I’ve been using it for all of my websites for about 8 months now. In the past, each new website meant I had to search the ‘net for decent WordPress themes. Most of the themes I found were ‘okay’, but never exactly what I wanted. That all changed when I found Thesis.

The best part of Thesis is the amazing SEO. There are a bunch of features to help you increase your site’s SEO built right in. There’s also a great admin panel that lets you choose your site’s fonts, colors, navigation, and more. All built into Thesis!

Once you buy Thesis, you own it, and you get all the future updates for free! That includes the new 1.7.

Thesis 1.7

So back to the NEW Thesis… There’s a lot to be excited about in the new Thesis 1.7.

  • Options Manager. My favorite part. I use similar templates for all of my sites, but I still have to go into Thesis and configure all of the options to make everything work. Not anymore! Thesis now has a way to have your options and import them into a fresh install. RAD.
  • New headline filter – It used to take some CSS trickery to remove the headline, but now it’s built right in!
  • Easy 301 redirects. Another of my favorite new features. I used to use a plugin called “Page Links To”, and now the same functionality built right in to Thesis!
  • New SEO controls and detail. As if the SEO benefits weren’t already great, they’ve added even more. Features for robots tags, categories, and tags. Deep SEO stuff.
  • Flexible new comment system – Gives you the ability to reorder comments, trackbacks, and the comment form.
  • Completely reorganized options pages.
  • Increased efficiency from every angle.
  • Include a slew of JavaScript libraries.
  • New home page controls – complete SEO control on your home page.
  • New hooks
  • Beefed-up internationalization
  • Improved core element defaults
  • Dramatically improved code quality

If you aren’t already using Thesis, I couldn’t encourage it more.  It’s saved me SO much time, and improved all of my sites.  Check it out!

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
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I’ve been moving websites a lot lately, so I’ve been finding dead links like crazy.  I’ve been moving all of my websites from GoDaddy Hosting to HostGator hosting (which I’ll write about soon).

Running the Thesis WordPress theme on HostGator resulted in having 2 different 404 pages.  One is the default Thesis 404 page, which is okay, but the other one is an obnoxious HostGator 404 page that is basically just a HostGator advertisement.  I love HostGator, but that’s a bunch of crap.

Changing the HostGator 404 Page

This part is pretty easy if you’re familiar with the .htaccess file.

In theory, it should work to add the following to your .htaccess file:

ErrorDocument 404 /new404.html

“new404.html” would be the address of your 404 page.  I haven’t been able to test this, though.  Now that I want to break my pages, I’m having a hard time doing it…  Let me know if that code doesn’t work, please!

Changing  the default Thesis 404 Page

I don’t really mind the default 404 page that Thesis uses, but it could be more helpful.  I made a couple quick changes to mine to help explain to users how to find the content they were looking for, or to get back to the Home page.  Check out the 404 page for my Washers site.

All you need to do to make some changes is to add a few lines of code to your Thesis custom_functions.php file.

Here’s what I used:

/* Custom 404 Hooks */
function custom_thesis_404_title() {
?>
The Page you requested is somewhere here.
<?php
}
remove_action(‘thesis_hook_404_title’, ‘thesis_404_title’);
add_action(‘thesis_hook_404_title’, ‘custom_thesis_404_title’);

function custom_thesis_404_content() {
?>
<h2>Lose Your Way?  Don’t Worry!</h2>
<p>Let’s get you back on track!<br /><br />
If you know what you’re looking for, please use the search box on the right.<br /><br />
Otherwise, go ahead and start over at the <a href=”http://www.washergameplayers.com”>Home</a> page.<br /><br />
Thanks for visitng <a href=”http://www.washergameplayers.com”>Washer Game Players!</a></p>
<?php
}
remove_action(‘thesis_hook_404_content’, ‘thesis_404_content’);
add_action(‘thesis_hook_404_content’, ‘custom_thesis_404_content’);

Basically, this function uses hooks to remove the default 404 page, then replaces it with your new content.

I had to add in my own H2 tags for a headline, as I have the headline tags removed from my Thesis Theme.

I found the 404 info on a couple of websites, then altered it work for my site.  For more info, check out:
http://www.shoutmeloud.com/customizing-thesis-wordpress-theme-404-error-pages.html
http://www.sugarrae.com/thesis-tutorial-custom-404/

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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
 

I’ve been converting most of my websites over to Thesis the last couple of months. There are a few little tweaks I’ve made along the way. I shared a few Thesis tweaks a while ago, I now I wanted to share some more of them.

Remove “Comments Closed”

You can turn off comments for individual pages or posts, but it still leaves the annoying “Comments are closed on this entry” at the bottom of the page. The following bit of code will remove that.

.custom .comments_closed p { display: none; }

There is also an option within the Thesis Options menu to disable comments on all pages. I think this will remove the line for any pages, as well.

Remove the “WordPress Admin” link from footer.

This isn’t a hook or CSS thing, it’s actually something you can do from your Admin Panel.
Go to These Options – Display Options – Administration – Show Admin Link in Footer.

Add Chitika After Posts

Most people have heard of AdSense, but not everybody has heard of Chitika.  Chitika is similar to AdSense, but it only appears when someone has used a search engine to find your site.

Basically, Chitika ads are invisible to your regular visitors, but are a great way to make money from Search visitors who are likely to bounce anyway.  Chitika Ads may not be huge earners, but you can use them along side AdSense for a little extra $.  Anyways, if you wanted to add them at the end of blog posts or pages, here’s the code to add to your custom_functions.php file.

/* Add Chitika */
function add_chitika () {
?>
<div align=”center”>ADD CHITIKA CODE HERE</div>
<?php
}
add_action(‘thesis_hook_after_post’, ‘add_chitika’);

Replacing Unordered List Bullet

I’m sure there are many ways to do this, but this is how I did it. You may not need the second line of code to pad the left side of the li elements, but I left it as a reference. Replace the URL with a link to your image file.

div#content ul { list-style-image:url(‘/_images/icons/bullet-white.gif’); list-style-position:outside; list-style-type:none; margin-left: 12px; padding:0 0 0 10px; }

div#content ul li {padding-left: 2px;}

Helpful Thesis Resources

http://myblog2day.com/60-thesis-themes-customization-tutorials.php
http://webstudio13.com/2009/10/19/71-best-tutorials-for-thesis-wordpress-theme-users/
http://mattflies.com/tech/100-resources-for-thesis-wordpress-theme-users/

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
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Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

One thing I don’t love about the Thesis Theme for WordPress is the page headlines. Usually when creating static pages, I’d rather not have the page headings appear ( i.e. – Home, Contact, etc. ). They’re not always bad, but the “Home” one always annoys me, and is kind of a giveaway that you’re using WordPress as a CMS.

You don’t actually want to REMOVE the page headings, as they are actually pretty important from an SEO perspective, but there’s a great bit of CSS that will hide them from visual display. The h1 or h2 headlines still appear in your code, the headline is just not visible to people who visit your website.

Add the following code to your Thesis custom.css file.

.custom .headline_area { position:absolute; top:-1500px; left:-1500px; }

But there’s a catch. Removing the “headline_area” will remove the headline from every page on your site, including your blog posts. Since the blog headlines are important for site navigation, I ended up adding back in a bit of code that brings them back. I’m sure there are several ways to isolate the Blog headlines, but I used the “hfeed” class, since it is used for blog posts, but not regular pages. The following bit of code works to

.custom .hfeed .headline_area { left:0; position:relative; top:0; }

What if you only wanted to remove the headline area from one or two pages? This is easy enough to do, too. In this case, you just specify the class for the page you’re working with. In this case, my home page had an ID of “post-6”. Just replace “post-6” with the ID of your specific page.

.custom #post-6 .headline_area { position:absolute; top:-1500px; left:-1500px; }

I don’t claim to be a master of CSS, by any means, but this code worked for me. This was all trial and error as I was working on a Cake website. Feel free to check it out to see these tweaks in action.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community
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