Imitation is a great sign of flattery, right? If you are running a self-hosted WordPress website you have the ability to copy almost any aspect of a website design or WordPress theme that you find on the internet. With just two tools, you can design your website to look like anything you have seen or can imagine.
The ability to clone a website design is there as well, but hopefully you would want to use these tools to borrow ideas and design from sites that you admire. The first and most important tool is the Thesis WordPress Theme.
Thesis is an incredibly powerful, fully responsive theme that allows you to completely manipulate the HTML of your site. Couple that with the CSS you have found or desire to implement and you can style your site however you see fit.
Thesis also comes with great SEO features and clean code. Many additional plugins that can weigh your site down are eliminated by using the Thesis theme.
I have used Thesis now for about 3 years. There is definitely a learning curve involved but you will overcome this quickly with help from the Thesis Community. Once you get started with Thesis you will never need to purchase another theme or try to work within the confines of a child theme.
The other tool is built into the Chrome browser. It is called up when you right-click on any element of a webpage and choose “Inspect Element”.
I have become very comfortable with Chrome and suggest you use it during your designing. Some people would rather use Firefox and the Firebug extension which basically does the same thing as inspect element.
What do you get with Thesis?
The main reason that I have become such a fan of Thesis is the community. In a sense, you don’t really purchase this theme framework. What you purchase is amazing support and an extremely affordable class on website design.
You begin not really knowing what divs and classes are and you progress into fully understanding the makeup of a webpage.
Just by learning how to use the Thesis theme, you begin to understand CSS. So much that after a short time of developing, you will be writing your CSS from memory and not having to use the most incredible CSS resource on the internet, known as W3Schools.
I honestly am not here to blow smoke at you and try to make an affiliate sale for Thesis. During the last 3 years I constantly hit brick walls while trying to pull something off in web design. Most of the time after posting on the Thesis members only forum I have a response within an hour or so.
I’m not saying anyone is obligated to respond there but they do. And the responses are the best in the business. You should also check out the manual. There are many answers there.
That is the most important aspect, in my opinion, of Thesis. The guys and girls who are on the constant lookout for questions are extremely helpful. They all started at the beginning just like you. Your questions are never too dumb to ask.
Another important aspect of the Thesis owners forum is that this is a business. Not a free to everyone forum. So you don’t get answers like “do a search” or “read the sticky”, what you do get is support.
What prompted this article is the other day on Quora a person asked “What was the best way to copy a WordPress template design?” I answered (without an affiliate link) that Thesis and Chrome Inspect Element were the way to go.
In a world of free themes you are surely going to find that guy that responds, “Why Thesis? You could just do it with the Twenty-Twelve theme.” (first off if I were going to try to tackle that I would start with Twenty-Fourteen and secondly it’s just not that easy).
I responded to his comment with sure, just head over to my homepage and explain to us how you would easily copy my template using a WordPress default child-theme. Well, no response yet.
This website you are reading uses the Thesis theme. Using this framework I can create any modification I want. I can easily add 10,000 widgets wherever I want. I can move any aspect of the page wherever I want. I can scrap it and start over if desired.
I can make a backup of the skin and import it into any other Thesis site I have. The possibilities are endless.
Some Thesis highlights I can think of:
- Responsive out of the box.
- Fast unless you start slowing it down.
- Great SEO features such as changing your meta title and description for each page and post without a plugin.
- Fully edit your <Head>, <Body> and <Footer>.
- Easily punch in your analytic and tracking codes.
- Rel-Authorship ready.
- Fully control your Robots file.
- Create boxes (divs) and drag and drop them into your creation.
- Add helpful .php boxes from around the internet instead of using plugins.
- Put widgets anywhere.
- Put anything anywhere, actually.
- Backup, save and share your skins (theme) with other Thesis installs.
- Thesis 2 has very few plugin conflicts.
- I’m missing a ton, I will come back and add them as I remember them.
How does Chrome Inspect Element come into play?
Go to any website you like and right-click on an element. Choose Inspect Element. Chrome now shows you the HTML structure on the left and the CSS code on the right.
Wonder how a designer made those rounded corners? Right-click and find out. Wonder what font and font size that is on the page? How about how is that transition made or what makes that text jump when I hover over it? Right-click and Inspect Element will tell you.
This code will be exactly what you can use to style your own element of your webpage.
Is Thesis right for you?
Good question, lets see. Are you an up and coming developer that would like to start designing custom websites and selling them? Then Thesis might be for you.
Would you like to get a hands on education in .php, HTML and CSS? Then Thesis might be for you. Have you found a web design you would like to imitate or modify and customize? Then Thesis may be right for you.
Thesis isn’t cheap (and it keeps going up in price as new features are unveiled). The Thesis Framework is an investment. If you are truly interested in either copying an existing template design or you just want to create an incredibly unique design then Thesis is for you.
Find out more about the Thesis Theme for WordPress.
Questions? I’ll answer them, leave them below…