I WAS ON INTERSTATE 10 traveling back through Houston. It had been about forty-five minutes since I robbed the last bank on the west side of the city. I was now on the east side and feeling confident that I’d avoided detection by the blue meanies.
[Via : Running Away From Me.]
A few months ago I designed a website for a client who had very clear needs. She wanted a small site with just a few pages and a blog on the side. She wanted to be able to add blog posts and edit the pages herself, and her budget was modest.
Of course it took me only a moment to decide that a WordPress site would be the best idea. The quote above is taken from the site I created.
Running Away From Me is a book about a young man’s journey into drug addiction and crime, and his journey out again. It’s absolutely gripping reading. I totally recommend it, for anyone, but perhaps especially for those whose loved ones are in the grip of addiction.
Thesis: the efficient Theme
It was a simple matter to set up the WordPress site, and add the content my client supplied. Then I needed to establish the layout I wanted and organise the Pages and Posts.
After using the Thesis theme (affiliate link) on my own sites I quickly realised the most efficient way to create this new site would be to use Thesis to drive it.
One of the things I like about Thesis is that it provides a graphical interface for the website layout. I can do things now with layout that I could never have considered when creating CSS, HTML and PHP myself.
Also, I feel confident it will work across browsers, without having to test every single line of code I write, since that testing has already happened.
The OpenHook plugin is designed to make it even easier to work with Thesis, providing easy interaction with Custom Functions and CSS files.
When I used to create themes by editing the CSS and PHP files directly I knew nothing about Functions.
Thesis though provides all kinds of hooks in the theme files, and some excellent resource pages and forums to help use them effectively. Functions work with the hooks, and also let you build in logic, such as adding text only to the Home page and not to single Post pages, or vice versa.
For example, on this blog I sometimes write about WordPress, sometimes about Macintosh things, and sometimes about other topics.
If I write about WordPress, then I’d like a short paragraph to appear at the end of the Post encouraging readers to look at my WordPress ebooks. If I write about Macs then I’d like that paragraph to point readers to my MacTips website.
I use a Function that notices the Post category and appends the appropriate text after each Post. Once I’ve set it up, the whole thing is automatic.
The complex bit of PHP in my screenshot is attached to the ‘after Post’ hook. That means that Thesis slots in the correct words after each Post that fits the criteria. It doesn’t do it on the Home Page though, or on Pages, because the Function tells it not to.
I’m no PHP whizz, but was able to quickly construct the correct coding thanks to examples and instructions on the Thesis Forums, Documentation and Answers websites.
The Clean Hands approach
I recently ‘retired’ from making websites. I can wrangle HTML, CSS and even some PHP with varying degrees of confidence and ability. But I was really tired of battling the vagaries of browsers and browser versions, of starting fresh every time I wanted two columns instead of three, of tediously sorting out designs.
I still make my own sites, and certain types of straightforward sites for clients, such as Running Away From Me.
The thing is, the design and layout ‘control panel’ in Thesis, the simple access to custom functions and customised CSS, make it easy to work with the elements of a WordPress website.
There’s some new learning to do, if you want to get really clever — the things like my tailored message after Posts. There’s a heck of a lot you can do to customise a Thesis powered site though just by checking a few boxes or choosing from drop-down menus.
The huge number of different options you can choose mean that your site won’t just look like any other Thesis-user’s site. See the differences between my sites (which all follow a similar pattern) and Running Away From Me to see a clear example.
Thesis is my pick
I run all my sites on Thesis (there’s a Developer version for those with more than one site), and will almost certainly choose it for websites I create for others. I reckon using it on Running Away From Me saved me many hours of slog and considerably increased my client’s satisfaction with my work.
I power these sites of my own with WordPress and Thesis. Take a look at mine and Running Away From Me. And if you decide to buy Thesis for yourself, please use my Thesis theme affiliate link.