- 1. Do you use the Thesis Site and design options?
- 2. Do you edit any core theme files (files not in the custom folder)?
- 3. Do you use widgets?
- 4. Do you know how to use the custom template, custom loop API and content filters?
- 5. Will you be available for support and changes when the project is finished?
This article is targeted at users looking for a designer/developer, but if you’re a designer or developer feel free to take a look and make sure you’re giving your clients the best Thesis experience they can have.
1. Do you use the Thesis Site and design options?
Apart from any preliminary research, wire frames and mockups, the Thesis Design Options should be the first stop when coding up a Thesis design. There’s multiple reasons for this. CSS efficiency for one: Thesis combines its main style.css file and the styles you specify in the design options into one file (layout.css); it’s silly to have CSS in this file and overwrite it in custom.css when you don’t need to. Better to set what you can in the options and do what you have to in custom.css.
Using the design options when possible also saves confusion later on when you want to change something: if everything that can be specified in the options is, and everything else in custom.css, then you shouldn’t have trouble changing things later. Whereas if all the design options are being overridden in custom.css, then when you try to change design options it won’t do anything and you may not know why.
Another factor is that Thesis figures out optimal line-heights and padding based on font sizes; it has very readable typography and if all the font sizes are set via CSS rather than the options you won’t get all the good calculations happening for you.
2. Do you edit any core theme files (files not in the custom folder)?
Except for extreme circumstances (very rare), the core Thesis files should not be edited. If they are you won’t be able to upgrade Thesis without copying over all the changes, which means your developer will need to give you upgrade instructions. Also, you might not be able to get reliable help in the forums because other members won’t know how your installation has changed.
3. Do you use widgets?
I’ve seen a lot of sites recently that have all the sidebar content coded in custom_functions.php, which is fine as long as you don’t expect to be able to edit it from the widgets dashboard. It might be best for some situations to code the sidebars that way, but it’s good if you as the user knows about it so you’re not confused when you try to change or rearrange things.
4. Do you know how to use the custom template, custom loop API and content filters?
If you have any significant changes to the layout or content (such as a fancy home page, or landing page) it will probably involve evoking the custom page template or custom loop API. These are the primary ways to replace content in Thesis, and should be used when needed. If your developer doesn’t know how to use them, check that they don’t intend to hide large chunks of content via CSS. I’ve seen instances of sites having two whole content areas (with the same content, but different wrappings) in the HTML; this is bad for page speed and SEO.
The custom loop API is a reasonably unique way of working with WordPress themes, so I don’t think there’s any shame in not knowing how to use it. However, it’s in the Thesis docs and it’s not that hard to use, so between it, hooks and filters there’s no excuse to hide content with CSS.
5. Will you be available for support and changes when the project is finished?
There seems to be some designers and developers out there that will butcher the backend of your site (it’ll look pretty, no doubt, but you won’t be able to upgrade or change anything) and then be completely silent when you ask them to fix something. Now, I’m not saying that they need to do these changes for free, or do them as soon as you ask them to; that sort of thing depends how busy they are and what your original purchase from them includes. It is important that they at least be able to answer questions if needed.
Best of luck!