Getting Started with the Thesis Theme & Resources

Last week, I took the plunge and downloaded the Thesis Theme by DIY Themes.

At first, it was a bit daunting because of the fact that I am used to doing code straight into the theme’s template. In Thesis, what you use are hooks and custom functions, all held within a custom-functions.php file. Once I passed the mental roadblock of how to write the functions and where to put them using the hooks, I really started to like the theory of having all of the customizations in one place instead of editing multiple files to make changes across the archives, search results, tag pages, and so forth. The best references in figuring this out was The Hook Map at Thesis Hacker, Thesis Tutorial – Hooks for Dummies, and the Thesis Hooks Tutorial for Social Networks at eDragonu. Plus, DIY Themes provides an extensive Thesis Hook Reference, which is helpful once you understand where these hooks go.

For example, while the Thesis theme has a lot of widgets you can use in the sidebar to get recent posts within certain categories, recent comments, blog roll links, etc., I wanted to include most of the items from my previous theme’s sidebar. So I used the widget section to put the search bar at the top of the sidebar. Then, within the custom-functions.php, I included the html code from my old sidebar in a function:

function my_sidebar() {

My previous sidebar's HTML goes here.


To add the HTML into my Thesis Theme, I used the following Thesis hook:

add_action('thesis_hook_after_sidebars', 'my_sidebar');

In addition to the two articles I mentioned with the hooks map and how to use hooks, here are more articles with code, tips and inspiration on how to customize the Thesis Theme:

So far, my favorite custom Thesis designs include Green Your Decor, Blogussion and Cute Overload. Please share your favorite Thesis sites, resources, and any tips as to what I should do next with my Thesis Theme.

Update: I also want to add in this extra perk about the way Thesis handles custom code. Over the weekend, I experienced my first site hack – a PHP Script Injection Exploit. Having all of my custom code in the custom-functions.php saved a lot of time when I had to reload all of the WordPress and theme files to rid myself of the malicious code. Read more about this experience – which can affect users of WordPress up to the latest 2.7.1 version – and what I did to resolve it at TechJaws.

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes     Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting


  1. says

    ah hell no switch it back LOL
    I was theme hunting. I may have to spend some money I can’t find the right one.
    Keep me posted on how you like this one
    Best wishes on all your success
    PS Now your coding man I better wake up LOL
    loads quick :) I will be keeping an eye on YOU :)
    thanks for your friendship a blogger doesn’t need many when they have people like you around šŸ˜‰

  2. says


    I love the new theme, it’s clean and easy on the eyes. I am sorry about that injection you had to go through, but you are toug and resolved the issue in a timely fashion.

  3. says

    @John: I’ve been coding for a while.. since I was 15 really. It definitely helps out a lot when you are a control freak like I am sometimes. I think that while there are a lot of great free themes, sometimes you just have to bite the big one and either get a pro custom design or a paid theme to get the functionality you want without having to tweak it on a daily basis.

    @Brian: Thanks! I learn as I go really. My mode of learning is what ever I want to do, I Google it to death till I find the solution.

    @Dragos: Your article is definitely helpful. KISS is a good approach… I found myself just adding and adding to the theme little things I thought was cool, but ultimately, cluttered up the entire thing. I’m liking simple right now too!

    @Kim: You’re welcome. I did a lot of surfing to find those, and I thought maybe this would help the next person starting out on this theme. Especially that hooks map – it was a lifesaver.

    @Frank: I wasn’t going to sleep that night until that was taken care of. More than just knowing my site was hacked, it was the worry of what the hack would do to others visiting my site. That was why I was happy I found it as soon as possible, and did the full re-install just to get rid of it as quickly as I could. Thanks for allowing me to share the experience on your site @ TechJaws.

    @Debbie: Thanks! I am working on it. :)

    @Gennaro: Thanks, I look forward to messing around with it some more too!

  4. says

    Is that Chihuly in the background? Beautiful, of course.

    So, tell me, please, how did you get Comment Luv to work? Did you find a tutorial that explains what to do to integrate Comment Luv in Thesis? My big breakthrough this weekend is that I finally figured out how to set the permission using Cmode in my FTP. Yes, I’m pretty much a dunce, but I’m learning all the time!

    Sandra Foyts last blog post..Spinning Grasshoppers and Ants

  5. says

    I’m glad you like the Blogussion design! Worked pretty hard on it, always love seeing people talk about it a little on their blog. :p

    When I first started Thesis, I couldn’t figure out the Hook system, and got annoyed with it. I didn’t like it at all, and was considering labeling it as a “bad investment.” But I’m so glad I didn’t do that, because Thesis is like the best thing I have ever bought online, and I can barely work on WordPress without it. šŸ˜‰

    Don’t mean to impose here, but at my new blog titled “Asnio,” I have started a weekly series called Thesis Thursday where I write tutorials, or anything related to Thesis on the blog. It might be something you may want to check out for fun. I only started it 2 weeks ago, but I have some cool stuff planned for the series.

    Awesome blog, and I look forward to seeing some more Thesis related posts from you!

    Alex Fraiser

    Alex Fraisers last blog post..Thesis Thursday #2: 10 Greatly Customized Thesis Blogs + Thesis Customization Tips

  6. says

    I had not realized you went to Thesis, very cool, and great job! I’m standing by my comment the other day, but I’m interested in where you take this theme.

    I’m starting to get into WordPress a bit and finding it really easy to manipulate. Now, if I only had design skills…lol

    Good Stuff Kristi!

    Waynes last blog post..Some Thoughts on Comment Moderation Etiquette

  7. says

    @Sandra: Yes, it is. It made for a awesome colorful background image. I used a different on for my Twitter background as well.

    It looks like you got Comment Luv going on your site. I think I had to deactivate, then reactivate the plugin to make it work when I changed themes, but that was all.

    @Alex: I’ll definitely check it out, and thanks for sharing – I welcome any Thesis related links! That design is amazing at Blogussion, and one of the reasons I ended up getting this theme. I felt the same way about the hooks and footers, and instead of going on a search for how to get a refund, I made myself wait a day and looked at it again. It kind of clicked, and I’m really happy with it now!

    @Wayne: I have the same issue – not much of a designer at all. That’s really why I went with this. In lieu of fancy design, I just wanted to be clean and functional. :)

    @Matt: Definitely helped. I think I used the remove category title in particular, and will get around to doing some other modifications later.

    @Justin: My techie side has been taking over recently, as can be noted by recent posts. I flip back and forth between artsy and techie, and this site is a reflection of that.

    @Nihar: There are lots of resources, it’s just a matter of finding them all. :)

    @David: Thanks, I’m glad you like it!

  8. says

    Yes, I finally got the Comment Luv working. It turned out that a couple of my other plugins – Open ID and Tell a Friend – were interfering.

    I love the Chihuly. We’ve seen installations at a couple of botanical gardens, and they’re always fantastical and magical. Definitely a great choice for your blog!

    Sandra Foyts last blog post..Spinning Grasshoppers and Ants

  9. says

    I purchased Thesis back in late 2008 but got sidetracked with Atahualpa. Like Thesis, it had great simplicity and flexibility built into the theme dashboard pages so you don;t have to code your brains out. Thesis is truly a writer’s theme. It is clean, handsome and classic. Ah well, I own Thesis now and someday will probably do my personal blog with it, although time for blogging is at a premium these days.

    Thanks for the excellent Thesis post. I’ve stashed your post away in my Google Reader for the day I get started really setting Thesis up.

    Best Wishes,

  10. says

    Thanks for the post Kristi. I too have upgraded my blog to thesis few months back. Its an excellant theme and I believe best SEO wordpress theme so far. So many built-in features and again the forum is very helpful.

    Krishs last blog post..I Upgraded My Blog To Thesis

  11. says

    I just started with Thesis about a week ago. Still learning the ‘hooks’. The addictive thing is you want to constantly rearrange things around and I’m guilty of doing that so far. The resources you’ve specified here are great starting points though. And I really like your blog looks.

    Your articles are resourceful, honest and you’ve got a lot of information here which I’m sure I’ll come back to read on more. I also recommend using a plug-in to help your reader with cut and pasting code from your tutorials called syntax highlighter. You can read more about it at

    Other than that, thanks again for the information! Can’t wait to move more things around.
    .-= New from Thu Nguyen 34 Rules For Maverick Entrepreneurs =-.

  12. says

    I love your blog. I decided to switch to Thesis as well, partly based on the things I have read in your blog. I do enjoy it, but am feeling overwhelmed right now with what little CSS I have still left to learn! There are a lot of things I like on your blog – including the archives page. I would love to have one like that. I am still formatting a lot on my blog. So, thanks for all the tips and wish my luck!!
    Julie just posted Blogs on Todaycom have Moved to Blogdogcom