WordPress Thesis Theme Customization Part One: Options

When browsing other WordPress blogs with awesome themes, I always find myself wondering how someone handled a particular aspect of the layout or functionality. This is especially true with the Thesis Theme, because of the difference in setup due to the Thesis hooks system. So for anyone browsing Kikolani, I wanted to answer the question of “how did you do that” in a new series on WordPress Thesis Theme Customization.

Part One: Options

The Thesis Theme comes with two sets of options: Thesis Options and Design Options.

Thesis Options

Thesis Theme Options

Thesis Options control the main functionality of the Thesis Theme, including SEO, syndication/RSS, thumbnails and more. Here are the options I have set for Kikolani.

  • Document Head – This section controls the title tag, NoIndex, and canonical URL’s. My homepage title is set to show the name & tagline, as determined by the Settings > General > Blog Title & Tagline of my site. All other pages are to use the title set within the custom SEO details fields for each post / page, and then Append site name (or Blog Title) to titles using a “|” as a separator. For the NoIndex, I have everything but “Add noindex to category archives” checked. I also have “Add canonical URLs to your site” checked as well, which should resolve http://www.kikolani.com to my Settings > General > Blog Address & WordPress Address URL > http://kikolani.com.
  • Design Customization – Since I have several more customizations to the CSS than is available in the Design Options, I have checked the “Use custom stylesheet” option. Now I am able to add custom styling, or modify current styling of the Thesis theme in one stylesheet. Thesis does not allow you to modify their main stylesheet. While it sounds inconvenient, it is really so that you can upgrade the Thesis theme core files without losing your custom content.
  • Syndication / Feed – This section allows you to enter your custom RSS feed. So if you use Feedburner, for example, you would enter your Feedburner URL here.
  • Stats Software and Scripts – This section allows you to add custom code (such as Google Analytics or other tracking / statistical information software) to your head or footer code. You can also do this via the custom-funtions.php or the Thesis OpenHook if you are like me and would rather directly input the code yourself.
  • Home Page – This section controls your homepage meta tags (description and keywords), and homepage display in terms of featured posts. Because I wasn’t a fan of one large featured post / excerpt, and smaller teaser articles on the homepage, I opted to set “Number of featured posts to show” as 10. Under Settings > Reading, I have “Blog pages show at most” as 10 also.
  • Display Options – This section allows you to set the information that shows in your header, featured post bylines (or the information about each post in terms of author, date, etc.), featured post display, archives post display, tags, comment options, and sidebar options. Because I have a custom header, I don’t need the header options to show Blog Title & Tagline, but those are still checked. Under Bylines, I have “Show author name in post byline,” “Link author names to archives” and “Show published-on date in post byline” checked. Under Posts, “Display post excerpts” and “Show previous/next post links.” Under Archives, “Post excerpts.” Under Tagging, “Show tags on single entry pages” and “Add nofollow to tag links.” Everything under Comments is checked, and everything under Sidebars and Administration is unchecked. All of my sidebar is custom, except the Searchbox which is the one widgetized item.
  • Navigation – The navigation options allow you to customize what will appear in your main menu. Prior to customizing my menu, I had selected pages, categories, and additional menu links (created by going to Links > Add New Category and adding any links I wanted in my menu into that new category) included in my menu.
  • Thumbnails – I do not currently use this feature, but it allows you to standardize thumbnails for each of your posts.
  • Big Ass Save Button – Finally, once you’ve made all of your changes in any part of the Thesis Options, you hit the big button to save it all.

Design Options

Thesis Theme Design Options

The Thesis Design Options control the overall look and feel of your site, assuming you do not want to use the custom style sheet like I have chosen. You can customize the following from this panel.

  • Fonts and Font Sizes – This section controls the font style and size throughout your site. I have chosen Verdana for most of the options, except for anything within <code>.
  • Site Layout – This section controls the number, size and order of the columns in your layout. Mine is set to 2 columns, 600px for the content and 320px for the sidebar on the right.
  • Teasers Display – This section controls the format of your teaser posts. I wasn’t a fan of the layout of the teasers, so I did not choose to display any, opting with featured post formats on the homepage and archives instead as selected in the Thesis Options above.
  • Feature Box – This is another section I chose not to use, but it is a good place to put a greeting for the homepage of your site, generally used to welcome new visitors and invite them to subscribe to your blog.
  • Multimedia Box – Again, another section I am not utilizing for my site, but this one is a rotating image that appears in the top of your sidebar. You can upload custom images to go into these spots instead of the default.
  • Framework Options – This allows you to customize the framework of the HTML. I am using the Page Framework with 1.0 Outer Page Padding.
  • Big Ass Save Button – Finally, once you’ve made all of your changes in any part of the Thesis Design Options, you hit the big button to save it all.

About the WordPress Thesis Theme Customization Series

Originally, I had planned on making one comprehensive article about my Thesis Theme customizations, but after only finishing two sections, I realized that this article would be a bit overwhelming if it was a all in one job. So instead, I’m breaking it up into a series:

  • Part One: Thesis Options & Design Options
  • Part Two: Plug-ins
  • Part Three: Thesis OpenHook, Custom Programming & Styling
  • Part Four: Thesis Resources

So stay tuned for Part Two next week to see what plugins I use to further enhance the functionality and design of Thesis Theme on Kikolani.

Thesis Questions

If you have any questions regarding customizations of the Thesis Theme throughout the series, please let me know via the comments. If I get enough questions, I may add a Part Five of Q&A. And other commentators, if you see a question you can answer, go for it! I’ll add your name & link to the Part Five post, assuming there are enough questions.

StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes     Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting


  1. says


    Lots of great info and way to capitalize of some good keywords! I like this theme, but have always liked to create my own so that it looks a part from anything else. I am working on a new theme that will provide me more options and white space for advertisers.

    Frank Js last blog post..Google Pagerank Update More Frequent

  2. says


    Great Post. All those that are new to the WP Thesis Theme should read this post prior to diving in. As someone that is new to coding and recently purchased the Thesis Theme, this post is greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to the other posts in this Thesis Customization Series.



  3. says

    The thing I like the best is how simply it is to use and modify! Seems many templates you have to manually edit, modify, and I’m really tired of all the work.

    Too bad I just launched a new theme I would had used this. But then again Yan would be upset with me :)

  4. says

    I like the new look Kristi. Yan from ThouShallBlog.com just switched to the Thesis theme too and it’s a very clean look. It loads very fast and your customizations make it look unique as well.

  5. says

    Indeed it’s a very nice Theme Options!
    I will rethink about having one I really need a fast load theme as Brian say!

  6. says

    That was an awesome set of information who wants to convert to Thesis theme, Even i love your background ,you have very well cateogarised the information this post will help in the optimization of Thesis theme and and yes again proper exploitation of the keyword is they key. I hooked for the rest of the series :)

  7. says

    This is great because I am just getting a copy of Thesis and am very much looking forward to taking it to the limits and seeing all of what it has to offer.

    And I will be keeping a lookout for this series.

  8. says

    WordPress is a powerful tool, cool that You’ve decided to help people customize some options and help them to use this more aquedate. Nice job.

  9. says

    Hey you changed your theme again? I bookmarked your site yesterday so that i can read it today and i don’t know why you have changed your background that was just so awesome to this plain green? But anyways let me congrats you on the great article, i was planning to do some search on this theme but now that you have done and i think its pretty detailed and covers all the areas,all i can say is “fantastic work” :-)

  10. says

    Very nice information…I am decently new to the blogging world, but am picking up as much as I can, as fast as I can. Stuff like this is nice, because I can keep referencing back to it. This is definitely making me want to use thesis. thanks!

  11. says


    My new blog template that I am creating along with a friend who is an Adobe guru will have 6 color schemes. I hope to offer it as a professional theme along with a free version.

  12. says

    You always give your audience great info based on your very own experience this will make anyone interested in the thesis theme very happy and save valuable time .

  13. says

    As you know Kristi, I do use thesis on one of my blogs and this will come in handy for when I have to tweak it a little. naturally the easiest thing about Thesis is the Big Ass Save Button 😉

  14. says

    This is excellent. I installed Thesis a couple of weeks ago but definitely don’t have time to go digging for tutorials all over the web for every little item to try to make it uniquely mine. I’ll stay tuned to this series instead! :-) Thanks Kristi!

  15. says

    This is a great tutorial for the thesis theme. I delicious bookmarked it.
    I’m not sure that I’m going to buy Thesis since I truly love my Revolution Lifestyle Theme.
    I just might though for a blog that I’m planning to pur in the subdirectory of my main domain. I plan on blogging about the blog life in that blog.
    Anyways- thanks for this walk through. All the best,
    Eren Mckay

  16. says

    Thesis since I truly love my Revolution Lifestyle Theme.
    I just might though for a blog that I’m planning to pur in the subdirectory of my main domain. I plan on blogging about the blog life in that blog.

  17. says

    Nice details above. I don’t know if you have been to my site, but I have a few customizations posts on Thesis as well as a guest post over at ThesisThemeHQ.com that you might want to share with your readers.

    I also have another post that’s coming out in middle of August on Thesis customization.

    Thesis is a cool theme and it’s easy for many of us users to customize and make it unique.

  18. says

    WP Thesis Theme should read this post prior to diving in. As someone that is new to coding and recently purchased the Thesis Theme, this post is greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to the other posts in this Thesis

  19. says

    Hey thanks for the awesome article – looking forward to the rest of the series. Would love to know how you created the menu’s at the top of this site?


  20. says

    I have looked into thesis them recently, but the glaring question that keeps coming my mind is, “if I do not want to use the default thesis theme that they provide, do I still have the option of using another wordpress theme in conjunction with thesis theme”? My gut says “no”, but I couldn’t find a defined answer. For instance, I really like the themes featured on elegantthemes.com, but I also like the idea behind thesis themes. Is there no bridging these two?

  21. says

    Thank you for a good overview of the settings and options in the thesis theme; can’t wait for the next part. I’m looking forward especially for the part that discusses customization and using CSS. Anyway, are you planning to discuss other themes in the future? Can you recommend other resources for handling different themes and knowing the extent of customization available? I’m pretty interested in these topics as I want to know the options available for me and my blog.

  22. says

    I have been looking into doing a word press blog/site for real estate in my area. Do you think the thesis theme would be a good route? I have looked at some of the “real estate themes” out there, but I like the way thesis sites look. I guess I was just wondering if adding property listings, and MLS data would work with the thesis theme. Let me know what you think!


  23. says

    Great post on the Thesis Theme. Originally, I bought a few Woo Themes and struggled to customize it because of the limited support. Then, I read that Chris Brogan and a few other new media gurus use Thesis. I purchased it and really like it. It’s easy to use and it comes with a great support system (numerous sites like yours, forums, How to videos, etc.). My favorite is the “Big Ass Save Button.” When I saw that I knew I was going to love Thesis.

    Now to do some customization to my Thesis theme. I’m reading your instructions very carefully so I don’t miss a step. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and knowledge about Thesis.

    And now on to Part 2…

  24. says

    Well I’m a proud new owner/user of thesis and I will bookmark this post so that when I get up to speed technically I’ll begin to experiment. Thanks for demonstrating what’s possible