Stop Making Thesis So Damn User Friendly

by admin on April 9, 2010 · 6 comments

Thesis User Friendly

When it comes to seeing Thesis progress and become even better than it already is, I’m caught in two minds. The better it becomes, the less I earn.

I’m a freelance web developer and I love what Thesis can do. The whole package is well-written and gives developers like me a lot of flexibility to make incredibly powerful changes to a site with just a few lines of code. Thesis is recognised as a trailblazer for the number of features it has as a theme, and the built-in user interface for managing many of those options is quite substantial.

Development of Thesis has to stop.

Discovering Thesis

I discovered Thesis after a marketing and SEO consultant colleague of mine seemed to go on and on about this new premium theme he’d tried out. I took a look at the front-end of his site, and though I thought the default design was OK – I hadn’t yet come to appreciate the default typography – it was the back-end of Thesis that he urged was worth the cost.

I’m not a big blogger myself, although I’d played with various WordPress themes for a couple of years. Thesis was something new and I felt as if I’d be taking a risk of some sort if I started to use it. I pondered for a few weeks, trying to decide if I should go ahead and buy Thesis, when there was so many free themes out there already.

I was so glad I did.

Grabbing a copy, the first thing I did was look at the back-end code of Thesis; I was stunned. Chris Pearson, it seems, is probably more anal about the quality of code than I am, and that’s saying something.

Custom Code

I come from a coding background, and I’m firmly in the “web developer” category than the “web designer” role. I tend to look at websites the same way Neo looks at things inside The Matrix; just a whole bunch of funky code. While graphic and web designers are making sites look pretty, I’m more interested in whether the content is marked up with semantic and valid code.

I love the concept of hooks and filters, and having the Thesis framework arranged so that custom tweaks in PHP and CSS can be made without tinkering with core files is fantastic. WordPress provides a whole bunch of useful functions, and anything else is only limited by one’s imagination.

As far as I’m concerned then, Thesis could drop all those user-interface options, and I’d be ecstatic.

User Interface – Good For You

Don’t get me wrong – if I need something configured in a Thesis site, and there’s an option that does exactly that, then I’ll use it and think no more of it. Those options do save time, and they do reduce the amount of code that would need to be written to achieve the same thing. You could configure multiple combinations of sites from the options available that would be sufficient for many people’s needs.

Thesis would not have become so deservedly popular if it weren’t for those options – the very fact so much could be configured without editing behind-the-scenes files is one of its defining features.

User Interface – Bad For Me

Clients pay me to make technical changes to their site. Anything that makes those non-content changes easier for them to do without me, is effectively costing me income. If there wasn’t a drop-down option to change the size of the text in the footer, they’d come to me. If they wanted to change the list of links in the menu items, they’d come to me. If they had the jQuery library included on only some of their pages, they’d come to me.

There are developers out there who, like me, are able to make a profit from the time they’ve invested in understanding the inner workings of Thesis. By openly piggy-backing off the success of Thesis and providing services to those clients who are more focused on the typography, search engine optimisations and related benefits that the theme brings, the Thesis developers among us can ply their trade.

We know that the more options there are, the more users there will be and hence a bigger potential audience for our skills. There will always be tweaks that the options don’t support that can only be solved by delving in to custom_functions.php.

On the whole however, it can be argued that providing more user-interface options for these clients means less need for the supportive developers. It’s on that basis, that I make a plea to Chris, with tongue firmly in cheek, to please stop making Thesis so damn user friendly!

photo by ramdac