Thesis 1.7

The oldest of all of the four premium theme frameworks, the latest release, Thesis 1.7, was just released. I may be most known in this community for creating the longest custom functions file for a client back in 2008. That file ended up being over 2000 lines long.

Thesis is one of those themes that people either love or hate. Those who love it, love it exclusively. Those who hate it, hate it with a passion. Again, I’m putting aside many of the reasons for this. Thesis has plenty of hooks for extensibility, but is somewhat restricted to the developers idealism.

Nonetheless, here are the data points discovered in testing Thesis 1.7.


Thesis 1.7 ranges from as low as $32 if you’ve bought the Developer Package and a minimum of 10 client site options. Typical client site licenses are $40 each. As a single one-off site license, it runs $87 and the all-you-can-eat Developer option is $162. The developer option allows use on multiple non-client sites and allows for the removal of the attribution link in the footer, a must for businesses.

Grade: A

File Size

The footprint of Thesis is fairly small – 942k total. I’m happy but not thrilled with this filesize. I think it could slim down in some areas and some features, like the file editor, I don’t find particularly useful considering WordPress has one already.

Grade: A-

Database Calls

Thesis hits the sweet spot with database calls. There are only 10 on a page load with default configuration. This could increase with widgets or plugins, but out of the box, it is a low 10 calls. I like this.

Grade: A+

Page Load

Thesis has a fairly quick load time but it could use being slimmed down a bit, considering it’s only got one image (usually the biggest load time creators, in addition to javascript) in the default load. It weighs in at 680ms. Get this under 500ms and you get an A+.

Grade: A


Thesis has a lot of hooks, and was one of the first premium themes to add them. It contains 61 action hooks and 23 filters for a total of 84. This is the fewest number of hooks among all of the themes.

Grade: B


The Thesis theme has long led the way among premium themes for internationalization. It can do better and has in this release.

Grade: A


The Thesis theme does not use WordPress security API. This is an automatic failure and needs to be improved for future releases. This should be a primary area of focus for the next version of Thesis.

Grade: F


Thesis does not support BuddyPress and based on the current roadmap and ideas from Pearson, it will not. This is a huge problem and will limit the exposure of Thesis to the bigger WordPress community that is embracing BuddyPress.

Grade: F

SEO Support

Thesis takes an SEO-first style approach to theme design and have built in extremely granular controls for title, meta tag and other SEO techniques. Much of this, I believe, is superfluous but remains important to many content creators.

Grade: A+

WordPress 2.9 Post Thumbnail Support

Unfortunately, Thesis does not support WordPress 2.9 thumbnails choosing instead to continue support for their legacy approach. For forwards compatibility, I recommend beginning support for both with the legacy approach being deprecated in favor of WordPress built in support.

Grade: B-

WordPress 3.0 Navigation Support

There is no support in Thesis for the new menu system. This is okay. It results in a non-negative F (0 points) but the only other option would be A+. Considering there is no official WordPress 3.0 yet, this is not a major problem but should be in the next version of the theme. Points are not counted.

Grade: F


There is none. Good job!

Grade: A+


The Thesis theme gets high marks all around for it’s infrastructure but retains significant areas of improvement in supporting WordPress APIs. Also, it needs to stop reinventing the wheel and duplicating efforts. It does not rank high in likability among the greater core WordPress community but that is not evaluated in this audit. It has garnered a total of 835 points over 11 criteria for an average of 76 (Grade: C).

Thesis 1.7 can be downloaded here.

On to Headway!

Published by Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, A Senior WordPress Developer for the NBA, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, and on his professional blog.