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  1. #1
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Revolution themes vs. Artisteer vs. Thesis
    I've gotten tired of hunting down themes when I want to launch a site and worse yet fighting with the free ones to make them look decent. I've been looking for the last couple of weeks at these template options and would like to get some unvarnished opinions.

    I've downloaded the trial of Artisteer. Generally I like it, but there seems to be several limitations to it. It doesn't allow for fluid widths, the page layout is limited in content columns. The forum is visible to visitors, but couldn't find a way to post a new thread, only respond to an existing one... that seemed strange.

    I've looked at the revolution themes and like them very much but not sure how difficult it would be to create new unique looking themes and since it's they are not a template generator. But I do like the open forum that seems to be active and supportive.

    I've been least impressed with Thesis. The general concept seems good, but the only information available is through a 16 minute video that only briefly covers a few options, and it happens they aren't the options I'd like to know about. There doesn't appear to be any way to view the support forum without purchasing the product first, which is usually a red flag to me. But I know Lox has used the program and Missy manages it, and they are the only reason I am leaving it in the running at this point. Hopefully someone can change my mind about it with some solid information.

    So, my questions are do you use any of these? If so which and why? What frustrations have you run into with it and what do you especially like about it.
    Someday starts today
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  2. #2
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    It can be quite tiresome finding a good theme, but I've always sided with getting a free theme over paid themes, unless I'm paying for a designer to create an unique theme just for me. It depends on your goals for the site - are you building a blog, cms site, e commerce, a site with high conversions, etc.

    Out of all the free wordpress theme sites, I prefer newwpthemes.net but there are quite a few out there (I'm not sure which ones you have looked at). I've personally used revolution themes and they aren't bad but they do need seo refinement. Nothing comes "great" out of the box and requires some html/coding knowledge to make it your own, unless you get a designer (ewebscapes comes to mind).

    Good luck,...it can get "old" looking at themes and never finding the right one!

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    I agree with what Susan said all of it. It also depends on what kind of blog you want to set up. Is it more a general blog, magazine style, picture blog, ... do you want 3 column, 4 column, etc.?

    Some have heavy emphasis on images, like the revolution themes. So you at least to have one image per post since it pulls the post into the front page. At least the ones I have. You can use a default image but how good is that going to look with multiple duplicate default images? I can recognize a revolution theme very easily so unless you know how to tweak the colors, header images, etc for a more custom look, and don't mind getting images for every post, I would not get a revolution theme.

    I like the site wordpresstemplates [dot] com
    There are some good free ones out there. Also uniqueblogdesings [dot] com if you want some custom work and they have a few templates.

  4. #4
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    You'll never find the perfect theme. Every theme will have a defect or two, so why not just make your own theme and customize it to work with all your sites? It isn't difficult with a little knowledge of CSS, basic HTML, and the ability to look up a WordPress function or two (if you want to customize more than the look).

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostdeviant
    You'll never find the perfect theme. Every theme will have a defect or two, so why not just make your own theme and customize it to work with all your sites? It isn't difficult with a little knowledge of CSS, basic HTML, and the ability to look up a WordPress function or two (if you want to customize more than the look).
    I usually don't recommend that everybody make their own theme. It really takes a certain kind of talent to produce great looking designs, and if you don't have it you're better off purchasing something that looks professional.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager EricTyler's Avatar
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    I've used Revolution Themes in the past, and found they are pretty easy to manipulate. For me, a big plus for using them was that they have several themes that come in the one pack so you get a few different options to choose from.

    I've also used Woo Themes. What I liked most about these is the modifications that can be done directly from the WordPress dashboard. This lets you give your site a different look than the other sites using the same theme without a ton of "under the hood" hacking.

    As for Thesis, I have not personally used it, but, I've been researching it for a while and am seriously considering buying it. I like that you can choose a 2 or 3 column layout and then choose the configuration of those columns right from the dashboard. I like that you'd be able to set up quite a few sites with completely different looks all with the same theme. The plus side of this for me is that the more times you use it, the more familiar you'd become with it making it even easier for you to use.
    Eric Tyler
    Eric [at] FinancialNetworkPro [dot] com
    [URL=http://financialnetworkpro.com]http://financialnetworkpro.com[/URL]

  7. #7
    OPM Queen Kristin Kinsey's Avatar
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    I personally, am a big fan of thesis ... lots of great info in the support forum ... If you know your php, html, and css, it is really good. If you don't know as much, or are leery of coding the 2 (yes you only touch 2 pages to code and alter the entire blog, which is a nice feature in itself), there is a plugin called OpenHook to help.

    Here is a person that has created a few tutorials sugarrae dot com/category/blogging-it (dummied down) and there are some posts on the demo thesis site. If you go to diythemes dot com/thesis and look in the bottom of the middle column, there are customization tips (how to's) ... also on dyithemes dot com .. it looks like they changed their homepage and added 3 videos to it.

    Hope that helps a little bit.
    KK

  8. #8
    http and a telephoto
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    I recently purchased Revolution Lifestyle and I have Thesis on a large number of websites. As far as the support forums being "behind closed doors" that is probably to protect the people that are posting sensitive information and links to their sites, plus keeping out people that may have not actually bought their themes....

    In any case, Thesis will do whatever you want a site theme to do. You have to do some playing with it, but if you were going to "make your own theme" you have complete control over the CSS, the column widths, the SEO, images per post, thumbnails, images on the home page, what is displayed on the home page, all without touching the theme template files. So if you mess it up, you can undo quickly There are sites and plugins and tutorials to help you learn how to customize using Thesis. It takes a bit of time, but once you get the hang of it, you'll probably never switch to another theme.

    Revolution requires you to code the actual theme pages. So if they upgrade, you lose your customizations. The home page is hard coded and if you want to change what is displayed there, you have to go change the code. It is beautiful looking from the start, but like you said, how much actual control do you get and how easy is it to change things around. Not much and not so easy.

    But there are of course people that love Revolution more than anything A few months ago I wouldn't have paid money for a WP theme. Missy and Sugarrae convinced me otherwise and I won't ever use a free theme again.

    I haven't tried Artisteer.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
    http and a telephoto
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    Another plus for affiliates that choose to use Thesis, is per post and per page themes, you can opt to *easily* eliminate the sidebars for a page, for instance, where you have wider content than normal, like an Amazon AStore. You still have your top navigation (which is easily and completely customizable) so if you lose your side bars it isn't a big deal.

    See a trend? *Customizable* I use the openhook plugin and you never touch the php files if you don't want to. Just the custom css file and the openhook plugin. It's all done from the control panel. Plus a per page/post control over a built in media box. Plus plus plus...
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    I've never been bright enough to design a blog that actually "fit" some of the grid or magazine style themes. Try as I might, my "old fashioned" blogging just looks best with pages and posts -- and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to fit all the magazine theme/grid style "blocks" and pieces together.

    DUH me, I guess. LOL!
    Generate more fake news.

  11. #11
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Well said Snib, I'm comfortable with code, but I struggle with creating a nice professional looking design. I just don't have that talent. With the limited time I have, I want to spend it building content or adding features, not figuring out how to create a rounded corner in a specific position of the page in css.

    I've been using free templates, I've nothing against them at all. But I want a tighter integration between the content and to appearance. That's where the free themes start frustrating me.

    Loxly, I can understand not allowing people to view confidential information and links to individual sites, but to not even have a way to contact the author with pre-sale questions is a put off. Lock down a members area and have an open forum for people asking about licensing and generic questions.

    Kristin, I didn't see nay other videos, they must have been added today. I'll go watch them and see if that answers more of my questions. Thanks for pointing me back to them.

    writerguy - yeah, you and me both. It's why I'm looking for a solution I can control better.
    Someday starts today
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  12. #12
    http and a telephoto
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    Thesis isn't a magazine style theme. If you want to ask me any questions about it feel free to pm me.

    People need to use what works for them. Some things work better for some than others do.

    As far as the Thesis license, a single is a single, but a developers license gives you the right to put the theme on any and all sites you own. But not those sites you make for other people. You can purchase licenses for clients though.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  13. #13
    The best premium themes I have worked with are definitely Revolution (now StudioPress.com), iThemes.com's Flexx theme (WAY easy to change layout w/o messing with any code) and Thesis.

    If I had to rank them 1-3 for ease of customization for a basic blog style site for someone with limited coding/tech comfort - 1. Flexx, 2. Thesis, 3. Revolution/Studio Press

    For large sites going for a magazine look - Revolution or LifeStyle (StudioPress) wins hands down.

    For longevity and flexibilty - Thesis is my choice.

    Define your site needs and your comfort level with working with the site's back end, then narrow down your theme choice from there.

    Hope this helps.

  14. #14
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    Flexx Ithemes and Studio Press Lifestyle Wordpress Theme
    I am taking a large website that is static coded pages (done in a WYSIWYG editor) and moving it to Wordpress. I don't want to lose what I have but I am not a programmer (content writer). I am looking closely at Ithemes Flexx Theme and Studio Press Lifestyle Theme. Does anyone have a site running these themes where they have actual feedback on working with either of these themes, the support, the support forum, etc. on a daily basis.....most of the comments on this forum are about free themes or where to get a theme. Thanks so much!

    Lyn

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Here is a free WP theme generator which supports WP 2.7, widgets, tags and has options like transparency. It might be worth playing with this a little first: www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  16. #16
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoyUnltd
    Here is a free WP theme generator which supports WP 2.7, widgets, tags and has options like transparency. It might be worth playing with this a little first: www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/
    Thanks for that!
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  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoyUnltd
    Here is a free WP theme generator which supports WP 2.7, widgets, tags and has options like transparency. It might be worth playing with this a little first: www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/
    I guess I'm not clever enough to use that. I fiddled and fiddled with it and couldn't put anything together that didn't look just plain lame.

    And some of the footer stuff doesn't seem to line up cleanly in Firefox. I don't know about how it looks in IE.
    Generate more fake news.

  18. #18
    I have designed sites in both Flexx and Lifestyle:

    Flexx - www.essentialkeystrokes.com, www.celiacfamily.com, www.premiumlawncare.com

    Lifestyle - www.teamtrainingne.com, www.becauseiplayedsports.com

    I find them both easy to work with, but this is something I do every single day. Flexx is easier for basic sites, and Lifestyle is great for magazine style sites.

    PM me if you have more questions or need more direction. I am not taking any new clients at this time but will gladly answer questions/advise.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by writerguy
    I guess I'm not clever enough to use that. I fiddled and fiddled with it and couldn't put anything together that didn't look just plain lame.

    And some of the footer stuff doesn't seem to line up cleanly in Firefox. I don't know about how it looks in IE.
    Yes, you have to have some CSS, HTML, PHP expertise to tweak. It's just an easy way to learn a little, see if you have the patience for this or decide you should outsource.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  20. #20
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    I think I am leaning more toward Flexx or Thesis. But is anyone on this forum an "expert" with these Themes? I am looking at moving a large site over to wordpress and need some of a portal look and sub navigation (sub categories). I am concerned that any customization on Studio Press would not update when they update the software. Thanks :-)

  21. #21
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    Pretty much any theme is customizable, though it certainly can get tricky. I've used Revolution, Arthemia, and others. The main change I make is to replace the timthumb with the get_the_image (this involves changing some code), since it truly automates the thumbnail generation process (desirable in magazine themes) without having to put in extra fields (unless you choose to). When it comes to Artisteer vs Thesis vs Remix vs Whatever, I'll have to say that Artisteer hit prime time too early, since it has some truly clunky aspects to it. For example the categories will not show up in the theme as represented in the program, and getting it to work right involves messing around with functions.php and style.css, which kind of means a whole bunch of money was spent to avoid having to do that, yet you still have to bloody do that. Also, Arstisteer's support is rude to customers and I believe they are even downright deceptive and misrepresent the facts. I would have to say, yes, invest your money in Thesis or Remix if you want an easily customizable wordpress theme, at least until Artisteer gets its act together (and that might take a while).

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clicknet
    The main change I make is to replace the timthumb with the get_the_image (this involves changing some code), since it truly automates the thumbnail generation process (desirable in magazine themes) without having to put in extra fields (unless you choose to).
    That sounds interesting. Can you point to where I can get more info on this?

    It sounds like this would save some time with my magazine style blog but need to investigate some more. It perhaps would not crop or center the image the way you want to which still may leave me having to make thumbnails still.

    Thanks!

  23. #23
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    It can appear anyway you want it to, and there are many choices on how to use this plugin. On my sites, I control the appearance via style.css and can even have images appearing in three different sizes (eg. http://custombilliardsandamusements.com and www.Grungepaintball.com, where I even have it set up to display random images when I haven't gotten around to adding an image to a post). You can find out more about "Get the Image" here:
    http://justintadlock.com/archives/20...rdpress-plugin

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    Great! thanks!

    I will have to check out.

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