Thesis 2.0 Review: 4 Reasons why I’m not a Convert

The other day I finished up a review of 6 different drag & drop themes. Because I had started almost a month before, selecting themes, creating criteria, and more – I hadn't included Thesis 2.0 in the mix. But since my review came out right after Thesis 2.0 did, it was logical that people would start asking about it and how it compared.

My Definition of Drag & Drop

Just so we're all on the same page, here was my definition of drag & drop:

The end user can assemble the design of a web page by dragging and dropping key elements/components onto a “canvas” designing the layout/structure of the page.

My Evaluation Criteria

If you read my other article, then you know my criteria:

  1. Could it create anything other than a blog layout?
  2. Were there components I could drag and drop to create different designs?
  3. How many different kinds of components were available to me, did they allow for the kind of expression I was looking for, and were they easy to understand?
  4. Could I get going on my design without a manual?
  5. Were the drag and drop designs tightly linked to the page it was for or could I create designs that I could use for multiple pages?
  6. Did these themes take into account responsive design or mobile visitors?
  7. How close could I get to my target design/layout?

By way of short cut, I considered the quantity of components I could drag and drop (#2) and the coverage of those items (#3). What I mean is that a drag & drop theme may have 24 different kinds of components but if they're all post-list-related (recent posts, top posts, most commented posts, etc) then it may have a high count but low coverage. Builder by iThemes has a small number but pretty large coverage. Because I care about both, I used two factors for it.

It was a good thing that #4 was on the list because Thesis 2.0 comes with no documentation – a really interesting and frustrating dynamic when some of its features are hidden (but more on that later).

The Result

So I started doing my evaluation, just like I had with the other six themes. Unfortunately, I can't give you a score because I was too frustrated to finish. But I can tell you it didn't beat the first 4 or 5. So rather than try to score it, I decided to give you the 4 reasons why I'm not sold on Thesis 2.0.

1. Difficult: The whole point of Drag & Drop is to make things easy

It's a little thing but it's a frustrating thing. Drag and drop should be drag and drop. We all know how to do it. So why make me click on Shift to drag and drop anything? And if I don't click shift before clicking to drag, nothing works. No other drag & drop theme required me to click on shift, so it can't be rocket science. Just saying.

2. Unintuitive: Creating new names for existing things is just confusing

I get that it was supposed to be revolutionary and a brand new start to the web all over. But guess what, other themes have had template builders for a while – like Ultimatum, Headway & Builder. So why create a new nomenclature, found in new places (not under Appearance), that do stuff that others already do? Just so you can call it new? It's unintuitive and makes things really….maddening.

3. Maddening: Hiding features until I randomly click things makes me mad

Thesis 2.0 promises that it's easy to create tons of layouts. Unfortunately you don't know how to do it because there's no link or button. Until, that is, you click on the name of your existing template, and then a pop-up appears that has an option to create a new one. Whoever designed that UI should be beaten and sent to work with Joomla. If I hadn't kept trying for more than 30 minutes to find out how to create new templates, I might have just quit right there!

4. Backfired: You rushed to get it out…and it failed

The last reason I didn't like Thesis 2.0 was because, after all the hoopla, it still changed everything (which likely will bother existing users) but didn't make progress towards things I care about. Mobile and responsive design are big for me. I get why Builder, which is years old, doesn't have a natural architecture that supports it. But Thesis 2.0 is new. So why doesn't it support it natively. Maybe it does. Who knows? I surely don't because there was no documentation. None! And the excuse was that they rushed to get it out the door (which would have been fine if it was intuitive). On top of that, some of the videos I found online referenced features that were no longer there (from an earlier beta). Oh the frustration!

So that was my take. Sorry I can't tell you exactly where it sits, but it's not in the top 3, so why would you include it in your investigation?