Thesis premium WordPress themeAs regular readers of Lawyerist know, I prefer my software free and open source. But I am no fool; great software is worth paying for. While I love designing websites, I am a rank amateur. When Aaron and I re-launched Lawyerist, it became clear that I was in over my head.

I needed professional help, but I did not want to hire a web designer to build something I would have to struggle to modify. Been there, done that.

Instead, Aaron and I decided to go with Thesis, a premium WordPress theme from DIY Themes. You are looking at it now (well, unless you are reading the feed).

Free vs. premium WordPress themes

Lawyerist runs on WordPress, a great free and open-source content-management system. Like most CMS software, you can make WordPress look however you want by using themes. There are a lot of free themes for WordPress, or you can build your own, which I have done for Lawyerist for the last few years.

But while there are some excellent free WordPress themes out there, none that I am aware of include support. None include extensive optionsĀ  to modify the layout, appearance, and other design elements of the theme. And none guarantee first-rate search engine optimization (although many claim to have it).

Thesis is just $87, a bargain compared to the time it would take me to build anything close, and a steal compared to hiring your own designer (I paid over $600 for a custom theme for Caveat Emptor). It is a great-looking theme, without imposing its own “look” onto your site. There are a lot of WordPress sites out there using Thesis, and you would never know it by looking at them.

Thesis on your site

When you install Thesis, it adds several pages to your WordPress interface so that you can change the layout (1, 2, 0r 3 columns), the fonts, and more. There are a lot of easy-to-implement options. No need to dig into the code; Thesis does all that for you.

If that is not enough for you to get the look you want (it was not quite enough for me, of course), Thesis has excellent options to customize your site to your heart’s content, although you will need to know a bit of CSS, HTML, and just a touch of PHP. Or just know how to copy and paste from the excellent support forum.

A new look for Lawyerist

If you want to know what Thesis looks like, look around Lawyerist. Some things, like the new menu bar at the top, are very Thesis-y. You will notice that the Thesis developers have covered all the little things, like the HTML reference for commenters that shows up under the comment box. And check out the category pages (tech, for example; scroll down to see the post teasers). Pretty nice.

I am still fiddling with the details. But hey, I enjoy this stuff, and I do not want to lose the Lawyerist look and feel. You will see small changes over the coming weeks as I tweak the deets and get Lawyerist looking as good as it can.


  1. Boyd Johnson says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been looking into buying Thesis for a few of our websites. Like you, I enjoy tinkering with website design. I’ll probably give it a stronger look since you like it.

  2. Crystal says:

    Great post. I am considering moving from Blogger over to WordPress and $88 sounds very reasonable. I really like the look you have going here. Thanks for the information.

  3. Sam Glover says:

    @Crystal: $87, actually. My typo saves you a dollar!

    A move to WordPress would be a wise one, I think. I made the switch years ago, and WordPress is just so much more flexible and extensible. Plus, it makes a great CMS when you want to do more, while Blogger is really just blogging software.

  4. Andrew Flusche says:

    Sam – Do you not like threaded comments, or does Thesis not support them?

  5. Sam Glover says:

    I don’t think WordPress will do them without a plugin, but yeah, they drive me crazy. Threaded comments make it impossible to see just the new comments.

  6. Jada says:

    I presume I can use the Thesis theme for more than one blog?

    Where can I find FAQs on Thesis?

    Thanks much.

  7. Sam Glover says:

    You can find out all about Thesis by following the link to DIY Themes. There are FAQs, a forum, and more.

    You can use it for more than one blog if you purchase the Developer’s Option for $164.

  8. Jake says:

    Great article. I’m trying to put together a website like In effect, an information website with some downloadable files page, fillable contact page, etc.. I’m not really interested in blogging. Is Thesis and WordPress suited for this or do I need a different system all together? Thanks for any advice.

    • Aaron Street Aaron Street says:


      WordPress and Thesis are absolutely suited to building a static (non-blog) legal website. The WordPress admin interface allows you to create both “pages” and “posts.” With a static site that you are proposing, you just would not use the “posts” features.

      You’ll find that by adding the Thesis theme, you will have a number of additional ways to easily edit the layout and navigation of your new site.

  9. Jake says:


    Thanks very much for your quick answer to my question. My website,, as you can see is pitifully in need of development. Thanks again.


  10. Sam Glover says:

    @Jake: Hi there, fellow consumer lawyer! I plan to switch to Thesis on my homepage soon. It’s just easier to use, for blogs or for static sites.

  11. Jake says:

    @Sam: Cool website, Sam. Did you do the artwork yourself? I met Brea and Pete Barry recently, and so it was a surprise seeing her on your blog. Thanks to your advices, most of which I’ve at least tried, my practice is better for it. Keep up the great work both as a consumer law attorney and as a blogger!


  12. Sam Glover says:

    @Jake: Great to hear it! The artwork is not mine, but adapted from something I found. The rest is my design, though.

    Glad to hear we are helping!

  13. Jake says:

    @Sam: I may be getting too off topic, but where does one find these artworks and photos for websites? Can you point me in the right direction? Like you, free and open source are my preferences.

  14. Aaron Street Aaron Street says:


    We get a lot of our photos from creative commons licensed works on Flickr. Each image is credited on the bottom of the post.

  15. Jake says:

    Aaron, Thanks!

  16. Jake says:

    In looking into themes for wordpress this weekend, I came across Atahualpa. This theme, which is free, appears to have a lot of the customization tools as well as a lively forum. I wonder how this compares to Thesis? I haven’t been able to find any review on the internet comparing the two directly.

  17. Sam Glover says:

    Well, compare a blog running Atahualpa to this blog, which runs Thesis. From glancing at it, I would say that Thesis seems to be far better-looking out of the box. I don’t know what Atahualpa’s backend looks like, but customizing Lawyerist was primarily a matter of checking a few boxes, and copying and pasting a few bits of custom code.

  18. Jake says:

    @Sam, I see your point. Thank you for your input.

  19. Jake says:

    After much hesitation, I purchased Thesis. In short, it’s fantastic. I’ll likely upgrade to the developer’s option after I get familiar with it.

  20. Aaron Street Aaron Street says:

    We wouldn’t steer you wrong! :)

  21. Rajesh says:

    Thanks for the advice friend. Just thinking of getting Thesis. Your post proved very useful.

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