As 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 options 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.