As you know (or not) this blog is powered by Thesis but it looks the way it looks thanks to the great Thesis skin I’m using which is called BlogSkin that was created by ThesisAwesome. Thesis is a really great WordPress theme framework and many would say it is the best and if you want to learn more about it you can read my Thesis review for all the details.
The main problem with Thesis and one of the main reasons I don’t recommend it for everyone is the fact that in order to really make it look great and unique you need to know how to do it yourself, pay a developer to do it for you or to use a ready made Thesis skin that someone else created for this exact purpose.
The easiest choice and cheapest one among these three is to find a great Thesis skin to use since paying a developer to design one for you will most likely cost anywhere in the 4 figure range and developing one yourself would take time and as you know, time is money. It took me quite a while to find a great Thesis skin that I really loved and that provided me with the features I was looking for. The downside of using a ready made skin for Thesis is that you are probably not going to be the only one using it (especially if it is a good skin) but I found that for me it was the best choice (for now).
There are quite a few Thesis skins available but I would have expected much more to be honest. Thesis is probably the most popular theme framework and it is being used on tens of thousands of sites so I figured it will be an easy task to find a great skin. But it wasn’t. I find that one of the biggest downsides of Thesis is that they don’t create their own skins or child themes which is something their biggest competitor, Genesis, is doing quite well with more than 40 child themes you can choose from not including child themes created by by other designers from the StudioPress Marketplace.
How to Select a Skin?
The best tip I can provide you with is to select a skin from someone that also provides full support for the skin so that you will be able to get help if you have any problems or issues. As you can suspect, finding great support for Thesis skins that are being offered for free isn’t going to be very easy and in general, I would recommend you go for a premium skin since they will simply be much better than any free skin you can find.
Where to Find a Great Skin for Thesis?
For the best Thesis skins you should focus on sites that offer a number of skins and full support. Here are the best resources I found:
Thesis Awesome is the number one recommendation I have for you since I have been using one of their Skins on this blog and I don’t like to recommend anything without any personal experience. You can find 8 skins in their portfolio, none of them are free but the prices are very affordable.
The best thing about Thesis Awesome is the support they provide. I have had so many questions and little changes I wanted to make to the skin and I got all the help I needed on the support forums usually within 24 hours. Just from visiting the Thesis Awesome site you can get a very clear indication of how professional the site and the skins are. For those of you that are looking for a landing page type of skin for Thesis you need to look no further than the new ProductSkin.
Since I have been using BlogSkin on this blog I can say that thanks to the option panel that comes with the skin it is very easy to control all of the various features the skin has and there is no need to touch or edit any code and in any case, you can always get help on the support forum.
Thesis Themes are the largest market for Thesis skins (according to them). They offer their own skins for thesis (paid & free) but they also have a marketplace on the site that I think should be a lot bigger and list all of the available skins for Thesis but as of March 2012 it only shows 3 skins. I personally think that Thesis Themes should put a little more work into adding all the available Thesis skins to their marketplace. I know that I would have done that if I was the owner of the site since it will provide more value to the visitors and it can also make more money to the site owners as they can be using affiliate links to all the skins that offer affiliate programs.
Thesis Themes are offering 10 skins of their own, 6 are premium skins and 4 are free. From the looks of the skins they do seem to be great looking skins and I did play with one of them in the past (ThesisPlay).
Thesis Ready is a site that aims to help you get the most from WordPress and Thesis. They offer Thesis skins and WordPress plugins. You will find 12 Thesis skins on Thesis Ready and 4 of them are free to download and use. What I found strange was to see the BlogSkin listed as their own skin. I know that BlogSkin was created by the guys over at Thesis Awesome so I was pretty surprised to see that, especially since there is no mention that the skin was created by someone else and if I didn’t know better, I would think it was created by the guys at Thesis Ready.
I contacted Hesham Zebida (the developer behind Thesis Awesome) and told him about the situation. He told me that he knows about it and that he had an agreement with Adam (from Thesis Ready) so I guess its OK and no harm was done. With that said, the version of BlogSkin being offered on Thesis Ready is not the latest version and the support you will get will be from the guys at Thesis Ready. Bottom line is that if you want to purchase BlogSkin, I recommend you do it from Thesis Awesome since you will get the latest version and the best possible support.
The skins offered by Thesis Ready look OK. I personally don’t think they come close to those offered by the other resources I mention here, but that is just my own personal opinion.
Themedy is a very professional looking site that offers premium child themes and skins for the top WordPress frameworks bundled with loads of options and great support. You will find child themes for the Genesis framework and skins for Thesis.
You will find 12 child themes / skins being offered on Themedy, 11 of them are premium and will work for both Genesis and Thesis meaning that every theme they offer has 2 versions. Themedy are also offering one free skin called Fremedy. All of their skins look great and very professional and I personally liked Feedpop and could see me using it on a blog. You should also know that the developers of both Genesis (Brain Gardner & Brain Clark) and Thesis (Chris Pearson) are recommending you check Themedy out so you can be sure their Genesis child themes and Thesis skins are of the highest quality.
Themedy are offering a club membership that will provide you access to all their skins or you can buy any specific skin you like. You will also gain access to their support forum in which you will get all the support you need.
Kolakube has been created by Alex Mangini, an 18 year old designer/blogger that used to own the great blogussion blog up until a few months ago when he decided to sell it for $20,000 and focus on other projects.
The first Thesis skin I used on this blog was Alex’s Blogussion skin that I can’t seem to find anywhere. I guess he took it off the market and it is no longer for sale. Kolakube is more than just a site that offers Thesis skins but since that is what this post is about, I will mainly focus on that part.
Kolabkue offers one free portfolio type skin called KolFolio and 6 other premium skins. I really love all the skins Alex has created and you can really see how talented this kid is with every skin he creates. He has created a skin especially for marketers that has page leads and a landing page built into called Marketers Delight 2 and I personally love how his Chronicl skin looks and I might take it out for a spin .
Alex is also offering freebies so you can check that out since you might find something you can use on your sites like his great custom optin forms for all 3 major auto responders (AWeber, MailChimp & GetResponse).
Just by visiting Kolakube you will quickly understand how talented Alex is and I personally think his Thesis skins are the best looking ones but I’m not sure I will be moving to one of them anytime soon since the skin i’m using now provides me with everything I need but I did get a little excited when I checked his Chronicl skin so who knows, maybe I will make a change soon .
Other Thesis Skins
There are probably more Thesis skins out there but I decided not to include all of them, mainly because most of the other skins are not as good as the ones I mentioned already and when you get a skin for Thesis you really want it to come with full support.
With that said, I do want to mention one more free skin I was able to find and it is called Kickstarter and was created by Mark Macdonald. It looks pretty great and it is free so I figured some might want to check it out. I didn’t find any support forum for it but I did see that Mark is helping out users via the comments on the skin page so if you have any problems, you can try getting help by commenting or contacting Mark directly.
And The Winner Is…
I didn’t plan on making this into a competition when I started writing this Thesis Skins Roundup but after going over all of the great Thesis skin resources I feel I need to rank them up for you just for the fun of it. So here it goes, (starting with the 3rd place):
Thesis Skins Roundup Conclusion
I am more than certain that you will be able to find a great skin for Thesis among the resources I mentioned here. There are some really great skins for Thesis out there, you just need to know where to find them and I hope that I helped in some way.
Just to state the obvious so it will be clear, in order to use a Thesis skin you will first need to get the Thesis Framework for WordPress.
To your success (and mine ),