This is a detailed review of the Flex skin for Thesis 2.2 which is latest skin to be released by DIYthemes. The skin was developed by Matthew Horne who is fanatical about website optimization, and especially page loading speed.
The objective of this post is to give you as much detail as possible so that you’ll know exactly what it can and can’t do and then you’ll be able to decide if the Flex Skin is right for you.
Firstly, what is it?
The Flex Skin is a simple zip file that you upload into Thesis 2.2 and it will change the way that your Thesis WordPress website looks and how it performs.
The question is… is it any damn good and should you consider buying it?
Here’s Why I Decided to Get the Flex Skin
Reason #1: Super-Fast Page Loading
As part of Google’s search engine algorithm is influenced by how fast your site loads for your website visitor, the time it takes for your site to load is CRUCIAL if you want to rank highly in Google.
Fortunately, Google provides a useful free tool called Google PageSpeed Insights that allows you to get an idea of how Google views the performance of your site on both mobile and desktop devices.
As more and more people are viewing your website through handheld devices like smartphones and tablets, it’s essential that your site loads quickly and looks great to people viewing your site from a mobile device.
Here’s the Google PageSpeed Insights score of 86 for the home page of my site on mobile devices (after a few simple performance tweaks by me):
And here’s the Google PageSpeed Insights score of 93 for the home page of my site on desktops:
Another good site to use to assess the performance of your site is GTmetrix. Here is a screenshot of the Executive Summary of the home page of my site with GTmetrix:
So, as you can see from the above speed tests, the Flex Skin really is super fast.
Reason #2: Modern Design
Like it or not, people make an almost instant decision on the credibility of you and your site by the way it looks. You can have the greatest content in the world, but if it’s poorly presented, you’ll get inferior results.
Two key ways to give a quick boost to the design of your site is with better graphics and better treatment of the text (aka typography).
One of my frustrations with Thesis since first using it back in 2009 is how basic it looks out-of-the-box. Sure, you can get Thesis to look really great provided you have the design chops (or you know someone who does). If you weren’t gifted with the design gene at birth, then another option is to use a skin so you can leverage the time, skills and effort of the skin developer and their design chops.
Adding a Skin to your Thesis site is a simple way to instantly change the way that your site looks without needing to dig into the code or bang your head against the wall.
The Flex Skin will instantly give your site a modern look especially with the neat full-width featured images that give a great first impression for your site.
Design aficionados will tell you how important good typography is on the overall look of your website. Fortunately, the Flex Skin gives you access to a wide range of Google Fonts so that you can choose a combination of fonts that makes your site look distinctive. What’s more is that the Flex Skin is optimized to make sure that the loading of the Google Fonts is done in such a way as to minimize their impact on your site loading speed.
Deft touches like the drop-cap can make your content more inviting and let your posts stand out from the crowd.
Reason #3: Dedicated Support
When choosing a skin for your site, I recommend that you make sure that the provider for your skin is committed to continuing to develop the skin for the long term.
The first Thesis Skin I got years ago was great… until the developer decided to move on to pastures new and no longer wanted to develop the skin for Thesis. It soon became outdated as Thesis 2 continued to progress and the skin did not. Back to square one for me and an frustrating and expensive mistake.
Therefore, one of the key criteria I think is important when choosing is a skin is that you know that it will continue to be developed well into the future so it will continue to work with the Thesis platform.
There are many options when it comes to buying a Thesis 2 skin, but I prefer to get my skin from DIYthemes because I know that it will be well-supported and will be updated as Thesis evolves too.
That’s why for this skin, I chose DIYthemes as the supplier of the skin. What’s more, the Flex Skin has it’s own sub-forum in the Thesis community forum where you can get timely and useful advice on using the Flex Skin for your site.
For example, I wanted to add a simple tweak to my site where comments by me have a slightly different background so it makes them easy to find. Being a stubborn mule, I tried for hours to ‘solve it myself’ only to give up in frustration. I then headed over to the Flex Skin sub-forum at DIYthemes, posted my question (on a Saturday no less) and it was answered in just 1 hour, 22 minutes by the insanely dedicated and efficient posters there:
This kind of stuff matters when what you really want to do is focus your time on creating great content instead of wasting hours of your own time trying to get things to work.
When you’re getting the skin set-up for your site, you’ll probably run into a few situations where you run into a roadblock and need some help. If you get the Flex Skin then that’ll be no problem as you can just head over to the Flex Skin sub-forum and post your questions and get them answered quickly by people who know Thesis inside and out.
Anyways, I hope you’ve enjoyed this detailed review. If there’s anything I’ve missed or you have any questions, just post your comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
To get your copy of the Flex Skin for Thesis 2.2 click here
Note: To be able to use the Flex Skin, you’ll need to have a WordPress site and the Thesis 2 theme. If you don’t currently have Thesis 2, then you’ll need to purchase a license and you can do that by clicking here.