Simplicity Thesis Skin

Simplicity: A Crisp, Clean Thesis Skin

by Ben Cook on January 29, 2010

As WordPress design has evolved over time there’s been an emerging trend of cramming more and more information into designs.

With the advent of “magazine style” themes bloggers were able to give their readers glimpses into almost every facet of their site.

And, while there are several visually stunning magazine style themes out there, it’s easy as a blog reader to begin suffering from information overload.

If crisp, clean designs are more to your liking, I think you’ll enjoy my newest Thesis skin…


As you can see from the demo, Simplicity is designed to put the focus on one thing and one thing only… your content.

Using a vertical menu and a single sidebar, Simplicity blends the structural elements of the theme into the background allowing readers to instantly be drawn into the content you’re presenting.

While the skin can certainly handle a 3 column design it, in my opinion, loses a little something in the transition.

Similarly, child menus in the navigation are a possibility, but the design admittedly doesn’t handle them as gracefully as a single layer.


The only requirements for using this skin are the Thesis theme (naturally), and Greg Boser’s Thesis Import/Export plugin. That’s it!


Installation of this skin is almost as simple as the design.

In order to download the skin, you’ll be required to enter your name and email in the field to the left.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to spam you. I just want to be able to alert you to future updates and any new skins I release.

Once you’ve confirmed your email address, you’ll be immediately sent an email with a link to the zip file.

Unzip the contents into a folder and drop the custom.css and custom_functions.php files into the Custom folder of your Thesis folder. (It should be something like

Next you’ll need to install the Thesis Import/Export plugin. You can do that quickly and easily by going to the Plugins/Add New link in your WordPress sidebar.


On the Thesis Import/Export page (as seen in the screen shot above), you should be sure to download your current settings and save them as a backup. That way you can always go back to the design you have now if you decide not to use the skin for some reason.

Once you have backups, select browse under Thesis Options and select the simplicity-thesis-options.dat file and click Import Options.

In similar fashion, under the Design Options section select the simplicity-design-options.dat file and click the Import Options button to the right.

Warning! Importing these options will overwrite any of your current options. However, it also saves me from having to explain every single option I’ve clicked as I did with previous skins.

Once the settings have been imported, I recommend deactivating the Thesis Import/Export plugin until you need it again. The last thing you want to do is get your site set up just the way you want it and then accidentally overwrite something.

Once you’ve imported both option files, you should be all set!

Note: I personally would recommend also changing the number of posts that display on your home page to a lower number (I picked 6) to further reduce the clutter on the home page, but that’s obviously up to you.

Customize to Taste

As with any of my Thesis skins, please feel free to make any changes or modifications that your little heart desires. But be sure to come back and share your adaptations here so we can all ooh and ahh over your fine work!

Of course, if you have any questions or run into any problems using this, or any of my other skins, please feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you sort it out. Although, I will admittedly be a bit more motivated to help if you haven’t removed my small attribution link in the footer 😉


Update 2.20.2010: If you have long list items in your sidebar that spill over onto a second line you may want to institute this fix.

In your custom.css file search for the line .sidebar li.widget li {
text-indent: 15px;

and replace the “text-indent” with “padding-left” so the new version reads:

.sidebar li.widget li {
padding-left: 15px;

That will ensure all lines of your list items are indented.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg January 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm


you might want to edit your instructions so that they tell everyone upload the plugin and then export their current settings first. That way, if they don’t decide to keep the skin, they can easily restore their settings from the initial export.

Ben Cook January 29, 2010 at 9:45 pm

That’s a good point Greg. I’ll update as soon as I’m home on a real keyboard. Thanks!

Dennis January 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Thank you for this fine skin for Thesis… how do I get the vertical nav bar buttons like on your demo? And I like the way your title is over the content column. When I add a header name logo… it left justifies over the total width and shows a block if I go wider than 480… what am I missing here? Thank you!


Ben Cook January 31, 2010 at 2:00 am

The vertical nav bar buttons should be there by default. If they’re not I’d need to see where the problem might be.

If you want to use an image as your header that’s going to require an extra line of code in your custom.css file. I’ll give it a shot & update the post accordingly (probably later today).

Nimit Kashyap January 31, 2010 at 9:11 am

This is a simple yet elegant theme

Justyna February 20, 2010 at 5:34 am

Hi Ben,

thanks for that excellent, simple thesis skin! It works great on my blog. There is one thing I would like to change. I tried to do it on my own but couldn’t figure out how.
In my sidebar, part of the longer text (under the heading) sticks out, instead of staying in the same line.

Can you help me changing that?

Ben Cook February 20, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Justyna, I hadn’t really considered people having that long of items in their nav.

I’ll make ya a deal, if you re-instate my attribution link in your footer I’ll look into fixing that issue for ya 😉 Deal?

Justyna February 20, 2010 at 2:12 pm


deal:), attribution re-instated, I hope you like the way it is done.

Waiting for your further solutions:)


Ben Cook February 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Justyna, I think I’ve got a solution.

Search for .sidebar li.widget li {
text-indent: 15px;

and replace the “text-indent” with “padding-left” so the new version reads:

.sidebar li.widget li {
padding-left: 15px;

I think that should take care of the issue for you but please double check and let me know.


Justyna February 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Thank you Ben for your help!

It worked a treat:))


Jonathan July 24, 2010 at 8:32 am

Hi Ben,

I just downloaded this theme and quickly figured out that the plugin you mention is no longer necessary, but also that your file structure doesn’t match the import-export options in 1.7. Any chance of continuing to support this theme and updating it to work quickly and easily with 1.7?

Thank you.

Ben Cook August 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm

@Jonathan you’re correct, Thesis 1.7 had a native importer but I’ve not updated the skins yet. I have intended to but unfortunately just haven’t had the time to do so, especially since the skin still works with the old plugin.

Jonathan August 7, 2010 at 8:22 am

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, when I installed the plugin with thesis and WP 3, I got all sorts of conflicts and e layout appears wrong, so I wouldn’t say that it is usable with my configuration. But your skin has shown me it is possible to run Thesis with no menu across the top and a less bloggy layout (which is what I like about it–I’m setting up a CMS), so I will just work out my own solution.

Ben Cook August 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm

@Jonathan, are you using the old plugin as the instructions state? I’ve got the skin installed on WP 3.0 as well and haven’t had any problems.

Do you have a URL I can look at to possibly see what’s going on? Or can you explain the errors your seeing?

Haider August 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hi Ben,

I tried to install the skin with Thesis 1.7, but the *.dat files are incompatible with it. I downgraded to Thesis 1.6, and now the skin works beautifully.

It would be great to see the skin compatible with the latest version of Thesis, but either way, I appreciate the effort you put into this. 🙂

Ben Cook August 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

@Haider the skin is compatible, you just can’t yet use the native importer for Thesis. You still have to use the Importer/Exporter plugin that’s mentioned in the directions.

This definitely seems to be an issue of confusion for a lot of users so I will try to get around to updating everything shortly. It’s been difficult to find the time lately.

Greg August 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Just as an FYI, the plugin is definitely for 1.6 only and should be considered abandoned.

Ben Cook August 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Greg, it worked for me in 1.7 but I’ll take this as my cue to finally get off my arse & update everything. I’m on vacation for two weeks starting this weekend so I should have some time for it.

Haider August 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Ben, I tried the skin with 1.7 and the plugin, but it looked a lot like the default theme Thesis comes with, except for minor changes (centered header, nav menu in sidebar, etc).

Anyways, hope you have a great, productive vacation! 😉

John September 7, 2010 at 9:51 am


Thesis 1.8 has come out Before I added – any idea whether this is still required. That post is closed for comments and I do not want to “mess up” my site.

I am just a bit confused about adding a theme in 1.8

Ben Cook September 7, 2010 at 9:53 am

The 3dogmedia plugin is no longer needed. I’ve updated this skin to use Thesis’ native Options Manager now. See the updated installation instructions for directions on how to use it.

Haider September 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm


I tried to upgrade to Thesis 1.8, but I’m afraid Simplicity doesn’t work on it.

I re-downloaded the skin from this page, and applied it again. Is that what I should’ve done, or is there another approach?


Brendon September 23, 2010 at 1:05 am

>>Whoops! The file you attempted to upload is not a valid Design Options file. Please try uploading the file again, or else download a new, valid Design Options file.

Same error when trying to import the Site Options, using Thesis > Manage Options

WP3, and Thesis 1.8

Any fix on the horizon?

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