How To Install The Thesis WordPress Theme For The First Time Using cPanel

On this update I’m going to teach you how to install the Thesis WordPress Theme for the first time using cPanel.

Normally people would use an FTP client to upload their themes to their servers but since I haven’t taught you how to use an FTP client yet, I decided to use cPanel instead.

That means you don’t need any other third party applications to install Thesis on your server.

But first of all, let me quickly explain what Thesis is all about.

What Is The Thesis WordPress Theme?

Thesis is a premium wordpress theme.

In other words, it means there is a company behind it (DIYThemes) and there’s also real human support for the theme (forums).

Thesis is also a wordpress developing platform.

This means that for the people that aren’t scared to play with CSS and PHP, you can end up with really unique sites without compromising the SEO structure built behind the looks.

You can check out some unique designs on the Thesis gallery here.

How Much Does The Thesis Framework Cost?

One thing you should know is that Thesis is not free.

The prices for Thesis are (one-payment only):

  • $87 Personal: for one live website and one localized development server
  • $164 Developer: unlimited use of Thesis on sites that you own

Thesis Is Not For Everyone

The thesis framework is one of those things that people either love it or hate it but it has nothing in between.

I think the theme is great looking out of the box, for some others it looks “boxy” and empty while others see a superb minimalistic theme.

Your call.

So without any further ado, let’s learn how to install Thesis ok?

How To Install Thesis Using cPanel

The core instructions are these:

  1. Upload the Thesis .zip file to your /wp-content/themes folder.
  2. Rename the custom-sample folder to custom.
  3. Find the layout.css file and change the file permissions to 0666.
  4. Change the file permissions to your cache folder to 0775.
  5. Activate Thesis.
  6. Voilá!

If you don’t feel comfortable with these raw instructions, you can watch the video down below.

How To Install Thesis Using cPanel Video

The video is short, sweet and straight to the point.

I didn’t do any tweaks or performed any post-installation configuration of any kind.

If you follow the video, what you’ll learn is how to install Thesis the right way in just a few minutes.

Simple right?

Get The Thesis Framework Here

In case you want to check out more about the Thesis Framework, you can go and check it out by clicking on the image down below.

Get The Thesis Framework


I know I’m still missing an article I promised about how to select the right wordpress theme according to your budget.

I’ll do that in the next days but in the meanwhile, enjoy this article and have a great start of week.

Talk soon!


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  1. Reply

    Hi Sergio

    As you know my next big purchase will be thesis. I have enough to get the personal version, but I think I want to get the developers version.

    I also have a friend lined up who wants me to help them get started online for their florist business and I think that thesis would be ideal for creating a really cool site that looks and feels better than all the other crappy flower blogs which are using free themes.

    The price structure seems to suggest I need to buy a $40 client site option, but that seems cheap to give a client the theme for $40? Can you find a good link in the forum about the rules for installing on client sites and what sort of price could be charged?

    Obviously I don’t want to charge my friend too much, but they know someone else who want’s my service, so I have no qualms about charging them the going rate.



    1. Reply

      Hey Andrew,

      If you have a developer’s license you can buy an extra client’s license at a minimum of $40 USD.

      However, what you’ll charge your client is up to you since what you’re selling here is a website, not the wordpress theme per se.

      So in order to break out even, you’d have to charge your client at least your $40 investment for the Thesis license and the rest is completely up to you.

      In my case I snatched the developer’s license from the beginning since I knew in advance that I wanted to deploy Thesis on many sites of my own so I just saved for that and bought it without any hoops.

      I also haven’t bought any client licenses as I haven’t used Thesis on a client’s site (yet) but from what I read at the forums this is easily done.

      An extremely important word of caution here though:

      Buying a client’s license doesn’t gives you “another” Thesis download, it’s your same download only you can deploy that (legally) on your client’s site.

      In other words, if I told you I can give you Thesis for $40 (if you were my client) that does NOT grants you access to the forums, upgrades or anything else.

      Hope that clears it up for you and if you have any more questions, feel free to let me know!

      1. Reply

        that last bit after the bold makes a lot of sense and explains the price difference. If someone is paying me to install and set up thesis then they’re wanting the website not the technical stuff that comes with it, hence they’re paying me.

        Now I know the rough costs I will speak with them, and as I’ve said before I will be buying through your affiliate link.


        1. Reply

          Glad I could help you out with that Andrew.

          And thanks a lot for your support man, if there’s anything else you need just give me a shout! ;-)

    • Patrick Griffin
    • May 22, 2012

    Hi Sergio,
    Well I have already done this on my blog so I can confirm that the steps are exactly as you describe them.
    However one question kept coming to me as I was carrying out each of these steps…why is any of this necessary?
    More specifically what is the significance of having to change the file from ‘custom-sample’ to ‘custom’? Could not the original file have been simply called custom in the first place?
    The same with the file permissions. Perhaps ‘file permissions’ could be the subject of a whole new blog post but what is the reason that they permissions were set differently on the original zip file which was uploaded to the blog?
    Ah so many questions from the English guy.

    1. Reply

      Hey Pat, great questions!

      When you customize a theme and are not using any parent/child theme relation, you are modifying the core files inside your theme.

      This means that whenever there’s a new update, you are risking to get your modified files overwritten.

      A quick real life scenario for this was when I used Elegant Themes.

      We would customize the heck out of the theme we were using and whenever there was a new update, BOOM we lost every customization made to the theme.

      So every single time we had a new update out, we had to manually download all our modified files (normally the CSS file and a few PHP files), apply the upgrade and then carefully update (manually) each file with our customizations in order to not break the new theme’s functionality.

      Which in other words was nothing but a pain in the ass to maintain.

      That’s why many premium themes manage their themes with a parent/child theme framework. If you customize your theme and there’s a new upgrade to your theme, it doesn’t mess with the child theme files, it only updates the framework thus keeping your customizations safe.

      The same happens with Thesis. If you decide to access the custom functions of the theme, you need to rename “custom-sample” to “custom” in order to ‘tell’ Thesis to modify the custom files and not the core files of the theme.

      As for the file and permission modification goes…

      Modifying the file permission for the cache folder allows Thesis to auto-generate thumbnail images (if you don’t need this feature, you don’t have to modify the folder permission) and modifying the layout.css I think it has to do with the functionality of moving stuff around (columns, widths, etc).

      Why doesn’t it defaults to the proper file permission from installation? I don’t know but if you think that Thesis IS a program after all (you use a lot of input boxes which modify a lot of things on the theme files) modifying file/folder permissions is just to ensure the theme is going to work as intended.

      When you install a program on your computer and you go “next, next, next” chances are, it’s doing a lot of these things for you.

      When installing a program on a server though, chances are, the server is already well protected and would never default file/folder permissions to write mode.

      This is MY explanation on this, of course I could be way off from reality but if you want to check with the source, you can read more here:

      Hope that sheds some light Patrick! ;-)

    • Jens P. Berget
    • May 27, 2012

    Awesome tutorial Sergio. I remember when I installed and cinfigured Thesis a long time ago. It was all brand new to me, and I wished I had your tutorial. I was completely lost :)

    1. Reply

      Hey Jens,

      Yeah I wanted to point out that Thesis is not an “Upload and it’s ready” kind of wordpress theme and I did had a few headaches with the installation myself LOL

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great start of week Jens, speak soon! ;-)

    • Thea
    • June 11, 2012

    Thanks — I did it and it worked like a charm! Now I can stop paying other people to do it for me — at least for now, until I get really busy ;)

    1. Reply

      Hey Thea,

      Seems like you did a terrific job since you have a great looking blog so congratulations and thank you for stopping by, have a great start of week! ;-)

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