Blogging Catalyst Lis Recommmends Paid Tools Tools WordPress

Frugal Theme Review – Frugal and Thesis Themes Compared

I’ve been running Chris Pearson’s Thesis Theme on this site for over six months. By the time you read this post I will have switched over to a new theme called Frugal Theme – by Eric Hann. This is the why I made the switch.

I’ve been running Chris Pearson’s Thesis Theme on this site for a while – last  July I installed Thesis. As I talked about in my last post : I am now running Frugal Theme not Thesis.

Why I Chose Thesis in the First Place

I am not a designer I know little CSS far less php, enough html to get by. But I wanted to be able to develop custom websites – not just for my own use but also for SEO clients. Thesis seemed to offer the promise of doing this without coding – their advertising is based around that, At the time I bought Thesis there was no money back guarantee – so I wanted to make sure I got it right. So researched, and then bought Thesis 1.4

I was never impressed with Thesis and although I bought the $87 single use licence intending to upgrade to the multi-site use Developer’s version I never did.  Instead I bought Elegantthemes for my other sites and retained Thesis here. I think my relationship with Thesis soured when I had to go their support forums to learn how to install my own header image and change the site’s background colours to match.

The Boxes Thesis Failed on – Is Frugal Any Better?

Originally I decided not to upgrade to the developer’s version of Thesis for the reasons I listed in this September 2009 post about Thesis. I recently updated to Thesis 1.7 and my issues still stand – so I have reproduced my original problems with Thesis and compared Frugal with the same issues. Yup this is genuine review of Thesis 1.7 and Frugal 3.3 from someone who has used and abused both.  The Thesis comments below are my original September comments – and then I’ve followed them with my take on how Frugal Theme stacks up.

THESIS: It has not one but two Thesis Options panels – this is confusing – I am always going to the wrong one – even after months. Actually its up to five now plus the Thesis Openhook plugin – which always felt like functionality which should have been in the base Thesis install.  But to be fair – this was my first experience with a sophisticated Framework rather than a simple theme – it took some getting used to!

FRUGAL:  Frugal installs a 6-option menu which I find quite simple to work my way through. The excellent videos from the developer Eric Hamm describing each and every option are extremely useful.

THESIS:  I  had to use code to add a header image and to match the background colour. This is the single reason why so many Thesis installs look like a default Thesis install.

FRUGAL: For comparison purposes I’ve included a list of Thesis and Frugal themes sites at the end of this post – just to show what “non-designers” can do with these themes. But the bottom line is that its really easy to add a header and then change the background colours of Frugal – much, much easier than it is with Thesis. If you can do these two things you can make your site look unique!

THESIS:  Using images is painful – I have to import an image and then cut and paste and add the thumbnail image code so that I can have the combination of having a picture anywhere I want in the picture plus having the thumbnail appear on other pages such as categories – its a nuisance. (Upgrading to 1.7 made this even more painful as I had to scroll a LONG way below the post past all the useless javascript libraries to get to the thumbnail options.

FRUGAL: Thanks to Thesis 1.7 ignoring the functionality of WordPress 2.9 native’s support of thumbnails I’ve had to go thru my past posts and nominate an image as a thumbnail – but going forward – images are very straightforward – import the image into the post – nominate as a thumbnail – job done!

THESIS:  Thesis is expensive if you want to deploy it. If you want to run it on more than one site you need that developers editions – that’s another $77 over the initial $87 for a single user. Plus if you want to sell a customised theme to a client that’s another $15 now $40 per a client theme.

FRUGAL: Exactly the same pricing! For one site $87 for a single site or $164 $164 for a developer’s licence  plus $40 per a client site. I notice that both themes now have a 30-day money back guarantee – something that Thesis didn’t have when I bought it. Nice to see competition doing its thing. Honestly I think Frugal should be a little more aggressive on their pricing in order to differentiate themselves from Thesis – once they have the market share they can then up the price – but until then – just my opinion though!

THESIS:  Thesis makes a big deal of being SEO friendly – but its SEO settings are no more difficult to use than the free all-in-one-seo plugin – it replaces that plugin – but most people would already be running all-in-one anyways.

FRUGAL: Is just as easy to set up for on-page SEO- if not more so (the defaults are much better than the Thesis defaults for SEO).  I’ve seen Frugal Theme criticized for  its SEO this over and over – there is no issue that I can see Frugal is just fine for SEO (and replaces All-in-one-SEO or Platinum SEO plugins).

THESIS:  if you are a designer Thesis really is a framework and you can no doubt do beautiful things -but its a bit like giving me a top-quality blank canvas and a paint brush and tell me go create – I am a rather more paint by numbers gal! You maybe able to do beautiful things with Thesis – or afford someone who can – I can’t do either.

FRUGAL: Frugal is astoundingly easy to to customise for a non-designer.  It is dead simple to produce a site which looks like a website not a blog. Its astoundingly easy to customise the look and style of the site. Its everything I hoped Thesis would be  when I bought Thesis 1.4 and which Thesis 1.7 has still failed to deliver on

THESIS:  The ability to display ads using the “multimedia” box is fine and the ability to control this down to post level is impressive. What’s not is the place you put the code shows at most 2 lines of a narrow column- you have to use a text editor to actually edit and update the code – this is because most of the screen space has been used on the unecessary design elements.

FRUGAL: There is not quite the same concept as the multimedia box in Frugal – but you can do custom layouts for pages and the ability to add custom widgets at almost any point in the design – so I am experimenting with this. I’ve gone away from the standard 125×125 ads in the sidebar anyways – they use up a lot of space and rarely converted. Frugal Theme’s use of and implementation of hooks is brilliant – its a difficult concept but a truly understood it with Frugal – never had with Thesis. The fact that you get dummy text when you hook in widgets to hooks is fantastic for those who are learning this stuff (like me and most of their customers).

THESIS: Their affiliate banners are really. really ugly – yellow is the only option – and this is in the marketplace where people care about design. This may have changed with the outsourcing of their affiliate program – I’m not up to date but Costa at Bloggigs is not very impressed with the new Thesis affiliate program for international affiliates

FRUGAL: In-house affiliate program which pays 40% to affiliates running on the iDevAffiliate platform which I’m seeing more and more often (TKA uses it too). Nice set of pretty banners – like this one 🙂

On Going Thesis Development Issues

Since I raised the issues above in September I have found Thesis continues to annoy. Because I chose to have images in my posts in different places in each post – there is no way that I can create an automatic thumbnail for each post – which is used in the extracts of older posts (a feature I really like with Thesis, but is easier to use with Frugal). Instead, after importing an image to a post, I had to go to the advanced setting of that image and cut and paste it in the thumbnail url below the post – and then edit it to reflect the actual thumbnail name!

The latest version of Thesis – made this worse by adding a whole bunch of JavaScript libraries immediately below my post’s editing area – which I now have to scroll past to get to the image urls and options.

Thesis seems to be loosing the plot with what features are released when. There was an active debate in their forums expecting that Thesis 2.0 would be out in September 2009 – and that it would have such innovations – such as easy point and click to change the header image. Still waiting on that easy header change AND Thesis 2.0 – but Thesis 1.7 has a whole bunch of javascript library options? Sorry but WTF  –  although its true that customers don’t always know what they want – but wanting to change a header image – thats pretty darn basic!  Because if you can’t retain your customers they are going to go elsewhere – and the options are starting to improve – not just Frugal but Headway too.

Which is Best Frugal or Thesis

As my readers know I don’t mind calling a spade a bloody shovel and I think Thesis is slipping behind. The risk is though that its winning the marketing war – the line up of “big” name A-list bloggers really does seem to impress people into the desirability of buying.

I don’t know how much longer that is going to work though – I think Thesis has made three key mistakes:

  • they haven’t listened to their customers and responded to the customers fairly basic requests (e.g. easy custom headers);
  • they do now provide a 30 day guarantee so that people aren’t “stuck” with the product that didn’t live up to the hype;
  • they have pissed off a whole lot of their affiliates – eBay has discovered that pissing off the people who bring you traffic is dumb idea – it looks like Thesis is going the same route.

Frankly Thesis hasn’t kept an eye on the competition. Frugal  does everything that Thesis sold itself to me that it would deliver on:

  • easy to customize without knowing css and php;
  • easy to upgrade and modify as my site developed ;
  • easy to deploy for my clients and to maintain for them (or preferably, teach them to maintain).

Frugal Example Sites

Terrible for SEO – but different Jim Chao

Used as a CMS rather than a blog – variety of different page styles Real Estate Leads

Leo is running Frugal on his Internet Marketing blog using a static front page layout which I may adopt.

More “standard Frugal” – but still unique enough Living Frugal Tips

An in your face design who seems to have upgraded from Thesis to Frugal for similar reasons as I  Enemy of Debt

Zen Habits – no introduction required I think. There is a free skin available from  Frugal based on Leo’s blog’s design (with his permission).

Thesis Example Sites

Most of the Thesis sites I found using a “powered by Thesis” search – found me SEO ‘s sites – Thesis is loved by the SEO and design community because of its promotion by the “A-listers” and its opportunities for consulting by writing e-books on how to use Thesis and custom designs for those who give up on the books.

Friction Marketer again a basic Thesis look – well worth reading the article linked to from the point of view of Brian Clark’s social media skills.  (BTW that was September 2009 Brian is talking about the release of Thesis 2.0 – it hasn’t happened yet).

R James Horne – the classic “Thesis look” – sorry James !

Even More classic Thesis (sorry Steve!) Social Media

These are more sophisticated Thesis “looks” – but would have taken quite a bit of custom code to achieve:

SEO Pitfall

Quick Online Tips


Frugal Theme Reviewed  Big Thumbs Up

Sorry – the post is a bit long even for me! But I really found it an interesting comparing Thesis and Frugal – one should have the first mover advantage (Thesis), both obviously have extremely talented developers – but one (Thesis) has outsourced their marketing to the A-listers, the other (Frugal) is going it alone and trying to build a good affiliate network. Frankly one of the reasons I took so much time on this post (and it took days) was that I have seen very few in-depth reviews of Frugal – and  came across some downright misleading stuff (like the so-called lack of SEO). This is my attempt to fix that (oh and get a bit of affiliate income too!)

55 replies on “Frugal Theme Review – Frugal and Thesis Themes Compared”

Great post, as long as it need to be considering it’s a well thorough one on sharing the comparisons. 🙂

Not used either myself, free will do for now 😉

Yeah I should have probably mentioned that your theme is pretty much the least important thing about a website!

I always love your reviews. I tried out Thesis a bit and didn’t understand what all the fuss is a bout. It’s nice to hear something other than “Thesis is awesome, you have to have it” for a change. Personally, I like the Thematic framework, but I’m just not dev enough to make it do everything I want it to do, but I like the price 😉

I think I can empathize with your position a bit since I have a sysadmin background and not a dev background. I can muddle my way through but I’m just not a CSS or PHP guy (although I’ve been forced to learn a lot more than I ever wanted to).

If I ever get to the point I have a legit need (like your clients, for instance) for a framework like Frugal I’ll be happy to give it a try 🙂

The fuss about Thesis is that it had some good markters aka A-listers behind it! It wasn’t even the first to do a framework – I believe that honour goes to Brian Gardner’s Revolution theme. Unfortunately they really haven’t used that advantage and developed the theme fast enough.

One of the reasons I wrote this post is that I struggled to find a decent review of either Thesis or Frugal – X is awesome you should buy it might work for beer or chocolate but its hardly a review for sophisticated and expensive piece of software!

Good job. I guess it is just grumpy old me talking, but why should a blogger have to apologize for writing a few thousand words? When you are comparing two large, sophisticated products like these, you really can’t do an adequate job in just a few paragraphs.

When you need to, “Write On” is my rule.

I am not “investing” in either of these products at this time, but I appreciate knowing something about what makes them tick, and what the design teams behind them seem to be up to.

I will say … looking square at myself in the mirror as I do, that changing themes, tweaking themes, and all that stuff is about the most unproductive thing a blogger can do.

That said, I love doing it. (Don’t ever taker any advice from me, folks, I’m retired on a pension, I’m not “hugry” enough to always need what needs to be done.)

But, still, for sure, it is better to work on our writing and especially our link building … the “lace curtains around the windows” are nice, but they really don’t help let in light.

@Dave – moi apologize! That was a clayton’s apology as I am sure you understand! Yup can waste hours tweaking themes!

Phew, that was quite an in-depth comparison review. And you are right, the Thesis banner is really boring. Still the same.

Even Frugal Theme has included some new looking banners which I am using right now. I think one of the problems tha frugal theme is slow to catch up with Thesis in terms of sales is due to their landing page. It is not converting as well. My stats show that I have sent more traffic to Frugal then to DIY themes but Thesis converts much better.

Hopefully Eric Hamm does something about it. I would prefer to promote Frugal than the Thesis right now after they switch networks. Furthermore, Frugal pays better.

@ Costa (and Liz…if I am stepping on feet replying to your peeps, just delete this)…

The problem that frugal is facing is brand recognition although I can’t attest personally to “cold” conversion rate. Thesis leverages its A-list, has been around a bit longer (so more write-ups and reviews) and there are posts which give “tips” and “hints” to make things better. When you look at this from a practical standpoint, someone reads a thesis review….thinks about it….google’s the various search queries to see what others are saying…finds an A-list blog that has 1,000’s of readers (cred boost) and pages from more a-list (what proofing, right?) bloggers supporting the theme.

Eric Hamm actually was promoting the frugal theme on problogger and I asked him how it was going. He said that he got pretty good results from advertising there. And at $1,000 per month, you gotta think that he is making something.

On a side note, Lis, I totally agree with everything that you mention. I was using thesis but found the framework clunky compared to Frugal.

And although I know a little bit about the technical side of the internet (php and what not) and a smattering of design, I am a marketer, not a programmer or designer and would prefer to not have to worry about the technical side of things (or take the time dealing with it)

When I started on this little research project Leo I’d forgotten that you’d swapped over to Frugal from Thesis – so we pretty much came to the same place independently . I could of course learn to be quick in CSS and php – I just don’t wish to – I have higher priorities for my time – and it seems that Frugal allows me to do that

Lis, I can actually do PHP and CSS, not that I like to. I don’t have a good eye for doing good design.

Personally, I like the premium themes at . I have exchanged a lot of email with the lead developer (because of the cache plugin) and he’s really responsive to requests. No, I’m not using any of them yet, not even the free ones. I plan to, however, when WP 3 is out the door and I can work on special project. I’m waiting for it because I don’t like doing things two or three times.

RT I never heard of those – I’m not looking at those theme – but they look really pretty -but I am really, really, really not spending any more time on themes this week Oh sh*t there’s free ones too – not even gonna download those – well maybe tomorrow *sigh*

Do you know when wp3 is scheduled for?

I don’t remember the specific date, but it’s either the end of April or the beginning of May. As far as themes go, I’ll be switching out the current theme at Pattern Interrupt (see my URL) with one of the free ones, probably in the next hour or so. This is going to be the head blog for all the other blogs I’ll be setting up under that domain. I was going to let the domain expire, but it’s over two years old. I’ve decided to build it back up.

The subdomains, with the help of WP 3 and the WPMU integration, should be easy to add and maintain. I really don’t want to install WordPress again on that domain – an upgrade is much preferred – and then I can just add multiple blogs.

I plan on adding a “Star Trek” blog (yeah, so I suck) and a PHP coding blog, among others. In fact, you’re welcome to set up another blog under it if that floats your boat too. 🙂 But it won’t be until I install WP 3, okay?

All of the blogs will have different themes. I’ve used the Plainscape theme to death.

Oh shite its that close – I remember (dimly) how scary going up to 2.0 was! What exactly is wrong with Star Trek ? – well unless you count Deep Space 9 as part of Star Trek – then I will have to no-follow you!

Great review Lis

I must admit, I am awful for falling for the new themes that come out. I already own Thesis and Headway, both are ok, but there are always issues and I have to agree with you, when I first bought Thesis I thought that with a few clicks Id have a completely unique site, lol. Almost every site looks like thesis, different header, same blocky nav bar at the top. The custom css nearly drove me crazy, I have thesis on a few sites and have had to use different css to do exactly the same customizations, that probably just me though! lol

I saw your first frugal theme post yesterday and just had to check it out lol, i will more than likely buy it when I can afford to, i like new stuff and could happily waste hours playing around with a new theme

Oops I am feeling guilty now – shiny new toys cost and money and waste time – go build lots of links so you can afford it Alana!

haha Its what I do to relax believe it or not! so not guilt needed, you will actually be responsible for me taking time off, that better? 🙂

seriously though, my blog is in dire need of a facelift. Ive actually been searching for a good affiliate product theme for another site, similar to a shopping cart theme but havent found anything I liked yet, any suggestions?

@Alana I am planning on using Frugal for a shopping cart type affiliate thingy cause you can do wide pages or pages with different sidebars in them. Also check out elegantthemes they have a new product type theme which may work for you. Not that I should tell you because they are way too cheap a price to make me a decent affiliate commish!


Ive already got elegant themes! (your link is returning a 404 btw)

you’ve sold me on frugal im afraid, it might be a while, but I will be getting it, shiny new toy 🙂

Fixed link! Yup Frugal is fun – but I trying very hard to resist spending a few more hours doing some sort of new front page!

I just had to pop my head in here to say thanks for such a positive review of Frugal. 🙂

There have definitely been a few dated or inaccurate reviews in the past that left me scratching my head so it’s just very refreshing to see such a thorough take on our product.

And online income is certainly a topic I enjoy. So keep up the great work with your blog. 🙂


Thanks for stopping by Eric – that’s what I saw too – so hopefully I can fix the inbalance a bit! Your theme isn’t perfect, but what is, but it does deliver on your sales pitch which is refreshing and honest.

I bought Thesis a long time ago and have used it on a lot of sites, I like it “somewhat” because I’m fairly familiar with it now, but I am SO with you on some of the frustrating parts also; like the custom header thing. And honestly I get tire of all the updates, I never update a site already on Thesis because it will blow out my design and I’ll have to do more work. I looked at Frugral a while back (about a year ago) and Eric is a real stand-up guy. I was amazed at how quickly he returned my emails.

I have to build these wordpress sites out fast and honestly sometimes just editing the .php files is quicker but with Thesis I have to use the stupid hook thing or open hook. Great review and thanks for sharing all this with us.

Yeah I was pretty surprised to find the upgrade on Thesis broke my design – it was one of the reasons I bought it – was the suggestion that upgrading would be painless – it wasn’t. Yeah although Ireally don’t “know” php – I can certainly hack the file around to do simple stuff and never found a huge issue with doing that

Hi Lissie,

I agree with the others, another honest and informative review. If I’m ever in the market again for another customizable wordpress theme, I will definitely consider Frugal based on your recommendation.

Lis, this is impressive!

I have a customized Thesis theme running on my blog, and to reach that point I had to redesign my theme more than 4 times!

Most of people think that Thesis works out of the box, and this is not true, and as you said, it’s a marketing strategy exactly like using the SEO for marketing Thesis! Also the Affiliate program they are using is a pain, I hate it!

Thesis is ignoring some functions that makes you prefer to keep using it for ever!

By the way, I am writing a blog post, and was doing some search, I found your post, so I am going to link to it as a good source!

Cool – amazing how this old SEO thing of building backlinks actually works LOL! I would hasten to point out that I decided intiially I was just going imitate the design I already had (close as I could) – which took the “fidlde” time down significantly. I feel another fiddle coming on this weekend though!

Good stuff. I worked with Thesis for a year or so, then found Frugal and will never go back. (Whenever a client comes to me with the standard Thesis brainwashing I cringe a bit because I know the job’s going to take some extra time.)

The ability to create unique home/landing pages on the fly with frugal is especially useful…

And anyone out there building squeeze pages with WP will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly you can fire one up with Frug…

Hi Ryan – yeah I’m playing with landing pages myself at the moment – very nice and easy and no extra plugin required.


You did a great job with the review and as a Frugal Theme user I can attest first hand to the absolute quality of the theme. Just as important is the unbelievable tutorials and support from Eric. He is truly amazing in both his mind-blowing brilliance and the super-high level of support.

Thanks for checking out my site and including it in this review. I am not at all a programmer type which shows how easy it is to create a custom looking site using the Frugal Theme. I’ve done more to it since you looked at it with some of the custom hooks (home page post-it-note). Super easy.


Thanks for the excellent review on these premium themes. I want to switch from Atahualpa to something less clunky. I love the customization of Atahualpa, along with the price (free), but my blog loads slowly and I’ve had some crashes. The crashes are probably due to either plug-in conflicts or memory problems and I’m hoping that a clean, premium theme might solve these problems.

I have no coding experience, so I just grunt through using a “save –change something –check results –save” approach to improving my site. The premium themes appear to be cleaner and seem to have options that would make customization even easier, and would hopefully eliminate those memory problems and plug-in conflicts that I’m having now.

I have read lots of online reviews about premium themes and I am about 80% sold on Frugal.

However I have one last set of questions. Does anyone know if it has the ability to create multiple columns in one post or page?

I’m not talking about sidebars; rather, could I take a static page and create several columns on that one page? I can do that now with a plug-in called “page columnist”. I can create one post or page with 3 columns along a header column; and then create the next post with only one column. I love this feature and if I didn’t have any crashes would be satisfied with my current wordpress setup.

Jim – that sounds like my school of coding – we are the original “hackers” LOL How many items do you want on the page ? Are they like newspaper cols? I’ve done 3 cols at the bottom of this page but at the moment can only do it on the using the “home page bottom feature” function. Are you looking for something like this

Hi Lis,

The new look of your site surprised me quite pleasantly.

I haven’t visited for a while and it was nice to see the bright look.

I have never had any desire to get the Thesis theme although a lot of the A bloggers use it and promote it.

As for Frugal, this is the first time I read about it. From what you say about their price I’d say that perhaps they should think of changing the name or lower the price.

I am starting to learn only now how to use the more complex themes and even though it may seem easy to designers to use the themes to their full potential, regular people tend to struggle to set them up.

After reading this detailed review of yours I will stay as far away from Thesis as possible.

Frugal may have a chance of getting a closer look from me.

Great stuff. I’m glad I paid you a visit again.


I love this post! I’m so fed up with people recommending “customisable” themes which turn out to need programming knowledge to make them work. The whole point of a wordpress theme, IMO, is to have something that works out of the box,without me needing to master a whole lot of technical stuff.

I notice someone mentioned Atahualpa – another oft-recommended theme that I couldn’t understand. I find it easier to create a theme from scratch in Artisteer than to set up one of these themes! I have no idea how good the SEO is on my Artisteer themes though – how do you check that??

Here is a new one, a blogger who is not out to make money 😉

Seriously, I use Thesis, got a bit stuck with it and hired a designer to develop it for me. The blog is clickable above. Its my personal story as a Brit living in Sweden. The blog suprisingly attracts 500 visitors a day.

Now my life in Sweden is coming to an end as I have accepted a new assignment in the USA, SF to be exact and want to create a new blog there. I was surfing around for themes and found frugal..then I found this blog (a link from a forum) and I really like this review.

Thesis is great and I love the look of my blog, however I had to get a tech to sort it all out for me. Judging by this review, Frugal looks like I can do this myself.

I will buy from your affiliate link as this is a very honest and well written review, how Internet marketing should be!

Thanks Shane – I do try! Interesting blog BTW – are you going to do a brit living in SF one too?

You’ve done it, Lis. Finally, an in-depth, fair but with no punches pulled.

A modest addition. Developers make money on Thesis, for exactly the reasons you and others here say. So they have every reason to push Thesis. Some are honest about it, but too many aren’t.

What slays me is that an overwhelming numbers of the Thesis developers call themselves “designers.” Hah. I’ve looked at their designs. Overwhelming numbers (bis!) again…they’d get the maker tossed from art school in the first week. Colors only the colorblind could love, grievous misunderstandings of concepts like whitespace, minimalism, grid. Design is about aesthetics. And no amount of tweeting about the latest “kick-ass site” is going to change that.

Oh, and everyone chirps and tweets about the superior typography of Thesis. Hah. It offers more than websafe fonts in its dropdowns, I’ll give them that. But as a typographer by background (I actually go back to cold lead days)…that just ain’t typography. Now way, nohow. (I’m going to blog about this in depth…somewhere).

Like yourself, I came to Thesis as a newbie, recommended from a source I (foolishly) trusted. Hah. Again. Even with a background in building html sites I found it…annoying. I don’t get my proverbials off by coding when I can get the same effect by either pulling switches (frugal) or dragging/dropping (Headway). The time saved goes into the things that matter: aesthetics and writing. I’ve got this crazy idea that those are the things that matter.

I love the look of your site Lis! Really nice colors.

I bought Thesis many months ago and returned it within 48 hrs. I had believed all the hype and was totally confused by how to use it. I much prefer frugal!

Lis, that’s a useful review you’ve done.

I was very nearly swayed by the hype around Thesis when it first came out but didn’t like the way it was promoted, I really felt they were out to get my money!

I dipped my toes in the WordPress waters with ElegantThemes and really like their designs but found them tricky to work with, things didn’t always do what I wanted them to and it was a techie bridge too far for me.

Frugal – while by no means completely perfect – is something I love using every day. I have the highest regard for Eric and like the way he does business. He is unfailingly patient (maybe he has a pillow he can stab when he gets frustrated) and obviously is passionate about his business.

Love the way you’ve used Frugal on your own site too.


I agree Marion – I really like how Eric does business too – keeps it real – not that hard – but not all that common either!

Thanks for writing this review. I bought the developer option of Thesis and although I have a *little* ability with code, I ended up in tears of frustration because of how difficult I found it to use, and your comments about the “support” not being newbie-friendly rings very true. I went for a refund after a week.

A friend suggested I might have more luck with Frugal, and I’m guessing from what you’ve written here that it’s much more user-friendly, and that I can select options without having to use any code at all. My main reason for going for Thesis in the first place was because of the SEO, but your post mentions the “free all-in-one-seo plugin” – are you referring to something I can get from the WP plugin directory?


Josie – seriously I think you will have more luck with Frugal – I did all that I had to make this blog the way it does without a line of code and only a couple of stupid questions in the forums (which were helpfully answered!)

Yes all-in-one-SEO is a free plugin that you will find if you search for that name in the plugins/add new screen. But with frugal you don’t really need it either because Frugal has a good set of SEO options as well!

Best of luck!

You can also implement a lot of SEO optimization tactics from your back-end, so you do save some time with Frugal. Frugal is another clean and light-weight theme that is specifically designed for pro bloggers. It’s easy to deploy and customize, and it doesn’t need you to be a genius to customize it. And unlike Thesis, it does have a free version, so you can always try it out before making your purchase. A great theme to give your blog a whole new look.

Frugal is optimized for performance. If you are looking for a clean, light-weight theme to build your blog around, Frugal is a good option. Plus you can easily add your own logo without too much trouble. Some themes do make it a bit complicated but not Frugal.

I just loved it. With frugal you’re giving your WordPress website a boost in SEO with In-Post/In-Page SEO options, along with full control over the layout of your many page titles, NoIndex/NoFollow options, Canonical URLs and much more!

Yes I quite like the SEO options in Frugal Chris – there’s enough there without being overwhelming.

Frugal is optimized for performance. If you are looking for a clean, light-weight theme to build your blog around, Frugal is a good option. I would give it 4/5 stars.

I use the Thesis theme so I suppose I’m biased. To be honest the Frugal theme looks very similar…..

The stuff that goes on the pages of the Thesis theme depends on the person using it, not the theme itself, it can be as clean or as cluttered as you want.

I’ve not seen the “back-end” to the Frugal theme, but can say that the one with Thesis is very easy to use, even for noobs like me.

We disagree – I’m not a beginner but Thesis isn’t easy for anyone who doesn’t have a good grasp of css and html – Frugal you can achieve the same with little or no code

Wow! An honest review of Thesis. I love it. I have a love hate relationship with Thesis. The product is not as advertised, not for beginners. And some of the things CP says are incredibly immature and unprofessional.
I am not a newbie. I understand the concepts of programming. However, if I have problems with Thesis (getting what I want sometimes) newbies must be sadly disappointed. One thing I’ve suggested is a comprehensive FAQ and (real) help site. I doubt that will happen.
I haven’t tried Frugal, but will be doing that immediately. I good framework is a life saver for anyone who builds multiple sites.
Thanks for the best review I’ve yet read about Thesis.

I have been reviewing thesis and frugal and although I purchased thesis 1 year ago, I find that unless you understand css coding you are quite limited to some of the changes you can do and the unique pages your can create. I think Eric Hamm is a new-age wordpress theme designer with pretty impressive development work done on the Frugal theme, I will be going with Frugal. He has a really easy to use control panel and lots of training videos and instruction manual on how to use the theme. by the way, the frugal team just launched a fabulous impressive new plugin for squeeze/landing pages called – check it out.

Snapped it up off your link – surprised at myself, because I have used Thesis for some time – but just tried to upgrade a 1.5 site – and it broke!

Also, if Leo is using it…

Great job on the review. I have been using Thesis for about a year and have gotten use to the coding, but have to agree, if you are looking for simple solution to build a nice looking blog, thesis will take a lot longer to create that. At the developers price I have to stick with thesis for now as I am not buying another theme until I have so much friggin money I can buy them all because I can. I think had this post been written awhile ago I would have bought Frugal. So if you are on the fence and don’t want to spend the time learning php or css just buy Frugal.

Hi Lis, love you comments about Frugal. I first purchased Thesis developers version and stopped using it it within 1 week of commencing as I did not know much coding, but did think it had a pretty good interface. I heard about Frugal on a OfferVault Webinar via Justin Bow. I was converted immediately when I saw a demo of Frugal. It has a great interface and so many user options to change things without knowing any code. I have never really had any problems with Frugal and use it straight out of the box format. I tried to look for complaints about the SEO on Frugal on the ‘frugal forum’ and www. but could not find any. thanks for a great review.

My question is, is it easy to customize if you do know CSS? I get annoyed that so many themes cater to people who don’t know anything about web design but don’t leave an option for those that do.

Comments are closed.