New Email Support Means Faster, Better Service

by Chris Pearson · 70 comments

Looking for the article on Thesis version numbers? Click here!

For nearly 6 years, we’ve handled all of your support requests in the DIYthemes forums. Countless words have been written back and forth to resolve everyday issues, and that’s worked fairly well for everyone so far.

But I think we can serve you better—a lot better, in fact.

That’s why I’m happy to announce a new, email-based support model that will enable us to reply to you directly in the most accessible place of all—your inbox.

(Although we will continue to operate the forums just as we always have, all official support will be moved to this new system.)

Let’s take a quick look at our new support model and see why we’ll be able to serve you faster and more reliably than we could through the forums.

Some Shortcomings of Forum-based Support

While we’re proud of the assistance we’ve provided in our forums over the years, there are quite a few things forums just don’t do very well.

First, the transient nature of forum requests means that we answer the same questions over and over again, because people have no easy way of knowing their question has been answered before.

This costs us time and energy, but more important, it costs you valuable time that you could have spent being productive instead of waiting for a response. After all, why wait for a response if your question has already been answered in detail?

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that vBulletin, our forum software, has a terribly inadequate search function and no reasonable way for us to mark certain posts as good answers.

Ultimately, we need to turn all good answers into easily-searchable resource pages on our site.

Second, the signal to noise ratio in the forums is quite low. A single post may generate any number of responses, but in the best case scenario, only one of those responses is an official, dead-on-the-money correct answer.

This means you end up sifting through a bunch of forum posts just to find one that exactly answers your question.

I don’t think it’s right when you have to work that hard to find the answer you need. The bottom line is simple:

I want you to benefit from more signal and less noise.

Benefits of Email-based Support

An email-based support model allows us to solve some of the major problems of forum-based support.

First, you’ll receive reliable, official responses from DIYthemes in a timely manner. No more checking back into the forums every few minutes to see if your question has been answered—with email support, the answers you need will arrive directly in your inbox.

Next, we will be able to organize all our support interactions in a way that simply isn’t reasonable with the forums. Thanks to this enhanced organization, we’ll be able to distill our responses into high-quality tutorials and resource pages on this site.

(And let’s face it—these new resources will beat the heck out of searching through our forums and hoping you can find a suitable answer to your question.)

Because of this, we’ll be able to deliver more accurate responses faster, and this means you’ll spend less time dealing with technical obstacles and more time focusing on your site.

The Forums Aren’t Going Anywhere!

In fact, our new support model is going to help us improve the quality of the forums.

Now that we will be creating official responses to common questions (in the form of resource and tutorial pages in the User’s Guide), the entire community will be able to link to these documents with confidence.

The forums have always been the best place to meet and interact with other members of the Thesis community, and that isn’t going to change.

But now that everyone will be on the same page regarding common issues, the quality and accuracy of every interaction in the forums will improve.

In short, no matter where you go for help with Thesis, you’re going to get more precise answers.

Introducing the Customer Support Center

You now have two great ways to get help with Thesis, and you can access both through our new Customer Support Center (login required).

From here, you can send our staff a support request, and we’ll send you a detailed response via email.

Alternatively, you can visit our members-only forums and see what the Thesis community has to offer (or share your knowledge with others).

And no matter where we interact in the future, we want you to know that we are committed to helping you build the website you always wanted.

About the Author: Chris Pearson, Thesis creator and DIYthemes founder, is obsessed with optimizing the web and making sure every last detail receives the attention it requires. You should follow him on Twitter here.

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Vivek Parmar

That’s really great and a great news to all thesis users. With Thesis 2.0+ many users facing problems and many of them switched to different themes/theme framework. Now with this news, all the users can easily get the answers of all the problems in pretty easy way.
Thesis rocks..

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Chris Pearson

Vivek, we took great care of our Thesis 2 users in the forums, but for years, I’ve felt that we could do a better job with support and offer a greater level of service.

It took some effort, but our new system should help us do just that.

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Melinda Mitchell

Please tell me how to change the title on my homepage. I have a thesis theme website. I know how on the post pages but not the homepage.

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Chris Pearson

Melinda, if you’re talking about the <title> tag on your home page, then you can edit that by going to Thesis AdminSiteBlog Page SEO.

Fill in the appropriate title field, hit the save button, and then you’re good to go.

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Leah

Awesome. I totally relate to searching for a previous thread and spending sooo much time going through answers that don’t quite fit before ending up posting a new thread. I always got great support when posting, and that’s important to mention, but this will be a huge time/frustration saver I’m certain. Great move and thank you.

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Chris Pearson

Thanks for the comment, Leah. As you mentioned, saving time and improving accuracy are what these changes are all about.

Also, I know I’ve talked to you on Twitter before, but I hadn’t really flipped through your fine portfolio of sites. You’re doing really excellent work, and I encourage anyone reading this to click on your name in the comment above to check out some very fine Thesis craftsmanship!

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Leah

Coming from you Chris that means a lot. Thanks a ton. And thanks for what you’ve created- it’s been instrumental in the growth of my career as a web designer and I can’t imagine going back to any other framework.

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Rick Anderson

Way to go! It demonstrates to all of us users that you are supporting us for the long haul!

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Chris Pearson

Thanks, Rick. Let’s do a webinar again soon :D

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Rob McCance

Doth make sense

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Chris Pearson

+1 for brevity!

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John Harries

A really smart change that will only enhance the credibility of Thesis.

Thanks

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alan

Hey Chris,

It’s like a breath of fresh air reading that. I have thesis and haven’t used it that much because it’s complicated(for me obviously not for you or coders) for the lay person.
As a heads up I would predict that you are going to get inundated in support.
With people just asking questions than looking for answers.

So I would suggest (may piss some people off) but different levels of support.
I would happily pay a minimal fee $4 per month knowing that I will get a detailed fast response.

Anyway that’s my 2 cents and looking forward to using thesis more now.

Quick question about my site (I used a cms SAAS service for a client) the company is closing down. No access to the backend.

Question, “Can I duplicate this site(I have 3 others as well) into Theses 2.0

Cheers from OZ

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Chris Pearson

Alan, any site can be duplicated into Thesis. Right now, there is no “magic bullet” button that can automatically convert a site into Thesis, so that means you’d have to recreate the templates and styles to mimic the site you’re trying to duplicate.

With Thesis, you can accomplish all of this from within the Skin Editor, and you won’t need to mess with files, HTML, or PHP (unless you want to).

Obviously, this implies some knowledge of how websites work, but the fact is, you can do this most easily and efficiently with Thesis.

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Michael

This is such a relief! Just send through my first request :) Great idea!

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Bill Stilwell

Wow it’s been 6 years! What the … One on one support is the best. Good move Thesis team.

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Chris Pearson

Bill—time flies when you’re having fun. I still remember the first few months of the business like it was yesterday.

Back then, I was just interested in getting things off the ground and figuring out basic ways to handle customers. Now that I have a better idea of the scope of the business and what customers need, I want to refine our approach and do the very best job possible.

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Holly

This makes so much sense. I was frustrated with the forums even though my questions where always answered. The conversational shorthand found in the forums was over my head….I had a tough time understanding what they were trying to tell me. I would rather read tutorials….get a base understanding, then ask questions if I need more help than that. I appreciate the fix on this…Thank You Kindly….Holly

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Chris Pearson

You said:

I would rather read tutorials….get a base understanding, then ask questions if I need more help than that.

That is a very interesting insight, and you’re not the only person who has mentioned this. Based on your comments, I think you’ll be quite satisfied with our new approach.

Distilling common support items into actionable documentation is now job number one, and that should translate into instant benefits for people like you.

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Stefani

Woohoo! This is so exciting! Now that I am sticking with one theme – and ONLY one theme (Thesis, of course!), I have been quite the regular in the forum (with questions…not answers, ha, let’s not get crazy!). Pierre, Phil, and many others have been AMAZING! I cannot thank you…and them…and everyone…enough for helping me with various challenges/questions I face as a new web designer. Thank you thank you – I am truly grateful…and excited!! :)
-Stefani

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Chris Pearson

Well now I’m excited, too!

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Steve Howard

Great News. One more request – How aboiut making the user manual/Guide downloadable in PDF format? Our internet out here is intermittent and this would help immensely by allowing me to carry it on my iPad.

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Chris Pearson

Steve, what a great idea. I had never even *thought* about .pdf-itizing our documentation before, but now I definitely want to do this.

My only concern is that the documentation changes frequently, so anything you download or print out would have a limited shelf life. That said, most of the information in the guide would be applicable all the time, so maybe this isn’t that big a deal after all.

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Chris

Wow. I like it. Never cared much for Forum based support because of lack of confidentiality.

Well done! Never heard such a logical case for email support. I always tell my own clients email support is vastly better because everything is documented and right in your inbox (as opposed to waiting on hold over the phone or waiting on hold over the phone. Again, nicely done, folks!

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Chris Pearson

Chris, good call about the confidentiality—I hadn’t even considered that, but it’s obviously a major concern for many people. I’ll chalk this up to another win for email-based support!

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CraigS

Chris
I ALWAYs found the answer I needed i. n the forum via searxh , or via the no-one-gets-left-behind support from your entire moderator team plus extended team of Superbeings ( such as Kristarella)
Just so you know.
Email support sounds like over delivering to me.
Stay çlasssy
Craig

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Chris Pearson

Email support sounds like over delivering to me.

Perfect! I always want to operate in the “over-delivering” realm :D

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Blogging Tips

Amazing announcement! I hope that the new support system will operate smoothly and fast.

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Chris Pearson

Me too ;)

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Stalyn

Great news, specially for new users like me.

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Alok Sharma

Hi Chris,

Thanks a million for introducing the support system.

I was unable to resolve my issue in the forum and almost gave up. All these months, I didn’t even both to look at the theme anymore. In fact, I switched over to different themes & framework and all these months, I was wondering if I should sell this out to someone else.

But all thanks to the new support system in place. I hope I will be able to get my queries resolved.

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Chris Pearson

Alok, send us a support request, and we’ll answer any questions you may have. I know you’ll love Thesis once you get comfortable and gain a basic understand of how it works.

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Giulio Giorgetti

Great work!

You should think also to have 2 different section for Thesis 1 and Thesis 2.
There are few info about Thesis 2, please add more articles.

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Chris Pearson

Giulio, we have divided our User’s Guide into two parts—one for Thesis 2, and another section for Thesis 1.

Thesis 1 was our primary offering for 4.5 years, so we have a ton of documentation for it.

Thesis 2 has been around for a much shorter time, but we have a significant amount of documentation available for it now, too.

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Puneet Sahalot

This is surely jaw dropping news for existing and new users. How many theme providers provide such a dedicated support? Not many. At least I don’t know of any.

Email support also means that the users will have the patience of waiting for a solid and reliable answer. And I am sure a lot of common questions will get added to user guide, making it much more powerful and content rich.

Good luck Chris and DIYThemes team.

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Chris Pearson

Thanks, Puneet! I’m really excited for these changes because I know we’re going to be able to do a better job for dedicated Thesis users.

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Rachel

This is great! I’ve found the forums really helpful – everyone really tries to get an answer pretty quickly. However the search function is pretty awful, and it’s true that sometimes I needed a tutorial first, and questions answered later.

It could be true that you’ll be inundated with requests. I for one would be willing to pay a per-use fee that would be give me a super-fast, detailed answer (with code) on how to do what I want.

BTW- anyone who wants to get an answer from the forums straight in your inbox: just click on the “email me notifications” box in the subscribe to comments part of your comment.

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Chris Pearson

Great comments, Rachel. I considered a pay-per-use model, but I feel a huge responsibility to take care of the basic Thesis usage. In my opinion, this means support for things like installation and general use should remain free (it just seems right).

That said, design customizations are a different animal altogether, and I think a pay-per-question model may be in the offing once we get our feet firmly planted with this new support paradigm.

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Nathan Monk

This is welcome change. I’ve always thought that the forum was an inefficient support model.

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Chris Pearson

Support is a tricky aspect of the software business, to be sure. While the main goal is obviously to help people, a secondary goal is to leverage that support and turn it into something that is useful down the road.

With the forums, we were able to do a great job in the first area, but we’ve done a poor job leveraging the work we’ve done and turning it into resources.

It’s unreasonable to answer every single forum post with a highly-detailed, comprehensive solution. However, by creating and then utilizing on-site resources, we will be able to provide these kinds of answers in one-on-one support over time.

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Radek

That sounds interesting. Could you share with us what platform you are going to use? I cannot grasp how you can handle so many emails if every issues means new email.

I like stackoverflow style as it offers answers while typing the question. It quite often helps me to find the answer before even asking.

I hope there will be more tutorials in the future because Thesis is quite hard to learn for me. But the possibility to create exactly what I want it is what I do like.

Thank you

Radek

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Chris Pearson

Radek, we are using HelpScout to act as a queue for incoming support emails. So far, I’m extremely pleased with the system, which contains reporting, organizational tools, and other features that are helping us streamline support and make it more consistent.

Also, it’s interesting that you bring up StackOverflow. This was my initial choice for our new support model, but they don’t allow independent white-labeling.

That said, I love how StackOverflow’s model allows for good answers to be “bubbled up” to the surface. One day, this is what I hope the forums will be.

And finally, we are working on enhanced documentation every day. Now that we have begun our new support model, I’d expect to see more tutorials at a more consistent rate than ever before.

All of these updates will be in the User’s Guide, so be sure to check it out from time to time to see what’s new.

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Gowtham V

Many even don’t know how thesis 2 can do and many thought it not worth the time to learn how thesis 2 works and moved on to other themes which offer far less features than thesis..

With this Email support, customers who are and who have faced a difficult time with thesis 2 will get their queries answered soon and will come to know about thesis 2 more and will stick to it :-)

Awesome work Chris :-)

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Chris Pearson

Thanks, Gowtham, and I agree that our new support model will help our users derive more value from Thesis.

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Tadas

I’ve always had this question prior to posting on forums, and I know I’ll be asking myself the same prior to shooting an note to e-mail support so maybe someone can clarify this for me here.

What is the scope of Thesis support via e-mail or forum? I mean when it comes to Thesis functionality, installation, skin settings, troubleshooting etc. it is all an easy guess whether the questions are within the scope of support. But I’m very green in CSS, styling, etc and I always had doubts whether I should be posting questions about these things as to not overwhelm the support staff. These were clearly just more general issues of Wordpress that didn’t have anything to do with Thesis. Its like you guys sold me a car but I keep coming back and asking you for directions to Grand Canyon. :-)

OK so my question would be, is e-mail support going to be limited to topics only related to Thesis or will you have enough resources to render advice on how to get to Grand Canyon?

By the way, hats off and a big Samurai bow down to Pierre and Phillip on forums, these two guys have provided enormous help and guidance, I couldn’t be more grateful.

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Chris Pearson

Great question, Tadas.

The areas of support for which we are officially responsible include Thesis installation, along with general functionality and usage.

“Unofficial” support topics include design customizations, WordPress and Plugin compatibility questions, and other custom add-ons.

That said, we understand that people with limited knowledge may just need a nudge in the right direction, even if their topic concerns an “unofficial” support item. In nearly all cases like this, we are more than happy to give people the help they need.

Ultimately, we have to draw the line somewhere, because our staff has ended up writing dozens (sometimes even hundreds) of lines of custom CSS and PHP for customers, and clearly—that’s above and beyond the call of duty.

We supply the software and basic functionality, but the customizations you make and how you extend it are up to you.

Finally, a good rule of thumb with support requests is this: When in doubt, send us a support request about your topic. If it falls under official support, we’ll take care of you right away. If not, we’ll point you to a place in the forums (or elsewhere on the Internet) where you can get information that will help you out.

Even if we cannot help you specifically, we are happy to serve as navigators to help you get where you need to go :D

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Tadas

Got it. Thank you for the clarification Chris.

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Srinu Ipathy

Forums helped me a lot whenever i was facing a problem.now this is even better.

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Tadas

Oh dang and I forgot a big Samurai bow down to Godhammer!

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Godhammer

武士の正式な挨拶は、あなたに戻ります。あなたには、いくつかの熱いお茶をご希望ですか? :)

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Tadas

常に喜びマスターGoddhammer。私は、任意の日あなたとお茶を持つことになります。

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Mark Williams

Hi crew, awesome idea. Was happy with the support from the forums and after reading this post can see the benefits to both parties with a dedicated email support line. Will miss the shenanigans on the forums with GodHammer tho. Guy has the patience of a Saint and a wicked sense of humour ;)

Ps – also makes me feel a bit more at ease for less tech savvy clients that wish to *move on* after I’ve built a site for them, as they can now get more tailored support with this service. I know a few customers who have tried other themes because they felt the forums were a bit over their head.

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Chris Pearson

You said:

I know a few customers who have tried other themes because they felt the forums were a bit over their head.

I wonder what those customers thought when they encountered other themes’ support forums :D

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Mark Williams

They didn’t fare very well from what I heard ;)

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Tapiwa

Good to hear. Whilst forums do provide tons of support sometimes on problem is somewhat unique that it needs the help of an email “guru” to fix it :)

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Dattaraj Vidyasagar

Its a very nice beginning of a kinda personal forum on which we shall be able to interact with, possibly, Pearson, himself.
Nice to hear this!
Keep it up!

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Angela Watson

Just wanted to say thanks for this. I’ve always been impressed at the ability to get tech help within just a few hours (or even minutes) even late at night and on weekends. I thought you all did an awesome job with the forums and I’m sure the email solution will be even better. Great work.

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Cam

I think that this will be a good thing for many that are not as technically inclined or that are just starting out Chris.

Ive always found your forums to be best in class with getting support and questions answered and quickly resolved. I say this honestly when I say that DIY Themes provides the best product support that I have ever experienced.

It’s a testament to Thesis and you as well Christopher that you listen to what your customers are saying (negative things) that people want improved and that, you are taking the necessary action and addressing the concerns of those that do prefer email communications for support issues vs having to go on the forum.

You have made some big changes in the past year Chris and I applaud you for your hard work and diligence!

Respectfully,

Cam

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faisal

A step in the right direction, kudos.

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Hogar

Excellent theme and excellent service

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Sybille

great – I am one of the people who hated searching for answers in the forum. I feel this is really a step in the right direction.
Is there a cheat sheet somewhere for most common custom CSS?

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Chris Pearson

Sybille, although we build our official Skins from a similar CSS base, each Skin is different enough that “most common Custom CSS” always has an idiosyncratic aspect to it.

That said, I am hopeful that our new support model will help us identify some of the most common design customizations. Using this information, we’ll be able to create resource pages for each Skin that will give users shortcuts for common Custom CSS.

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Sybille

cool – although I don’t do much customization, I really enjoy “playing” with thesis :-) )

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Jared

Great News!

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Simon

Please tell me how to change the title on my homepage. I have a thesis theme website. I know how on the post pages but not the homepage.

…if you’re talking about the tag on your home page, then you can edit that by going to Thesis Admin → Site → Blog Page SEO.

Fill in the appropriate title field, hit the save button, and then you’re good to go.

Hey Chris,

I just can’t find the Thesis Admin … I have looked for it … novice here … thanks.

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Chris Pearson

Simon, the Thesis Admin is located inside your WordPress dashboard. When you’re logged into WordPress, check out the links on the left side of the page. One of them will say Thesis—that’s your link to the Thesis Admin.

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Bolke

Not to be mean and cynical, but – what’s the advantage of email support? The only difference is that others don’t have the benefit of seeing the question + answer, as well. The article said that, as is, we have to “check the forum every few minutes” to see if there’s an answer. Not so, of course – I get a notification directly into my Inbox when there is an answer.

So…..why this change, beloved helmsmen?

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Duncan Elliott

Hi Chris,

I think there is an in-between option, betwen the chaos of the forum searching (sorry to be brutal) and personal email support…

Have a team member turn much of the forum into a separate and organised FAQ. Then within the FAQ, it might link to a certain page on the forum if/where relevant.

The main issue with the forum is navigation/search. A number of times I have searched for quite a while and the search results didnt show what I needed, but further search did eventually get me what I needed.

So a better organised structure of an FAQ system might be easier to navigate, and also for you, would limit the longer term ongoing cost of the email support. Obviously the email support could continue, but maybe 80% of their work would already be done by the FAQ

Good luck,

Duncan Elliott

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Anjali

Thanks for introducing Email support system and forum support system and how they are useful and time saving.

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Kemal Kaya

This is so exciting! A really smart change.
I thought you all did an awesome job with the forums and I’m sure the email solution will be even better. I hope there will be more tutorials in the future. I’ve always been impressed, Great work.

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