7 popular features for a better WordPress theme

August 3, 2010 | No Comments Yet

ForTheLose.org lists 7 useful “trends” that designers/developers might want to incorporate into their future WordPress themes:

  1. Tabbing System
  2. “Featured” Post Display
  3. Post Thumbnails
  4. Cross-Browser Transparency
  5. Animated Dropdown Menus
  6. Modal Boxes
  7. Theme Options Pages

The term “trend” doesn’t seem too descriptive in this case. Yes, these features are popular right now and any theme author could attract more users by incorporating them, but they’re popular for a reason, and that’s because they actually improve one’s experience while using the theme—whether as a blog reader or a webmaster.

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More on the Automattic Theme Team

April 16, 2010 | No Comments Yet

More details emerge about the newly-formed Automattic Theme Team, led by Ian Stewart. In his newest post at ThemeShaper, now the home of all things A-theme-team-related, he explains their goals for themselves and the WordPress community. Here’s one of six:

Every WordPress.com user should feel like there’s a theme that fits them perfectly, that is exactly how they want to present themselves to the world, that they’re excited to show to their friends.

The team would also like to encourage the best coding practices and reinforce the spirit of giving back to the whole community, helping WordPress theme authors (premium or 100% free) and WordPress theme users alike.

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Ian Stewart & Viper007Bond join Automattic; “Theme Team” in the works

March 9, 2010 | No Comments Yet

Aside from his theme Kirby becoming the basis for 2010, the next default WordPress theme, Ian Stewart has announced that he joined Automattic as its new Theme Wrangler. Aside from this, he shared news that a “Theme Team” is being formed and that his own site, ThemeShaper, will be its home.

ThemeShaper will become a public-facing blog for the Theme Team now assembling at Automattic. A place where we can help provide the best possible experience for everyone involved in WordPress theming; from the noobiest of beginners to the most powerful of WordPress wizards.

The state of WordPress theme development has made leaps and bounds in the past few years, so it’s great to see an even bolder step taken with Ian and the Theme Team.

Another prominent contributor to the WordPress community got picked up. Viper007Bond, known for his plugins like Viper’s Video Quicktags and YOURLS, also announced that he’s joining Automattic full-time. He didn’t, however, mention any special plans on the plugin development front, but it makes sense for that to come along later on.

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WordPress Theme Directory submissions require 100% GPL support

February 25, 2010 | No Comments Yet

WordPress theme authors looking to submit their works to the official theme repository should take note of some specific guidelines with regard to the GPL. While it’s a given that your theme should have a GPL license, your website should also be in full support of the license. Matt Dunn shares that when he submitted a theme and got rejected, this was the message he recevied:

Thank you for submitting the Elegant Blog theme, however it has not been selected to be part of the theme directory. Themes from sites that offer or support non-GPL themes (matthewlyle.com) are not included in the directory.

His post serves as ample warning:

You must either create a separate website to house them, or remove any “support” of non-GPL themes from your website. This would include advertisements for something like the Thesis theme, ThemeForest, and also any paid themes that you’ve created in the past that are not GPL compatible.

It seems the folks behind WordPress want WP designers and developers to embrace the spirit of GPL completely, not just during the occasion that they create themes for the platform. That sounds like a fair price to pay to earn inclusion into the directory, though I wonder if using a “separate website” is a proper solution if promoting the GPL is the goal.

(Via WPLover)

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An early look at WordPress.org Profiles

September 4, 2009 | 1 Comment

WP Tavern reports on the first instance of BuddyPress running on an official WordPress site: WP Profiles.

While we briefly talked about this during episode 70 of WordPress Weekly with Andy Peatling, today during the early part of the WordPress developer chat, Jane Wells passed on a link to http://profiles.wordpress.org which is the first public instance of BuddyPress in action on the WordPress.org domain

On the front page is a list of the recently active members. Click on one of them to view his/her profile, which lists contributions to the WordPress project, particularly the following sections: Plugins, Support forums, Ideas, and Trac. From that you can deduce that if you have an account at WordPress.org, you can login to WP Profiles.

One of its more important features is the ability to add oneself to the Consultants List. WordPress professionals can opt to have their names listed in the WordPress consultants list, presumably this page or something similar on WordPress.org. That’s instant exposure for your business, courtesy of the official WordPress site itself!

The WP Profiles site is a good example of taking BuddyPress to the next level with a custom members site, and of course increasing the social aspect of the official WordPress community site. But is this also a hint at the previous cryptic announcement at WordCamp San Francisco that WordPress.org and WordPress MU are going to merge?

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20 WordPress theme frameworks

July 27, 2009 | 1 Comment

Codefusion Lab lists 20 WordPress theme frameworks that can speed up your theme development process. Some highly reputable WordPress theme designers are behind these frameworks, so you can be guaranteed of quality platforms to build your WordPress theme on.

If you’re not a theme designer, don’t fret: several frameworks have child themes you can use straight out of the box, or if you feel like using super-customizable, option-filled starter themes, this is the collection to check out.

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WordPress seminars in Davao from July 3-4

June 30, 2009 | 2 Comments

Heads up, Mindanao folks! There are two WordPress seminars coming to your area—Davao City, to be specific—this July. WordPress for Bloggers and WordPress as a CMS. Fees vary from Php150 (students) to Php450 per person. Here’s the sked:

SEMINAR 1: WORDPRESS AS CMS

Date: 3 July 2009 (Friday)
Time: 5:00 – 8:00 P.M.
Venue: Lane Systems conference room, Wheels n’ More Drive, J.P. Laurel Ave., Bajada, Davao City (in the compound where Urban Club & AutoShop are located)
Fee: ?450 per person
This seminar will tackle the fundamentals of the WordPress engine: the templating system; built-in PHP functions for delivering & manipulating content; design elements; introduction to theme & plugin design. Installation and maintenance best practices will also be included. Prerequisites: PHP, XHTML & CSS.

SEMINAR 2: WORDPRESS FOR BLOGGERS

Date: 4 July 2009 (Saturday)
Time: 2:00 – 6:00 P.M.
Venue: PhilNITS Lab, 5/F Mintrade Bldg, Monteverde cor. Sales Sts. (this is the building where DTI-11 is located; at the ground floor is PNB)
Fee: ?300 per person | Student rate: ?150
The seminar for bloggers will feature advanced coverage on WordPress deployment & utilization: how to make the most out of your self-hosted WordPress installation. Important topics: theme management; plugin management; SEO basics; introduction to the world of server hosting. Bonus topic: AdSense integration and optimization, c/o Lyle Santos.

Sign up here. How I wish there were something like this in the metro! We’ll have to be a little more patient for the upcoming WordCamp Philippines, then.

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WordCamp Philippines theme and plugin developer profiles

June 19, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Calling all Filipino WordPress theme and plugin developers! WordCamp Philippines is compiling a list of developer profiles and plans to feature them on a special section on their website.

As part of our activities running up to WordCamp Philippines 2009, we’d like to feature you right here. Wouldn’t it be great to have a section on this site containing all Filipino contributors to the further development of WordPress? Once we have enough of you guys in the database, we’ll publish a Philippine WordPress Developers section on WordCamp.ph.

Tangkilikin ang gawang Pinoy! This is a great next step in strengthening the local WordPress community. Sign up here.

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WordPress plugin developers still need good business model

June 16, 2009 | No Comments Yet

There’s been a lot of talk about how to earn money from WordPress themes, including whether or not such methods comply with the GPL it possesses. Now it’s the plugins that need addressing. Kevin Eklund of ToMuse discusses this issue in depth.

Many developers reach a point at which they are simply unable to continue long-term support their plugins. This is largely due to the maintenance and support costs incurred for their plugins which far exceed the revenue generated by the donation based business model which most plugin developers utilize.

He then lists alternative business models for developers: premium, freemium, paid support, and ad-supported.

WordPress is a flourishing community and a potentially good source of income, so we have high hopes for the hard working folks who have made the publishing platform as beautiful and flexible as it is today.

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WordCamp Philippines 2009 is coming!

May 30, 2009 | 1 Comment

Preparations for the second ever WordCamp Philippines have begun, as announced by Blogie Robillo and the rest of the Mindanao Bloggers. It’s pretty early to tell what this event will be like, but we’ve got several pieces of information already, like the tentative venue (Asian Institute of Management), another mini WordCamp in Davao, and a new website, WordCamp.ph, courtesy of dotPH. Expect an organizational meeting within the coming week.

How can you help? Easy peasy:

We are now calling for volunteers for the various committees (logistics, tech, food & refreshments, etc). If you would like to be a speaker at WordCamp, let me know! And if you have suggestions on topics to be presented / discussed at WordCamp, do leave a comment right here.

Are you excited yet? I know I am! New to WordCamp? Check out how last year’s went down.

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How to set dynamic body IDs/classes in WordPress

May 28, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Perishable Press lists 9 different ways you can “label” your <body> element using PHP and WordPress—very useful for development themes with special features depending on where you are in a WP site. A lot of them are derived from theme development experts and popular theme frameworks like the WordPress Sandbox.

The 9th way must be mentioned here: when WordPress 2.8 comes out, things will become much easier since it now has the body_class() function. More info about that here (since there’s no page on the Codex for it yet).

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WPSeek, a WordPress search engine & reference

May 26, 2009 | No Comments Yet

wpseek.com - A WordPress-centric search engine

What started out as a Firefox add-on is now a full-blown standalone search engine for all things WordPress. WPSeek returns content from WordPress Codex documentation, useful code snippets, Google search results, Support Forum discussions, and your own notes. All in one place. Thrown in some AJAXy autosuggest goodness and you’re all set!

Depending on your web browser of choice, you can add the website as a custom search engine. There’s also an API, a Firefox Ubiquity plugin, and finally an Adobe AIR desktop client in the works.

Theme and plugin authors will definitely find WPSeek immensely useful. And if you’re just learning the ropes of WordPress, it’s definitely worth a visit.

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Achieving ultimate SEO satisfaction with WordPress

May 22, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Andy Beard has an extremely detailed article on tweaking WordPress themes and plugins to achieve real SEO satisfaction on your blog. He tackles two key elements, first link priority and referential integrity, and covers a lot of tips that will be of great interest for theme and plugin authors with an SEO slant.

I don’t think there is one “premium” WordPress Theme that doesn’t claim to be perfect for SEO “out-of-the-box”, so I thought I would bash some theme developer heads around and maybe knock some sense into them.

[…]

That doesn’t leave WordPress SEO plugins off the hook, there isn’t one plugin that gets beyond 60:40 or with some tweeking possibly 70:30, depending on what factors you feel are important, or are aware of.

As for bloggers looking for that “perfect” SEO theme or plugin, don’t be so easily convinced—it takes a lot of tweaking to get optimum results. Of course, he also talks about the simple solution: while making great content is top priority, you still need to “think like an SEO & Marketer”.

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Get to know the “rockstars” of WordPress

May 13, 2009 | No Comments Yet

We Rock WP

The term “rockstar” has been pretty popular in the WordPress community but how this site has taken it to a whole new level. It’s not your typical showcase of well-designed sites rocking WordPress, but of people! Specifically, individuals who have done a great job in improving the WordPress brand, whether as designers, developers, or evangelists. Which is why you’ll probably recognize a lot of the names and faces on WeRockWP.

And if you don’t, time to get to know them!

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Force WordPress theme CSS changes immediately

May 5, 2009 | 2 Comments

Theme authors: if you’ve been tweaking a WordPress site’s CSS file, the changes you’ve made usually don’t immediately show up for the blog visitors without a forced refresh. The reason: web browsers usually keep cached copies of site files. Mark Jaquith has a neat fix that allows you to grab the latest version of the CSS file and override the cached one automatically.

Just use this line of code in your header.php file:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="<?php bloginfo('template_url'); ?>/style.css?v=<?php echo filemtime(TEMPLATEPATH . '/style.css'); ?>" type="text/css" media="screen, projection" />

This automatically updates the ?v= part every time you modify the file. Boom. Now everyone instantly sees your changes.

This should also work for other files like your Javascript files.

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Designing for WordPress screencast series

May 4, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Alex Denning of Nometech.com has launched a screencast called Designing for WordPress, a three-part series that teaches you how to go from a static HTML web design to a full-fledged WordPress design, all in glorious video.

Designing for WordPress is something that a lot of people want to learn how to do. But don’t know where to start. Why? There aren’t too many great tuts out there for people wanting to get started with WordPress theme design. In this screencast we’ll be converting HTML to WordPress: a great place to start for any aspiring theme developer.

If you know a fair amount of HTML and want to go into WordPress theme design, this video should be a good place to start. Watch out for the succeeding parts too!

(Via Hack WordPress)

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How to make any theme a blank framework

April 23, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Ian Stewart of ThemeShaper has an article showing people how to turn any WordPress theme into a blank theme framework. Using the template parameter in the style.css theme declaration block is key.

Now we get to my point: the template parameter turns any theme into a Parent Theme—a blank framework—when you make that Child Theme the active one. All you have to do is select that new Child Theme in the themes panel of your WordPress admin. The Child Theme is now using all the template files—header.php, index,php, sidebar.php, etc.—from the defined Parent Theme and none of the CSS of the Parent. WordPress looks for the CSS in the Child Theme directory. Try it yourself. It works right now in WordPress and let’s you modify any theme with CSS alone.

As mentioned in the article, you can just pick a parent theme, such as Kubrick, the current default WordPress theme, as your parent theme, then only override certain parts of it without having to re-code everything from scratch. It’s a great new feature in WordPress 2.7 that you should check out.

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WordPress Theme Directory moves to WordPress Extend

July 18, 2008 | 1 Comment

You might remember that the official repository of WordPress themes was once hosted at themes.wordpress.net, but unfortunately had to close down for several reasons. Today, WordPress Themes has reopened at a new location at WordPress Extend, a fitting parallel to the Plugins section.

Bringing the new theme directory under the WordPress “extend” umbrella allowed us to take advantage of all the infrastructure that has already been built up to support WordPress.org. If you’ve browsed through the plugin directory, you’ll feel right at home in the new theme directory.

Aside from having the privilege of being at the official site of WordPress, themes uploaded there will be more convenient to update for ordinary WordPress users, as they have done with the automatic plugin updater already built into the latest version of WP.

However, theme authors, keep in mind that you must meet several requirements to get your themes listed. As with the recent development on the old themes.wordpress.net, themes with hidden, paid, or sponsored links are not allowed.

In order to be added to the directory each theme must meet the following
requirements:

  1. A single zip file, with all of the files themes file included.
  2. There must be a style.css file containing:
    1. Name (which must be unique to the directory)
    2. Tags
    3. Version (in the format of x.x or x.x.x and must be unique to the theme)
    4. Image align classes: img.centered, img.alignright, img.alignleft,
      .alignright, .alignleft
  3. The screenshot file name must be screenshot.png, and be a
    real screenshot of the theme, not a splash screen.
  4. Licensing must be GPL compatible.
  5. No hidden, paid or sponsored links in the theme. Links back to the
    author’s site are fine.
  6. The theme must be your own original work.

Upload your WordPress theme now!

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