Developing Themes: Drupal Compared With WordPress, First Impressions

I love WordPress, let me get that out of the way at the beginning. But Drupal is really powerful. And terribly exciting—you can do so much with it! But I only like Drupal. Bit of a difference.

I’ll let that serve as introduction to letting you know that I have two projects that will require Drupal as a CMS and I don’t think that WordPress will cut it. WordPress, like I’ve said before, makes a great little CMS. But it’s not for everything. One project is a site for a complex and growing organization that will need finely grained user permissions and the other, a hobby site, is something like a Digg-clone for rating and sorting user-generated content. Sort of the standard “you need Drupal” projects. Continue reading

How To Set Line Endings in Smultron for your WordPress Themes

About 5 minutes after releasing my first WordPress theme, Theseus, upon the world, I had my first support ticket to deal with. Check it out:

Thank you for this awesome theme, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me.

This is what it says after installing and testing it.

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_VARIABLE in /home/javitsin/public_html/wp-content/themes/theseus/index.php on line 1

Now a Parse Error happens when, essentially (I say essentially, not exactly, because I’m a designer not a programmer), you make a typing mistake in a PHP file. Thing is, I hadn’t made any typing mistakes—that I could see.

The problem is, I work on a Mac and Macs handle line endings, you know, where you press return, differently than everyone else. Different as in, make Unix computers explode. Unfortunately for me, a lot of web servers are UNIX computers. That explode. Continue reading

Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Conquering a Maze of Content

A preview of Theseus, A WordPress Theme for Your Maze of Content

Theseus is the legendary Greek hero famous, amongst other feats, for defeating the Minotaur at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth and finding his way out again, thanks to a ball of string. This theme hopes to do the same, leading your readers through a maze of content, taking them carefully through what they need to see without getting lost.

The WordPress theme, Theseus, does this in two ways; by prominently featuring the latest post in a “feature” category of your choice (conveniently set on the theme options page) and moving all non-essential stuff (you know, widgets) to the page footer. Continue reading

WordPress Theme Preview: Theseus

Theseus, A WordPress Theme

Clicking on the image above will take you to a demo of my WordPress theme-in-progress, Theseus. Of course, depending on when you read this, it might lead to the finished theme. Then again, you may be reading this farther in the future than I’m anticipating and the link will instead lead to a page extolling the virtues of our new Martian overlords. In that case, all hail Theseus, Emperor of Mars! Continue reading

Increase RSS Subscribers With WordPress Conditional Tags

This is the scenario: a new visitor, or a visitor returning after some absence, reads through the main page of your blog and clicks a “previous entries” or “older posts” link. Who is this visitor? What do we know about them? Well, 1. they want to read more content (congratulations!) and 2. (in the case of the returning visitor) they’re not subscribing to your blog.

How can we remind them of the benefits of subscribing at just the right moment, when the benefits are clearly apparent? Easy. Use a WordPress conditional template tag.

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The Ultimate WordPress Theme Test

Bear with me, this one is going to hurt. Load up your blog with your favorite WordPress theme on it. Ready? Scroll down.

Yep, scroll your theme down, down past the header and menu, down past the post titles. Scroll down to a page full of text and links and no distractions. This is where The Ultimate WordPress Theme Test will take place. This is where the best themes shine. Because this is where your readers will spend the bulk of their time and this is where your theme does the real work. Columns too wide or narrow? Font too big or small? Typography lame? Remember, content is there to be read. Don’t let your theme get in the way of that. Continue reading

3 Google Code Projects That Will Save Your WordPress Theme

Google Code LogoGoogle Code is Google’s hosting repository for open source projects. Got an open source project? Google Code will host it for free. Want to make a killer WordPress theme that just plain works? Then Google Code is your best friend. Three projects on Google Code will help you get your WordPress theme done right. A trinity of open-source WordPress theme development tools: Sandbox, Blueprint and IE7.js.

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The Holy Grail of Blog Design

On January 30, 2006, A List Apart published In Search of The Holy Grail, Matthew Levine’s answer to the leanest, semantically correct, and bulletproof structure for a web-standards-based, 3 column layout with a liquid center—The Holy Grail.

Three columns. One fixed-width sidebar for your navigation, another for, say, your Google Ads or your Flickr photos—and, as in a fancy truffle, a liquid center for the real substance. Its wide applicability in this golden age of blogging, along with its considerable difficulty, is what has earned the layout the title of Holy Grail.

This article, and others like it, probably saved 1 million tons of lost hair among the web development community. You should read it if you haven’t already. But it’s not the end of the story. Continue reading

LaunchPad, The WordPress Domain Parking Theme

LaunchPad, The WordPress Domain Parking Theme

If you’re like me, you like registering domains. It’s exciting. But what’s not exciting is watching your hosting company or domain registrar turn your name into an ad-farm while you’re getting ready to launch your next WordPress blog. If you didn’t know it, that’s called domain parking; a way for hosts and domain registrars to capitalize on all the underdeveloped domains out there. That’s why I came up with LaunchPad, the WordPress Domain Parking Theme. To explain: if this theme had a motto it might be, “I’m not your billboard.”

Now with most hosts offering one-click installs of WordPress—I recommend Fused Network—it couldn’t be easier to park your domain in style while you get your future blog ready. Just install WordPress, sign up for FeedBurner with email subscriptions (see instructions below) and you’re set! You get a professionally designed domain parking page—for free—that serves up an RSS feed link and a form for email updates. Continue reading