How To Design A Popular WordPress Theme: Chris Pearson’s Secret

Want to design a popular WordPress Theme? Then you better take a look at what Chris Pearson is doing. He knows the secret of designing a popular theme.

Chris is arguably the most popular and successful WordPress Theme designer in the short history of blogging. Press Row, Cutline, The Copyblogger Theme, Neo-Classical, and now Thesis, have all struck a resounding chord with the WordPress community. It’s impossible to find a blogger that hasn’t run across at least 1 of these 5 themes and admired them.

What’s his secret? Why are his simple-looking themes more successful than others? Can any theme designer duplicate his success?

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The Gallery Theme for Thematic by Chris Wallace

Wow. Just, wow. Chris Wallace has outdone himself with the advanced Thematic Child Theme he’s released through Smashing Magazine. It’s called Gallery and it’s amazing.


Gallery—like every theme released through Smashing Magazine—is just packed with loads of cool features.

  • A jQuery slide hover effect on thumbnails
  • Lazyloading for thumbnails
  • Built-in social media links for each gallery item
  • Seamless integration with the following plugins: WP-PostRatings, BuySellAds plugin, and Contact Form 7
  • And, of course, it’s built on Thematic.

Make sure you check this one out if you’re looking at producing a Gallery or Portfolio site. Smashing Magazine calls it “extremely flexible” and recommends it as a “starting point for design galleries and portfolios”. Get the Gallery Theme.

Using Filter Hooks in WordPress Child Themes

In this post you’ll learn to take advantage of Filter Hooks in your WordPress Child Themes. Filter Hooks are an essential weapon in your WordPress Theming arsenal. With them you’ll have almost complete control over the HTML created by your WordPress Theme—without touching any template files.

Warning: things will get a little technical on this one but hang in there—you’re about to become an expert in this stuff.

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Modular CSS in WordPress Child Themes

In this post you’ll learn how to leverage modular CSS in your WordPress Child Themes by looking into another directory with @import or the tag. We’ll be making a Child Theme called Chiron that will use the modular CSS of the Thematic Theme. A theme you can use as the basis for further customization—and for following along with future posts in this series.

You’ll also get a brief introduction to the concept of using Filter Hooks in your theme—something that we’ll be looking at more closely in a later post.

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WordPress Child Theme Basics

In this post you’ll learn all the basics of WordPress Child Themes: WordPress Child Theme file structure, how to make any WordPress Theme a blank framework, how to import Parent Theme CSS styles, how to override Parent Theme styles, and how to override Parent Theme Template files. You’ll also learn that all of this is incredibly easy and within your grasp and that it might just change how you think about WordPress and Theme development.

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ThemeShaper Redesigned and Reloaded

ThemeShaper’s been redesigned. If you haven’t seen it yet, or want a tour of the design, click on over from your feed-reader, or empty your browser cache. Let me tell you what all the fuss is about.


The last redesign was, a little hasty. It introduced a lot of good things to this site and kept a lot of the bad. And so, for a while now, I’ve been working on a new Thematic Child Theme for ThemeShaper called, The Break.

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