A Better Spot for The WordPress Meta

One of the first things many new blog owners do is remove the Meta section from their sidebars. Great idea. The Meta information is almost completely useless. And I’m not the only one that thinks so.

The Meta section includes some admin links like “Login” or “XHTML Valid.” While those links might be useful for the owner of the blog, they offer no value at all for the reader. The next time you set a WordPress blog up, start by removing the Meta section from the sidebar. Daily Blog Tips

But you know what? It’s only almost completely useless. It has two great functions; it gives you a link to your admin area from every page and it lets you logout from your blog. Pretty handy when you’re on a public computer. How can we fix this up so we don’t look amateurish and still retain the useful functionality? Easy! Conditional tags and Javascript.

Well, kinda easy. If you want to implement this on your blog you’ll have to do some fiddling around with your theme. No guarantees that the following technique won’t make your site explode.

Here’s what we want to do. Only show the login block to logged-in users and while we’re at it take the whole thing out of the sidebar and put it somewhere really useful: in a sliding panel that drops down from the top of the page with a click, wherever you are on the page.

Continue reading

The Future of WordPress Themes 2008

Hey There! If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out The Future of WordPress Themes 2009 after you’re done reading 2008’s predictions. It’s a good read.

When I predicted the downfall of premium WordPress themes I immediately began to think of the future of WordPress theming in general. Where was it headed really? And if I really wanted to know, who should I ask? Well, if you want to know where WordPress themes are headed in the future, these are the kind of people you want to ask—and the people to watch. And wow, am I glad I asked.

Here are 11 people committed to thinking creatively about WordPress themes and what they mean. These are some of the people who will carry and lead WordPress theming into 3.0 and beyond. Some of these people will set the agenda for the future of WordPress themes. And this is what they think it will look like. Continue reading

The Future of Premium WordPress themes

It’s prediction time: The Premium WordPress Theme phenomenon has approximately one year left before collapsing entirely, leaving a rather large hole between completely free WordPress themes and custom themes $1500 and up. If you’ve got a “Premium” WordPress theme waiting in the wings I advise releasing it sooner rather than later. As in, now.

Before I explain myself let’s get one term straight: Premium. I’d rather use the compound “pay-for-use” because more often than not “Premium”, when it comes to WordPress themes, simply means “it costs money” and not “of superior quality”. This isn’t true for everyone of course. But it is certainly true of some (and will increasingly become true of more as the market becomes saturated).

Alright, that out of the way let’s get on with the doomsday WordPress theme market scenario. This week theme designer Justin Tadlock released a jam-packed WordPress-as-CMS style theme called “Options“. The download package is just a mess—in the best way possible; Justin’s got extra widgets, sub menus, javascript tabs, page templates and integration with popular plugins and web services, all wrapped up in a fairly clean design ready for customization. Way to go Justin.

Oh, and Options has one more feature. It signals the end of the Premium WordPress theme market.

Continue reading

MNML, A TumbleLog Style WordPress Theme

A Preview of The WordPress Theme MNML
Automattic, the folks behind WordPress.com have a great quote on their company site, “Blogging is too hard.” I totally agree.

Why did you start your personal blog anyway? You wanted a place online to share things you found interesting and occasionally write a longer article, maybe even a rant. Right? Did you want to start a magazine site with 40 categories carefully arranged on a complicated home page? Or did you want a blindingly shiny site that looked like it had been attacked by a pack of floor buffers? Probably not. Did you want something simple and cool looking? Something easy to post to? Something that looked and worked like the tumblelog-style WordPress theme MNML? (What’s a tumblelog?)

Maybe. Let’s take a closer look at it.

View the live Demo or Download MNML.

Continue reading

A Tumblelog Theme for WordPress, a Preview and Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about my next theme (now available), reviewing the themes in progress and looking over my list of plans. I think I’ve come to a conclusion about what the next ThemeShaper theme will be. Oh wait, you’ve already read the title so you know. Yeah, it’ll be a Tumblelog theme.

First things first, what’s a Tumblelog theme? Well in my mind it’s a theme that lets you tumble with the now. A theme that lets you post, post, post—consequences be damned. A Facebook where you’re in control. A tumbling rolling current of links and thoughts that doesn’t try and pass itself off as a community hub, premium news magazine, or anything anti-blog. It’s the bloggiest of all blogs really. Especially in this current phase of WordPress. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading