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.

The Goals Behind This Redesign

I wanted this to be a break from ThemeShaper’s past look—without straying too far—as well as a break from some muddled strategic decisions. (That and I just couldn’t get The Break out of my head).

Of course, this design is goal-oriented. And a lot of it revolved around making sure Thematic was being properly presented—or in other words, how do I better feature Thematic without it taking over my site! So the Thematic page gets a makeover with a nice 3-column list of features, praise, and support links. Along with a really nice Child Theme gallery that pulls the 4 of the Child Themes in random order and it’s own mega drop-down that showcases everything Thematic.

And every page gets a makeover too, really, falling into a new grid I came up with based on a maximum width of 988px with 40px gutters. This gives me a more elegant visual framework for the specific content I’m publishing for an audience that typically maximizes it’s browser space. There’s a goal checked off right there.

A Tour Through The New Site

You can see another one of my goals being met in the home page screenshot above—better access to the content here on ThemeShaper for all visitors, while still highlighting my featured projects—that’s why you now see a 3-column grid of mostly randomized content pulled out of my 2 most useful post categories. A closer look at some of the new elements, and a few of the new places and features, will help get at more of my thinking and site goals.

Highlighting Thematic Child Themes


Nothing really showcases the power of using Thematic for your next project quite like the collection of WordPress Child Themes that have been released for it. Those themes, and the authors behind theme deserved far more attention than I was giving them. So, thanks to a few custom fields, for $thumb, $themename and $themeurl, and a little bit of custom CSS and PHP, I can now feature them on the Thematic page right below the main section.

The category archive for Thematic Child Themes has been given a makeover too. Rather than use just the regular category page I’ve copied over the default category.php from Thematic into my Child Theme and renamed it category-XX.php (XX being the category ID number for Thematic Child Theme posts) and started using those same custom fields and a merged custom query to build a paged grid of theme links.

Here’s the code for the merged query for anyone interested. It needs to go just before the loop.

global $wp_query;
		  'cat' => XX,
		  'posts_per_page' => 12,

You can find more information about custom queries on the WordPress Codex entry for preserving original queries.

Making Everything Thematic Easy To Find

And everything you need to make Thematic the perfect theme for you is now presented in an easy to find fashion in the Thematic drop down menu.


There really is a lot of Thematic stuff happening now; WordPress Child Themes, a Theme Store, a forum, a wiki, professional customization. I hope this drop-down will help everyone out.

A New Footer

The footer also got a make over. Actually, this is the first time I’ve ever had anything like a substantial footer. And more, I’ve finally felt like I needed one.


I’ve expanded on my about section in the footer by adding links to Twitter and StumbleUpon. I’ve found these two services to be an important part of my web presence and I thought it was time I better linked that part of my presence with this blog.

There’s also an expanded theme credit and link to the services page. Have I mentioned you can hire a professional designer to build you a Child Theme for Thematic?

Plus, you can see the new ThemeShaper mascot, Shapely, in that screenshot! Hi, Shapely! He also appears on the revamped Store page. And Shapely probably appear in a few other places eventually.

What Do You Think?

What do you think of the redesign? Are you going to find it more useful? Do you hate yellow? Do you miss the nebula in the header? Are you using IE6? Sorry about that, if you’re using IE6. I just can’t be bothered. Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments. I’m always happy to hear your thoughts, positive and negative, on a redesign.

23 thoughts on “ThemeShaper Redesigned and Reloaded”

  1. Ian, the new design not only looks great but it enhanced the usability of the site as well. Also, I am a big fan of the larger footer with an inverted color scheme and Shapely is a nice touch.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Love the redesign! Not sure about the Roman numerals for the on the top right links (id=”menu-secondary”) – is that intentional? I suppose so as I see it’s nicely styled. Just a bit different than I’d expected. I guess that’s good, eh? 😉

  3. I do miss the nebula, but this new design is much better. It’s easier to read, easier to navigate, and just plain looks cool. The Thematic pages really show off the framework, and I’m sure they’ll help foster its growth.

    1. Mission accomplished, then. 🙂 The Break also references my break from space-ey graphics on the ThemeShaper theme. (But I kinda miss the nebula too, perhaps I’ll re-use it somewhere else)

  4. I am always a fan of using warm grays and you didn’t excellent job here. The site is clean, modern and easy to read. Though I do have two style issues. 1. the logo either needs to a little bigger or the header space a little smaller. So much negative space makes the logo feel puny rather than important. 2. The drop down menu uses a serif font that looks great, but makes it difficult to scan quickly. It forces me to have to stop and read. Overall great new redesign.

    Viewing from PowerBook / Safari 4

  5. The new design is great! I can finally find all that Thematic info that one needs when building a child theme! Shapely looks quite in shape to 😀 !

  6. I, ah …. liked the old design better. Obviously I’m in the minority, so it is most likely due to my tastes. The old one seemed much “airier” and simpler.

  7. Ian,

    I didn’t start working with Thematic until recently, so I can only comment that I really like the new design.

    Easy to find information about Thematic, the child themes, and lots of lovely white space.

    Ian, a question for you: can you explain how you placed the search box in the menu div? I used the method from Cozmoslabs but it resulted in a page that doesn’t display the search box correctly in IE6 or IE7. In those two browers, using Cosmoslabs method for adding a search box, the search box displays below the menu div.

    I reviewed the code for “The Break” and saw that the search box is contained within the menu div, but I didn’t understand how to do that in functions.php given the menu is generated with wp_page_menu

  8. Availability of “The Break”? Hi, is that child theme available or did you only develop it for use on the themeshaper-site? Regards, Martin

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