This book will take you through the ins and outs of creating sophisticated, professional themes for the WordPress personal publishing platform. It will walk you through clear, step-by-step instructions to build a custom WordPress theme. This book reviews best practices in development tools and setting up your WordPress sandbox, through design tips and suggestions, to setting up your theme's template structure, coding markup, testing and debugging, to taking it live. The last three chapters are dedicated to additional tips and tricks for adding popular site enhancements to your WordPress theme designs using third-party plugins.
The WordPress publishing platform has excellent online documentation, which can be found at http://codex.wordpress.org. This title does not try to replace or duplicate that documentation, but is intended as a companion to it.
My hope is to save you some time finding relevant information on how to create and modify themes in the extensive WordPress codex, help you understand how WordPress themes work, and show you how to design and build rich, in-depth WordPress themes yourself. Throughout the book, wherever applicable, I'll point you to the relevant WordPress codex documentation along with many other useful book references, online articles, and sites.
I've attempted to create a realistic WordPress theme example that anyone can take the basic concepts from and apply to a standard blog, while at the same time, show how flexible WordPress and its theme capabilities are. I hope this book's theme example shows that WordPress can be used to create unique websites that one wouldn't think of as "just another blog".
Whether you're working with a preexisting theme or creating a new one from the ground up, this title will give you the know-how to understand how themes work within the WordPress blog system, enabling you to take full control over your site's design and branding.
I'd like to thank those of you in the WordPress community who took the time to read the first edition of this book and e-mailed me your comments along with posting your book reviews. This is your book.
Chapter 1: Getting Started as a WordPress Theme Designer introduces you to the WordPress blog system and lets you know what you need to be aware of regarding the WordPress theme project you're ready to embark on. The chapter also covers the development tools that are recommended and web skills that you'll need to begin developing a WordPress theme.
Chapter 2: Theme Design and Approach looks at the essential elements you need to consider when planning your WordPress theme design. It discusses the best tools and processes for making your theme design a reality. The chapter explains some "rapid design comping" techniques and gives some tips and tricks for developing color schemes and graphic styles for your WordPress theme. By the end of the chapter, you'll have a working XHTML and CSS-based "comp" or mockup of your theme design, ready to be coded up and assembled into a fully functional WordPress theme.
Chapter 3: Coding It Up uses the final XHTML and CSS mockup from Chapter 2 and shows you how to add WordPress PHP template tag code to it and break it down into the template pages a theme requires. Along the way, this chapter covers the essentials of what makes a WordPress theme work and how to enable your theme to take advantage of new WordPress 2.8 features such as sticky posts and threaded comments. At the end of the chapter, you'll have a basic, working WordPress theme.
Chapter 4: Debugging and Validation discusses the basic techniques of debugging and validation that you should employ throughout your theme's development. It covers the W3C's XHTML and CSS validation services, along with how to use the Firefox browser and some of its extensions as a development tool, and not as just another browser. This chapter also covers troubleshooting some of the most common reasons "good code goes bad", especially in IE, along with best practices for fixing those problems, giving you a great-looking theme across all browsers and platforms.
Chapter 5: Putting Your Theme into Action discusses how to properly set up your WordPress theme's CSS stylesheet so that it loads into WordPress installations correctly. It also discusses compressing your theme files into the ZIP file format to share with the world and running some test installations of your theme in WordPress' Administration panel so that you can share your WordPress theme with the world.
Chapter 6: WordPress Template Tag, Function, and CSS Reference covers key information under easy-to-look-up headers that will help you with your WordPress theme development—from the CSS class styles that WordPress itself outputs, to WordPress' PHP template tags and plugin hooks, to a breakdown of "The Loop" along with additional WordPress functions and features such as shortcodes that you can take advantage of in your theme development. Information in this chapter is listed along with key links to bookmark, in order to make your theme development as easy as possible.
Chapter 8: Dynamic Menus and Interactive Elements dives into taking your working, debugged, validated, and properly packaged WordPress theme from the earlier chapters, and enhancing it with dynamic menus using the SuckerFish CSS-based method and Adobe Flash media.
Chapter 9: Design Tips for Working with WordPress reviews the main tips from the previous chapters and covers some key tips for easily implementing today's coolest CSS tricks into your theme, as well as a few final SEO tips that you'll probably run into once you really start putting content into your WordPress site.
Essentially, you'll need a code editor, the latest Firefox browser, and any other web browser you would like your theme to be displayed in. Most importantly, you'll need an installation of the latest, stable version of WordPress.
WordPress 2.7+ and 2.8+ require the following to be installed:
• PHP version 4.3 or greater
• MySQL version 4.0 or greater
For more information on WordPress 2.8's requirements, browse to
You'll also need a code editor and an image editor such as GIMP, Photoshop, Fireworks, or Corel Paint (or any graphic editor you prefer really). This book covers samples using Photoshop and some samples in GIMP.
This book can be used by WordPress users or visual designers (with no server-side scripting or programming experience) who are used to working with the common industry-standard tools such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver, or other popular graphic, HTML, and text editors.
Regardless of your web development skill set or level, you'll be walked through the clear, step-by-step instructions, but familiarity with a broad range of web development skills and WordPress know-how will allow you to gain maximum benefit from this book.
In this book, you will find a number of styles of text that distinguish between different kinds of information. Here are some examples of these styles, and an explanation of their meaning.
Code words in text are shown as follows: "You have to add it to your theme's header.php or files that contain the header tags "
A block of code is set as follows (Code and markup preceded and ended with ellipses "..." are extracted from the full context of code and/or a larger body of code and markup. Please reference the downloadable code packet to see the entire work.):
font-family: "Trebuchet MS", Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
When we wish to draw your attention to a particular part of a code block, the relevant lines or items will be shown in bold:
<form method="get" id="searchform" action="http://yourdevurl.com/">
<div><input value="" name="s" id="s" type="text">
<input id="searchsubmit" value="Search" type="submit">
New terms and important words are shown in bold. Words that you see on the screen, in menus or dialog boxes for example, appear in our text like this: "The best way to proceed with the Error Console is to first hit Clear and then reload your page to be sure that you're looking only at current bugs and issues for that specific page ".
Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.
Tips and tricks appear like this.
Tips and tricks appear like this.
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The success of a blog lies in the content. It is the content and the key words that consistently attract potential customers. Great blog content literally means something different on every blog. Great blog content is researched and not impulsive. You cannot treat the blog as an experimental playground and expect it to work for you. It is designed to mean business and make you presence felt online and you have to ensure it performs the way you want it to.