Preview Post Comment

Figure 3.38. Here users are able to preview their posts in advance, as well as be remembered

As the latter examples prove, there are certainly a few bells and whistles at your disposal to spruce up the plain old comment form. You need to be aware that publishers using your theme may want to employ these features, and plan for them in the design phase. The Subscribe to Comments plugin, which adds the Notify me of follow-up comments checkbox seen in Figure 3.37 and Figure 3.38 above, is one highly popular example. There are also a number of plugins that provide comment preview functionality, so it's worth incorporating this handy feature as well.

The second major component of WordPress's comment system is, of course, the comments themselves. Each comment should show the name of the poster—usually as a link back to the website URL they've provided—as well as the date the comment was posted and the actual comment text. WordPress makes use of the Gravatar4 author thumbnail service by default, so you should plan for displaying avatars with the comments.

3 http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-comments/

4 http://en.gravatar.com/

Threaded Comments

Threaded commenting, a relatively new feature to WordPress, allows visitors to reply to previous comments. As a result, the replies will often be displayed indented under the "parent" comment, rather than in an aligned chronological list. It's highly advisable that your theme at least support threaded commenting; individual publishers may select to opt out of this feature, but as it's standard in WordPress, you'll need to ensure that it works for publishers who do choose to allow it.

Let's take a look at some well-designed comment lists in Figure 3.39, Figure 3.40, and Figure 3.41. You'll notice the clear separation between comments, as well as author thumbnails and prominent reply buttons.

Figure 3.39. Clear and legible comment design
Figure 3.40. This comment list features alternating background colors between posts and big Reply buttons

Richard

Gumnos has a good point, methinks, Does the 'Create Stunning HTML Email That Just Works' book cower the creation of dual HTML and Text mails?

May 27th 20:

Reply "

Richard, Mat certainly talks at length about the importance of doing Just that, The book is pitched at designers first and foremost so the technical aspect of setting up a server to manage multi-part mail is probably outside it's scope.

The book advocates utilizing a service that manages that stuff for you. Sure, Campaign Monitor is an obvious option, but we know Mailchimp is great, and Constant Contact has it's fans. There are plenty of others.

Louis ((fflrssadict) made the point like this: you probably don't host your client sites in your basement server, because that isnt what you do. I'd argue sending good email is harder to get right than hosting websites.

May 28th 2010,11:17 an

Reply "

Figure 3.41. The SitePoint blogs use an arrow to display threaded comments

Often comments by the author of the post that's being commented on are styled differently from other comments, in order to stand out, as seen in the last example. This is a common enough feature that many publishers seek out, so it's well worth investigating for inclusion in your theme.

Sidebars and Widgets

The term sidebar has a special meaning in WordPress: rather than referring specifically to a column on one side of a page, the sidebar is actually just a section in your layout that can contain user-specified widgets. The sidebar is an incredibly flexible area, so it's worth spending time on the design. The overall appearance should be consistent with the rest of your layout, but the individual widgets can be more accentuated than they are in WordPress's default treatment.

First, just to ground your understanding of what goes into a WordPress sidebar, let's look at the most basic version of the sidebar, highlighted in Figure 3.42.

Figure 3.42. The sidebar in the default Twenty Ten theme

Notice that the sidebar includes two elements: widget titles and widget content. Remember those two basic elements as we take a look at other sidebar styles in Figure 3.43 to Figure 3.48.

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