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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes
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Modifying important settings


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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes

with Chris Coyier

Video: Modifying important settings

So we have an absolutely fresh install of WordPress that we're looking at here. We are looking at the front end of our site with the default theme 2010 that comes with WordPress 3. I want to take this opportunity while the install is fresh to go through different WordPress settings. So to get back to the Dashboard, if you're looking at the front end of your site, my favorite way is, since we installed the WordPress at the root here, just to go to wp-admin. It's going to take your right to your dashboard if you are logged in. If you are not logged in, it'll take you to the login screen.
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  1. 6m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 19s
    2. Using the exercise files
      5m 25s
  2. 40m 42s
    1. Reviewing the client spec and deciding on WordPress
      6m 50s
    2. Reviewing assets and resources and creating a mood board
      8m 41s
    3. Building a home page mockup
      11m 26s
    4. Finishing the home page
      12m 27s
    5. Planning the rest of the site
      1m 18s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Starting with a base project
      3m 6s
    2. Writing HTML code for the home page
      12m 7s
    3. Starting the CSS: Creating the header and basic style structure
      11m 28s
    4. Styling the Navigation panel
      10m 59s
    5. Styling the sidebar
      7m 55s
    6. Styling the home page, pt. 1
      8m 20s
    7. Styling the home page, pt. 2
      8m 17s
    8. Finishing the CSS
      3m 14s
    9. Moving on: One page is enough
      2m 43s
  4. 1h 56m
    1. Setting up WordPress and MAMP on a Mac
      6m 7s
    2. Setting up WordPress and WAMP on a Windows computer
      5m 38s
    3. Modifying important settings
      6m 26s
    4. Starting with a blank theme template
      4m 35s
    5. Introducing template file structure
      4m 55s
    6. Breaking up the HTML
      9m 53s
    7. Building the sidebar
      3m 54s
    8. Building the navigation
      7m 20s
    9. Showing one recent post
      4m 1s
    10. Fetching external content
      8m 23s
    11. Creating a custom home page
      3m 30s
    12. Introducing custom fields
      5m 23s
    13. Creating custom product pages
      9m 52s
    14. Creating custom category pages
      15m 39s
    15. Creating the blog home page
      5m 39s
    16. Creating a single blog entry page
      4m 15s
    17. Implementing comments
      5m 57s
    18. Finishing the home page
      4m 45s
  5. 34m 17s
    1. Will this work with WordPress?
      3m 10s
    2. Using JavaScript in themes the right way
      8m 35s
    3. Implementing something fun with JavaScript
      7m 53s
    4. Introducing plug-ins
      6m 31s
    5. Setting up security
      8m 8s
  6. 2m 7s
    1. Goodbye
      2m 7s

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WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes
4h 28m Intermediate Nov 03, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes, author Chris Coyier shows how to build a custom WordPress theme from scratch and satisfy common client requests. The course covers steps necessary to build a theme using a complete workflow with Photoshop, HTML, CSS, and WordPress 3.0. Also included are tutorials on enhancing a WordPress site with JavaScript, using plugins, and ensuring site security. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Building a design in Photoshop
  • Converting Photoshop design to HTML and CSS
  • Setting up MAMP on Mac and WAMP on Windows
  • Moving HTML and CSS into a WordPress theme
  • Building navigation
  • Using custom fields
  • Creating a commenting system
  • Using JavaScript and plugins
Subjects:
Developer Web CMS
Software:
WordPress
Author:
Chris Coyier

Modifying important settings

So we have an absolutely fresh install of WordPress that we're looking at here. We are looking at the front end of our site with the default theme 2010 that comes with WordPress 3. I want to take this opportunity while the install is fresh to go through different WordPress settings. So to get back to the Dashboard, if you're looking at the front end of your site, my favorite way is, since we installed the WordPress at the root here, just to go to wp-admin. It's going to take your right to your dashboard if you are logged in. If you are not logged in, it'll take you to the login screen.

You can enter your username and password, and you'll come right to the Dashboard here. So, what I am going to be doing is go through the settings. So there is this little arrow here. You can pop down the settings. We're going to go through each panel here. But in the General Settings, you can name your site. So let's try changing that just for fun. Now what I'm going to do here is I'm going to Command+Click the title of our site, and open up the front end in the new tab. So I have the settings here on the left, and this other tab is the front end of our site. So if I just change this, I'll just put test at the end of it, and save these settings.

You can see that this theme takes that into account and changes the title of our site. So that's what that's all about. I can change the tagline, so you see the tagline is up here. I can change that. Our theme may utilize these things. We'll see as we move forward. Then I am going to click on the Writing tab. One of the things I like to change in the Writing tab right away is the Size of a post box. You see it says 10 lines. Let's see what that means. Up here in the right there is a button that says New Post. This is how you create a new blog post in WordPress.

So I'll click that. We'll come to the new Add New Post screen. What it's talking about here is this box, this white box where you can write a blog post. Now at this screen resolution, this amount of room kind of looks okay. It kind of looks proportional. If you have a larger monitor, it might look kind of small and it can feel cramped as you start to write kind of larger blog posts. So that's what that Setting is all about. So if I go under Writing, it's going to warn me about this draft, like "oh, you were writing a blog post, you don't want to lose it, right?" That's okay.

Obviously, we're just writing gibberish there, so you can change the size of that box here, which is a nice feature. I like to change it to 20 or even 25 lines a lot of times. We'll click on the Reading tab. It's going to ask us about where we want to show on our front page, how many blog posts do we want to show? So if we click back on to the front page of our site here, you can see this Hello World. This is our first blog post. There is only one blog post. We can see that in the admin area, clicking under Posts. There is one post here, Hello World! So in our Reading Settings, it says show the 10 most recent blog posts.

Well, there is only one, so that won't really affect us very much. Let's say there were 11. If there were 11, it would only show the first ten, and then a link to kind of go back in time, and we would show that further one back. So that's what that setting is all about. Under the Discussion tab, we're going to have a whole movie later on in this course all dedicated to comments. So, we'll deal with looking at that one when we get there. Under Media, this is about like when you upload an image that's going to be part of a blog post. What size do you want the thumbnail to be? What size do you want the other sizes to be? How that works, and nothing that we necessarily need to change here right away.

Now remember when we're installing WordPress, we had that choice, where it was asking us, do we want our site to be able to be crawled by search engine bots like Google, Bing, and Technorati. Since we're working locally, it absolutely doesn't matter. Google can't really get to this site to look at it anyway. But if you were working live, and there was a live site and a dev site, you might want to turn this on temporarily. So, Google doesn't find out about your dev site and start there being incoming links to it before it's ready. So that's kind of a nice feature.

The most important one that I want to take time to consider here is the Permalink Settings, so you can see what different permalink structures are. It has examples of them, is the ones that I'm highlighting here. The default that WordPress comes with kind of has at the end of this thing has a question mark, and a p, and kind of an arbitrary number here. It works that way, because this is going to work on any server environment there is. So it kind of defaults to that, but it's also kind of ugliest. So if I come here and I clicked over and we're looking at the front page of our site, if I click on the title of this and go to the permalink of it, now we can see the comments. We're kind of at the permanent page for this blog post.

You can see the URL has that same structure. It has the question mark and the p and =1. It's just not really a great looking URL. We can be friendlier with it. We can have more information up there and really even be more SEO friendly, if that's kind of important to your site, which it really should be for everybody. Let's change that structure to something more like this, which has the year that blog post was published, the month, the date, and the slug. The slug is kind of a string of characters that you can specify for an individual post that puts some keywords up there and kind of makes that URL kind of more representative of what is going to be on that page.

So if we choose that and hit Save Changes, it's going to tell us our permalink structure is updated. If we come back here and kind of go to our homepage and then we'll click back on to that Hello World, you can see that the URL structure has changed now to be more of that friendly format. Not longer, but there is just more information. That's a friendlier format. Now the reason I'm talking about permalink structure now is because it's really important to deal with now, at the beginning of your site. If you were to have this default setting for a year and be writing and publishing blog posts and building up your site and then came back later and changed it to a completely different structure.

Say you had this structure and later chose this structure. Now all these URLs that you published with this structure, if there was a link on some third-party website, linking to the URL that had this structure, it's now going to basically go to a 404 page on your site. It's not going to take them to that proper blog post any more, and that's a problem. It's no good to break people's links like that, not to mention it's not good for your SEO. So at this point, my summary is pick one and stick with it, because it's going to live with you for the rest of your site.

So we've looked at each of the different settings and now we're ready to really get into theme building.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes.


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Q: What prerequisite skill do I need to be successful in this course?
A: This course is set at the intermediate/advanced level. You’ll do best if you have a good knowledge of Photoshop, plus a good grasp of PHPHTML, and CSS.

Q: The index.php file that the author is working with in Chapter 3 doesn't match mine after the "Building a sidebar" movie. It appears to change between the "Building a sidebar" and "Building the navigation" movies. What code am I missing?
A: The author makes some changes off screen between several movies in this title, simply because there is so much material to cover. These changes are provided in the exercise files.

However, if you are following along without the exercise files, you catch up to him by adding the following code to your index.php file, directly after the <?php get_header(); ?> line:

<div id="main-content">

Near the end of the file, just before  <?php get_sidebar(); ?>, add a closing div tag, </div>, to complete the div wrapper.

The resulting code will look like so. You may also copy and paste this into a new file and save it as index.php.

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div id='main-content'>

    <?php if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>

        <div <?php post_class() ?> id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>">

            <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>

            <?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/inc/meta.php' ); ?>

            <div class="entry">
                <?php the_content(); ?>
            </div>

            <div class="postmetadata">
                <?php the_tags('Tags: ', ', ', '<br />'); ?>
                Posted in <?php the_category(', ') ?> |
                <?php comments_popup_link('No Comments »', '1 Comment »', '% Comments »'); ?>
            </div>

        </div>

    <?php endwhile; ?>

    <?php include (TEMPLATEPATH . '/inc/nav.php' ); ?>

    <?php else : ?>

        <h2>Not Found</h2>

    <?php endif; ?>
   
</div>

<?php get_sidebar(); ?>

<?php get_footer(); ?>

Q: How do I load my custom theme once I have finished?
A: Copy the Custom theme folder to your new WordPress installation and put it in wp-content > themes. Then you can activate the new theme and work with it from there.
 
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