Creating your own WordPress template is not as complicated as you may think. A lot of people suggest to use the default template and modify that. Personally I disagree. If you’re capable of writing your own HTML markup and CSS then all you need to know are the template tags and the wordpress loop. The only theme file I would recommend copying is the comments.php file, and I’d recommend using the Classic theme’s file, not the default one.
The Design and Markup
You can create the design however you want. Work out how you want the main elements of your blog to be (posts, category list, pages, archives list if you want it, comments etc). Take your design and, ignoring any theme for the time being, code your design up into HTML and CSS. The only thing to bear in mind with your markup is the following:
- Pages, categories, Archives and Links are output by default as unordered lists. You can change this but it’s probably a good idea to keep them as lists.
- Whilst it’s not essential, it’s usually a good idea to have a div around each post.
- Your search input box needs the name and id as ‘s’, however a method of get or post can be used.
Break It Up
You can split your new page up into at least 3 maybe 4 sections. You have your header, containing the generic top content shown on every page, footer, the generic bottom content on every page, your sidebar, if it doesn’t/cannot fit into the header or footer, and the main index page that contains everything which doesn’t fit into these files. Each of these files must be called header.php, footer.php and sidebar.php and index.php.
In your index.php file you need to insert the following tags inside PHP tags:
- Put this where you’ve removed the header section.
- Put this where you’ve removed the footer section.
- If relevant, put this where the sidebar/menu content was.
This will then set up the index file to pull in the header, sidebar and footer in the relevant places.
Around your post we need to add the loop code. Right before the post starts (eg. the opening div tag that surrounds the post), insert the code
<?php if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
Then after your post markup close the loop using
<?php endwhile; endif; ?>
You will then want to add the following tags to help construct the dynamic post:
- This echos out the full permalink of the post, used in the link around the post title.
- This echos out the post title.
- This creates a comma separated list of all the categories that the post has been added to.
- Use this or the_excerpt() to display content from the post.
- comments_popup_link(‘No Comments’, ‘1 Comment’, ‘% Comments’)
- Displays the number of comments received on that post. You can change the parameter content to suit your site, just keep them in the same order and use the percentage sign to get the X comments.
There are also plenty of other tags you may want to use. A couple of more popular ones are
- This will echo out the ID of the current post.
- Echos out the date the post was written.
- Echos out the time the post was written.
- Echos out the name of the author of the post (usually linked to their own author page)
If your design is quite simple and your single post page is virtually identical to the front page then you may want to just have the index.php theme file power both pages. If so then you’ll also need to add the following tag just before the closing loop code that you added earlier:
<?php comments_template(); ?>
This will then pull in the comments.php file, which as mentioned earlier, I recommend you just copy the comment.php theme file from the Classic theme, and we can look at modifying that later.
Define Your Theme
To define your theme and make WordPress recognise it, you need to add the following to the top of your CSS file (which you need to call style.css).
Theme Name: Put Your Theme Name Here
Theme URI: Put Your Site Address Here
Description: Give it a short description
Author: Your Name Here
This information is read by WordPress and when you’ve uploaded your new theme (into its own directory under wp-content/themes/) and go to Admin – Design, you’ll see your theme as an option to be selected. If you want a thumbnail displaying too then create a screenshot of the theme and add it into your theme directory with the filename of screenshot.png or screenshot.jpg. This will also be automatically displayed by WordPress.
Next week I’ll write about how to edit your header, footer and sidebar files, ready to then set your theme live.
Will Artificial Design Intelligence Takeover Web Designing and Development?
The worlds are colliding.
Web designing and development happens in two primary ways:
- DIY (bloggers and small business owners buying readymade themes, web hosting account, and setting up the website after reading a lot of online resources)
- Agencies (dedicated agencies that create websites from scratch, using manual coding and templates, and these are usually high budget)
There is a third way, which in the next couple of years can replace both the above methods to a large extent. Will it? Let’s see.
Artificial Design Intelligence
Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) is the ‘third’ way wherein companies are creating technology where a website could design and build itself. In 2003, prior to ADI, Adobe unveiled its suite of web designing tools and the industry experts spelled it as a doomsday for designers.
Will this ADI technology completely eradicate the need for website designers and developers? Certainly not, says David Kosmayer from Bookmark. Bookmark is a website builder that uses ADI to cater to each user’s specific and unique needs. Kosmayer opines that ADI technology will become a productivity tool for innovative developers and designers where the technology will improve and escalate the efforts of the team involved in automating the website development process. He is anticipating a website building ADI revolution with Bookmark, thriving to be at the forefront of this inevitable movement.
David gave me an insider peek into the ADI technology they are developing, scheduled to release in the next couple of weeks. Here it is:
The ADI technology improves possibilities.
I create my own websites and blogs. Now, if I have access to technology that Bookmark is designing, it will simplify my work. It’s unassumingly perfect for eCommerce stores. The ADI asks what kind of store does the user want – from a Bistro to a Laundromat, the user has tons of varieties. Once the basic is uploaded, you can add Focus Groups and Modules, and make the site live.
This ADI technology is akin to a personal assistant that understands my business needs and creates a customized ‘product’ to use.
After Bookmark, companies like Wix and TheGrid have ventured into the AI technology space too.
AI for website development and designing is an uncharted area. Chris Lema has a brilliant article title, Has Website AI Arrived?
The world of content marketing should rejoice. AI technology will strategically and dynamically depend on content to design the layout of the site. Here, content could be anything – article length, article quantity, images, videos and more.
Artificial design intelligence is still in nascent stages.
Who could use ADI technology? Bloggers, digital marketers, affiliate marketers, consultants, and other small business owners will find AI entertaining and useful. This group of professionals is usually a one-man army with a small remote team. It cuts down cost on resources as users will probably use the ADI service on a monthly subscription basis. As such, businesses can focus on branding and generating revenue.
The stress of creating dynamic websites, learning technology, and implementing them is removed entirely.
Personally, I agree with Lema that AI technology for website development and designing is yet to mature. With the coming of chatbots and other AI software, give this a year or two before the artificial design intelligence technology for websites booms.
How to Stop Comment Spam in 60 seconds with CleanTalk
Blog comments can be one of the most valuable assets to your blog, but they can also be a huge burden at the same time. Even with Akismet installed on my blogs, I still have to manually go through and remove the junk and spam comments many of my sites gets on a daily basis.
When I login to my WordPress dashboard, I will continually junk like this just sitting there and waiting for my approval or deletion. The majority of comment spam happens because they are trying to get a backlink to a site, either through a link within the comment or from the username.
If you have a small WordPress site, you might not be getting overwhelmed with spam comments yet, but it’s simply just a matter of time. The worse part is that it’s pretty much all coming in on an automated basis, which means cleaning up your spam comments manually can waste endless hours of your valuable time.
Comment spam is something all bloggers have to deal with, and while there are ways to minimize worthless and fake comments with plugins like Akismet or using CAPTCHA forms, these methods either don’t work or are just too annoying to setup.
CleanTalk.org felt the same way and they wanted to create a comment spam solution that works for all blog site owners, while also having a solution that actually works.
How CleanTalk WordPress Spam Plugins Works
Like most things in the world, you just want the product or service to work and not have to deal with the complexities of how it’s made. This is how most online marketers and bloggers feel — they just want a solution and not have to deal with coding, programming and working with a dev team to figure it out.
CleanTalk is quite advanced on the backend, but super easy to setup and use from a site owner perspective. Through it’s cloud based platform, CleanTalk actively monitors the visitors on your site and makes sure the comments being made, are from actual visitors (not spam bots).
The process of how CleanTalk works, is as follows:
- A visitor writes a comment or registers.
- CleanTalk plugin sends action parameters into the CleanTalk cloud.
- Service analyzes the parameters.
- If this is a visitor, the comment will be published. If it’s a spam bot, then CleanTalk blocks this comment or registering.
- Parameters are written to the log which can be viewed in the Control Panel service.
Not only does CleanTalk protect your blog comment area, it also covers all forms throughout your site (contact, registrations, etc). When logged into your account through their site, you will also have access to real-time stats on how well it’s protecting your site and showing you what activity is happening where.
How to Install CleanTalk on WordPress
Since CleanTalk is a WordPress plugin, it’s super easy to setup. All you need to do is visit their main site at http://cleantalk.org, create an account and grab your access key on the following page.
After that, all you need to do is head over to your WordPress dashboard, go to the “Plugins” section and search for “CleanTalk”.
Install the plugin and then throw in your access key and you are ready to go!
To make sure the plugin is properly installed and running, go back to your blog and complete a dummy comment, registration or contact message with the email address email@example.com and you should then see the plugin react with the message like the one in the screenshot below.
You can also head back to the main dashboard at CleanTalk.org to monitor your site comment stats and manage how many sites you would like to add the plugin to.
Get Your Free 14 Day Trial of CleanTalk
You can register on the CleanTalk.org site and install the plugin right away. After completing this step, you will have 14 days of free access to their comment spam blocking service. After the 14 days, you will then have the renew your account.
The good news is that the cost of CleanTalk’s comment spam blocking plugin is just $8 per year, and you can save even more by using coupon code “BLOGGINGTIPS“.
Head over to http://cleantalk.org, create your free account and add the plugin to your site. It’s only takes a couple minutes and it will save you a massive amount of time in the long run. Eliminate comment spam from your site forever!
The Importance of Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is quickly changing how sites are viewed on the internet and on mobile devices. Back when I first started making money online in the mid 90s, everything was so basic and simple with web design… it was pretty much all HTML.
Then in 2007 I started using WordPress to create my first blog and the rest of my sites there after.
However, this was only the beginning. Now with everyone so focused on using mobile and other various devices to browse the internet and with the wide range of desktop sizes for viewing, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you have a site that is capable with all solutions.
I still find it amazing that I can look up sites on my phone or iPad and still come across sites that aren’t mobile optimized or that don’t load correctly. It’s quite a shame and something that really needs to be fixed immediately. Statistics show that 25% of internet users only access the internet via a mobile device. Have you checked how your site loads on a mobile device lately? If not, it might be time for you to invest some resources into your web design and development. By working alongside a respectable design team, they will be able to improve the performance of your site, while making sure it is fully optimized in the process.
Thus bringing us to responsive web design…
Responsive web design refers to a website designed to adapt to whatever device a visitor is using. The same applies for desktop viewing as well. You can make the browser bigger or smaller and the content on the site will continue to adapt to your viewing solution.
Most premium wordpress themes are now responsive as well, as it’s almost become a requirement for site owners now.
When it comes to designing and coding wordpress themes, I’m the last guy that wants to deal with these issues. Fortunately there are designers and teams dedicated to mastering the art of design and wordpress.
For those of you who are wondering how responsive sites are created and the various tech specs involved, be sure to check out the infographic below from verveuk.eu.
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