Create Your Own Unique WordPress Theme

WordPressNo matter how many WordPress themes I look at and try, I never find exactly what I want. But, I do find more things I would like to have.

When I ran my sites on Blogger I began using simple HTML and basic CSS. I learned how the Blogger code worked with the additional CSS and HTML I added. That was the beginning of my learning how to create my own blog themes (also known as templates and layouts).

A WordPress theme seemed a lot more complicated, at that time. Blogger isn’t as simple as it once was then. But, I still like Blogger for anyone getting started with blogging.

Design, Create, Make your own WordPress Theme

 

Why Should you Create your own WordPress Theme?

One reason for creating your own WordPress theme is to have something uniquely your own. There are a lot of blogs online now, many of them have the same look. They call them cookie cutters because they all seem to have been created with the same look, only small things like a different colour background to give them any unique look.

If someone is intimidated about breaking into the coding and making their own theme they can still take the baby steps and begin by changing their background to something of their own creation. Use a photograph you have taken. Get started with Gimp and other graphic software and create a design and images which you can use as the background, title bars, sidebar headers, etc. You can create hand drawn images and then scan them into an image file which you use on your blog too. There are simple, fairly easy options which will get your blog out of the cookie cutter style.

But, the best is still to create your own theme. Begin by tweaking whatever theme you are using now. Tweak to change the font, the colours for the text. Tweak to change how images are displayed in your blog. Look into other tweaks you can do. There are endless tweaks. As you tweak learn how the code works. What changes you make and how they end up working on the display of your blog.

Once you have been tweaking and feel fairly happy about what you know, get into the real mess and muck of creation – from scratch.

A bit daunted still? No fear. You can use frameworks to give you a base of operations. A framework is the basic code used for a simple WordPress theme.

Don’t sit on the fence forever with your framework. Dabble and play around and make your own theme. It doesn’t have to be rocket science or perfect. A theme evolves over time as WordPress versions change, as blogging itself changes and as your own needs change.

Next stop… once you have a theme consider selling it or offering it on WordPress.org for others to download free. A WordPress theme (if you hit on a unique design and keep it working) can be a great draw for traffic to your site.

I’m still at the dabbling stage with my own WP theme designing. I enjoy window shopping and looking at other themes. For now I’m running the Thesis Framework Theme on my main blog. Most of my other blogs are running on the Clear Line  theme.

Update: Thesis had a lot of changes when Thesis 2.0 came out. I don’t find it usable right now. It lost the user friendliness which was the main thing I liked about it. Since then I have bought Genesis, but, you may as well design your own theme from scratch if you have Genesis. Even the child themes you buy to run with Genesis are very much the same. If you want to make your own themes Genesis is ok, a base. But, if you want something to work out of the box you will find Genesis won’t work for you, unless you want it exactly as it comes.

I’ve looked at other themes and frameworks. I’m really reluctant to purchase any more of them. I have Catalyst with it’s Dynamik child theme and I find it complicated, a lot to read and then I still can’t make the small changes I want. I also have Headway but it has become a case of having to purchase more in order to get anything out of it. (Really disappointed with Headway which I have had since version 1.6 before they made it such a money grab).

WordPress Theme Generators

Create a Favicon to Brand your Site or Just do it for Fun

How to create a favicon.ico for your site or blog.

FavIcon is a favourite icon.

Basically, you create a small graphic (16 X 16 pixels, tiny in fact) which will show up in the address bar when someone looks at your site. It will also show up in their bookmarks, if they bookmark your site. Using a favicon will help brand your site and give it a polished look. Plus it gives those us of who are addicted to tweaking and twiddling with their sites, something else to do.

It’s not hard to create a favicon. Once you save your tiny graphic as favicon.ico you upload the file to your site, it should be in the root directory so it’s easy for web browsers to locate. Then you add the code between the head and /head tags in your HTML code. Note: If you run the Thesis WordPress theme. One of the features is a favion option which uploads your favicon for you. Your theme or template may have the same option, check first and save yourself the extra work.

How creative can you get with such a minuscule image? See what you can do. The smaller you make your file the blurrier it gets. See the example image which is one I use for my personal site. When it is condensed and compacted down to a favicon size you really can’t tell what it was meant to be. So, that wasn’t a great image to create a favicon with.

Have fun, let me know if you load a favicon. I’d like to see what other tweakers and twiddlers come up with.

Wikipedia has a page about Favicons.

favicon code

Choosing an image to convert to a Favicon

As you can see from my example, a favicon is very tiny.

Choose the image you want to convert into a favicon wisely. It should have very basic lines, a very simple uncomplicated design.

Stick to one or two colours (white works well). Adding too much colour will create a blur when the image is compacted down to size.

The image you choose needs to fill the image space, cut away any extra background before you convert it to a favicon.

Create your Favicon Image on the Web

Could you be a Full-Time Lead Writer?

db

DashBurst – a social media magazine, design agency and technology startup – is looking to add a full-time writer to its staff.

Since launching our blog two months ago, DashBurst is now one of the top 50,000 sites on the web with a rapidly growing community of over 250,000 subscribers. DashBurst is a go-to source online for the latest in social media, business, marketing, technology, web culture, humor, art and design.

We’re looking for an experienced writer knowledgeable in these and similar fields. We feature breaking news as well as exciting videos, photos, guides, infographics, presentations and more. Take a look at our blog and topic categories to get a better idea of what DashBurst is about.

Caution: What you’re about to read is not for the faint of heart, and anyone who can’t handle this need not apply…

  • Do you write for some big time magazine? Good for you. You can stop here… We’re not looking to hire writers away from plush jobs, we’re trying to train new ones.
  • You’re required to work your ass off at this firm. 40+ hours/week writing 2 to 4 articles per day.
  • Working knowledge of English, WordPress, Photoshop, PowerPoint, HTML, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Apple, Android, Microsoft, Skype and other current technology is needed.

What you’ll get:

1) Ok, first three months at the firm are as a trainee. You will make $150 dollars/week.*
2) After that, if you pass the test of successfully running the blog on your own for a day, you will get a full-time offer to join DashBurst, salary commensurate with your experience, including equity in the company where the sky is the limit.
3) Every article you write for DashBurst will get massive exposure, building your portfolio and personal audience.

via DashBurst is Looking to Hire a Full-Time Lead Writer.

Blog Standards and Acceptance Guidelines

clevergirlscollectiveI picked this up at Clever Girls. I’m not in the US so I didn’t join. But, reading the standards for blogs was interesting. It’s good to see what other people think, what goals they set. Your goals can be different, of course.

As a side note, isn’t it ironic that when they say “about us” they mean US.  A little Canadian snark isn’t a bad thing.

We Are Currently Seeking Bloggers Who:

Are U.S.-based*

Have a clear point of view

Post only original content

We do not accept sites with re-posted content or cut-and-pasted press releases

Post regularly: approximately once/week

Show evidence of readership engagement (comments, active Twitter and Facebook accounts, etc.)

Have been blogging longer than 6 months and receive at least 1,500 monthly pageviews

Devote 50% or more to original (non-sponsored and non-brand-related) content

Have good, clean design. This means blogs:

Are easy to read, both: in layout (original content should be easy to find) and color scheme (light text on dark backgrounds is not preferred)

Load quickly

Have a standard-sized header (approx 1-2.5″)

Are uncluttered

Host a minimum number of animated badges

Have some design elements: of course, not everyone is a designer (and design is subjective!) but preference will be given to blogs that show attention to detail and personality

In addition, blogs must:

Not display egregious typos or grammatical errors

Have 50% or more of the page design devoted to content, versus ads or badges

Use some language (not photos-only) and some visuals (not words-only)

Have comments enabled on most content-driven posts

via Acceptance Guidelines | Clever Girls Collective | Welcome!.

Creative Drawing

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.
Drawing 101
By Joan Martine Murphy

Introduction

Most people would love to be able to draw what they see. Many people find enormous pleasure in the art of self-expression. Sadly the idea of learning to draw skillfully is quite daunting for a high percentage of people of the Western World. This is sometimes due to negative experiences that have come from early child hood.

Drawing is a form of communication, which can allow us to express ourselves when words will not suffice. This simple art form affords us the opportunity to express our emotions in a safe and pleasurable manner. Many people for example find that the simple exercise of drawing negative emotions which are then ceremoniously torn to shreds or burnt away – is a useful, safe way to deal with them. The exercise allows the artist to move on to a more relaxed and harmonious and peaceful happiness state.

Maps, symbols, colours, expressions and many other elements of design convey meaning and help us to construct a world of illusion. They help us re-present our reality. This can be useful, informative, recreational and healing.

Read more

Would findingDulcinea Like Your Blog?

Stop thinking about luring in Google. Consider the standards of another site, one that focuses on finding great content. How would your site stack up to their guidelines?

What is findingDulcinea‘s site selection process?
We evaluate Web sites on many criteria including credibility, usability, and design.

Credibility is a fundamental criterion of any site we recommend. When considering a source, we review who has prepared the content, what the site’s editorial policy is, when the page was last updated, and whether undisclosed biases or conflicts of interest may exist.

Usability is assessed by asking ourselves the following questions: Does the site communicate its purposes quickly and concisely? Is the site’s navigation conducive to finding information and returning to where you came from? Does obstructive advertising hinder navigation, or does the site make it difficult to differentiate between content and advertising? If a site has a wealth of information but it is difficult to find, the information may be less valuable to our readers.

Design  We always note whether or not a site’s design and layout, particularly the presence of advertising, will distract our users from the editorial content, and more importantly, whether or not ads are labeled as such. Some otherwise useful sites unfortunately are rife with advertising or distracting design elements, and when this is the case, we want you to know about it.

Other important factors:

Cost: We don’t shy away from recommending outstanding subscription-based sites, but we do evaluate the pros and cons of such sites by signing up for them ourselves. More often than not, we find comparable sites in many categories that do not charge a fee for use.

Accessibility: Does the site itself load easily and get updated frequently? Do the links the site provides access to function correctly? How quickly do page loads take on average? Does the site require plug-ins like Adobe FlashPlayer, JavaScript, or other add-ons that might hinder usability? Does the site make its customer service team, authors, or editors available for contact? Where applicable, is the “Help” section well indicated and useful to readers?

via FAQ / findingDulcinea.

SITS Girls Spring Fling

We’d like to formally invite you to our Spring Fling, completely geared at being easy, fun, and interactive. From May 7th to May 18th, here is what you can expect from us:

One entire week devoted to building your following on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. {And don’t worry a bit if you do not already have any of these accounts. We’ll be showing you how to get started too.}

Another week spent helping you to “spring clean” your blog by figuring out ways you can improve your blog design, About Me page, Best Of page, and other key elements.

Sign up for the SITS Girls Spring Fling Blogging Challenge.

What About Infographics?

Are you into infographics?

I think it’s good to have a new way to show your point, visually rather than text. But, I’m not a big fan. Usually the graphic is too small for me to read them without squinting at the monitor. If I can’t resize it I often can’t read the fine print.

Anyway, there are pros and cons for everything. If you were going to make an infographic what would be about and how would you pull it together? Go ahead and try one, just for the heck of it!

ScoopIt: Infographics

Infographics Archive

Visual.ly

Data Appeal

How To Resources: