2013 Conference

WordPress Themes 102

I’m going to start with a disclaimer:  I love WordPress.  I’ve been using it for 12 years and I’ve never encountered another system that I could customize, deploy and develop as quickly as I can with this platform.  (Who knew it would be categorized as a PLATFORM that long ago??)

Curtiss Grymala walked us through setting up a WordPress theme today, and he did a bang up job of giving a quick overview of how it worked, and what we can gain from creating our own themes, all on an hour’s sleep.  He’s a rockstar.

He began with the basics, the files that need to be present in a theme folder for it to be recognized as a theme in WordPress.  He rapidfire went through those basics so he could get to good parts.  I think we all appreciated this since the session was geared toward folks with technical skills.

  • style.css
  • index.php
  • functions.php
  • comments.php
  • search.php
  • search-form.php
  • sidebar.php
  • header.php
  • footer.php

These are the files that make up a WordPress theme.  Curtiss explained the benefits of creating a parent and child theme.  There are many options for theming a WordPress install, you can create standalone themes as well as parent themes, where you can create child themes so you can customize for each site, and not lose the parent theme’s basic setup.  Child themes are then setup to inherit the parent theme’s structure and setup.

He then went on to talk about WordPress functions, retrieval functions, content functions, and content meta functions (the good part).  The best tip I got from this section was not only getting a better understanding of the inner workings of WordPress functions, but he also noted that you can find information on all WordPress functions on the WordPress Codex site, there is a huge wiki with All Things WordPress on the Codex site.[function_name] (replace the function_name with what you’re looking for).

The beauty of creating your own theme in WordPress is that you can use built-in functions and filters to automate and create your own environment.  You have complete control of how your site retrieves data, displays it and processes it.

The last part of the session, Curtiss discussed the frameworks he uses at University of Mary Washington – Genesis.  There are various frameworks out there that we can use to create our own WordPress ‘environments’ – Genesis is a very popular theme and framework system used by thousands of sites.  The WordPress Codex site has an intro to frameworks which explains their function and use.

The propeller hats were truly present in this session, and Curtiss was able to boil down the WordPress Theme structure into a cohesive talk where all the parts of a WordPress template were illustrated and presented in an easy-to-follow flow of development.

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One reply on “WordPress Themes 102”

I love WordPress too but it was released on on May 27, 2003. So how can you claim to have been using it for 12 years?

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