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As of this time, more than 60 Million people have chosen WordPress to power their blogs. With both free and paid versions available, site owners can determine what they need for themselves. There are at least 1,756 WordPress themes to choose from and it is not an easy task to find the most suitable one for your site.

WordPress Themes

The use of any theme chosen by site owners is usually achieved with several clicks. Either the ready-made themes are used as is or customized according to owner’s specific preferences. The appearance of the blog is quickly set into place with the addition of select widgets and layout.

It is highly possible that blog owners will not be satisfied with ready-made templates. Customization is always a likely option. Familiarity with HTML, XHMTL, and CSS may be necessary.

Choosing a Theme

When choosing a theme, it is always safer to start with a simple one. It is much easier to add design features as one goes along so that feedback can be obtained with more basis. Blog owners must remember that there are themes that can look great but cannot offer the desired functionality of the blog.
It is best to choose a theme that is related to the industry which the business is part of. Blog themes that are general in nature usually can fit any type of niche or industry. They are usually good bets for beginners.

Check for the Fine Print

The use of any theme is typically guided by specific guidelines. There is no need to comply with requirements blog owners are not comfortable with. There are so many choices available which are not only free but also do not impose restrictive terns of service to users.
Some issues with regards to browser compatibility may arise. It is important that blog owners know of such limitations, if any. Support is an important aspect of theme choice as there are bound to be problems encountered in the future.

What Works for Your Site

Even with a tentative start, blog owners will be able to determine in the long run what theme works best for them. Quite a few settle for one theme all throughout since most will be looking into changes as time goes by. What works for another will not necessarily work for your site. The important thing to remember though is that there will always be one that will ultimately fit.

About the Author:
Randall Soon is a freelance writer who has been enjoying changing themes for quite some time now. It helps that he has just discovered www.clearinternetdeals.net.

Millions of websites today are built using the WordPress platform. Consider these statistics – 14.7% of the top million websites use this popular platform and in every 100 new websites developed, 22 run WordPress.

But more than these vital stats, having an attractive WordPress theme makes a big difference in gaining traffic for one’s website moving onwards. Fortunately, publishers need not spend so much to create a theme from scratch. Many savvy web designers constantly create different types of themes and offer many of them free of charge to publishers and bloggers.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of WordPress themes are available on the web. It can be a challenge to choose which one is right for you but the most important factors to consider are the industry you belong to, the type of business you have and the design layout you prefer. Using this criteria will make it easier for you to pick a theme for your website where you can showcase what you do as well as your products and services.

There are two major reasons why you need to select the most appropriate theme for your website. Firstly, it makes a good first impression to internet users including your regular visitors. Secondly and this may be unknown to many of you, it helps in search engine optimization (SEO).

Industry-related

It is most important to choose a WordPress theme related to your business, niche or industry. If you’re into selling sports equipment, for instance, then pick a theme that shows athletes in action or one that shows different sports gear.

If you have an online shop, you might want to use a theme with various sections where you can display your products and their prices.

Simple Design

Stay away from designs with complex features. The simpler theme you choose, the easier it is to modify and most often, they’re compatible with any browser.

Browser Compatible

Apart from the design, another thing publishers need to make sure is to choose a theme that’s compatible with the most widely used browsers. If you’re working with a web designer, you need to emphasize to that person that your theme should be cross browser compatible. No ifs or buts.

Some designers today would recommend to their clients to ignore Internet Explorer for being old school. But do know that there are still people using this browser and they may be your regular visitors or even your clients.

Finally, be sure to understand the terms of service. Some providers require the use of backlinks in exchange for using their themes but if this does not interest you, then you can look for others.

About the guest author:

Lani designs her own sites and has just upgraded to a higher plan to ensure a fast internet connection while at work. Subscribe to a satellite internet access without a landline by visiting Hughesnetinternet.net.

Too Newsy, Free WordPress Theme from Performancing

Too Newsy WordPress theme

Here’s another free, nice-looking WordPress theme courtesy of Performancing: Too Newsy is a clean, light, 3-column theme with an elegant typographic feel.

The theme features widget-ready sidebars, which can accommodate several different image dimensions (suitable for button and banner ads). The theme also supports the default CSS alignment and caption classes in WordPress 2.6 and above, and it is the first Performancing Theme to support new WordPress 2.7 features out of the box

Preview and download the theme now.

I’ve been blogging for about four years now. Before working mainly with WordPress, I’ve tried Blogger, BlogCMS (a variant of Nucleus), and I’ve dabbled with Movable Type and even Textpattern. But then I tried WordPress and I got hooked. One of the reasons I stick to WordPress is that there are a ton of themes out there. And these are mostly free. And yes, while not every theme out there is up to par in terms of standards, fact is you can easily find themes that are good and suitable for your needs, or can be easily tweaked to your specifications.

Word’s out that Six Apart has moved Movable Type back to a free model (started out as free, then moving into a pay software, then now back to pro bono), and is now even shifting to open source. You see, before WordPress was WordPress, Movable Type was at the top of its game. But then they moved to a paid model, just as WP was getting popular. The rest is history. Who’s at the top of the game now?

Some people would think that it’s too late for Movable Type, given the dominance enjoyed by other platforms. One particular reason cited is the availability of themes. True, there are thousands of WordPress themes out there, and not to mention tons of plugins, too, and friendly (arguably) support by the community.

With regard to themes, I think one thing that WordPress users enjoy is the flexibility of WordPress as a platform. I’ve used WP as a content management system for some sites that I helped create. Themes can easily be modified for use as such. Your site doesn’t have to look like a blog, but it can be powered by WordPress. Great, isn’t it?

Only time will tell if WP will be overtaken, and if Movable Type will be the one to do this. Until that time, WP themes would beat others in terms of flexibility, availability and, yes, even quantity. That’s one of the reasons Free WordPress Themes exists!

For the past couple of days, I’ve been combating spam links on some of the blogs I manage. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill comment and trackback links. These links had been inserted right on the theme files themselves. Some were even inserted in admin files. Some on the blog posts!

This made me think and rethink file permissions of WordPress theme files. One of the advantages of having them set to 777 (or writeable to the group) is that you can easily manage editing themes directly via the WordPress interface. However, that opens up security holes–other people might be able to access your files, and possibly insert some malicious scripts.

Locking these for write access only to you, but read-only to the rest of the world (i.e., 644) will help prevent hack attacks. However, you’d have to edit theme files via FTP, cPanel file manager, or even via SSH (if you have access). That’s not as convenient as having everything easily accessible via the WP dashboard.

I’d go for the more secure option. In fact, I’d make sure to restrict not only my theme files, but all other files on the server to the extent possible. And did I mention that it’s really important to do regular upgrades on your blog software and plugins?

Any other thoughts on this?

A couple of days ago, I got my hands on a nifty new Asus Eee MyPC (got some extra funds from my ad earnings). As soon as I got home, I used the Eee to browse sites for tips, hacks and other information about the ultracompact notebook computer, and the OS that came with it–XandrOS (a flavor of Linux). One site that caught my attention is eeeuser.com.

You see, the Eee MyPC is a 2-pound device with a small 7-inch widescreen. The resolution is paltry by today’s standards–800×480. But what sets it apart is the portability and the ridiculously low price point (about US$300). It’s not as powerful as most other laptops today, but if you want something you can have in your backpack or handback but won’t break your back (and bank!), it’s the gadget to have!

So back to eeeuser.com. It’s a blog and community forum site all about the Eee PC. It documents the beginnings of the Eee, from its announcement, and even rumors that came about way before Asus went public with the specs and design. So you can imagine that this site is geared towards Eee users, and one of the things that I would like to highlight is its basic, narrow-column design.

The Eee is a full-fledged computer. It can run Windows XP, Ubuntu, or just about any OS that can fit into its small solid-state fixed drive. However, the small screen can be a limiting factor in viewing sites. Sure, it has a full-blown browser (FireFox, IE, or whatever you like, depending on the OS currently installed). With this in mind, it is likely that the creators of eeeuser.com have designed their site to fit a narrow screen.

eeeuser.png

It’s apparent that they use WordPress to run the blog. And they have used the Simplr single-column theme by plaintxt.org.

This made me think. Am I designing for my audience? Or at the very least am I using themes with my intended audience in mind?

If you’re running a blog on photography or for photographers, then maybe your site should support wide main columns, so you can fit in bigger photos. If you’re running a blog for programmers, then maybe your site should have a good number of useful links to resources in the sidebar. If you’re running a site targeted at visually-impaired people, then maybe you should use very large fonts with very high contrast. If your blog is all about mobile resources, then maybe you should keep the frontpage short and very basic, so users from mobile devices (like phones, handhelds, etc.) can more easily read your site.

At the very least, I guess it’s best to make sure your site is machine-readable–meaning it outputs RSS feeds. This way, users have other options when reading your site, and not only limited to viewing it in its full glory. Keep in mind that not everyone may be using a large-screen LCD with a wide format. Or at least if you’re installing a new theme for your WordPress blog, try to think how the majority of your users would be accessing your site.

A WordPress Theme Designer’s Wishes and Woes

These wishes—which are mostly laments—are the result of my recent coding spree with a WordPress-powered site. It is by no means comprehensive, and not exactly limited to WordPress theme design.

Fix the ugly code in sidebar widgets. By ugly I don’t really mean invalid HTML/CSS, but code that doesn’t make sense. Take for example the RSS widget. Why does the feed icon have to be an image instead of a background image for the feed title? So it can be linked to the RSS feed while the feed title can be linked to the main URL?

Remove the “category” prefix in the category archive permalinks. Really, this one’s a no-brainer. Every string in between forward slashes in a URL is supposed to correspond to a “directory” on your website. See, date permalinks make sense: if you have a permalink called /2008/02/14/postname/ you’ll find that every section of that permalink comes up with an archive, 2008th year, 2nd month, 14th day. You don’t see the word “date” being prepended every time, so why do it to category permalinks? Hack: use a period “.” instead of the word “category” in the permalink options page. It doesn’t play nicely with RSS feeds, though. Truth is, this is just a symptom of a bigger problem: we need more flexible permalink options, one for every type of link, from posts to archives to feeds.

Provide options for the_excerpt. At least give us the chance to specify how many words, characters, perhaps even sentences to display in an excerpt. And perhaps strings to append before or after, just as one normally would in several other template tags. I believe adding [...] at the end is hideous. This function should be a little more similar to the_content, don’t you think?

Update the jQuery library in the wp-includes folder and give everyone a convenient way of including it in themes and plugins. This applies to every other JavaScript library in that folder as well. Reusing those files in themes and plugins can be done, but I’ve tried several times and ultimately can’t get it to work. Perhaps an official help file/Codex page from the WordPress developers?

Make thumbnail creation during image uploading optional. I’ve avoided using the WP upload dialog because I can find my way around my website folders through FTP. For me I see no merit in having to list those images in the database. Let me save space and server load! But everyone else who wants to do so would agree with the optional thumbnail creation feature, not to mention resizable thumbnails. Hack: use the Old Style Upload plugin.

Add drop-down menus to the admin panel. I’ve always used the Admin Drop Down Menu plugin every time I install WordPress. It’s much more efficient, especially when you’re looking for that plugin options page but don’t know whether it’s under the Options page, the Manage page, the Plugins page, or somewhere else.

Require plugin authors to link to the plugin options page(s) in the Plugins page. This is related to the previous item—do you really want to click everywhere just to find the options page of the plugin you just activated? Or memorize where everything is? I believe there’s a push for plugin coding standards and I hope this could be included. It’s pretty easy to do anyway! Perhaps the next WP version could put all those plugin options pages in one place.

I’d write more, but that’s about it for now.

Simplicity, Free WordPress Theme from Performancing

This month’s free WordPress theme from Performancing is the Simplicity theme, designed by the449.

Simplicity theme

It’s a simple theme, with a hint of Magazine style, that is easy to build upon and is easily customizable through support of widgets and super-clean code. Simplicity is engineered to be highly accessible, work beautifully with a screen reader and uses the hAtom microformat.

Simplicitly is built to the latest WordPress functionality with full support for built in tagging and widgets.

This is a very versatile and beautiful looking theme. The glossy effects are not overdone, and the use of green breathes life into the theme amidst its different shades of gray.

You can preview and download the theme at Performancing. Also check out College Theme, last month’s free theme.

While most theme authors would release their creations for free, there are also WordPress themes that are considered premium. It’s something that’s not exactly custom-made for a design client, but something with added value that authors think would be worth paying for.

Here on Free WordPress Themes, we’ve received a few requests for removal of posted themes, which were in fact premium themes that were bought (or perhaps downloaded elsewhere) and then reposted as a free download. Of course, it’s obvious that the theme author is being deprived of prospective income here, since his work is basically being pirated.

So there’s a difference from authors who report their free themes being uploaded with improper citation. In the case of premium themes, there is actual loss of revenue.

Problem with themes is that once someone purchases a copy or a license, he/she actually gets hold of your source code. So it’s not very easy to secure a theme. You’re at the mercy of the people who buy and download your designs. Sometimes there are resourceful people who can copy themes by directly downloading the .CSS file, images, and then reconstituting the structure from the source of a sample page.

There are ways to minimize this, of course, or to at least detect illegal uploading of your theme, and some suggestions from our end would include encrypting your theme files or even being selective with whom you sell your themes to. Any ideas?

Foolproof WordPress Themes That Require Plugins

It’s amazing how many designers out there still don’t follow the best practices when creating WordPress themes. When ordinary bloggers download your theme and encounter horrific error messages, what are the chances that they’ll figure out how to fix it?

The most common culprit is required plugins. Do not assume that everybody uses the same plugins you do. Do not assume they will immediately read your README upon download, and follow your instructions. It is your responsibility as a theme designer to anticipate this behavior and make the adjustments in case the person using your theme chooses not to use the plugins you require.

Take for example the Smart Green theme. If you’ll click on View Demo, you’ll find an error message on the right sidebar, and the rest of the page stops loading because of it. Here’s the error message:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function akpc_most_popular() in /home/freeword/public_html/wordpress/wp-content/themes/greentheme/index.php on line 7

The undefined function is found in the Popularity Contest plugin, and the theme calls it this way:

<?php akpc_most_popular($limit = 3); ?>

The error could have easily been avoided using the following code (emphasis given to the inserted code):

<?php
if (function_exists('akpc_most_popular')) {
akpc_most_popular($limit = 3);
}
?>

What this does is ask WordPress if the Popularity Contest plugin exists or is activated first. If the plugin is there, it goes on to display the most popular posts; if it isn’t, then the code is skipped and the rest of the theme loads. You can apply this to any other plugin you want to use in your theme. You just have to supply the name of the function your using instead.

Very easy, very simple. What’s stopping you from foolproofing your WordPress theme?


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