WordPress Theme Design: A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes

WordPress Theme Design: A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes

In Detail This title will take you through the ins and outs of creating sophisticated professional themes for the WordPress personal publishing platform. It will walk you through clear, step-by-step instructions to build a custom WordPress theme. From development tools and setting up your WordPress sandbox, through design tips and suggestions, to setting up your theme’s template structure, coding markup, testing and debugging, to taking it live it reviews the best practices. The last three chap

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 WordPress Theme Design: A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes

3 Comments

  1. Michael McKee "mystic cowboy" | |
    58 of 61 people found the following review helpful:
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    An Extended WordPress Theme Tutorial, June 27, 2008
    By 
    Michael McKee “mystic cowboy” (Port Townsend, WA United States) –
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    This review is from: WordPress Theme Design: A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes (Paperback)

    WordPress Theme Design is a short book, 204 pages and offers an experience very much like that given by the Peachpit Press’ Visual QuickProject Series. This is not a definitive guide to WordPress theming. Tessa Silver walks us through the creation of a WordPress theme intended for a monthly magazine site. As much CMS/beyond-the-blog flexibility of WordPress needs to be implemented by creative theming, this project offers an insight into how to customize WordPress for sites other than plain vanilla blogs. WordPress core features like “the loop,” are mentioned but we are referred to the WordPress Codex documentation for more information. That’s pretty much the way the book works, features or concepts, such as the loop or drop down menus are discussed, but for expanded explanations we are pointed to external web documentation.

    The writing is clear and conversational and is targeted towards someone with a reasonable grounding in HTML and CSS, I’d say advanced novice to early intermediate. Those without an understanding of HTML will find it over their heads. A very basic understand of PHP syntax is also helpful. Except for WordPress specific code, experienced, standards aware coders will find much of the material pretty basic. Ms. Silver does create her design with modern web standards best practices, which she describes in a standards based context. The theme we create by following the tutorial is functional and illustrates some of WordPress’ advanced capabilities, which can be accessed only through clever theming. Basic SEO is mentioned, and some advanced WordPress plug-ins and capabilities are briefly covered.

    Chapter 6 offers a short overview of WordPress functions and a nice template tag reference. In Chapter 2, Silver offers brief descriptions describing her design workflow process and some of the tools she uses. In chapters 3-5 we create the basic theme and are introduced to WordPress themeing conventions. Chapters 7-9 briefly discuss some advanced WordPress capabilities, mostly gained through the use of plug-ins and widgets.

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  2. Tod McKenna "blog.todmeansfox.com" | |
    31 of 35 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Good for beginners: Review by Tod McKenna of blog.todmeansfox.com, September 2, 2008
    By 
    Tod McKenna “blog.todmeansfox.com” (Gent, Belgium) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: WordPress Theme Design: A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes (Paperback)

    Well written. Good tips. Too short. Not a reference book. Hardly a “complete” guide.

    I found most of the book to be fairly basic, but I am experienced in designing standards-compliant sites using the tools and technologies Tessa uses (PHP, CSS, XHTML, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, etc..). I suspect that others with similar backgrounds would find this book not so helpful. For those just starting with CSS and XHTML, this book would be a good starting point though. It is filled with good advice (the best advice is to use standards-based approaches and to separate content from design) and lots of tips ranging from SEO to Photoshop techniques.

    With Tessa’s conversational writing approach, you feel that she’s your tutor who genuinely wants you to create great, standards-compliant WordPress themes. She talks with you and not at you making the book easy to read and understand. Some key highlights include:

    1. Rapid Design Comping – which is a design process coined by Tessa that takes you through ten steps of the design process from sketching to production.

    2. Great section on font choices and why you might use one font over another.

    3. A good discussion on validating pages through the W3C’s XHTML and CSS validation services.

    4. A good introduction on WordPress’ template hierarchy. This is very important to understand when developing WP themes. I would have liked an entire chapter on this, though.

    One thing I found totally absent (aside from a quick mention in a sidebar note) is a discussion and walkthrough of WordPress’ OOP design. Just as it is important as a WP theme developer to understand the template system, good CSS, and XHTML, it is equally important to understand WP’s object oriented design. An entire chapter, early on in the book, could have been written to discuss this. Tessa would have made it simple and easy to understand, I am sure.

    I would have liked a better reference section. With a better reference section, I would be more apt to keep the book on my desk. As it is now, it will likely sit on the shelf never to be read again!

    Tessa creates a single theme in the book (an Open Source Magazine), and although most of the techniques apply across many different types of themes, having a few counter examples would get you started more quickly.

    One key point not stressed enough in her text is the notion of reusability. The WordPress architecture makes it highly reusable (not just flexible) so that you can call a single function under different circumstances to bring back data for different contexts. This is a powerful design feature (well known to those object-oriented developer types) that can save you time and effort, while delivering consistent and predictable results. As I have used WordPress now on several of my sites, I find this to be one of its strongest assets. When developing new themes, I feel that this point should be made crystal clear.

    Additionally, I think that a better discussion on some of WP’s core functions, and perhaps how they can and should be implemented, should have been included.

    All said, this is pretty good starter book. As an experienced developer (not a WP theme developer though), I didn’t get much out of it.

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  3. E. Peck "JR Peck" | |
    15 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great for Aspiring WordPress Designers, July 1, 2008
    By 
    E. Peck “JR Peck” (Orlando, FL) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: WordPress Theme Design: A complete guide to creating professional WordPress themes (Paperback)

    This is a rock solid book with great, practical advice on how to create a WordPress theme. The style is very relaxed and conversational yet to the point. I felt like the author just came by and hung out with me at my pc, teaching me how to create a WordPress theme. I’ve been using WordPress for years, but never had the time or discipline to track down all I would need to know to do this.

    The pictures and examples are great, all the code can be downloaded from the book’s web site. I learned a lot not just about designing a theme for WordPress, but also gained some great tips on working with XHTML, CSS and how to troubleshoot both as well as Java Script.

    I’d say a reader wants to have some familiarity with editing text files, sending them to a server and html. I thought the book did a great job of explaining anything else that would be needed. And I mention sending files to a server – but instructions are given for installing a local setup for testing. One could learn what this book has to offer without actually sending files out to a remote host.

    Just a great book that I found to be extremely helpful to someone with no web design background, but I want my blogs to be more unique.

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