Choosing a WordPress theme can be a lot of fun as it allows you to personalise your website or blog and make it your own. However, ultimately, it can have a significant impact upon your online project, whatever it might be.
I have been working on a lot of WordPress freelance projects lately, that’s I why I have been lazy posting. One of the most successful one is for sure JDMNagoyaAutoParts, a showcase website for Japanese cars in Canada. I say it was a success because the project consisted on a lot of out-of-the-box theme development techniques and a lot of features that turn this site into a really flexible, scalable, time-saving CMS.
I began developing this theme with three objectives in mind – I wanted to built a powerful, easy-to-use, automated CMS with WordPress. I can proudly say I fulfilled those objectives the best way possible. This approach required a set of wonderful features to meet the objectives. I am going to share with you each of them below.
Custom Write Panels
To make things easier, I developed a set of custom write panels for the client. Can you imagine how much time would it require to use the default custom field functionality to enter something like 30 fields for a post (the cars details)? That would take forever. This is why I implemented custom write panels, so that the time-saving and easy-to-use objectives get met. However, this is not all.
Automated Image Placement
This is a great feature that does not come by default with WordPress themes. It is sometimes tricky to make it work it right. But, using this feature on your site, after several months you will realize that his has not saved you hours, but whole days and I have no shade of doubt when I say that. Here is why. My client uses about 10 images per post that go to the gallery, one of the images must go the the homepage and another in thumbnail size must go the the category. Normally, that would mean 12 more custom fields for image links. You get what I am saying, right?
Glider is a great script that makes it easy to create a sliding component in a website. I love that script and I have been using it in several other projects too. It is fully automated for sure. In the site I am talking about it show up the first image the latest post of six car categories I have set to. It is a great effect to the site, in my opinion.
Suckerfish Menu Integration
Open Source Works
The last but not the least, what I cannot forget to say is that this site is completely developed with and on open source. It is built on Ubuntu, designed in Inkscape, developed on Bluefish and run on WordPress, my lovely combination of Open Source Web Development tools.
Have to Say
I would love to hear what you are thinking about what you just read. Your opinion is very much appreciated.
One of my many WordPress freelance projects I am working on is UKlocum. This is one of the many projects I have received from my dear client from Poland, Greg. When Greg contacted me for this project explaining what he wanted to do, he asked me if this could be done with WordPress. He had seen the potential of WordPress in other previous smaller projects we worked on. Before that, he had thought of getting it custom made from scratch, which would have cost him too much. So, I told him WordPress could handle it and we decided to go with WordPress. This site was a real challenge in terms of functionality and all this post is about is that WordPress handles perfectly CMS websites.
This project was pretty urgent and I could not afford to design a new theme from scratch, having a lot of other works in hand. So I decided to go for a free WordPress theme and tweak it to fit my needs. I looked around and I can say that the theme community of WordPress is doing a great job. What I decided to go for is the Magazeen theme that was featured at Smashing Magazine too. Do you want to know what I tweaked? Read on…
Theme Code Cleaning
As you may already know, coders code differently. That is why getting your hands dirty with others people’s code is not a very enjoyable experience, moreover, sometimes it is a real pain. That was the case even with Magazeen which I expected to be better coded. The problem with code was that there where redundant use of DIVS and not logical cascading of CSS. This is my humble opinion – check it yourslef to be sure.
Most of code clearing was easy as it consisted in just removing functionality that the theme came prepacked with such as comments form, advanced widgets, thumbs gallery other elements that I cannot recall now, but it is quite boring and frustrating in other tasks as the drop down menu integration below.
Suckerfish drop down menu integration
The Magazeen theme did not come with a drop down menu, so I needed to integrate one as my client, Greg, required it. Not going into much trouble, I decided to use the Suckerfish Drop Down Menu which I had used several times previously. Because the code was messy, the most difficult part was fitting the theme code to the menu rather than integrating the drop down menu to the theme. However, it ended to be a success.
Custom Banner Integration
The custom banner integration consisted in removing some code from the banner section and placing the banner image there. Also, to help SEO of the site, I used a CSS image replacement techinque for the logo so that the human fisitors can see the nice image logo whereas the search engines read the given text wrapped in <h1> html tags.
Color Combination Alteration
Pawel, my client’s graphic designer, suggested that we used another color combination that would go better with the logo and banner colors. I implemented that color combination and it resulted in another success.
Welcome Guest or User
Under the menu, I integrated a piece of PHP code from WordPress to welcome a guest visitor and to tell them to log in or to register and also to greet a registered user and to allow them to log out from front page or any other part of the site, so that not to make them to spend time and click to go to admin panel to log out.
Extended User Register
Because of the nature of the site and the needs of my client, he asked me if we could extend the register form with other fields. So I did, using a great plugin called Register Plus. This is a very feature reach plugin which would allow you do almost anything with your register page, from having your custom logo to adding a lot of functionality and fields. I want to immensely thank the plugin’s developer for offering such a great plugin to the WordPress community.
The most impressing part of the UKLocum is the Events Manager. The Events Manager is a plugin developed by Davide Benini. It allows you to manage events specifying precise spatial data such as location, town, province, etc. It allows your visitors to book their participation in listed events. In my opinion it is the best plugin out there for event management.
When my client, Greg, saw it, he was enthusiastic about it. However, we had to face a challenge with the events. We needed to have people register first for the site, after that they would be able to book the events. Taking in consideration that the plugin developers have fulfilled almost any need in functionality terms, I found the solution fast enough. I employed the HidePost to accomplish that task, just another great plugin out there. I hid the booking form from not logged in visitors, telling them to log in or register, if not, to be able to book the event. That was the happy end of our next challenge.
What would be the last words of this long boring post? Hmmm! As you could have already deducted from reading this post, WordPress is being more and more important in nowadays web environment. Also, running WordPress freelance business (perhaps that’s not the right collocation) is a great way to make a living by making money online. The last but not the least, if you need a custom WordPress theme or other WordPress services and, if you are looking for a professional and reliable WordPress freelancer, look no further than my contact page.
Don’t forget that your opinion is most appreciated – please share it below.
As announced in the introductory post of Master WordPress theme, I am releasing my first ever free WordPress theme. I am very happy to have achieved this and I am very hopeful that 2009 will be a great year of success for my WordPress freelance experience. Below I have taken an two paragraphs from my introductory post for the master theme I am releasing.
Do I have to pay for the theme?
No, the theme will be available for free download and usage. The theme in fact is being released under the GPL license which is the same license that WordPress uses. The theme will also have free updates and upgrades forever. Also, I hope we guys build a great support forum for this theme and others to come which will also be free to access, ask and answer.
What do I have to pay for than?
You might never have to pay for anything. But, in case you need help to set up the theme, configure the plugins etc, you might want to buy one of the five (5) service packages that will come along with the theme. These packages vary from setup to theme enhancements and even PSD to the actual theme. More information about this topic will come along with the theme release.
Master Theme Features
- Modern and beautiful web typeface.
- Tableless design and 100% CSS-based layout.
- 2 columns of fixed width.
- Widget Ready.
- XHTML 1.0 Transitional valid.
- CSS 2.1 valid.
- Search Engine optimized coding make wise use of h1, h3, h3.
Preview and Download
- Preview Master Theme at WordPress theme directory. A better preview is to come soon.
- Download Master Theme
Support and Customization
|Master Theme||Pack 1||Pack 2||Pack 3||Pack 4||Pack 5|
|Updates and upgrades||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Plugin selection and configuration||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Email Support and on-site support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Color and font customization||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Structure and look customization||Yes||Yes|
|PSD to Master theme conversion||Yes|
STEP 1. Extract the files it contains. You need to preserve the directory structure in the archive when extracting these files.
STEP 2. Upload the theme to your /wp-content/themes/ directory.
STEP 3. Now go to Appearance >> Themes and activate the “Master” theme.
Master theme is licensed under the GPL. It may be freely modified and copied as long as the license stays GPL. This means that you may use it for your personal and commercial projects and you may also make any changes you like.
2009-01-07: Initial 1.0 release.
Andrew Kelly contacted me for a kind of business blog project that he was working on. After I showed him some of my previous works and we agreed on the price, I began designing a WordPress theme for him. He had previously chosen to use as a theme the semilogic theme framework. Well, his decision made me suffer until I suggested him that I developed the theme for him from scratch. He agreed and on this we went on. This project took a little bit long as I was working on other projects simultaneously. However working with Andrew was a great experience.
When Andrew contacted me, he showed me a couple of sites that he wanted his blog to look like. He wanted something fresh and have a web 2.0 feel. Some guys might argue that web 2.0 means nothing, however there are a lot of designers and blog writers that have listed out the features of web 2.0 – but this is not the point of this post. Let’s focus on the design process. I used an heavy blue color throughout the blog with some fresh web 2.0 effects. I did all this with Inkscape, my favorite vector graphic design application. I cannot say I am a great designer, but I can reach high quality in design if clients describe me clearly what they want.
As I said earlier, the early coding process was very painful. After we decided to have the theme developed from scratch, it was a very nice experience as coding is the part I like most. I had to work with XTHML, CSS, PHP with WordPress flavor.
The theme is coded in tableless XHTML/CSS. At first it was pure and valid, but after my client, Andrew implemented Awaber subscription code into it, it turned to have some validation errors. It is not a situation I like to be in, as I claim I code only valid talbleless XHTML/CSS websites and WordPress themes, but I cannot interfere with my clients choices.
The theme has a two column layout. It has a left main column where the blog content is placed and a right wide sidebar. On front page it has a big welcoming video before the fold under which four other posts queried according to categories are shown. It is a nice simple layout informative layout.
The theme has a fully customizable, widget-ready sidebar. Widgetizing WordPress themes is a pleasurable experience for me and I could not leave it unwidgetized even though widget are little employed by my client, Andrew.
After a lot of frustration working with many Web Designers it has been a real refreshing change to work with someone like Baki, his constant follow up and willingness to over deliver on all levels has made a huge difference to our productivity and our web business bottom line. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Baki which makes him a real pleasure to work with. I just wish all our team could be as reliable and project focused as Baki! Andrew Kelly of ClickSmartMarketing.com
This is all I could write down about my experience with Andrew Kelly. I would love to hear your thoughts about this theme. Also, please consider subscribing to my RSS Feeds to have the possibility to read and view more great articles and projects. In case you need a WordPress theme, you can drop me a line using my contact page. If you are not sure, please have a look at my portfolio to see more works of mine. Thanks for reading!