Gillian theme now available

I’m happy to announce that my newest WordPress theme, Gillian, is now available to download and install from the WP theme directory!

Theme summary: Gillian is focused on organizing and presenting large amounts of content in a logical, useful, and visually appealing manner. Fully responsive and accessibility ready, Gillian is suitable for education institutions, blogging platforms, libraries, and more. Gillian ships with a header image ready for use, which you can keep, delete, or replace as you see fit. Some other features of Gillian include: three layout templates, optional locations for additional menus, an optional social media menu with Font Awesome icons integrated, widgetized areas (two sidebars and in the footer), and color customization options to make the theme uniquely yours.

I’ve already talked some about the process behind designing and developing Gillian, and I’m excited to finally have it available to the public.

Reflections on the theme review process

The review process for Gillian was mostly similar to my first experience submitting a WordPress theme to the directory. A big difference was the time simply waiting for the review to actually start. My first theme, Heidi, took three months from the time of submission until the time it went live in the directory; Gillian, on the other hand, took seven months.

The folks behind the theme review process are, as far as I’m aware, all volunteers, just like many of the theme developers are doing their work on a volunteer basis. So it’s certainly understandable that they might get swamped with submissions and not have enough experienced reviewers ready to take them all on in a timely manner. I know they’re currently in the process of improving upon automated checks and potentially developing some new ones that should hopefully help streamline things, as well.

The actual review process once again was mostly painless. There were some clean-ups and fixes to make throughout the code, but as with my first experience with the theme review team, the reviewers were very helpful in providing examples of what sort of changes could/should be implemented.

In addition to the standard review, Gillian was the first of my themes to go through the audit for inclusion in the accessibility ready tag. I fixed some small contrast issues and added some updates to keep the theme in-step with the current release of Underscores. I also played around with some aria attributes (namely, aria-controls and aria-expanded) to make sure that the optional menus in the top navigation bar were linked correctly to the appropriate toggle button on mobile screens. I was not familiar with these aria attributes prior to the review, so I’m happy to have learned some more about it in the process! I really appreciated the input of the accessibility reviewer on my theme, and am glad to have this opportunity to get to learn more about building accessible themes/sites for the web.

I’m really excited that Gillian is included in the accessibility ready tag in the WordPress theme directory. I worked really hard to incorporate a different color scheme that’s pretty… well, colorful, to prove to myself that I can make accessible designs that meet color contrast standards and use more than just a very basic black-and-white color scheme.

It should be noted that the default colors in Gillian have been tested by myself and the accessibility reviewer to ensure that they meet the WCAG 2.0 4.5:1 requirement. But Gillian also provides users with the ability to easily change colors via the WordPress Customizer. If you take advantage of this feature and you would like to retain accessibility-ready contrasts in your site, you should be careful to test any new color contrasts you use! WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker and Tanaguru Contrast-Finder are two that I’ve used, and there are plenty others out there that work great.

More info on using Gillian

I hope that users of Gillian will find the theme to be straight-forward and easy to use. However, I also have some additional documentation written up for my themes, when needed. If you have an issue that is not addressed in the documentation, please feel free to read through my support page for my WordPress themes and/or leave me a comment here!

Finally, if you’re interested, you can keep an eye on my GitHub profile, where I hope to have the chance to upload the source code of Gillian soon! Translations and other contributions from members of the WordPress community are always welcome.

Heidi version 1.0.7

A new version of Heidi is now available! If you already have Heidi installed, you should be automatically notified about version 1.0.7 via your WordPress dashboard. Version 1.0.6 has been skipped due to technical error with the uploading process.



* customizer.php – Fix html escaping for custom styles


* style.css – Minor CSS fixes to address edge-case margin issues
* Update to Font Awesome 4.7.0

Documentation for my WordPress themes

Guides for using my WordPress themes are now available! Check out my WordPress documentation page for more info.

Currently, the following topics are covered:

  • Customizing Colors
  • Understanding Posts and Pages
  • Uploading/Changing Header Image
  • Using Page Templates

These guides are designed to address frequently asked questions from the userbase of my themes. If you are looking for more in-depth information on these issues or more, I highly suggest taking a look at the guides available from the WordPress Codex. The Codex has a lot of documentation that is useful for both beginner and advanced users of WordPress.

More guides will be coming soon!

Gillian WordPress theme coming soon

My second WordPress theme, Gillian, has been submitted to the theme directory for review! A live preview of Gillian is also available.

Gillian was originally designed with academic libraries in mind, but would work well for other institutions, organizations, or individuals who are interested in organizing and presenting large amounts of content in a logical, useful, and visually appealing manner.

The core features for Gillian include:

  • Responsive design
  • Accessibility ready
  • Default header image included in theme
  • Upload your own custom header image
  • Upload your own custom background image
  • Featured images (posts and pages)
  • Default right sidebar layout
  • Three-column template (left and right sidebars)
  • Full-width template (no sidebars)
  • Optional secondary menu
  • Social media menu with Font Awesome icons
  • Widgetized sidebars and footer
  • Customizer color options
  • Editor styling

Behind the Design

The design plan for Gillian really began during an Independent Study I did while finishing up my Master’s in Library and Information Science. Gillian addresses the second needs analysis for a WordPress theme that I would have liked to have created during that Study, but ultimately didn’t have enough time to do so.

Intended Use: Storing lots of information about a collection, organizing links and guides for patrons interested on a particular subject

Unlike my first theme, which primarily focuses on blog-style community updates, my second theme will focus on organizing and presenting a lot of information. For an academic library that may be info about a large collection (or collections), but I think other information institutions could make use of a theme like this, too. There will also be a focus on generally making it easy to organize links and guides for the eventual users of the website.

I began planning the visual design of Gillian with a quick look at how the layout would work at different screen sizes.

I knew from the needs analysis that I wanted Gillian to have room for multiple menus, a search bar in the header, and at least one sidebar. Although the above designs are very simple, they helped me begin to conceptualize the main content areas I would be including in the theme.

I then moved on to draft up some more detailed mockups. The following were put together in Adobe Illustrator. Click to view fullsize.

The finished product diverges from these mockups some, as I had the freedom to continue building upon my design throughout the coding process. For the most part I kept with the overall look-and-feel and color scheme. I did end up working on two additional templates to the one here: a full-width page version, and a three column version that includes a sidebar on the left as well as the right. I also created a custom header image that is provided by default with the theme, and can of course be removed or replaced.

Updates on Gillian

The queue for new themes in the WordPress theme directory is rather long. I’m also happy to have been able to include the accessibility ready tag for this theme, which will require a separate accessibility review, so time will have to be allowed for that as well. Keep an eye on this blog for more info about when Gillian is reviewed/made available for public download!