Theme 1: Design Plan

As discussed in my Needs analyses for my WordPress themes, the first theme I’m working on is intended to be useful for a small to medium-sized public library that is looking for the following things in a website:

  • an online space for community updates (more than likely through a blog format)
  • emphasis on a calendar of current events
  • a place for other current events/announcements
  • easy-to-find hours
  • incorporation of images into blog posts
  • clean and minimal (while still fun) design

Using the work I did last summer on the group project redesign of the Sutton Free Library’s website as a base for my mockup, I created some starting points for the design of my first WordPress theme.

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Needs analyses for my WordPress themes

The goal at the end of this independent study is to have created two distinct, custom WordPress themes that were developed with libraries in mind.

Theme 1 Analysis

Intended Library: Small and public

For this theme, I want to create something with a small, public library in mind. I am somewhat basing my idea of the expected needs of such an institution on my project from last summer, where I worked on the re-design for a small public library’s website with two other grad students. We conducted a needs and analysis report based off of our interview with the client, and eventually created a mockup of a site for our client. My hope is to create something similar to this, but with the features of a WordPress theme that will make it all the more manageable (and suitable) for a small organization like this library.

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WordPress and libraries

1. WordPress foundations continued

This week I finished up watching WordPress: Building Themes from Scratch Using Underscores on Lynda.com. I feel much more confident about my approach to creating a WordPress theme after going through this video course, and am looking forward to beginning work on my own themes in the upcoming weeks.

I also took a look at Pro WordPress Theme Development, which covers a lot of similar topics as the Lynda.com video course. I appreciated the tips on theme testing and some further info on the review process once a theme has been submitted to the WordPress theme directory. I think this will be another source that may be useful to return to in the next few weeks if I have specific areas with questions/concerns.

2. Libraries using WordPress

Switching gears a bit, I’ve been looking at some case studies and examples of libraries currently using WordPress as a CMS.

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WordPress foundations for building a theme

1. The WordPress Template Hierarchy

The first video I watched this week was:

This video delves into the WordPress Template Hierarchy. Understanding this hierarchy is crucial to understanding how WordPress determines which file is going to be displayed in different parts of your site. The official WordPress documentation on the template hierarchy also covers the topic, and in particular provides the following diagram:

WordPress Template Hierarchy Chart

Morten Rand-Hendriksen (the author of the Lynda.com video) suggests creating a framework of your site based off of this template hierarchy, which I plan to do once I get further in the semester and begin the early design phases of my themes.

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Looking at PHP for developing WordPress themes

1. Intro to PHP

This week I started studying PHP in detail. Although I’ve played around with creating some custom WordPress themes, and therefore have had a little experience with the PHP involved in constructing them, the resources from this week provided a valuable foundation for understanding what is really going on.

The two main resources I looked at were:

I found both of these resources really helpful in different ways — and especially useful in conjunction with each other. I began with the Lynda.com videos, which provided a thorough but understandable introduction to PHP, including several exercise files that I was able to follow along with in order to replicate the examples the instructor of the course covered throughout the videos.

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