Not All Themes Are Created Equal
There was a time (not too long ago) when a WordPress theme was a very simple thing. You uploaded a few files, selected the theme and bingo you had a new look and feel for your blog.
Things have changed, battalions of dedicated and skilled theme designers are creating more and more excellent, but complicated looks for your WordPress blog. I thought a post was in order to talk about how these advanced themes should be used.
RTFM or read the “effing” manual is something I advise to everyone who has purchased a premium theme with a wide range of functionality. The small print will show you how to use your shiny new theme to the best of it’s ability. I have had a number of clients pulling their hair out trying to get a theme to work, thinking it is just like their old install and forget look and feel.
Many of these themes are reliant on plugins. The plugins are usually packaged with the theme, so install and activate them as instructed.
Another popular thing amongst theme designers is to use custom properties. Next time you write a post, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see an area to create custom properties. These are little pieces of variable information which are specific to the post, in the case of my theme design (Ice Cream Dream from WordPrezzie), they are used to add little flourished to each post. My theme may look fairly simple, but to have the list of thumbnail images running down the page, I need to add a custom property called thumbnail to each post, this is populated with the URL of my thumbnail images so.
Many themes take advantage of certain categories to place content in specific areas, pay attention to these cats, and remember the spell the category name exactly as it says in the documentation, I recently spent hours trying to fix a theme which required videos to be in a videos category rather than video as had been configured by the blog owner.
My thoughts On Themes
Themes are hugely important to entice readers into your blog, spend time on the initial build of your blog to get the right look and feel, and then let it go, spend time on your content rather than tweaking every little nuance of design. It is important to understand that your long term readers will probably sign up for your RSS feed, and this never looks pretty.