Excerpt versus Content for Archives

Most theme developers have slowly moved away from using the_excerpt to display content on index, archive and search pages. I definitely have.

Let’s go over quickly how the_excerpt works:

  1. If an excerpt is explicitly defined, it will be displayed (including HTML).
  2. If an excerpt isn’t defined, the post content will be used, but stripped of HTML and truncated to 55 words by default. An indication that is has been truncated also displays “[…]”.

If a post consists entirely of a YouTube embed, a gallery, a single image, or a Tweet embed, “the_excerpt” will strip all that out- and thus nothing will be displayed. This makes for a very weird looking archive page if the_except is used.

The alternative is to use the_content. This allows the full content to show. But the content can also be truncated on archives by using more tag.

This is what I’ve been using in most of my new themes as it is the most flexible. Continue reading

Migrating to Digital Ocean

I’ve had a number of tiny WordPress sites on shared hosting (BlueHost) for over a decade. It’s been pretty great. Shared hosting has a lot of benefits: it’s cheap, it’s relatively easy to manage, e-mail is included, and there’s basic support.

The drawback is that servers aren’t generally optimized for WordPress performance, and once a site begins to scale in traffic you need to move it to a managed host or a VPS.

droplet-screen

I’ve been wanting to try DigitalOcean (one of the many cloud providers) because my hosting bills have been growing. I still have my basic shared hosting with BlueHost, but I also have large sites on WP Engine, and a VPS with WiredTree. They’ve all been great and have their own benefits, but the idea of consolidating into one provider and reducing my hosting bill significantly is a huge draw. Continue reading

How to Install a Purchased Theme

When you purchase a WordPress theme you’ll generally get a download link for the zip file. To upload this theme to your site involves a couple simple steps.

  1. Log into your WordPress site, and go to “Appearances > Themes” menu item
  2. Click the “Add New” button at the top of the screen
  3. Click the “Upload Theme” button at the top of the screen
  4. Now choose the .zip file that you have of the theme click “Install Now”

Add New

add-new

Upload Theme

upload-theme

Overwriting a Theme

If you are uploading a newer version of an existing theme, you will likely get this message:

“Destination folder already exists. Theme install failed.”

In that case, you will need to temporarily switch themes (perhaps to the default). Find the theme you want to replace, click “Theme Details” and then click “Delete”. Now you can upload the newer version.

Additional Notes

  • If you use WordPress.com, you cannot upload your own themes.
  • If your zip file contains multiple themes, you’ll need to unzip it, and then re-zip each theme individually.
  • Purchase themes only from trusted sources- otherwise you run the risk of getting a hacked version (no fun).

Social Menu Links

I (like most everyone) have number of social profiles spread across the web. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GitHub, etc. I tend to think of my website as my “home” on the web- it’s the only place I have complete control over the content, design and functionality. But I like to link to these other sites so folks can find me and engage there. For most brands and companies this is an essential requirement for their website.

icon-examples

There’s a number of ways for users to add social links. The simplest is to use the default WordPress menus and have text links. These can be added in a menu area or a widget. There’s also a few plugins that have purpose built widgets or absolute positioned icons that can work with most any theme.

But in most cases icon links in the menu are the best option for linking. Icons don’t take up much space and they’re immediately identifiable.

If a theme doesn’t support social icons by default, there are a couple plugins that allow you to use icon sets by adding classes to menu. Font Awesome 4 Menus is one. But since this is such an essential feature for most sites, I think it’s great when the theme itself handles it. This ensures that the icons used also match the rest of the theme design. Continue reading

Post Format Views with Categories and Tags

I think it makes a lot of sense to display certain post format archives differently than standard post archives. For instance, image post formats might look a lot better in a grid view with large images rather than a traditional blog format.

It’s easy enough to alter the post format archive template, but the taxonomy views (categories and tags) will still display in the standard layout- even if all the posts are the same format.

I thought it would be great to detect what type of posts were being displayed in the taxonomy before they rendered, and use a different layout if they were all in the same post format. This way I could continuity between the post format archives and taxonomy archives- assuming they all contained the same post format. Continue reading

IE Browser Testing on OSX

Browser testing in Internet Explorer can be a bit tricky since I do all my WordPress development work on a Mac- but I finally got a setup that works well.

virtualmachines

I’m using Virtual Box because it is free, rather easy to set up, and I could store all the disk images on an external drive (they take up too much space on my MacBook Air, 10GB a piece).

The disk images with Windows and Internet Explorer can be downloaded from Modern IE. I had to download some of the rar files multiple times because the zips were corrupted in the download (they’re large files)- but I eventually got a clean version. Disk images are available for IE6, IE7, IE8, IE9, IE10 and IE11. Continue reading