I recently launched a new project, GourmetPregnancy.com. Its a website in support of the new book ‘The Gourmet Pregnancy’, by Leah Douglas. The book features sumptuous and creative recipes for foodie expecting moms. This project had been in the works since January, and after seeing an initial layout provided by Mike Douglas, I went to work adapting the layout to the theme, enabled plugins, and configuring things in a subdomain.
Notes for development
When creating a WordPress site, I now generally attempt to pull in all the resources I can in one go, as I find this saves a large amount of time. I have a small project in github for automated installation of WordPress, which I would like to keep telling people about. Grabbing all the resources for a project is a very regular, standard task, and this process can be automated. There are other projects like it for other applications, like Drush for Drupal.
When developers get into new packages, they start off by downloading zips and tarballs. A little more skill and confidence and people start pulling down the software from the SVN or CVS repository. My github project is a shell script with the commands captured for obtaining the WordPress core, as well as a host of the common plugins and themes that I am going to use. Its a very simple idea, but one that is a huge time saver when you use it. It takes about 2.5 minutes for the script to run on my local Ubuntu desktop, in the shell. Its not perfect, but it is just meant to be a massive time saver over the tedium of grabbing the source, and then browsing through plugins and themes. A script like this can save untold hours.
So after that the site was a matter of layout and enabling plugins, creating a copy of the arras theme to hack on, configuring the cforms contact form page, and a host of layout fixes, for which Joe Hewitt’s Firebug plugin for Firefox is invaluable. Even so, there are multiple style sheets in the system and it was found lower down in the details that there was 1 or 2 conflicts. The Arras theme is more of a ‘feature’ theme as opposed to a ‘news’ theme, but still we spruced it up by removing columns and expanding the main area. Incidentally, the cformsII plugin required a complete rebuilding when the site was launched in the root domain. It didnt like me hacking the serialized array directly in the db.
You replace the instance of ‘the_excerpt();’ with ‘the_content();’ to get your full posts for the category. Search engines and users will thank you for it.
The home page in the theme has a Jquery slide show and dynamic feature boxes. There is always a question of the tools you have to do the presentation and we decided to swap out the slide show for a flash object, and replace the lower boxes with static content, since they will never change. The theme does provide for page & post options in in the slide show and sections on the page, and the options within the theme and plugins would have an influence over the content design, meaning what content gets defined as pages and posts. There is the time factor to consider in straightening out all the little issues between our layout and their theme, so after some investigation the static chunks and flash object was how we did it.
The header navigation took some time to master, but it came out looking nicely. The multi-level navigation plugin was in the end, not needed.
The book page has a light box plugin working, which works quite well.
The site has two post categories, News & Reviews and Recipes. The one important change for posts was a simple one line change to the template. It seems that in WordPress themes the post category listing displays only an excerpt by default. This doesn’t do much for usability or page ranking. Home pages, as I have on other news & blog themed WordPress sites, show the latest posts from all categories. You would expect that navigating to a given category should present like the home page, but only for that given category. That is not the case, but the fix is a one liner. You replace the instance of ‘the_excerpt();’ with ‘the_content();’ to get your full posts for the category. Search engines and users will thank you for it.