Notes from Eliminating Pain when Changing Themes discussion

One of those frustrating issues. 1) Target the problems and 2) propose solutions.

Nothing works when installing a new theme. Doesn’t look like the picture. Takes time (a couple of hours even) to get it set up. How can the theme switch be minimized so that the new theme contains the old site content without any additional work?

Chris: Problem is assumptions. The assumptions we make only fit to a certain categoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging. of themes. Inconsistincies crop up and bad things happen then. There’s not an ability for an admin to change something and not modify the front end for visitors. A theme “trial run”. CustomizerCustomizer Tool built into WordPress core that hooks into most modern themes. You can use it to preview and modify many of your site’s appearance settings. does this a bit, but not to a great extent. This wouldn’t work for Chris’s complex theme.

Chris: If there was a way to start up a trial run, and then push it live when it’s ready.

Clay: Widgets are the biggest issue. Switching themes puts all the widgets in the unused widgets section and scatters them.

IDEA: Storing groups of widgets to allow for dropping them in after changing themes.

Michael: Allowing a theme to define a primary widgetWidget A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page. WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. area. Most themes will have that in the sidebarSidebar A sidebar in WordPress is referred to a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes to display information that is not a part of the main content. It is not always a vertical column on the side. It can be a horizontal rectangle below or above the content area, footer, header, or any where in the theme., but in some cases could be a footer or otherwise. Skip the step for at least one widget area.

Clay: Might not need much of a new UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing., really.

Now discussing menus and how they behave. Builder, for instance, can have many layouts and change things. Since changes in recent versions, child themeChild theme A Child Theme is a customized theme based upon a Parent Theme. It’s considered best practice to create a child theme if you want to modify the CSS of your theme. changes when using the same sidebar IDs scatters widget setups.

“Every widget be shufflin’”

Moving away from widgets. What about when a featured imageFeatured image A featured image is the main image used on your blog archive page and is pulled when the post or page is shared on social media. The image can be used to display in widget areas on your site or in a summary list of posts. call is made and there isn’t a featured image set? What should we do?

IDEA: A fallback, designed specifically for those cases. Apparently Genesis does something similar by declaring a fallback image in the theme folder. To avoid including multiple sizes, Michael suggests using media sideload to move the image over into the WordPress media section so resizing can happen natively.

Chris: iThemes did an editor-only thumbnail image that tells them there is no image there, but they can add one if they want. And that they are the only ones to see the image.

Michael: A user suggested a UI for quickly adding featured images to posts. Could be pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party territory.

Problems so far boil down to widgets and featured images.

Syed: Moving from a framework theme to a dot org theme will confuse people. From many things/screens to something simpler.

Chris: We have pressure from customers to do that kind of stuff.

Syed: WooDojo, for instance, solves the problem of duplicating lots of code in a bunch of themes. Or at least, allowing users to swap themes and keep coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. functionality.

Ryan: TGM Plugin Activiation class, dropping notices within statuses.

Michael: I hate when themes put the home page template in the page template. For one thing, which theme screenshot do you display if you have a front page and a blog page? Two screenshots? Multiple image UI? Or on that page, since the dashboard knows the setting that is chosen, just display the one that’s selected. So, include two screenshots, one for each type. Naming convention maybe?

Chris: We’ve trained people that themes are easier than plugins. It’s understood that plugins are a bit more work. But for themes the expectations are different.

Michael: JUX is a publishing platform on the front end that loads content on the get-go every time. He doesn’t like it, but it’s kind of neat he says.

Chris: Perhaps multiple screenshots showing different possible setups is one way to approach the problem.

Is there any way that we can track statistics for how widgets are used?

Action Items

  • Start a ticket for the issue when widgets are scattered after a child theme is modified, when using the same sidebar IDs.
  • Start a tracTrac Trac is the place where contributors create issues for bugs or feature requests much like GitHub. ticket for grouping widgets to make swapping them between themes after switching themes.
  • Start a discussion around a plugin for quickly adding featured images to a bunch of posts.