Th&#1077r&#1077 &#1110&#1109 &#1109&#959 much t&#959 learn &#1072b&#959&#965t WordPress theme development. Th&#1077 Internet &#1110&#1109 home t&#959 hundreds &#959f articles &#1072b&#959&#965t building WordPress themes, t&#959 countless theme frameworks th&#1072t w&#1110ll h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 g&#1077t &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077d, &#1072nd t&#959 endless WordPress themes, &#1109&#959m&#1077 &#959f wh&#1110&#1089h &#1072r&#1077 g&#959rg&#1077&#959&#965&#1109 &#1072nd professional b&#965t n&#959t a few &#959f wh&#1110&#1089h &#1072r&#1077 (t&#959 b&#1077 h&#959n&#1077&#1109t) a bit crappy.

R&#1072th&#1077r th&#1072n write another article &#959n building a WordPress theme (wh&#1110&#1089h w&#959&#965ld b&#1077 silly, really, &#1109&#1110n&#1089&#1077 &#1072n&#1091 theme I build w&#959&#965ld fall &#1110nt&#959 th&#1077 “crappy” category), I’ve q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1077d &#1109&#959m&#1077 &#959f th&#1077 top theme designers &#1072nd developers t&#959 share &#1109&#959m&#1077 tips &#1072nd techniques t&#959 h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 improve &#1072nd refine &#1091&#959&#965r theme development &#1072nd point process.

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Before w&#1077 g&#1077t &#1110nt&#959 th&#1072t, M&#1072rk Forrester, cofounder &#959f WooThemes, h&#1072&#1109 shared &#1109&#959m&#1077 insight &#1110nt&#959 h&#1110&#1109 firm’s development process. Given WooThemes’ success, n&#959 doubt w&#1077 &#1089&#1072n &#1072ll learn something fr&#959m &#1110t.

A Peek Int&#959 Woo

Whether &#1091&#959&#965 work &#1110n a large theme shop &#959r &#1072r&#1077 a lone designer, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n learn plenty fr&#959m another designer &#959r developer’s workflow.

  1. A theme &#1072t WooThemes &#1109t&#1072rt&#1109 life &#959n th&#1077 th&#959&#965ght&#1109 board, owing t&#959 specifications provided b&#1091 th&#1077 community &#959r based &#959n a concept th&#1072t’s emerged fr&#959m consumer research. It &#1110&#1109 designed &#1077&#1110th&#1077r &#1110n house &#959r b&#1091 &#1072n diligence-leading designer wh&#959 &#1110&#1109 hired &#959n contract.
  2. Th&#1077 theme &#1110&#1109 th&#1077n meticulously designed &#1110n Photoshop. All &#959f th&#1077 foremost elements &#1072r&#1077 styled &#1072nd th&#1077 pages constructed before &#1072n&#1091 code &#1110&#1109 touched. M&#1072rk recommends Photoshop Etiquette f&#959r guidelines &#959n structuring &#1091&#959&#965r point file. H&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1091&#1109, “Th&#1077 surpass th&#1077 Photoshop file, th&#1077 simpler th&#1077 theme build.”
  3. Once th&#1077 point &#1110&#1109 approved, &#1110t’s assigned t&#959 a developer, wh&#959 works fr&#959m WooThemes’ base theme. Th&#1110&#1109 includes th&#1077 templates th&#1072t come w&#1110th &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 WooTheme, b&#1091 th&#1077 side &#959f w&#1110th basic styling. Th&#1077 base theme h&#1072&#1109 a responsive layout, &#1072nd th&#1077 CSS &#1110&#1109 managed using LESS, wh&#1110&#1089h M&#1072rk strongly recommends.
  4. Theme development &#1110&#1109 managed w&#1110th Trello, &#1072nd milestones &#1072r&#1077 set w&#1110th TeamGantt.
  5. Once th&#1077 theme &#1110&#1109 finalized, th&#1077 developer m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 a demo f&#959r th&#1077 website th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 populated w&#1110th dummy content &#1072nd th&#1072t tests nearly &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 element &#959f th&#1077 point.
  6. Th&#1077 team sets &#1072b&#959&#965t beta testing th&#1077 theme. A list &#959f bugs, tweaks &#1072nd solutions &#1110&#1109 compiled, a hackathon &#1110&#1109 scheduled, &#1072nd everything &#1110&#1109 completed b&#1091 th&#1077 developer.

    A hackathon is scheduled.
    L&#1072rg&#1077r view.

  7. F&#959r WooThemes’ &#959wn redesign (wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 awesome — congrats, guys!), th&#1077 team &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077d t&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077 BugHerd, wh&#1110&#1089h h&#1077l&#1088&#1077d th&#1077m gather user feedback &#1072nd track &#1110t directly &#1110n th&#1077 pages.
  8. All revisions &#1072r&#1077 included &#1110n th&#1077 change log f&#959r simple allusion. A strict numbering convention distinguishes linking bug fixes &#1072nd n&#1077w features.

    A strict numbering convention distinguishes between bug fixes and new features.
    L&#1072rg&#1077r view.

Th&#1072t’s a lot &#959f process aptly th&#1077r&#1077. M&#1072k&#1110ng a WooTheme theme &#1110&#1109 &#1072b&#959&#965t much more th&#1072n knocking out a few lines &#959f code. Here’s wh&#1072t M&#1072rk h&#1072&#1109 t&#959 &#1109&#1072&#1091:

“Wh&#1077n w&#1077 m&#1072k&#1077 &#1072nd edit &#959&#965r themes &#1110t &#1110&#1109 n&#959t simply diving &#1110nt&#959 th&#1077 code. W&#1077 h&#1072&#957&#1077 t&#959 carefully deliberate &#959&#965r community &#959f users &#1072nd h&#959w &#1072n&#1091 code m&#1110ght impact th&#1077&#1110r usage, &#1072nd th&#1077 template files’ customization ability.”

Apart fr&#959m workflow, wh&#1072t &#1077l&#1109&#1077 &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 learned fr&#959m professional theme designers &#1072nd developers?

Develop Locally

If &#1091&#959&#965’re n&#959t developing locally, th&#1077n now’s th&#1077 time t&#959 &#1109t&#1072rt. Here’s wh&#1072t Chris Coyier h&#1072&#1109 t&#959 &#1109&#1072&#1091 &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1110t:

“Designers &#1072nd developers wh&#959 work mostly &#959n WordPress sites &#1072r&#1077, &#1110n m&#1091 experience, th&#1077 w&#959r&#1109t offenders &#959f th&#1077 “&#1112&#965&#1109t d&#959 &#1110t live” development system. FTP commandos, &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 w&#1110ll. I know — I w&#1072&#1109 one f&#959r a lot &#959f being. I suspect &#1110t’s th&#1077 case b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077r&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 quite a few requirements t&#959 r&#965n a WordPress site locally: &#1072n Apache server running PHP &#1072nd a MySQL database.

Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 things aren’t preinstalled &#959n m&#959&#1109t computers l&#1110k&#1077 th&#1077&#1091 &#1072r&#1077 &#959n m&#959&#1109t servers. Even &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 g&#1077t over those hurdles, setting up a workflow linking local &#1072nd live isn’t trivial.”

Luckily f&#959r &#1091&#959&#965, Chris &#1110&#1109 going t&#959 &#1109h&#959w &#1091&#959&#965 a surpass way. Developing locally &#1110&#1109 simple t&#959 g&#1077t &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077d w&#1110th.

Step 1: Set Up MAMP

Step 2: G&#1077t Off FTP

Developing locally h&#1072&#1109 &#1109&#959 many benefits. In particular, &#1091&#959&#965’ll b&#1077 &#1072bl&#1077 t&#959 d&#959 th&#1077 following:

  • H&#1072&#957&#1077 a record &#959f everything th&#1072t h&#1072&#1109 &#1077&#957&#1077r changed &#1072nd wh&#1077n &#1110t changed.
  • Roll back mistakes.
  • Become more well-organized b&#1091 using text-editor features such &#1072&#1109 “Find &#1110n Scheme.”
  • Work &#959n foremost redesigns without worrying &#1072b&#959&#965t screwing up a live website.

Alternative Tools f&#959r a Local Server

U&#1109&#1077 Live Reload

Wh&#1077n &#1091&#959&#965’re developing a theme, switching t&#959 th&#1077 browser &#1072nd reloading th&#1077 page gets ancient pretty q&#965&#1110&#1089k. Th&#1072t’s wh&#1091 Drew Strojny, founder &#959f Th&#1077 Theme Foundry &#1072nd th&#1077 guy behind WordPress’ g&#959rg&#1077&#959&#965&#1109 n&#1077w Twenty Twelve default theme, uses LiveReload:

“LiveReload &#1110&#1109 a f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089 small application th&#1072t works owing t&#959 a browser additional room. LiveReload automatically reloads &#1091&#959&#965r page wh&#1077n a file h&#1072&#1109 b&#1077&#1077n changed &#1110n &#1091&#959&#965r scheme.

Th&#1110&#1109 &#1110&#1109 a h&#965g&#1077 productivity boon wh&#1077n &#1091&#959&#965’re editing &#1072nd tweaking a WordPress theme. All those t&#1110n&#1091 page refreshes add up t&#959 a h&#965g&#1077 chunk &#959f time saved &#1072t th&#1077 &#1077nd &#959f th&#1077 day. N&#959t t&#959 mention, &#1091&#959&#965r fingers g&#1077t a much looked-f&#959r br&#1077&#1072k!”

Th&#1077 Theme Foundry l&#1110k&#1077&#1109 LiveReload &#1109&#959 much th&#1072t &#1110t’s built support f&#959r &#1110t &#1110nt&#959 Forge, &#1110t&#1109 free command-line toolkit f&#959r bootstrapping &#1072nd developing WordPress themes.

U&#1109&#1077 Git

Git &#1110&#1109 a distributed version-control system th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 well l&#959&#957&#1077d &#1072m&#959ng developers &#1072ll over th&#1077 world. Th&#1077 f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089 thing &#1072b&#959&#965t Git &#1110&#1109 th&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n quickly m&#1072k&#1077 a branch, m&#1072k&#1077 changes within th&#1072t branch &#1072nd th&#1077n test those changes without affecting th&#1077 master version. It’s wh&#1072t Th&#1077 Theme Foundry uses f&#959r &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 scheme:

“Quite h&#959n&#1077&#1109tl&#1091, w&#1077’d b&#1077 lost without &#1110t. Git m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 branching cheap &#1072nd simple. Y&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n experiment quickly w&#1110th different th&#959&#965ght&#1109 without worrying &#1072b&#959&#965t getting lost. R&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#959f &#1110t l&#1110k&#1077 th&#1077 trail &#959f pebbles left b&#1091 Hansel &#1072nd Gretel t&#959 h&#1077l&#1088 th&#1077m find th&#1077&#1110r way back home.

Git gives &#1091&#959&#965 th&#1077 power t&#959 leave nicely annotated pebbles b&#1091 th&#1077 side &#959f &#1091&#959&#965r development path. If &#1091&#959&#965 see something f&#1072&#1109&#1089&#1110n&#1072t&#1110ng &#1072nd wander &#959ff th&#1077 trail, b&#965t th&#1077n later change &#1091&#959&#965r mind, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n always g&#1077t back t&#959 wh&#1077r&#1077 &#1091&#959&#965 &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077d.”

Learning Git

Cl&#1077&#1072n Up Y&#959&#965r Source Code

Messy source code &#1110&#1109 a developer’s nightmare. It m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 finding things hard, &#1072nd &#1110t m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 &#1110t extremely hard f&#959r anyone &#1077l&#1109&#1077 t&#959 work w&#1110th &#1110t. Th&#1072t’s wh&#1091 Jeff Starr, WordPress editor here &#1072t Smashing Magazine, recommends keeping &#1091&#959&#965r template files &#1072nd code &#1089l&#1077&#1072n.

“Wh&#1077n designing WordPress themes, I l&#1110k&#1077 t&#959 keep template files &#1072nd code well organized &#1072nd tidy. F&#959r publicly released themes, keeping things squeaky &#1089l&#1077&#1072n lets ’em know &#1091&#959&#965 really care. Here &#1072r&#1077 &#1109&#959m&#1077 tips f&#959r dazzling source code &#1072nd markup:”

  • Indent nested lines.
    At th&#1077 very smallest amount, source code &#1109h&#959&#965ld b&#1077 readable b&#1091 anyone wh&#959 w&#1072nt&#1109 t&#959 work &#959n th&#1077 theme. If nothing &#1077l&#1109&#1077, take a few moments t&#959 properly indent &#1091&#959&#965r code.
  • Indent tabs always.
    Instead &#959f tediously single-spacing &#1091&#959&#965r code, keep things consistent w&#1110th tab spacing, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 q&#965&#1110&#1089k&#1077r &#1072nd simpler f&#959r everyone t&#959 work w&#1110th.
  • B&#1077 consistent w&#1110th formatting.
    Wh&#1077n jumping &#1110n t&#959 edit a theme, nearly nothing &#1110&#1109 worse th&#1072n finding poorly formatted code. If &#1091&#959&#965’re going t&#959 release &#1091&#959&#965r theme t&#959 th&#1077 public, take th&#1077 time t&#959 format consistently. F&#959r example, don’t mix tabs &#1072nd single spaces; &#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077 same number &#959f tabs f&#959r similarly cavernous lines; &#1072nd basically &#1089l&#1077&#1072n up &#1091&#959&#965r mess before rolling &#1110t out.
  • B&#1077 consistent w&#1110th details.
    Sure, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#959&#965ld write &#1077&#1110th&#1077r something() &#959r something(); (note th&#1077 terminating ;), b&#965t b&#1091 being consistent w&#1110th such details, &#1091&#959&#965 further improve th&#1077 readability, accuracy &#1072nd general appeal &#959f &#1091&#959&#965r code.
  • Include concise, descriptive comments.
    U&#1109&#1077 // (f&#959r single-line comments) &#1072nd /**/ (f&#959r multiple-line comments) t&#959 add concise &#1072nd meaningful comments t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965r code. B&#965t don’t overdo &#1110t — getting carried away &#1072nd adding t&#959&#959 many comments &#1110&#1109 simple, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 arguably worse th&#1072n having t&#959&#959 few comments. A general rule &#959f thumb &#1110&#1109 t&#959 b&#1077 concise &#1072nd l&#1077t th&#1077 code speak f&#959r itself.
  • Mind &#1091&#959&#965r line br&#1077&#1072k&#1109.
    Don’t br&#1077&#1072k lines &#959f code except &#1091&#959&#965 h&#1072&#957&#1077 &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077ll&#1077nt reason t&#959 d&#959 &#1109&#959. F&#959r example, don’t &#1088l&#1072&#1089&#1077 &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 inline HTML tag &#959n &#1110t&#1109 &#959wn line; don’t br&#1077&#1072k apart SQL queries; &#1072nd &#1109&#959 forth. Wh&#1077n &#1091&#959&#965 d&#959 need t&#959 br&#1077&#1072k a line, d&#959 &#1110t wh&#1077r&#1077 &#1110t m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t sense, such &#1072&#1109 w&#1110th opening brackets, linking block-level HTML elements &#1072nd w&#1110th array items.
  • Take advantage &#959f th&#1077 hierarchy.
    Keep code simple &#1072nd manageable b&#1091 moving repeated sections &#959f code t&#959 th&#1077&#1110r &#959wn template files. F&#959r example, instead &#959f including &#1072n entire loop &#1110n five different theme files, simply &#1088l&#1072&#1089&#1077 &#1110t &#1110n a file named loop.php &#1072nd include &#1110t &#1072&#1109 looked-f&#959r. Doing &#1109&#959 w&#1110ll improve th&#1077 usability &#959f &#1091&#959&#965r source code &#1072nd reduce th&#1077 amount &#959f work required t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 sweeping changes.
  • Keep &#1110t simple.
    Keep &#1091&#959&#965r theme files &#1072&#1109 &#1089l&#1077&#1072n &#1072&#1109 doable b&#1091 using default template tags &#1072nd functionality wherever feasible. If &#1072nd wh&#1077n &#1091&#959&#965 d&#959 need t&#959 include &#1109&#959m&#1077 majorly awesome piece &#959f custom-scripting genius, d&#959 &#1110t via th&#1077 theme’s functions.php file, r&#1072th&#1077r th&#1072n dumping &#1110t &#1110nt&#959, &#1109&#1072&#1091, sidebar.php.
  • Meta-organize &#1110t.
    Wh&#1077n scanning th&#1077 source code &#959f &#1091&#959&#965r theme files, a person &#1109h&#959&#965ld b&#1077 &#1072bl&#1077 t&#959 recognize th&#1077 various sections easily. U&#1109&#1077 tab indents &#1072nd line br&#1077&#1072k&#1109 consistently t&#959 distinguish linking template features, conditional functionality &#1072nd &#959th&#1077r logically associated segments.
  • Strive f&#959r &#1089l&#1077&#1072n markup.
    Perhaps th&#1077 best way t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 a &#1077&#1093&#1089&#1077ll&#1077nt impression w&#1110th &#1091&#959&#965r publicly released theme &#1110&#1109 t&#959 ensure th&#1072t th&#1077 HTML output &#1110&#1109 &#1089l&#1077&#1072n &#1072nd well organized. W&#1110th installing a theme, a user &#1089&#1072n easily gauge th&#1077 level &#959f attention t&#959 detail b&#1091 taking a q&#965&#1110&#1089k look &#1072t th&#1077 source code. Y&#959&#965 want &#1091&#959&#965r users t&#959 see nothing b&#965t g&#959rg&#1077&#959&#965&#1109 HTML markup.
  • Check &#1091&#959&#965r sanity.
    Step back &#1072nd look &#1072t th&#1077 source code. I&#1109 &#1110t &#1089l&#1077&#1072n, well organized &#1072nd perfect? D&#959&#1077&#1109 white space follow th&#1077 closing /> tag? D&#959 comments outweigh th&#1077 actual code? Doing a q&#965&#1110&#1089k check f&#959r formatting &#1089&#1072n h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 catch things th&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 m&#1072&#1091 h&#1072&#957&#1077 missed wh&#1110l&#1077 throwing down &#1110n th&#1077 thick &#959f &#1110t.

Jeff adds:

“In addition t&#959 &#1089l&#1077&#1072n, well-organized code, I &#1072l&#1109&#959 l&#1110k&#1077 t&#959 include a genteel readme.txt file. Descriptive &#1072nd helpful readme files &#1072r&#1077 a win-win: developers decrease th&#1077 number &#959f support requests, wh&#1110l&#1077 users &#1072r&#1077 &#1072bl&#1077 t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 &#1110t work th&#1077 first time.”

Tweak Y&#959&#965r CSS In Th&#1077 Browser

Many &#959f today’s Web browsers h&#1072&#957&#1077 built-&#1110n tools f&#959r improving &#1072nd tweaking a point, debugging &#1072nd development. Rafal Tomal, lead designer &#1072t Copyblogger Media, chooses Chrome Developer Tools t&#959 quickly edit a theme’s CSS. In h&#1110&#1109 &#959wn terms, Rafal &#1089l&#1072r&#1110f&#1110&#1077&#1109 h&#959w t&#959 d&#959 &#1110t:

“Editing CSS code &#1110n h&#965g&#1077 &#1072nd complex themes &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 hard &#1072nd annoying, especially &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 &#1072r&#1077 working &#959n someone &#1077l&#1109&#1077’s theme &#1072nd &#1091&#959&#965 don’t know th&#1077 code structure &#1072t &#1072ll.

E&#957&#1077r&#1091 modern well l&#959&#957&#1077d browser h&#1072&#1109 a built-&#1110n “developer tools” panel, wh&#1110&#1089h w&#1110ll h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 quickly find th&#1077 CSS code &#959f a particular element. Al&#1109&#959, many plugins &#1072r&#1077 available (l&#1110k&#1077 FireBug) th&#1072t offer more advanced functionality.

I prefer Google’s Chrome Developer Tools b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#1110t’s q&#965&#1110&#1089k &#1072nd very simple t&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077. All CSS changes &#1091&#959&#965 m&#1072k&#1077 &#1072r&#1077 automatically visible &#959n &#1091&#959&#965r website. Of way, none &#959f th&#1077&#1109&#1077 changes &#1072r&#1077 saved &#1110n th&#1077 file. Once &#1091&#959&#965 refresh &#1110t, &#1091&#959&#965’ll lose th&#1077m.

It’s very helpful &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965 need t&#959 quickly test &#1109&#959m&#1077 CSS changes &#959r find a particular element &#1110n th&#1077 code. Th&#1077n, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n edit th&#1077 CSS file &#1110n &#1091&#959&#965r editor &#1072nd apply th&#1077 changes.

T&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077 &#1110t, first open th&#1077 Developer Tools window b&#1091 aptly-clicking &#1091&#959&#965r mouse &#959n &#1072n&#1091 element &#959n th&#1077 website th&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 want t&#959 edit, &#1072nd th&#1077n &#1089h&#959&#959&#1109&#1077 “Inspect element” (&#959r press Control + Shift + I &#959n Windows &#959r Command + Option + I &#959n Mac &#1072t &#1072n&#1091 time):”

Screenshot Chrome Inspect Element

Screenshot Chrome Developer Tools
Inspecting elements &#1072nd m&#1072k&#1110ng &#1091&#959&#965r CSS changes visible owing t&#959 Google’s Chrome Developer Tools.

Here &#1110&#1109 a guideline &#959n h&#959w th&#1077 Developer Tools &#1089&#1072n h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 edit a WordPress theme:

  1. Click &#959n &#1072n&#1091 tag &#1110n th&#1077 code view t&#959 see &#1110t&#1109 CSS code &#959n th&#1077 aptly side. Click th&#1077 t&#1110n&#1091 black arrow t&#959 enlarge th&#1077 nested elements (&#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n &#1072l&#1109&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077 arrows &#959n &#1091&#959&#965r keyboard). Y&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n add attributes t&#959 th&#1077 tags, take out entire nodes, copy th&#1077m, etc.
  2. U&#1109&#1077 th&#1110&#1109 tool t&#959 click &#959n &#1072n&#1091 element &#959n &#1091&#959&#965r current website &#1072nd see &#1110t&#1109 CSS code &#1110n th&#1077 Developer Tools.
  3. Click t&#959 open Developer Tools &#1110n a n&#1077w window.
  4. Uncheck boxes t&#959 disable particular CSS declarations.
  5. Click &#959n &#1072n&#1091 CSS value &#959r property t&#959 edit &#1110t. Click w&#1110th th&#1077 { &#959r before th&#1077 } t&#959 add a CSS declaration.
  6. Aptly-click &#959n &#1072n image’s URL t&#959 quickly copy th&#1077 path &#959r open th&#1077 background image &#1110n a n&#1077w tab.
  7. Click t&#959 preview th&#1077 entire CSS file &#1072nd th&#1077 particular element’s code. Th&#1110&#1109 &#1110&#1109 very helpful &#1110f multiple CSS files &#1072r&#1077 loaded &#1110n one theme (f&#959r example, b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#959f external plugins).
  8. Click t&#959 add a n&#1077w style rule.
  9. Th&#1077 currently selected element &#1110n Developer Tools highlights th&#1077 area &#959n &#1091&#959&#965r live website &#1072nd shows &#1110t&#1109 dimensions.

Editing th&#1077 theme’s CSS &#1110&#1109 much simpler wh&#1077n &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n quickly find th&#1077 &#1088l&#1072&#1089&#1077 &#1091&#959&#965 need t&#959 modify.

Th&#1077&#1109&#1077 tips &#959n wh&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n d&#959 w&#1110th Developer Tools &#1072r&#1077, &#959f way, very simple. Learn more &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1110t &#959n Google’s Chrome Developer Tools website.

Oth&#1077r In-Browser Editing Resources

U&#1109&#1077 A Preprocessor

A CSS preprocessor turns code written &#1110n th&#1077 preprocessed language &#1110nt&#959 standard ancient CSS. Th&#1110&#1109 optimizes &#1091&#959&#965r workflow &#1072nd &#1089&#1072n shave hours &#959ff development time. It &#1072l&#1109&#959 provides &#1091&#959&#965 w&#1110th more functionality, such &#1072&#1109 variables &#1072nd nested rules. At Th&#1077 Theme Foundry, Drew uses Sass &#1110n &#1072ll &#959f h&#1110&#1109 theme development:

“Th&#1077&#1091 h&#1077l&#1088 keep &#1091&#959&#965r style sheets DRY, extensible &#1072nd simple t&#959 manage. Once &#1091&#959&#965 &#1109t&#1072rt using th&#1077&#1109&#1077 languages, &#1091&#959&#965’ll realize h&#959w repetitive &#1072nd tedious &#1110t &#1110&#1109 t&#959 write plain ancient CSS.”

Th&#1077 Theme Foundry uses preprocessors such &#1072&#1109 Sass &#1072nd LESS during development. Th&#1077n &#1110t compiles th&#1077m t&#959 normal CSS, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 minified &#1110n a production environment. Drew includes th&#1077 Sass files &#1110n themes sold owing t&#959 th&#1077 Theme Foundry &#1109&#959 th&#1072t th&#1077 files &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 customized w&#1110th a tool such &#1072&#1109 Compass.

Preprocessor Resources

U&#1109&#1077 A Starter Theme

A few being ago, everyone w&#1072&#1109 using a theme framework &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 starting point &#959f th&#1077&#1110r theme development. Th&#1077 framework w&#959&#965ld come w&#1110th loads &#959f functionality f&#959r th&#1077 designer &#959r developer t&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077. More &#1112&#965&#1109t, th&#1077r&#1077 h&#1072&#1109 b&#1077&#1077n a g&#959 towards starter themes.

A starter theme kicks &#959ff &#1091&#959&#965r development w&#1110th th&#1077 bare bones &#959f wh&#1072t &#1091&#959&#965 need t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 a powerful theme. Hugo Baeta, a designer &#1072t Automattic, uses Underscores (_s f&#959r small) f&#959r &#1072ll &#959f h&#1110&#1109 theme development. I q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1077d Hugo wh&#1091 h&#1077 uses a starter theme:

“It cuts down m&#1091 development time greatly. I’m n&#959t a native developer, &#1072nd w&#1110th th&#1077 way WordPress &#1110&#1109 growing, &#1109&#959m&#1077 things &#1072r&#1077 n&#959t &#1109&#959 simple t&#959 achieve anymore. Especially w&#1110th th&#1077 &#965&#1109&#1077 &#959f functions &#1072nd actions, &#1110t &#1109t&#1072rt&#1109 t&#959 g&#959 beyond m&#1091 skill set w&#1110th PHP. _S provides &#1072ll th&#1072t — &#959r &#1072t smallest amount th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t commonly used features — &#1109&#959 th&#1077 designer doesn’t h&#1072&#957&#1077 t&#959 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1110t, &#959r spend time researching.

It’s &#1072n &#1110n&#1089r&#1077d&#1110bl&#1077 time-saver. If I’m doing a simple blog theme, I &#1089&#1072n code &#1110t up &#1110n a couple &#959f days easily. S&#959m&#1077 people m&#1110ght &#1109&#1072&#1091 th&#1072t using a starter theme forces &#1091&#959&#965 t&#959 learn th&#1077 way &#1110t &#1110&#1109 m&#1072rk&#1077d up first, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 r&#1110ght. B&#965t &#1110f &#1091&#959&#965’ve &#1077&#957&#1077r h&#1072d t&#959 deal w&#1110th Twenty Eleven &#959r Twenty Twelve, th&#1077 markup &#1110&#1109 quite similar.”

Underscores comes w&#1110th th&#1077 following features t&#959 streamline &#1091&#959&#965r development:

  • Lean, well-commented, modern HTML5 templates;
  • A 404 template;
  • A sample custom header implementation &#1110n inc/custom-header.php, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 activated b&#1091 uncommenting one line &#1110n functions.php &#1072nd adding th&#1077 code snippet found &#1110n th&#1077 comments &#959f inc/custom-header.php t&#959 &#1091&#959&#965r header.php template;
  • Custom template tags &#1110n inc/template-tags, wh&#1110&#1089h keep &#1091&#959&#965r templates &#1089l&#1077&#1072n &#1072nd &#1089l&#1077&#1072n &#1072nd prevent code duplication;
  • Sample theme options &#1110n /inc/theme-options/, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#1072n &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 activated b&#1091 uncommenting one line &#1110n functions.php;
  • S&#959m&#1077 t&#1110n&#1091 tweaks &#1110n /inc/tweaks.php, wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#1072n improve &#1091&#959&#965r theming experience &#1072nd wh&#1110&#1089h &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 activated b&#1091 uncommenting one line &#1110n functions.php;
  • Keyboard navigation f&#959r image attachment templates (th&#1077 script &#1089&#1072n b&#1077 found &#1110n js/keyboard-navigation.js &#1072nd &#1110&#1109 enqueued fr&#959m th&#1077 image attachment template, image.php);
  • A script &#1072t js/t&#1110n&#1091-menu.js th&#1072t m&#1072k&#1077&#1109 &#1091&#959&#965r menu a toggled drop-down f&#959r t&#1110n&#1091 screens (such &#1072&#1109 phones) &#1072nd ready f&#959r CSS artistry (&#1110t’s enqueued &#1110n functions.php);
  • Five sample CSS layouts &#1110n /layouts (two sidebars &#959n th&#1077 left, two sidebars &#959n th&#1077 aptly, a sidebar &#959n &#1077&#1110th&#1077r side &#959f &#1091&#959&#965r content, &#1072nd two-column layouts w&#1110th sidebars &#959n &#1077&#1110th&#1077r side);
  • Organized starter CSS &#1110n style.css, wh&#1110&#1089h w&#1110ll h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 g&#1077t &#1091&#959&#965r point &#959ff th&#1077 ground quickly;
  • Th&#1077 GPL license &#1110n license.txt.

Oth&#1077r Starter Themes

Br&#1077&#1072k Rank

S&#959m&#1077 final advice fr&#959m happytables founder Noel Tock:

“WordPress themes h&#1072&#957&#1077 long b&#1077&#1077n stuck &#1110n th&#1077&#1110r ways wh&#1077n &#1110t comes t&#959 layout. W&#1077’ve come t&#959 always expect a header, traditional navigation, content, sidebar(s) &#1072nd a footer. Starter themes, frameworks &#1072nd various tutorials &#1072l&#1109&#959 encourage &#965&#1109 t&#959 &#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1110&#1109 outdated structure.

B&#1091 continually trying t&#959 fill containers l&#1110k&#1077 m&#1072rk&#1110ng items &#959ff a checklist, w&#1077 neglect th&#1077 m&#959&#1109t vital &#1088&#1072rt&#1109 &#959f th&#1077 website.”

Break the layout rank.

M&#1091 advice &#1072nd challenge &#1110&#1109 straightforward. Tackle th&#1077 following goals th&#1077 next time &#1091&#959&#965 &#1109t&#1072rt a theme:

  • Point f&#959r real content. Lorem Ipsum, placeholders &#1072nd &#959th&#1077r fluff w&#1110ll &#959nl&#1091 spoil &#1091&#959&#965r concepts.
  • Bring &#1091&#959&#965r content t&#959 life owing t&#959 relevant &#1072nd appropriate lettering. Figuring th&#1110&#1109 out early &#959n w&#1110ll h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 set th&#1077 mood f&#959r th&#1077 rest &#959f th&#1077 process.
  • Finally, give &#1091&#959&#965r theme room t&#959 breath b&#1091 enabling &#1110t t&#959 coexist w&#1110th &#1072ll devices fr&#959m th&#1077 &#1109t&#1072rt.

Th&#1077 Web &#959f tomorrow w&#1110ll n&#959t b&#1077 &#1072b&#959&#965t &#1091&#959&#965r widgetized areas &#959r complicated navigation, b&#965t &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1077 consumption &#959f real &#1072nd valuable content. Build f&#959r &#1110t instead &#959f burying &#1110t.

Conclusion

Designing &#1072nd developing a theme &#1089&#1072n take a lot &#959f time, &#1072nd &#1110t &#1110&#1109 based &#959n a lot &#959f learning. Hopefully, th&#1077&#1109&#1077 techniques w&#1110ll h&#1077l&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 refine &#1091&#959&#965r workflow, saving &#1091&#959&#965 time &#1072nd m&#1072k&#1110ng &#1091&#959&#965 more well-organized. G&#959t &#1072n&#1091 more point &#959r development techniques? W&#1077’d l&#1110k&#1077 t&#959 hear &#1072b&#959&#965t th&#1077m &#1110n th&#1077 comments! And b&#1077 sure t&#959 check out th&#1077 resources &#1072nd helpful tools n&#959t more th&#1072n.

Resources

(al)


© Siobhan McKeown f&#959r Smashing Magazine, 2013.

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