Let’s start this review with an honest admission.
While in the 90s I collected (and read, mostly) tech books like they were going out of style. These days I barely get my hands around a book, let alone consume it.
Frankly, I don’t have the time. I have three kids (two are twins) and a wife. I have a mortgage. I co-organize WordPress meetups, and head up a WordCamp committee. That’s not including the remaining bits of time i form together to approximate a “life”.
But what’s the point of this admission? To prove to you that I only have time to devote to reading books that meet a certain level of quality and useful content – not to mention only those that age well. And I am confident in saying that Professional WordPress Design And Development is one of those books.
Reader is a theme by new theme shop WP Minima, a brand which sells entirely on ThemeForest at the moment. They’ve released two themes so far, one free and one paid. This is the paid theme, which costs $35.
Reader, being both new and minimalistic, caught my eye last week. A lot of the time, theme designers will put something together and call it minimal, almost as an excuse to not put much thought into what’s designed. Or to leave things kind of plain. At least that’s the impression I get when looking at some WordPress themes that get released.
In this case, I think it’s clear that WP Minima put time into Reader and made real decisions. I don’t agree with all of them, but there’s a consistent, strong design aesthetic here that doesn’t come across as what I’ll call “lazy minimal”. It’s minimal, in a good way.
BizWay is a new WordPress theme released to the dot org theme repository in the last week. There were fifteen themes all pushed live to the directory on the same day, and I think BizWay deserves to be pulled out from the crowd a bit.
BizWay is a free release from a commercial theme shop called InkThemes. Many of the themes on the dot org directory that I like recently have been from commercial theme shops releasing free themes. I had not heard of InkThemes until I ran across this free theme release.
You can check it out along with me if you download BizWay from WordPress.org.
Clark Wimberly released an e-book called Meta Valuables earlier this month, and as the name might suggest it is an introduction to WordPress meta data. At 45 pages and a $2-or-what-you-wish price point, it really feels a bit like buying a chapter out of a larger book introducing WordPress development methods.
And if a chapter introducing WordPress meta data functions sounds like fun to you, you’re in pretty good hands with Meta Valuables.
Polaroids is a new WordPress theme released to the dot org theme repository in the last week. It’s the work of developer Guy Davies and caught my eye, honestly, because it doesn’t look like a lot of the other themes on WordPress.org. It looks more like a photo blog theme than a traditional blog theme.
If you’d like to follow along with my review, you can download Polaroids from WordPress.org.[ref]While I’m thinking about it, I’d like to point out that right now WordPress.org doesn’t do a great job of previewing non-blog themes. Just go check out the theme preview for Polaroids on WordPress.org to see what I mean. The default site content that all theme demos get doesn’t really do the theme justice. Perhaps ThemeForest, which seems to allow theme authors to specify a different site as a demo location, would be a nice compromise in situations like this. In any case, the theme’s author is using Polaroids right now, and is really a more proper demonstration of the theme.[/ref]
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever WordCamp in Nashville, Tennessee. Nick Weaver and I took a quick seven hour road trip down to Nashville and, if I can speak for us both, had a great time.[ref]Nick, who you really should know from The Weekly Theme Show by now — shame on you if you don’t.[/ref]
The event was organized by John Housholder and members of his development shop Ah So Designs. They did a great job, pulling off a solid WordCamp in just nine weeks with what sounded like a budget on the lighter side. There were two tracks (one for beginners and intermediate users, another for developers) and eleven sessions. I stuck to the developer track sessions, though I missed out on Mitch Canter’s presentation in the morning (that’s what I get for relying on only one alarm) and was briefly distracted by an epic 34-level game of Jenga outside one of the rooms.
Anyone in the field marketing will know half the battle with launching a new website is creating a buzz about it. “Coming soon” pages are well and good, but what about a truly viral WordPress theme?
In steps Launch Effect, a WordPress theme by the guys over at Barrell a NYC based creative digital agency. In Launch Effect they have created a WordPress theme specifically for that purpose. It’s their answer to the question: “how do I attract my potential audience and get them to spread the word, all before launching a site?”
Launch Effect review gallery
I have used a range of platforms during my last five years in the e-commerce industry. From initial setup and product selection to writing product specs and content for the web, I’ve nearly done it all. And in my time I’ve always been a big believer in using e-commerce platforms for e-commerce and blogging platforms for blogging.
Of course WordPress is an incredibly powerful platform in its own right, with even more on the way with WordPress 3.3 on the horizon. E-commerce is still a growing field within the WordPress community, though, and the question remains: is WordPress really a smart way to manage online shops?
WooThemes think it is, and earlier this week officially released WooCommerce, their free e-commerce plugin for WordPress. WooCommerce is a fork of Jigoshop, which has caused a bit of controversy in the community.
Irrespective of that issue, right now let’s just focus on what WooCommerce has to offer.
Sometimes the line between hobbyist and professional can be a blurry one. And regardless of your chosen niche, whether it be cooking, knitting or coding, there are the essential readings, books, magazines and, nowadays, websites that everyone reads. The WordPress Bible, 2nd Edition is just that book for WordPress.
While reading it I was constantly reminded of the Haynes Manuals for car enthusiasts.
It has been my experience that even experts in a field sometimes need a refresher in the basics. Either the fundamentals have changed since they were students or there are minor details that they never need to know before. Sometimes you just need to go back to school.
Just as important are the subjects it doesn’t cover.
WordPress For Dummies, by Lisa Sabin-Wilson is the perfect primer for WordPress. Between the iconic yellow covers are the integral basics everyone should know but maybe didn’t learn. I have never had the need to really dig in and learn about WordPress.com, setting up a MU network or importing a site from Blogger, but it’s all in there. And I know I’m not the only one who has had a client ask a basic question that just stumped them. This is the perfect go-to resource for those situations.