15 Exceptionally Useful Resources for WordPress Theme Designers
One of the great benefits of designing and developing for WordPress is the amount of quality resources that are available from others in the WordPress community. Many times these resources can wind up saving you time in your own development. The only problem is that there are so many resources available that it is difficult to know about them all and sometimes to find what you are looking for.
In this post we’ll feature 15 resources that may be of help to you while you are designing and developing WordPress themes. If you have suggestions for other resources, please leave a comment.
Thematic is a very popular WordPress theme framework created by Ian Stewart. This framework can be used as-is, or is excellent for using with child themes. In fact, a number of child themes for Thematic are available for free or as premium themes, including the free gallery theme distributed by Smashing Magazine.
The Hybrid theme framework, by Justin Tadlock, has also been created with child themes in mind. It includes 13 page templates for various purposes, 15+ plugins supported within the theme, breadcrumbs, and tutorials to help you get started.
Starkers is a “bare-bones, blank-canvas, starting-point WordPress theme” from Elliot Jay Stocks. Starkers has no formatting whatsoever, which will provide you will a starting point that can save time in development of your own themes.
Carrington is a theme framework that better enables WordPress to be used as a CMS. Carrington makes it easier to create unique looks for different categories and posts with custom templates.
Testing WordPress Themes:
Jacob Gube of Six Revisions shows how to set up a local environment for theme development. This is a detailed tutorial that may be able to save you a lot of time and make your theme development much quicker and easier.
NETTUTS also has a tutorial for setting up a local testing environment. If you are designing and developing many WordPress themes you will want to check out one of these two tutorials.
The theme switch plugin will allow you to show a different theme to anyone who is logged in to your site. This makes it easy to test a theme in development without your visitors seeing it.
When developing themes one of the biggest frustrations can be the lack on content on a new installation of WordPress. Self Conclusion has put together an XML file with several posts and pages of dummy content with tags, categories, comments, links, lists, and everything you will need to test a theme. You can easily download this file and import it into WordPress to save the time of adding your own dummy content.
For Sandbox design competitions, a set of dummy content was released. It achieves the same purpose as the content from Self Conclusion that was just mentioned.
Think Design Blog also has a pack of dummy content that can be downloaded and imported into WordPress.
Cheat Sheets and Reference Guides:
Nick La of Web Designer Wall put together a three-part series to help those who want to learn more about WordPress theme development. The three parts are: installing WordPress locally, building a custom WordPress theme, and moving and exporting WordPress.
The template tag reference guide is a great resource to have close by when you are coding a WordPress theme. It lists all of the template tags, which can save a good bit of time during development.
This PDF checklist is helpful to make sure that you are not forgetting any steps during theme development. The checklist will help you to know what you have done and what still needs to be completed.
The template design cheat sheet is another resource that is good to have handy during development. It lists the various template files, template hierarchy, sample template coding, template functions, and more.
If you are a WordPress designer and you would like to save some time in development of the theme, WPCoder is a group of developers that specialize in taking your designs in PSD format and coding them into WordPress themes.
PSD to WP is another coding service similar to WPCoder.
From the WordPress Codex:
- Theme Development
- The Loop
- Template Tags
- Conditional Tags
- Stepping into Templates
- Template Hierarchy
- Custom Fields
For more WordPress-related content, please see:
- 20+ Tutorials and Resources for Working with Custom Fields in WordPress
- Top 10 Tutorials for Developing WordPress Themes
- Category Hacks for WordPress Theme Designers
- 10 Excellent Sources for WordPress Design Inspiration
Published August 13th, 2009 by Steven Snell