Category Archives: Learning WordPress

Installing a responsive theme

The previously installed Basic Maths theme did not work as well as I hoped. Its layout did change depending on the device you used to view it. But somehow it seemed clunky (that’s a technical term). So I’ve reinstalled WordPress’s TwentyTen theme, plus added a child theme that is responsive to the viewing device. Aptly named “Responsive Twenty Ten,” it does the job.

Switching to Basic Maths

I’ve been busy doing paid work, so only now returning to this work-in-progress. I’ve switched away from WP’s own TwentyEleven theme to Basic Maths for several reasons.

  • As seen in a previous post, Twenty Eleven is not designed to respond to small, mobile-based screens. In this day and age, that’s two strikes against it right there.
  • Basic Maths theme, which is on sale for $30 until Jan. 1, automatically reformats its layouts for the iPhone. It’s also grid-based and—I think—simple enough to be reconfigured as I need.
  • Basic Maths was created by and Allan Cole. From 2006 to 2010, Vinh was the design director for, which he helped turn into one of the Web’s best-looking and easiest-to-use news sites. I’ve followed his Subtraction blog for years.

With the theme nailed down, it’s on to customizing the general look before building various one-off pages.

Mobile menus

Site menus as they appear on iPhone

Not what I expected

I’m not quite sure what I had expected, but this is how the site appears on my iPhone. The menus don’t scale down; instead they wrap and stack down the screen. This underscores the main point of the “Mobile First” approach to building sites. I downloaded Luke Wroblewski’s book to my iBook shelf as soon as A Book Apart released it, but I’ve been reading Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte, so hadn’t gotten to it yet. Seems like I’ll need to read them simultaneously.

[Update: I’ve since realized that stacking menu items for the phone view is pretty standard. Still, it seems like there’s probably an more elegant solution where those items would scale down at least a bit. To be continued…]

Breadcrumbs into the jungle

Consider this post part of a trail of breadcrumbs left behind as I upgrade the site to WordPress. The journey’s hardly begun, but it won’t be long before I’m hip deep in php and sql files. Having a record of my day-by-day progress just might  keep me from wandering too far off the trail.

Regarding yesterday’s machette exercise, it turns out there was a bug in the previous version of Twenty Eleven theme that kept it from working properly with WordPress 3.04. But to update to WordPress 3.2.1, I had to back up my directories and the site’s .sql file. I hadn’t done that  because the site’s really too new to have much to back up. Something I’d have to do sooner or later, so I did it today. And now I’m set.

Oh, and the Twenty Eleven theme update then installed perfectly. Of course, the theme has way too much air in the text and the heds are gargantuan. So there’s work still to be done. Two steps forward…

Custom menus added, thwarted by theme

Today’s additions:

  • Using Appearance panel’s Menus choice, I’ve now added custom menu links to the landing pages of my main books. Plus I added a Contact Us link.
  • A thwarted attempt to switch to the sleeker-looking Twenty Eleven theme from the current Twenty Ten. Unfortunately, when I switched the theme I also had to change up the size of the header photo (940 x 128 to 1000 x 288).  For reasons still mysterious, that change prevented the entire header from appearing. Redid photo, reuploaded, zilch. So back to the Twenty Ten theme, whose narrower banner image proportions I like better anyway.