Theme Design And Implementation


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As mentioned earlier, Themes are the key to changing portfolio layouts and the entire look of your site in moments. The reason it's so important is that before you can create great content for your site or implement any type of functionality, you need to have a good set of tools at your disposal. As you'll see in this section, not only do themes provide those tools for free, but they're also really easy to use and manage. It's just plain cool!

The Theme Editor

There are four sections of the Theme Editor that you should be familiar with:

The Files Section - This is where you upload or create your CSS file(s) or Javascript file(s). The Inserted File section displays the files that have already been uploaded. There is also a text area (shown above) for adding additional code if needed. A new theme may only require one CSS file, but sometimes several are required; especially when using external libraries like jQuery or Prototype. You can see how many files you've created by looking at the corresponding tabs on top of this section (the number of files will equal the number of tabs showing). Also, note that there are two buttons on either side of this section that allows you to edit/view the file inside the text area or delete it.

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The Design Area

Here is where you can add code to your dark theme (see How To Add Code ). You'll notice that each section on this page templates correspond with an input field on the top right corner of the screen. For example, if you need to create a new class for your CSS, simply look at the top of this area and click on "Classes". A pull-down menu will appear which allows you to select one of several pre-written classes available in your style sheet. You can also use HTML Tags here by clicking on "HTML". Some of these design portfolio tags are not supported by all browsers so be sure to test everything before uploading it to your server. Once again, note that there are two buttons on either side of this section that allows you to edit/view the code or delete it.

The Preview Area

This is where you can preview your theme (see How To Make A Preview ). Here, you'll see what your site will look like if uploaded to your server. The main thing I like about this feature is that when coding a theme, you don't have to keep uploading and refreshing a page for an updated version. Just click on "Preview" in the top right corner of the Theme Editor and watch as the preview window updates automatically! The Status Bar - When using certain types of code in your themes, such as PHP or CSS with complex IDs & classes, etc., there may be errors reported in this area. Most of the errors reported here will be covered in a later article. Some common errors can be ignored, but others should be addressed if encountered. If there is a serious error, you may need to leave this area and try to find it yourself.

The Theme Overview

Before moving on, I wanted to provide a quick tutorial for creating new themes as well as reviewing the overview that appears when you first log into CMS Made Simple. You'll notice that there are several tabs at the top of your screen: Dashboard, Messages & Downloads, My Web Sites, Settings, Wiki Help, etc., all of which contain different aspects of CMSMS (see Figure 4). When you first log in, however, only two of these tabs are available: Dashboard & My Web Sites. The reason you're only seeing two is that CMSMS does not allow you to create new themes until your site is configured, which means that your web server has the correct files in the correct directory.

Once you see this screen, click on "My Web Sites". You'll then see a list of all sites currently being hosted by your control panel. I have one site on my list so it's pretty easy for me to identify (see Figure 5). Clicking on this tab will load information about your current theme and its configuration. You can also use this area to create new themes or upload existing ones using the "Create New Theme" option at the top of your screen. Once clicked, a pop-up window will appear that will allow you to upload a new theme.

One final note: If you decide at a later date to enable SSL on your site, the directory for creating and uploading themes will change. You'll still be able to create new themes as normal, but they'll now be saved in another directory with an "HTTPS" prefix instead of the default directory used before enabling SSL. The directory for existing themes, however, should remain the same. I'll explain this in more detail later on.

How To Make A Preview

One of my favorite features about CMS Made Simple is the ability to preview your theme before uploading it to a server. This allows you to quickly see if anything was missed or needs special attention before actually deploying it as a live site. One quick note - previews are available only through the front-end of your site and not via cPanel which is standard with most hosting providers today. As mentioned earlier, simply click "Preview" at the top right corner of The Theme Editor and watch as the preview updates automatically. Keep in mind that the preview will only reflect any changes made to .tpl files, not images. If you have uploaded a headshot for your profile page, for example, it will remain unchanged even if you change something else about your site's style.

Now that we've explored CMSMS and some of its features, it's time to look at what you can do as a developer. I'll start by utilizing some of the basic knowledge I've already shared with you and move on to more complex theme structures.

Creating A Basic Theme From Scratch

Creating your first theme is quite simple if you know the correct directory structure and certain specifics about how best wordpress themes work in CMS Made Simple. The majority of free themes built on CMSMS use a combination of .tpl files and CSS stylesheets to format the content on your site. Most modern web browsers support HTML5 which also brings support for several new CSS3 properties such as box-shadow, text-shadow,-radius, etc. Support for these properties varies from browser to browser, however. There are quite a few articles out there that can help you decide which browsers support which features, but for this tutorial, I'll simply demonstrate how to add them to your theme and then provide a couple of things that you'll need to know about why they might not work in some cases. The reason I bring all of this up is so you aren't surprised if there's a problem when viewing your site on older versions of Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. If any browser-specific issues come up while testing your theme, I suggest checking out Chris Pederick's article.

Adding Browser-Specific Fixes To Your Theme

Before we begin making our theme from scratch using images and CSS, we need to define how browsers handle certain fonts and images. First, let's take a look at the way Google Chrome handles fonts on a web page:

For most modern browsers, if you want to use any of these font types you just need to specify the name of the font using CSS. Unfortunately, this isn't always true for Windows versions of Internet Explorer and older versions of Safari. For reasons unknown, Microsoft and Apple have limited support for custom OpenType fonts in their integrated browser engines when compared with Firefox or other root-level rendering engines. Because of the lack of support for these features in different browsers, CMS Made Simple has an option that will allow us to declare that browser-specific fixes are needed by our theme. This is done through the use of a "" file that is saved in the theme's directory. The "browser-fixes.txt" is not created by default with your new theme, so you'll need to create it yourself before moving forward with this tutorial. To create one, follow these steps:

1) Open up any text editor (I recommend Notepad++) or IDE/Code Editor of your choice

2) Type out the following lines exactly as shown here:

3) Save the document as " browser-fixes.tpl " in your theme's directory Make sure that there are no double quotes at the beginning and ending of each line, or else it won't work correctly - especially when adding multi-line declarations. For example, the following is incorrect: (incorrect) -----------------------,700 "Museo Sans":

Here's what it should look like when you're done typing everything correctly: (correct) ------------------ @import url(",700"); @import url("");

If you save this file correctly, it should look like the previous screenshot when viewed in your web browser. If it appears as plain text instead of a browser-specific fix, then something needs to be changed. Now let's move on and make our first custom theme! Introducing "Basic Grey"

We'll create a new theme called Basic Grey that will use several meta tags, including the viewport tag. This is one of those things that not everyone might think about adding to their website (and it isn't even required), but I've found that Google often recommends the viewport meta tag so it's probably best to include it if you want your site to be search engine friendly. Here's an example of what the viewport meta tag should look like:

Basic Grey Theme Meta Tags ------------------------- <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,initial-scale=1"> <!-- iPhone Portrait --> <meta name="viewport" content="width=320"> <!-- iPhone Landscape --> <!--- iPad Portrait --> <meta name="viewport" content="width=768"> <!-- iPad Landscape --> <!--- Android portrait phone and small tablet ---> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial scale = 1.0 , maximum-scale = 1.0 , user-scalable = no "> <!-- Android landscape phone and medium tablet --> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial scale = 0.5 , maximum-scale = 3.0 , minimum-scale = 0.01 , user-scalable=no"> <!-- Android landscape tablet and large phone --> <meta name="viewport" content="width=1024, initial scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, minimum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no"> If you don't want to include the meta tag manually for each page on your site (which can be a real pain if you're working with multiple pages), then CMS Made Simple also includes a simple installer that will add this meta tag to all pages on your website:

To use the installer, go to Admin > Extensions > Modules and enable the "CMS Made Simple Theme Meta Tags" module. Once enabled, visit your site's home page (or any other page you would like to add this meta tag to) and click on "Install Theme Meta Tags". Then, click "Submit" at the bottom of the page. If successful, you should see an empty message that says "Meta tags added successfully!". Now let's move forward with setting up our theme!

Setting Up The Basic Grey Theme

We'll begin by creating a new directory for our theme. For this tutorial I will be using "/Library/WebServer/Documents/basic-grey", but feel free to use whatever directory you wish ("/basic-grey", "/htdocs/basic-grey", etc. are all fine).

Once you've created your directory, enter it and create a new file named "style.css". Now copy the following into your text editor:

Basic Grey Theme Stylesheet -------------------------- /* BasicGrey (C) 2012 - @JanetDesigns */ html { color : #000000 ; background : #FFFFFF ; font : 900 14px / 30px 'Open Sans' , sans-serif } body { margin : 0 ; padding : 0 } article , aside , footer , header , nav , section { display : block ; } img { border : 0 none ; vertical-align : bottom ; } table { border-collapse : collapse ; border-spacing : 0 ; } fieldset , legend , span { display : block ; } a img { text-decoration : none ; } h1 , h2 , h3 { font-family : 'Museo Sans' , sans-serif !important ; padding : 1.5em 0 0.25em 0 !important ; margin : 0 .75em 10px 0 ; font-weight : normal !important ; font-style : normal !important ; line-height : 110% !important ; text-shadow : none !important } h1 small , h2 small , h3 small { font-size : 70% !important } h1 , h2 { padding-top : 0.5em !important ; margin-bottom : 0 !important ; border-bottom : 1px solid #ddd } h3 { font-size : 110% } .postmetadata { display : none } .postmetadata a , .iteminfo a , a .highlighted { color : #FFFFFF !important } .comments_title , .iteminfo span.itemName , div #trackbacks, div #respond, p em & a strong { text-shadow : none !important } img [ src *= '""' ], img [ src *= '""' ], img [ src *= '""' ], img [ src *= '""' ] { vertical-align : - 1px !important } .pagetitle , div .entrytitle , div .blogtitle a , div #post-meta a , h1 a { color : #FFFFFF ; text-shadow : 0 -1px #000000 } Address of Basic Grey Download -------------------------- can download the Basic-Grey great wordpress Theme from:

Articles and tutorials on CMS Made Simple:

CMS Made Simple, a free and open-source Content Management System written in PHP and licensed under the GNU General Public License can be freely downloaded from Over 100 articles, tutorials, tips and tricks submitted by authors from all over the world! Add your own CMS Made Simple-related article or tutorial today!

CMS Content Management Systems are found everywhere now. In the past, creating a website required knowledge of HTML and CSS. Now you can create a content site or blog with many different types of CMS software. This article discusses the evolution of CMS from simple systems to full-blown content management tools that handle everything from registration to shopping carts to email services.

New platforms emerge all the time, which makes checking the market a good practice when choosing a CMS for your project. The three most common platforms in use today include WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses as well as dedicated followers who swear by them being "the best". We will cover each of these below, but first, let's talk about how to approach your CMS selection.

Choosing a CMS

The first thing you must decide is what kind of website you are going to build. A blog requires something different from an eCommerce site, and both types of sites require a different CMS. In addition, the type of hosting environment in which your website will reside on WPbakery page builder, whether on a shared or dedicated hosting service, can make a huge difference too.


A blog only needs the most basic features for content management - posts and comments. This means that WordPress would be a good choice since it provides these core functions in each installation by default. Plus there are thousands of plug-ins available for free that add more functionality for blogging if needed. Although Joomla! also allows you to post blog entries, it is not as popular as a blogging platform and plugins like slider revolution plugin tend to be less available.

Ecommerce Sites

An eCommerce site requires some additional features: the ability to handle products, catalogs of items for sale, shopping carts, and payment processing. Drupal and Joomla! each provide these options, but Drupal has almost always been considered superior for this type of CMS application. WordPress also has some extensions that work with sites like OS Commerce and Zen Cart if you want to look into those. You can even use more than one CMS on an eCommerce site such as using WordPress for articles about items while using Drupal or Joomla! for selling wordpress themes online portfolio.

Dedicated Hosting vs Shared Hosting

If you are planning on building a site that has more than average traffic, then it is also worth considering the hosting platform on which your new website will reside. Shared hosting services like BlueHost, Web Hosting Hub and 1&1 (to name just a few) often provide one-click installation for WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal. This makes getting started fast since all of the necessary plug-ins are automatically configured for you. If you need something special or enhanced though, this can become problematic as not every CMS out there has an easy setup option for shared hosting platforms.

Dedicated servers usually offer better support for eCommerce applications but worse performance due to lack of bandwidth compared to using VPS or shared hosting options. If you anticipate the need for heavy traffic or if your site is expected to handle many visitors regularly, then it might be worth checking into one of these hosting services and platform options. WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal all run perfectly fine on dedicated servers and can even be set up to load balance and failover very easily.

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