Tag Archives: WordPress

Theme Hybrid is a better WordPress theme framework

I recently had a chance to work on a number of WordPress related projects and I was pleasantly surprised as the platform had matured in every possible way since the early 2.x releases.

Today I just wanted to post a brief note to people who are still using random WordPress templates to base their derived templates on: please don’t do that to yourself. Most of the free themes are old, don’t have good customization options and are badly structured.

You’ll be much better off if you:

  • Read about Child themes – http://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes
  • Invest into a customizable theme – my preferred choice is Theme Hybrid but there are a number of other options. It costs 25USD/year to get access to support forums and tutorials that have saved me many hours of Googling.
  • Read their docs about how to override theme with custom style.css and functions.php

This means that you’ll often be able to make really great custom child theme with just a few lines of css and a few filters.

Upgrading this blog to WordPress 2.7

It’s a really warm Saturday, so there’s nothing better to do for me then try to break my blog. Yesterday the big “blog news of the day” was that WordPress.com decided to go ahead and upgrade their hosted solution to their latest release od WP, that is the famous CrazyHorse dashboard of 2.7.

If you somehow missed it, Automattic threw a lot of money into usability and completely redid the interface. If you haven’t seen in yet, this is a screenshot I’ve made of it yesterday for Zemanta blog:


WP 2.7 and Zemanta
WP 2.7 and Zemanta


The whole menu structure is now on left, with the actual writing screen nicely widgetized. They’ve really cleaned the whole thing and improved copy of the interface as well as optimized for common tasks.

Is it worth it?

I’ve been in a contact with quite a few people about 2.7 and most of them told me that they hate the new interface and that they really don’t like the way it’s forcing them to re-learn their habits.

To this I say: too bad! I’ve been using WP 2.7 in our development for a few weeks now, loosely following their development branches and I can say that’s is a real improvement. Once you move away from the “I don’t wanna learn” phase into “Oooohh, shiney!”, it gets perfect. Upgrade as soon as you can as it’s much faster, easier and it’s going to make your blogging on WordPress much more enjoyable.


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3 must read documents for usability experts

Doing usability in startups is often very confusing as you don’t have time for proper process and you’re always wondering how good you could do it, if you had proper resources. With time, you wish you would just be able to read some of these resources in order to be in touch with your industry.

Luckily, there are two incredible startups that open-sourced their usability and redesign process – WordPress and Acquia’s Drupal.org redesign.

Lets start by two documents published by WordPress – wireframes for upcoming 2.7 release and results of their usability studies, that were used in order to actually produce wireframes and from there designs.

1. Usability Testing Report: 2.5 and Crazyhorse

This 25-page document describes what they’ve learned while observing bloggers while using WordPress 2.5, and also posts gaze trails from eye tracking, to get better idea how they used surroundin visual information while achieving their goal.

2. WordPress 2.7 Wireframes

The same team also produced these excellent wireframe documents, detailing changes and behavior, allowing programmers and product manager to use it as an initial input for more detailed specification, without having to go back and ask any bigger conceptual questions. Good example to learn from.

3. Drupal.org prototype

Drupal.org is taking an interesting approach towards redesign, where the usability experts and designers do everything out in open, getting community feedback and input into almost everything they do.

As such they’ve produced a wide range of interesting documents and videos. For now I would like to focus on their prototype, which is built in HTML, with no design, but includes something more important – notes. This is a great way to talk about information distribution, without the noise of actual design.

Modern civilization is built by standing on shoulders of giants. This is the reason why studying examples of other practitioners while doing your own work, will make you better UX expert.

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I get more blog comments after installing Disqus

About a week ago, I installed blog commenting system called Disqus. You’ve probably noticed it around the web alot as they essentially take over your built-in blog comments, and add their own fancy javascript interface over it.

Startup Schwag Bag #9
Image by homard.net via Flickr

What finally convinced me of the move, was that they released a Disqus WordPress plugin, that will sync their comments back into your WordPress comment system, so in case you ever decide to leave them (when testing all of these startup plugins, that’s important factor), nothing will be lost.

Anyway, something interesting happened after that. I started getting more blog comments, after that. I’m not sure if that means that I wrote better blog posts, but I got a lot of comments and even one video comment via Seesmic (really cool!).

I believe that it’s actually easier for people to leave me comment, as they’re already logged in into Disqus, as there are no forms to input.

Disqus also has a second positive point, it allows me to reply to comments directly from my Blackberry. I get emailed all the comments, and they allow you reply via email and it then appears on your blog. So you can have a discussion with your readers, without actually sitting behind a computer.

Anyway, enough pitching for Disqus. Get them for free for your blog at http://www.disqus.com

Disclosure: Zemanta and Disqus share investor, but I’m writing this because I like this phenomena of more blog comments 🙂

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