Category Archives: Lists

10 recent trends in WordPress themes

WordPress themes have come a long way. As the exceptional WordPress team builds in more and more features, they give web designers tons of options for creativity and innovation in theme design. We hope that this post brings up trends in WordPress themes that you have noticed, but didn’t know you noticed.

People are really digging the simple, white background themes. Maybe we are all moving on from the flashy website phase and into the simple-is-better phase.

Social media is all the rage. Every blog now has a Twitter Bird and an orange RSS image somewhere above the fold. This is the bare minimum, there is typically many more options for sharing their content.

Contextual themes are becoming more popular. These are the themes that look like they belong somewhere like on someone's desk or in a notebook.

I know we just talked about white being popular, but so is tasteful use of color. Not just a colored background, but a range of popping, eye-catching colors.

Having various style sheets is quickly becoming a standard feature of premium/commercial WordPress themes. Not only does thi smean color options, but full dashboard settings pages to change how your theme behaves. A word of warning to the WordPress developers and theme creators: DON'T BECOME LIKE JOOMLA!

Rounded corners are popular recently. They do give a theme a nice, futuristic, smooth look. But they can easily be over-done.

Shadows or drop-shadows have started giving themes a nice 3-dimensional affect; giving the feeling that the content is sitting out from the page, drawing your attention to the meat of the blog.

Sliders are also growing in popularity. They offer a nice way to display content and the images that blogs are now starting to rely more and more on

Green is the new black. Or is it pink? Anyway, the green movement is sweeping the globe and WordPress is no exception. Eco themes are coming out everywhere, although this may been seen as greenwashing.

Glowing elements are a popular theme among themes. This is definitely a nice touch, but can destract from both content and other, more subtle, design elements.

10 Must Have WordPress Plugins

We have built a ton of WordPress sites. Seriously, hundreds. Maybe thousands. Over time, we have developed a short list of go-to plugins. No matter what kind of WordPress site we’re making (a blog, a community, etc.) we start by downloading the latest version of these plugins. In our humble opinion, their features should be built into the WordPress Core.

Here is our list of must-have WordPress plugins:

  1. Alex King’s 404 Notifier. Ever wonder how many visitors are lost to a 404 page?  Let’s face it, your site URL’s change from time to time, and people incorrectly link to you.  Have the chance to fix that by being notified when a 404 error is received.
  2. Fix Database Plugin. Database errors happen, and they slow down your website’s load time.  This plugin identifies errors and attempts to fix them.
  3. Auto-Hyperlink URLs. This can be a real time saver.  This plugin automatically generates hyperlinks of the URL’s you place in posts.
  4. Google (XML) Sitemaps. What good is your exceptionally informative blog if nobody finds it?  Step one to SEO is making sure the search engines are indexing your content regularly.  Just make sure your robots.txt file is updated accordingly, this plugin does not address this.
  5. Sexy Bookmarks. This is the same plugin we use below our posts. (And they happen to be using the same theme as us).  Super easy to setup with a handy AJAX settings page.
  6. Advanced Exerpt. This is the simplest way to modify what the “get_the_excerpt” template tag generates.  You can change word count and even what html tags are dropped from the excerpt.
  7. Contact Form 7. The most versatile and easy to setup contact form plugin.  It’s a little tricky to figure out the first few times, but once that time has passed, it is super easy to use.
  8. Akismet. Comes pre-installed in WordPress – but you have to set it up before it works.  Saves loads of time by auto-identifying SPAM comments.
  9. Twitter Tools.  The easiest (and most comprehensive) way to integrate your Twitter account and your WordPress blog.
  10. Wibiya.  Read this post about why we love the Wibiya plugin/toolbar.

The big list of big boys using WordPress

WordPress is so immensely popular that even some monster sites and companies are using it to manage their content.  From blogs to portals, these big boys have chosen WordPress.  Can you blame them?

If you like this post, you’ll probably like this one: 20 Reasons WordPress Gives Us Goosebumps

Where are the links? This list will grow so big that there would be too many links on this post to be search engine optimized.

  • Google
  • New York Times
  • Martha Stewart
  • Yahoo!
  • Playstation
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Meebo
  • Flickr
  • Rolling Stone
  • CNN
  • Smashing Magazine
  • TechCrunch
  • British Prime Minister
  • Ebay
  • Digg
  • Ford
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Sony
  • People
  • Samsung
  • Wired Magazine
  • Mozilla
  • Network Solutions
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Cpanel
  • GE
  • Rackspace
  • Perez Hilton
  • ProBlogger
  • Copyblogger
  • Mashable
  • Engadget
  • TMZ
  • Huffington Post
  • Treehugger
  • BoingBoing
  • Gizmodo
  • A list apart
  • I can haz cheeseburger?
  • PostSecret
  • DailyKos
  • Watts up with that?
  • Hackland
  • And so many more



20 reasons WordPress gives us goosebumps

If you’re reading this post we can be sure of two things.  First, you love WordPress too.  Second, you have experienced other content management systems and thus, know WordPress beats them all.  These are (just some of) the reasons WordPress is the only choice for managing a blog, a community, or a business online.

WordPress is…

  1. simple.
  2. easy to learn.
  3. fast.
  4. constantly updated.
  5. fully supported.
  6. popular.
  7. scalable.
  8. easy to theme.
  9. beautiful.
  10. functional.
  11. secure.
  12. intuitive.
  13. flexible.
  14. free.
  15. ready out of the box.
  16. can be updated automatically.
  17. can be extended easily.
  18. is SEO friendly.
  19. transferable.
  20. poetic.

Top 10 list of lists

Have you noticed the dramatic increase in “list” posts?  They often have title like “10 best free magazine style WordPress themes” and “10 best social media plugins”.  We, too, enjoy a list here and there.  We thought it would be fun (and funny) to come up with our own top 10 list of  lists.

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5 features we would love to see in WordPress 2.9

These are the features we would absolutely love to see in the next stable release of WordPress. Of course, being that this site is dedicated entirely to WordPress, we love the simple blogging platform as-is. But there is always room to grow.

  1. Line markers in the theme editor. – Sometimes it’s easier and faster to edit your theme code through the built-in editor rather than using an FTP client.  But a line count would be very helpful.
  2. A search feature in the theme editor. – the old Ctrl+F technique sometimes works depending on browser, but would be great to have a built in, AJAX powered search function in the next release.
  3. Database tools in the dashboard. – This could be dangerous for those who like to tinker with database tables, but direct access to the DB within the dashboard would save lots of steps for a WordPress admin.
  4. More Ping/update tools. – WordPress can notify update services when you post, but further control around this feature would be helpful.
  5. Theme tag control. – This is a tall order, but the ability to customize various template/theme tags like the excerpt tag would be great! For example, it would be nice to be able to change the excerpt word limit on the fly.

What are you hopes and dreams for the next WordPress release?  Add them as a comment below.

20 super helpful WordPress template tags

For anyone developing WordPress templates, these tags are the most commonly used and helpful to have handy. Many of these tags include parameter options which can be found in the WordPress Codex or this helpful tool.

<?php the_author_nickname(); ?>

Insert the author’s nickname.

<?php the_category('parents=multiple'); ?>

Insert the category of a post.

<?php comments_number('No Comments', 'one', 'more', 'number'); ?>

Insert the number of comments if there are none.

<?php comments_number('zero', '1 Comment', 'more', 'number'); ?>

Insert the number of comments if there is only one.

<?php comments_number('zero', 'one', '% Comments', 'number'); ?>

Insert the number of comments for more than one.

<?php the_date('n-j-Y', 'before', 'after', echo); ?>

Insert the comment date (uses the default format)

<?php bloginfo('name'); ?>

The name of your blog.

<?php bloginfo('description'); ?>

Your blog description.

<?php bloginfo('url'); ?>

Your blog URL, (helpful in structuring backlinks)

<?php bloginfo('rss_url'); ?>

The link to your RSS feed.

<?php bloginfo('template_directory'); ?>

The template directory (most useful for referencing images)

<?php get_posts('numberposts=10'); ?>

Display some posts, in this case, 10.

<?php get_posts('category=2'); ?>

Display posts from a specific category. Both this and the previous tag can be combined.

<?php wp_list_pages(); ?>

Lists pages with URLs.

<?php wp_list_pages('include=50'); ?>

Lists page with id 50

<?php wp_list_pages('exclude=50'); ?>

Lists all pages except those with id 50

<?php the_permalink(); ?>

The link to a post, (must be used within the loop)

<?php the_title(); ?>

The title of the post.

<?php the_content(); ?>

The content of a post.

<?php the_excerpt(); ?>

The excerpt of a post. A tag used a lot on this site. Limits content words and strips HTML tags.

5 must-follow WordPress blogs

Search “WordPress Blog” and you won’t come up with a blog about WordPress.  You’ll find one of the billions of websites powered by our favorite CMS, WordPress.  Instead of search overload, take this list as the beginning of your “must have” list of WordPress resources.

  1. Development Blog
  2. Smashing Magazine (about design in general, but they love WP over there)
  3. ProBlogDesign
  4. Matt Mullenweg‘s blog (the founder of WordPress)
  5. Blogging Pro