WordCamp Atlanta 2013 was last weekend and was a great success. We had 450 attendees, four tracks ( beginner, user, designer and developer) and over 40 speakers. If you are learning to use WordPress or sharpen your skills, you should find a WordCamp in your area. They are totally volunteer run and we keep the ticket price very low to make it accessible for everyone.
In addition to being an organizer again this year, I gave two talks in the beginners track. One on Choosing Themes and one on How and When to Use Posts and Pages.
Here are my slides for the Theme presentation. The videos from the talks should be edited and ready to post in a couple of weeks. This year we got the pros to do it!
Here are 7 tips from my talk at WordCamp Atlanta 2013 on How to Choose Install and Customize a WordPress Theme.
1. Choose Open Source GPL compliant themes. WordPress is Open Source and no part of its code can be owned or sold or contain limitations on how it is used. When you buy a premium theme, you are buying a service-like membership or support rather than the theme.
2. When you are just starting out making sites, choose a basic theme to practice on like the default themes, and get familiar with how WordPress works without a lot of geegaw options and crazy sliders.
3. Your content is more important than your site design. You can have a beautiful site design but without great content that converts, you have nothing. There are plenty of very simple yet very effective websites out there. Check out Social Triggers for an example.
4. Make your content easy to see and read. Don’t choose a theme with a dark background and light text and make your font large enough to read. They say 16 is the new 12. But a minimum of 15 for body text is as low as I tend to go. This is especially important for mobile.
5. If you are going to customize your theme by changing the CSS and you do not want to overwrite your changes when there are updates for your theme, make your changes in a “child theme”, or in a custom CSS file provided by a plugin like JetPack.
6.. Learn to use Filezilla to ftp files from your computer to your hosting account and back. Before making changes to the CSS file you should back up the file that way if you make an error you can re-upload the original file.
7. Use the Firefox addons, Firebug and Firepicker to look at the CSS code that controls the look of particular elements on your website. Firebug can help you learn to make changes in the CSS code to create the changes you want to make site. When you are in Firebug you can test the changes and to make the change permanent, you will make it in the actual CSS file.