Wordpress Theme Work
July 3, 2012 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm new to PHP and Wordpress development, but have experience working with HTML, CSS, Javascript, and XML. I'm currently building a Wordpress theme for a project and I'm feeling a little out of my depth. What is a good starting point for doing theme work?

The specifics of the project are that we're using Wordpress as more of a CMS for a community of writers than as a straight-up blog. We're also working off of the BuddyPress framework.

There are two specific features that I'm looking to incorporate in to the site:
  • A simplified posting screen,
  • and a good way to promote posts to the front page.
Are there any existing plug-ins that accomplish these tasks and would also be compatible with BuddyPress? If not, then what would be a good starting point to work on these goals?

A few of the BuddyPress optimized themes get sort of close to what I'm looking for in terms of design, but they're also all freemium models, and I'm not sure about the wisdom of using a shareware theme for the site. How easy is it to modify an existing theme, and does this cause further problems when a new version of Word/Buddy press is released?

Both Wordpress and BuddyPress are set in stone in terms of the project, so not using them isn't really an option.
posted by codacorolla to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you're going to do some tweaking, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Child Themes before you get too far into it.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:01 AM on July 3, 2012

Check into the Genesis framework. It's BuddyPress-ready. The templating system is fairly simple.

FWIW, BuddyPress isn't really a framework in the WP-sense of the word. That might be helpful to know when you're looking into this.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 10:42 AM on July 3, 2012

Response by poster: Genesis looks promising, but it's hard to say without a free version to try.

In terms of simplified posting, it seems like it's almost at odds with Wordpress's original intent as a single user blogging platform, where you want as many features as possible. Is there a way to change what the post screen looks like for certain users from within Wordpress's standard features, or does anyone know of any good plugins that cover this? If I have to do it myself, then how easy would this be?
posted by codacorolla at 11:23 AM on July 3, 2012

You might also check out the Hybrid framework: http://themehybrid.com/hybrid-core
posted by doomtop at 12:03 PM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: For modifying the posting/editing interface, you may be able to get most of the way there with the built-in configuration. On a new post page, there is a button labled "Screen Options" with check boxes to select different page elements and control single/double column. With those, you can pare it down to basically the title and body inputs, and submit button.
posted by camcgee at 2:29 PM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: I would take an hour or two and build a basic theme along the lines described in the WordPress theme development guide. Once you're familiar with the basic layout and functionality of a WordPress theme, you'll have a much easier time customizing and extending third-party frameworks (like Hybrid and BuddyPress).
posted by morninj at 5:45 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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