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Archive of posts with the topic

How to customize a WordPress theme

By Drew Strojny on November 7, 2013

How to customize a WordPress theme

You’ve got WordPress set up, you’ve installed your favorite theme, and now you want more. You want to learn how to customize a WordPress theme so it looks just right. Where do you get started? How hard is it?

You might think the hardest part of the process is learning WordPress or doing something fancy with code. In fact, it’s learning a few basic concepts and applying them when you want to customize your theme. There are even some fantastic free tools available to make this process fun.

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Increase your conversion rate with stories

By Drew Strojny on October 31, 2013

You’re in a new city and looking to grab dinner. You walk by a busy restaurant. You see customers laughing and having a good time. You glance at the restaurant across the street and see one couple by the window. Otherwise, the place looks deserted. Where are you eating?

This is commonly referred to in psychology circles as social proof. In summary, human beings seem to be hardwired to look to their peers for guidance. This groupthink probably served us well in prehistoric times. You see others in the group start to run, so you start running too. If you stop to look, you might be dinosaur lunch.

So, what does social proof have to do with increasing conversion rates?

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To save or not to save: WordPress plugin data

By Drew Strojny on October 16, 2013

If you look at the best practices expounded by most WordPress professionals, you’ll find one related to plugins that goes something like this: when a plugin is deleted, it should remove all traces of itself. No meta data, no extra tables, nothing.

This approach sounds great and it feels downright refreshing to any seasoned WordPress developer. It’s clean, and it respects the existing plugin system, which follows this two-step logic:

  • When you deactivate a plugin, nothing is removed, but the plugin is disabled.
  • When you delete a plugin, you get a confirmation screen, and then everything is removed.

Easy right? If you’re thinking about maybe using a plugin again later, you should just deactivate it. If you never plan to use it again, you should just delete it.

The big problem: Most WordPress users have no idea about these subtleties, nor are they 100% sure if they’re going to use a plugin again. The even bigger problem: Removing certain plugin data can have disastrous consequences. If someone has used a plugin extensively to set up their site, deletes it for any multitude of reasons, and then re-installs it, everything is gone.

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Where are the weak spots in your business?

By Drew Strojny on October 3, 2013

You might be aware of weak spots in your business, but are you being honest with yourself about them?

When you first start a business, it’s usually just you, or maybe you and a co-founder. You do almost everything: sales, marketing, product development, design, customer service, budgets, hiring, etc.

To have a moderately successful business, you need to be good in at least a few of these areas, but it’s really rare for any person to be great in all of these areas. It’s a common scenario: a developer who builds great software and provides stellar support, but doesn’t know much about marketing. A marketer who knows how to sell and drive business, but really doesn’t understand product development or design.

To be a great business over the long term you need to be great in all of those areas. Otherwise, you’re struggling against your competition with a hand tied behind your back. This is one reason why multiple co-founders with complementary skills can work so well. But, what if you’re a single founder or you have co-founders with similar skills?

Most business owners eventually become somewhat aware of their business weak spots over time. For me, this meant going through two distinct phases.

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What makes you different?

By Drew Strojny on September 5, 2013

You might be talking about what you do, or how you do it, but are you talking about how you do it differently?

Earlier this week I was confirming a sponsorship for The Theme Foundry. I was responding to this question over email: “What are the key things you want me to say about your business?”. I gave it some thought and came up with the following:

  • We’ve been selling WordPress themes since 2008 and have over 30,000 customers. We’re obsessed with building the best WordPress themes, and plan on being around for a long time.
  • We work with world-class designers like Jon Hicks, Veerle Pieters, Dave Ruiz, and Ryan Essmaker. It’s rare to have your website template designed by one of the best in the world.
  • We take pride in the details and value quality over quantity. That’s why we have a small focused collection of WordPress themes. We truly care about building great products.
  • We’re an exclusive partner with the official hosted WordPress provider, WordPress.com, and we sell our themes on that platform. This means each and every theme goes through a stringent audit process from some of the best themers in the world. You can rest assured our WordPress themes are well coded and secure.
  • We practice whole team support. You’ll get fast and friendly customer support in our Help Center from the people that actually build our themes. You won’t be interacting with a part time support rep. If you have a question about the new Backbone.js powered fast page loading in Collections, you’ll likely chat with Zack, the guy who actually built it.

After sending the email, I sat back and thought about it for a minute. Wait! Why aren’t we talking about this on our website!? Each one of these unique characteristics is a selling point. It’s a difference maker. It could convince someone our themes are right for them.

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How to convert MP4 to WebM

By Drew Strojny on August 30, 2013

Here at The Theme Foundry we sell WordPress templates and host quite a few tutorial videos over in the Help Center. We use the excellent SublimeVideo player to power the videos. Unlike YouTube or Vimeo, SublimeVideo lets us host and serve our own video files and keep them white-label. You add the player via one line of JavaScript and you can write native HTML5 video syntax. SublimeVideo provides a clean and flexible player that automatically picks up the video and also handles playing it via Flash when a browser doesn’t support HTML5.

HTML5 video is great, but to support all the modern browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, IE9/10), you need to serve two versions of your video files. For Chrome, IE9/10, and Safari, you need MP4 video files, and for Firefox and Opera, you need WebM files.

Most video applications can export videos in the MP4 format, but they usually can’t export in the WebM format. You need a tool to convert those MP4 files to WebM.

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How to find a WordPress plugin

By Drew Strojny on August 22, 2013

Your WordPress website is ready to go, but you really need that special piece of extra functionality your theme isn’t providing. You need to search for a plugin. WordPress plugins add extra functionality and features to your WordPress website.

In search of a plugin, you visit the WordPress plugin repository or try some search terms from your WordPress dashboard. You find results, but how do you know when you’ve found the perfect plugin? Are you even looking in the right place?

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Convert HTML to WordPress

By Drew Strojny on August 2, 2013

When I first decided to convert a static HTML design to WordPress I did some searching for a tutorial to help me get started with the basics. Surprisingly, I didn’t find anything that was very complete or easy to follow. So, I decided to write a very basic tutorial on how to convert a static HTML template into a WordPress theme. If you are an absolute beginner at developing WordPress themes then this should help you get started.

This tutorial assumes you already have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. It also assumes you have a website built in HTML and CSS and have it ready for conversion to WordPress. For those who need a basic introduction, refer to this helpful introduction to WordPress themes. If you already have something in WordPress (maybe you bought one of our WordPress templates), you might be interested in learning how to customize a WordPress theme and the WordPress child theme basics.

Skip the hassle — buy a premium WordPress theme

If you want something clean and easy to customize, be sure to browse through our collection of WordPress themes.

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You don’t need sharing buttons

By Drew Strojny on July 31, 2013

Sharing buttons seem like an obvious way to increase engagement, but do you really need them?

We often hear from customers who want to integrate sharing functionality into their WordPress powered website. They’ve heard it’s important to give readers options for sharing their content. This often takes the form of countless buttons plastered on every blog post. This makes some sense on the surface, but I seriously question how important it is to provide sharing options.

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Website navigation menus: Why less is more

By Drew Strojny on July 24, 2013

Your navigation is an important part of your website, and it might be hurting more than it’s helping.

You’ve got lots of important information to share on your website. Organizing it all can be a challenge. So you slowly start adding more and more menu items. Drop down menus become your best friend. More menu items are better, right?

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