Themes and Customization

Theme Shopping

Now that the backups are in place we can play with the theme and layout to our heart’s content without worrying about melting down the site. This is a nice canvas with which to work but definitely needs a little spiffing up. Pretty much vanilla page at this point:


I’ve always had good luck with free themes though they can be a bit limited and frustrating when attempting any sort of customization. Case in point, the logo at the top has a self-referencing link (i.e.,  back to the homepage) which is certainly not the UX (user-experience) I want. A little Googling and poking around the code, I realize that this is a child theme for Omega and trying to find where to drop the “is_front_page” or “is_home” PHP conditional is going to be non-trivial at best and undoable at worst.

The latest, greatest default WP theme is “Twenty Sixteen” which bills itself as “A nice bold theme. Features full-bleed featured posts and featured images, a fixed header, and subtle CSS3 transitions.” The preview is not showing me much of interest but it’s a simple enough matter to install it and preview. I can re-activate the “Lifestyle” theme and all should return as it was or, worst case scenario, I can restore my backup (posts should be safe but I backed up my database using phpMyAdmin from cPanel).


Time for a Backup

There are several options for backing up WordPress varying in degree of technical difficulty from trivial to somewhat complicated. Depending on your level of expertise and the time you are willing to invest, you can try just one or, if you’re like me and hate losing data, you can have multiple backups in different formats and different locations.

Let’s start with the easiest one. From the Dashboard, go to Tools -> Export and, unless you have a compelling reason otherwise, accept the default “All content”. Download the generated file to a place where you can find it on your computer and it will be available to restore or migrate “all of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts.”

Note that this will not backup your media or themes. For that, we have a choice of backing up locally (i.e., on your computer) or in the “cloud”. Local backups can be performed by copying your wp-content folder to your computer, either using your host’s file system management tools or by using FTP. For online backup I’m a fan of the “WordPress Backup to DropBox” plugin as I’m not particularly concerned about keeping my data for this site private.



There is enough content now to justify creating some categories and backing up progress to date. WP2016 was just released and I’m thinking I’ll take it out for a spin. I’ve never really played with the default themes before and this looks like a significant upgrade plus hopefully the “Pro” (read crippled) features and various other annoyances of third-party themes won’t be a factor.

Since this blog is primarily about, well, blogging, some categories are in order to provide some granularity of content. Some obvious candidates leap to mind:

  • WordPress installation
  • Themes and customization
  • CSS
  • HTML5
  • jQuery
  • Plugins
  • Widgets
  • Images
  • Categories
  • Backup

Categories are trivial to create, change and remove so let’s go ahead and set up the 16 current posts so they aren’t just “uncategorized”.

From the Dashboard, we’re going to Posts -> Categories and it’s pretty straightforward from there. Add all the categories and then go to Posts -> All Posts. Open them individually using “Quick Edit” and categorize to your heart’s content (yes, you can add categories from “Edit”  but it’s easier and more coherent to create them all at once at this stage in the game).