Variations on a WordPress theme

After working throughtutorial on building WordPress themes by wpdesigner.com, I had a basic, functional — and clunky looking — theme for my site. It had all the elements that I now understand to be the WordPress basics — a header, a content well for posts, a sidebar for links, pages and archives, plus a footer.

Everything worked, but it had no style.

Of course, the reason I set out to build a theme from scratch was to make something unique. I’ve been impressed, for example, at what the author of FlowingData has achieved using WordPress. And I like a good challenge.

So, I’ve spent the last few days digging into my CSS. I’ve used style sheets at work for internal projects I code in Visual Studio, so I have a head start. A reference CSS tutorial is handy for defining various elements, but I probably am learning the most by studying (and borrowing from) a couple of themes I’ve admired: Hemingway and Monochrome Lite.

If you know the Hemingway theme well, you’ll recognize shades of it in my  current header, which closely resembles the Hemingway header. I added a horizontal navigation bar that separates the top from the content to come. I’ve yet to style the content well, but I did decide to create left, middle and right divs for blocks of content. More to come — and I definitely will have to ask for help with colors. It’s what I know the least about.

WordPress from the inside out

After searching the Web for the right WordPress theme for my site, I realized that none fit what I wanted. Hemingway, which I discovered through Derek Willis’ site Fumblerooski, has the right vibe, but the layout is all wrong. So, I decided to learn how to build one from scratch.

What you see now (or, what you would have seen if you were here now), is the result of studiously following this detailed tutorial. I’m glad I slogged through it, because it largely demystified WordPress. The process gave me the same feeling I had when, as a geeky 12-year-old, I took apart my family’s lawnmower engine. Seeing the parts moving on the inside really helps.