What theme does that site use?

WordPress support forum question:

What theme does this site use?

Here’s how I answer questions like this:

  • Visit the site.
  • Right click and select “View Source”.
  • Press CTRL-F for a search box and type in “themes”.
  • Look for a link to the theme.

It’s a safe bet that this site is using TwentySeventeen. But click the search arrows to verify!

In actuality, I’m using a child theme, sds_2017, but that’s obscured because I’m optimizing the HTML and CSS for the site, so a lot of stuff is hidden, aggregated, or obscured in the name of efficiency.

Chrome Dev Tools

How do I change the font size? Why is the background blue?  These are questions easily answered through the Chrome Developer Tools. Anyone wanting to do any customization of a web site needs to be familiar with them.

Updated April 30, 2017:  This is the presentation given at WordCamp Chicago.  Thanks to the many people who came to the presentation and offered comments and compliments!

View this full size in your browser from Google Docs  or download Fun with Chrome Developer Tools as a PDF.


Five questions to ask when picking a WordPress plugin

liftarn-plug-and-outlet-800pxThere are lots of support forum threads and IRC conversations in the WordPress community about how to pick the right plugin. Here’s my unsolicited advice.

#1 Is it really relevant to what you want?

Plugins can do many things. Some plugins do more than one thing. Some are close to what you want done. So, first thing first. Understand clearly what you want to accomplish.

#2 Is it well supported?

Many people start by looking at a plugin’s reviews. I look at the support threads for the plugin. It tells me whether the author is engaged, active, accepting feedback, and fixing bugs.

#3 Do updates appear at regular intervals or is there long time between them?

There are good reasons why a plugin might not get updated frequently. If you see lots of issues and bugs in the support queue and infrequent updates, it gets back to whether the author is engaged.

#4 Are there enough people using it to cover “edge case” bugs?

Ideally, someone else finds a bug before you do. The more users, the wider the variety of environments the plugin lives in. Does that mean you won’t find a bug?  No, but reduced the likelihood that you’ll be alone.

#5 What else have the authors done?

Does the author have other plugins? How are those supported?

What about you? What are your rules?

Protecting Your Image


Well, not so much your image as protecting yourself from images. Where do you get the images for your website?

If you just grab them from other sites, you could wind up with a nasty Cease and Desist letter with an hefty invoice attached.  When you get images, make sure you have a license to use them.

Here are some generally safe places to find images:

  1. Wikimedia Commons
  2. Free Stock Photos
  3. Kaboom Pics
  4. Open Clip Art
  5. UnSplash
  6. ISO Republic
  7. Stock Snap

Be sure to read the terms and conditions for each site carefully. If attribution is required, be sure to do so.

If you grab images from Flikr, understand that not all images carry the “use it for free, dude” license. Read the terms for each image.  https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/


Sweet Home (Page, that is)

web-search-greyWhat should be the on front page of your website?

If your focus is your blog, then make the blog the front page. If, however, you’re not posting regularly and frequently, go for a “static” front page. It doesn’t make much of a difference, SEO-wise, but when people visit your site and see an 6 month old post as the first thing on the home page, they will probably just bounce off — unless you have incredibly compelling content.

People get all wrapped up in Search Engine Optimization. How can I get to be #1 on Google? (Hint: You can’t.)  How do I “own” a keyword across the internet?

Focusing on SEO is the wrong place to start.  Good content is the basis of a good website. Focus on what it takes to attract an audience and use SEO to reinforce that.