How to use WordPress to run a magazine, news website

WordPress is a great tool for online writers. It’s simple and yet is such a pleasure to use. Yes, there are things that need to be improved but WordPress being an open source software, you can expect continuous improvements on it by the community.

The ease by which sites can be created and run through blogging software like WordPress allow writers previously without publishers to print their works online. The problem with using a blogging software to manage your website, however, is that the tool defines the character of your site.

Once in a while, I see blogs that seem better off presented as online magazines or news websites rather than as blogs.

WordPress, however, is an extensible website content management system that can be used to run magazine-type websites. Here are steps I took to turn this online magazine on Cebu from a blog into its current presentation. I’m still working on it, though, so you might encounter issues. (Update Jan. 9, 2008: I have redesigned the site. It’s now using an even better theme that I’m still working on. I will be releasing this theme soon.)

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Creating my own WordPress theme, but not from scratch

I’ve just finished initial work on turning an open source web design into a WordPress theme. I had set out last week to attempt creating my own WordPress theme and offer it for download to anyone who might be interested in using it.

I browsed through the designs submitted to the Open Source Web Design site for inspiration and when I found Plain 1.0, done by James Koster, I decided to just use it and port it to WordPress. Plain 1.0 is a great-looking minimalist design that makes use of a lot of white space. It was XHTML compliant before I started working on it.

I’m no geek but that’s what’s great about open source, you can build on what others are doing. I found turning a ready-made design into a WordPress theme surprisingly easy, with the help of the extensive documentation in the WordPress codex. I also went through some of the open source WordPress themes I loved and used pieces of code from it for the design.
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Blog design trends: big, bright and highlighted

ProBlogger links to a post on blog design trends written by Rachel Cunliffe in the cre8d design blog. Cunliffe, in her post, enumerates elements of current blog design trends: big fonts, big headers and footers, top border, bright colors, speech bubble comments, rounded corners, highlighted links.

I won’t go as far as calling it a trend but I get to see more and more sites with neat (some say this is already tiresome) background patterns (slashes, dots, or horizontal lines) and shiny, almost glass-like button interfaces or graphics. And most of the sites using these elements are well-designed and pleasing to the eyes.
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Personalizing another great WordPress theme

I’ve decided to switch themes (again). I’m personalizing the Phoenixrealm template, an excellent WordPress theme that’s simple and easy on the eyes. The original theme had a black background but I wanted a graphical background, something with diagonal lines- the type of backgrounds you see in sites like TechCrunch.

If you only want graphic patterns for your website background, you can use the background image maker in this site. The site allows you to choose the pattern-slashes, horizontal lines, dots or gradient-and the color of the background.

I was finally able to create my own background image complete with diagonal lines and color gradations using this very good step-by-step tutorial on Photoshop by LpT designs. I also followed this glassy icons Photoshop tutorial by Fadedpixel for the glassy appearance of the black in my website background.

Phoenixrealm doesn’t come with Gravatars support out of the box and I managed to enable it in my site by following the instructions of the plugin author.

Customizing a WordPress theme

I’ve finished customizing Marlen‘s theme using the tri-Sexuality Standard WordPress theme with help on color combination from ColorLovers. Marlen’s theme uses part of the Can’t Buy Me Love color palette. On another note, I’m claiming my Feedster feed, thus the notice below.
No Need to Click Here – I’m just claiming my feed at Feedster feedster:c50175ca8f0a99650240081a4bc175e2

Handing in the final paper, looking forward to tweaking my WordPress theme

I submitted my final paper for my online journalism course with the Konrad Adenauer Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University this morning. Its a good thing that I blog because I was able to use for the paper on the impact and future of online journalism some of the entries I wrote here earlier.

With the course over, I can now do one of the things I’ve long been planning to do: change my blog theme’s colors. I already changed this theme’s colors to make the green and blue more vivid but I wanted to implement a different color set.

I’m no graphic artist and I’m lousy at color combinations but I found this site with a lot of great color combinations rated by a community of graphic artists. The combinations in my shortlist are: New comes in green, Mojo flave, Dust brothers, Get a job hippie and Drunken lullabies.

Great Firefox plugin for blog template users

I found Aardvark through The product is a free Firefox plugin that allows you to check elements of a webpage and how it is constructed. It is particularly useful for non-geeks like me who want to customize templates of blog content management systems like WordPress or Serendipity.

Aardvark allows you to check parts of a site and see which HTML or CSS element controls its presentation. If you place your mouse pointer over a part of a page, the block will be highlighted an a text below the block will indicate which element it is.

With the tool, you’d know which part of your style sheet to edit if you want to change a part of your CMS-backed blog.

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