How to convert any web template into a WordPress theme

Among blogging applications, WordPress probably has the largest number of great-looking themes to use. Still, there are hundreds of free and even open source web templates not yet converted to work with WordPress. Knowing how to make this themes work with WordPress broadens your choice of design to use for your blog.

Converting a web template is fairly easy if you take the time to learn how to do it. I wrote this guide for someone like me a few months back — eager to use a great looking web design and yet not knowing how to start converting it to work with WordPress. If you want to view a video tutorial on how I turned this open source web design into this WordPress theme, click here for the blog post.

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Turning a web template into a WordPress theme: a video tutorial

Knowing how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme broadens your choice of designs to use for your blog. I created this video tutorial for someone like me a few months back: eager to attempt turning a great looking open source web template into a WordPress theme but not knowing how to start. If you want to read a tutorial based on the screencast, click here.

For the screencast, I turned this open source web template into this WordPress theme. The video tutorial ends with the creation of the different WordPress theme files. The part when I activated the theme, tweaked it, and fixed errors wasn’t captured as I ran out of virtual memory. I just included notes on the tweaking after the screencast below.

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Take 2: WordPress theme screencast

I’ve fixed my initial attempt at doing a video tutorial on turning a web template into a WordPress theme. It now loads. As I wrote earlier, I am still finalizing the screencast but I just posted it to get initial feedback as I’m thinking of redoing the entire thing.

I wasn’t able to capture the part when I activated the theme, tweaked and fixed it because I ran out of virtual memory. I am also writing a blog post based on it. I’ll publish the post as soon as I finalize a screencast. In the meantime, please view the screencast and feel free to leave some comments.

Take 1: WordPress theme screencast for design-challenged non-geeks

(UPDATED) I created a screencast on how to turn any web template into a WordPress theme. I created the screencast for someone like me a few months back: interested to use an open source template for my blog and yet not knowing how to turn it into a theme.

This is the first take because, as you may see, it needs a lot of improvements. The screencast covered how I turned this open source web design into this WordPress theme. I’d appreciate comments on this as I would either be rendering the screencast again from the raw frames capture I saved elsewhere or throwing away the thousands of captured frames and doing the screencast all over again.

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Announcing nautica-magazine WordPress theme for webzines

To those who were waiting for this theme, I apologize for the delay in the release. I had to wade through various folders to get the latest version of the code because I was working on two sites using this theme at the same time.

I have since been using Subversion via a free project management account with Unfuddle (check my previous post) to make sure that the files are organized. If anyone is interested in helping improve this theme, leave me note so that I’ll host the files in Google Code and we can work on it together.

Nautica-magazine is a WordPress theme based on the nautica05 open source template. It doesn’t work out-of-the-box because you need to edit the index page to make it work with your site’s sections or categories. Read the included readme.txt before activating the theme.

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Database down; spirits up

I woke up to a WordPress database error yesterday. The error wasn’t caused by any changes I did to the site but something to do with the server.

I spent hours the night before working on this, a demo of using WordPress to manage a news portal.

With time to kill while waiting for the site to be fixed, I implemented something that had been listed in my “someday” list – customize the WordPress database error message and have the system send you an e-mail when your blog can’t connect to your database. I hate to admit it but I actually enjoyed the downtime as it taught me a lot as well as afforded me the time to play around with something I had long wanted to do.

The hack is surprisingly easy and I enjoyed crafting a database error page that I just might intentionally place wrong config data soon to test my planned addition to the error page.

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Nautica05-WordPress theme released

I’ve released the nautica05-wordpress theme, a template based on the open source Nautica05 design posted at the Open Source Templates site by Studio7Designs. I used the Nautica05 template in turning this Cebu blog into a webzine, which I discussed in my previous blog post.

Nautica05-wordpress is a template for blog sites. I will be releasing later a hacked version of the template for use in webzines managed by WordPress. Nautica05-wordpress uses a two column layout by default but you can easily change this to three-columns by following the instructions in the nautica05-wordpress page.

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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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Announcing Brighthouse-WP theme for WordPress

I’ve finished Brighthouse-WP, my WordPress port of the Brighthouse theme for Typo. Brighthouse is a simple two-column theme that reminds me of the design of the Signal v. Noise blog. Brighthouse was designed by web interface designer Richard White for the Typo blogging platform.

I spotted the theme when I checked out the features of SlimTimer, an online service that allows you to keep track of the time you spend on tasks. When I saw Richard’s blog, I immediately knew that it was a design that I wanted to implement here. It was a good thing that Richard packaged his theme for download.

I downloaded the theme, converted it to work with WordPress and made a few changes such as increasing font size and placing the search box on the sidebar instead of the header. It took me several days but I was finally able to validate the theme. It wasn’t that hard as the original theme was XHTML valid, I invalidated it when I started chopping it up into different template files.

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A fire, a map, and a WordPress theme

Fire gutted the landmark Plaza Fair building early morning Tuesday. Reports say the fire caused P20 million in damages. The blaze broke out just as we were finalizing the day’s newspaper issue. We no longer had time to include the story in the issue.

But I admit it was tempting to copy Michael Keaton in The Paper-the whole “Stop the press!” bit. Of course you couldn’t do that in Sun.Star Cebu, our printing plant is kilometers away and if you needed to “stop the press” for a late breaker, you’d either have to call or text the plant manager. Somehow texting “stp d prs” isn’t as dramatic as barging into the plant and screaming the words.

The fire was visible from our office canteen, two blocks away (check photos and map below).

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