Visual WordPress Sitemap theme

Slickmapper sitemap pages wordpress themeIf you’re building a WordPress site with over 20 pages, in addition to the “bulk post creator” plugin we mentioned a few days ago, you might want to try out the Slick Mapper WordPress theme by Luke McDonald. This will allow you to get the landscape overview of how pages fit within the site and help you map out navigation bar issues more effectively. This is known as part of the information architecture portion of User Experience (UX) jargon these days.

Once it’s activated, Luke’s sitemap theme will generate a visual site map that you can see at the web site URL just like your home page. Site maps are normally often seen in Visio or other drawing program. The beauty of this theme is that the theme generates a site map using the pages saved into WordPress. The theme will structure the pages into parent and child hierarchy. Just make sure your pages are published – not saved in draft mode.

There are quite a few options available to customize such as the box background and border colors and logo upload.

If you want to keep your current theme running, simply use the old theme preview trick by adding this line of text to the end of your base URL like this:


So if your site is was, then it would look like this:

The current info page for SlickMapper at ThemeGarden is down so check out the GitHub page for the download: SlickMapper

New QuickLaunch Theme – free! (1.1 update)

It’s been ages, since I’ve posted something here at WPVerse. I’ve been quite busy working on unique and interesting WordPress themes that hopefully I’ll be able to share in the next few weeks.

In the past I’ve looked for a “coming soon” WordPress theme but I could find something that was “generic” or easy to edit. A lot of them had a count down timer but not everyone needs it. I also liked the idea of the theme by my friends at Barrel NYC but I ultimately found it was too hard to use. So I decided to make a cool WordPress theme for free. It’s not going to kill anytime soon but it’s free!

So here’s a screenshot of my new theme with the admin tool palette turned on:

Instructions: Download the theme ZIP file and upload to your WordPress site using WP admin and activate theme as usual.

Then look on the bottom of the WP admin bar and select “QuickLaunch” -> “Launch Designer”. The screen will switch to the preview edit mode. From that point you can edit the site name, tagline, and body text by clicking on those preview areas directly and start typing. When you see the pencil icon that means you’re ready to edit the text and do “live” or inline editing.

One of the easiest things you can do with QuickLaunch is to upload a background image or specify a solid background color.There are fields to specify your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Linkedin user profiles. You can also specify the color of the “Submit” button of the email collection box.  With v1.1, you can increase the padding of the center content module. Note the preview is slightly different then what you’ll see if you look at the actual saved site. And you can see submitted email addresses by clicking on the “Email List” option in “QuickLaunch” on the WP admin menu bar.

We hope you enjoy this theme! Please drop us a line if you use our theme as your splash/landing/squeeze page!

Download: (Updated Feb. 27th) | Demo Site

How to add a sidebar in Twenty Eleven theme

A few weeks before the WordPress 3.2 general release came out, we linked up a beta copy of the Twenty Eleven theme with a download link so our readers could preview it on pre 3.2 sites.

And no doubt many of you have updated to WordPress 3.2 by now. And some of you may have noticed that Twenty Eleven for whatever strange reason doesn’t have a sidebar widget area on the inner pages?!

It’s one of those “what were they thinking?” questions we like to cynically ask.

Kevin Muldoon and Bart Surminski to the rescue as Kevin outlines around 4 steps to easily add the sidebar to Twenty Eleven theme on his site. This could be a great exercise if you’re a confident beginner who wants to hack a theme for the first time.

But if you just want the modified theme pre-baked, there’s also a link by Niraj in the comments section of that article so you can grab a copy of the theme with the widget enabled.


Plugin of the Week: My Custom CSS

Have you ever had to hack the CSS for a WordPress theme or plugin only to later upgrade the theme or plugin and realized you lost your changes? Wouldn’t it be great if someone made a plugin that let you keep the CSS modifications stay intact whenever you updated your theme or plugin?

My custom css

It took us a while to find something like this but we found “My Custom CSS” plugin by Salvatore Noschese. This little great WordPress plugin tkeeps your custom CSS override regardless of what theme or plugin you’re using. Remember that if a certain class isn’t working, you may need to add the “!important” tag like in the screenshot above.

Get it: My Custom CSS


Try it: Twenty Eleven beta theme

We’ve had some readers ask us if the new Twenty Eleven (the successor to the Twenty Ten) theme will work with older versions of WordPress 3.x and after doing some light testing, we’re happy to report that it does indeed seem to be fine.

So we extracted the theme from the WP 3.2 3.3 beta and below is a link to a recent copy of the Twenty Eleven theme that should work with WordPress 3.1.x. As always when using beta software, we recommend installing the theme on a “sandbox” or test site and not on your live or mission critical site.

Download: Twenty Eleven beta theme

Update: WordPress 3.2 is out so we recommend that you update your older version and get the newest 2011 theme as a part of the package. Just go to your WP admin dashboard and click on the 3.2 update notification at the top of the page.

Using Pagelines Platform Pro and Jetpack together

We took a look at the free version of Platform Pro a few months ago and were impressed with the features and customization options enough so that we bought it. So we recently built a traditional blog for a client with the commercial version of Platform Pro.  We also looked at Jetpack plugin when it first came out a few weeks ago but were turned off by some bugs typically found in a version 1.0 product. Pagelines  So we decided to take a second look at both Platform Pro and Jetpack at the same time. These are not meant to be full reviews but provide some key insights in a short amount of space.

Platform Pro
During the process of customizing our client site we were reminded of how powerful Platform Pro can be but there are a ton of options to look through. One of the most powerful features allows users to select what kind of modules show up on each type of page (home, blog, individual posts, etc.).

For us, this process became be downright confusing when we had to figure out which page type we were modifying. We had to keep refreshing the published page to see which page type we were editing at the moment. It’d be great if there was a preview or explanation of which page type was being currently edited.

We also wish there was a simple footer module that could be used instead of 3 or 5 column design that forces the user to show extra content when it may not be needed or desired.

Also as we mentioned in our previous review, some similar options are saved into two different pages. For example the social network features of the theme appear in three separate pages: global options (footer Twitter feed), Template Setup (post/page sharing buttons), and Header and Nav (Social Network profile URLs). Our suggestion would be to perhaps keep these fields on their current pages but also add a new page that has all the social media features on one page.

Platform Pro when it was first released was great for its time but the complexity of the theme panel is starting wear us down even after we’ve used it on several sites. Call us hypercritical but if we’re confused, imagine what a new WordPress user could feel like. We hope the next major revision of Platform Pro improves the grouping of menus/options and provides a more intuitive way to build page types.

When we were first tried Jetpack, we didn’t try the bundled Twitter widget so this was a good time for us to try it out.

Some people once seeing it on their site may be disappointed that there’s not much options for color styling. The Twitter Widget looks very plain and boring but heck it works without very little effort or configuration. We’re using the standalone version of the widget, here on our site on our sidebar, so you can see it’s very plain-jane.

If you want something that’s slicker and customizable with colors, we’d recommend the Twitter Goodies Widget by NetWebLogic. It’s a bit more effort to customize the color but it maybe worth the effort to some.

Here’s a tip for Jetpack (and Sharedaddy stand-alone) plugin users who are using Platform Pro. If you enable Shareadaddy to show sharing buttons on the home page, your sidebar widgets may wrap to the bottom of the page into the footer area. And it currently doesn’t show the share buttons on the home page anyways so selecting it doesn’t work in the first place. To fix the sidebar from appearing in the footer, you need to set the display to show only “Posts and pages only.” See the screenshot below.

Wordpress jetpack sharedaddy index

Get it: Platform Pro theme / Jetpack plugin

Free StackOverflow-like theme: CivicStack

In the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing innovative WordPress themes for free to the public. We want our themes to be unique and provide features not found anywhere else.

So we’re very proud to release a beta version of our new CivicStack theme. This theme allows you to create a WordPress site that will allow your visitor to quickly and easily engage in conversations through two types of voting processes without the need to create a user account.

The first type of voting is based on a five-star system for the posts. The second type of voting allows you to vote on comments made by users. Visitors can vote up or down comments similar to the StackOverflow site. There’s also a user leaderboard page that shows you the top commenters based on votes that they have received.

The system defaults to a home page listing all the categories similar to a message board format. This home page is dynamically generated as you add new posts and categories. The stacking order of the categories can be set through the theme options panel.

Civicstack theme home

You can upload also thumbnail for each category through the theme panel. The theme lists the posts with the most votes as “popular topics.”

When a visitor drills down to a post page from the home page, they’ll see something similar to this:

Civicstack theme voting

Visitors can only vote up or down a comment once. The gravatars are shown from once a user has registered for an account. We also suggest using the Mingle Plugin that will allow other users to look at other user’s profiles.

You can also activate a widget that allows visitors to suggest a post by dragging over the widget called “Suggest an Idea” to the left sidebar. This will visitors to suggest an idea. Currently it saves the “idea” as a post in draft mode. So it’s up to you to edit, categorize, and publish each suggested post as needed.

To create a user leaderboard page, create a new page called “leaderboard” and then go under page templates to select “user leaderboard.” On the public side, it will display a page like this:

Civicstack theme leaderboard

Home page options
You can also specify a blog type home page in the theme panel that will show a list of blog entries. The option exists in the theme panel. See a demo of the blog home page version…

To create an “inner” category listing page, simply create a new page and choose the “Category List” under page attributes/templates module. Then link up that page on the navigation menu to show the category list.

Extending functionality with plugins
So far we’ve successfully used our theme with the following plugins: NextGen gallery (photo gallery), Smooth Gallery for NextGen, Sharedaddy (social media sharing), Google Analyticator (track visitors), and Mingle (social user profiles).

Download Stable: CivicStack 1.4b
Download Beta: civicstack-1.5a

Quick Impressions of WordPress 3.2 beta

WordPress 3.2 is coming soon – sometime in late June. So here are some of our thoughts and preview of it in no particular order on the latest beta version. By no means is it meant to be an in-depth review – for a more thorough look at 3.2 beta, check out WPMod’s review. Note that things may change between now and the final 3.2 release.

Once you login to WP admin, you’ll see there’s a whole new look to the whole admin system. Our “nitpicky” take is that the some of the proportions aren’t as well thought as the current 3.1x releases. By proportions we mean the sizing of certain text and images relative to each other.

Wordpress 3 2beta menu The new admin vertical navigation bar now uses less space so more usable area is saved for the rest of the page but upon first impression it’s not as pretty as the current release. On the functional side it does show which module you happen to be in much more clearly with a right pointing arrow.










The other big change is the full screen post/page editor now has “distraction-free” writing with a minimal set of toolbar icons. The toolbar will also fade away once you start writing something. It’s very “zen-like” and great way to focus on creating content.

As for the new Twenty Eleven theme itself, we think it’s a great evolution for the default theme. There are a ton of widget areas which should make content areas really easy to populate. Wordpress 3 2beta widgets

One of our main concerns was that it seems to have a lot of vertical spacing between the navigation bar and page title.

Wordpress 3 2beta page title

We also ran very quick tests with the NextGen gallery, Enable Media Replace, and Autoptimize plugins, all which seemed to work without a hitch. We ran these plugins through their paces by creating a gallery, overwriting an image, and seeing if the CSS/HTML were optimized. Basically these plugins seemed to work and didn’t crash the site. It’s not an extensive test but we were able to see the basic functionality was in good shape.

So that ends our quick look at WordPress 3.2 beta. Stay tuned for more in the upcoming weeks.

In-depth preview of 2011 WordPress theme

Our friend Kevin at WPMods has written a great review of the new Twenty Eleven WordPress theme that’s included with WordPress 3.2 beta. It’s not a giant leap forward but it has some nice features that would have been normally been reserved for “premium” commercial themes a year ago.

If you’re interested in trying out 3.2 and Twenty Eleven theme, you can download it here at the release archive at Scroll about 85% of the page down to find “3.2 beta” versions.

After downloading the ZIP file, you can then upload the extracted files via FTP to your WordPress hosting directory and as always, make backups of everything first. Also never update a live or critical site with a beta release. And did we mention, back everything up first and do this at your own risk?

Update: we were inspired by Kevin’s article enough to take a look at WP 3.2 and Twenty Eleven for ourselves and write a quick review about it.