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Getting Back to Basics Building WordPress Themes

Commercial WordPress themes can be very fickle.

Certain trends and features tend to dominate the market before being displaced by the next best thing.

Two years ago, everyone was obsessed with theme options panels…

Then it was shortcodes.

Next it was all about content sliders.

Now, we’re in the drag-and-drop page builder era while next year some other functionality will come blazing to the fore.

What Went Wrong?

These features were initially marketed to save you time and maximize the level of customization available to you.

With 20/20 hindsight, though, we can see these “features” had some pretty serious flaws.

If your aim is to build a top-notch site, shortcuts rarely pay dividends.

Theme options panels became increasingly bogged down with questionable features piled on top of an already bloated panel. Once marketers realized that for some users more choice enhances perceived value, option overload snowballed out of all control.

And how about this monstrosity? Look familiar?

 [column][accordion]Shortcodes dump a bunch of tags into your post content and don’t travel well when you switch themes, leaving your content [button style=”red round”]messy[/button] and dependent on proprietary features.[/accordion][/column].

Everything seems great with shortcodes until you want to make any changes then you’re confronted with the gibberish above.

Content sliders offer a notoriously poor user experience and are proven to kill conversions. In spite of these two extreme downsides, they’re routinely the first jarring content you’re greeted with on the homepage of WordPress-powered websites.

While some of these features are worthwhile if used judiciously and moderately, promoting flaws as features in a commercial product is a short-term mentality at best. Disrespecting your buyers does not lead to customer satisfaction or repeat business.

Yet things seem to be continuing on a downward trajectory…

How, exactly?

Page Builder Mediocrity

In principle, the ability to design your own page layouts then simply drag and drop blocks of content within WordPress sounds like a swift, painless and idiot-proof way to build an awesome website, right?

Page builders promised great results with minimal user input or effort.

Everything for nothing… except the cost of the plugin or paid upgrade, of course. You can never escape the upsell!

If we dig just a little deeper, we can see that page builders come with their own inbuilt complications.

The stumbling block with the page builder concept is a case of skewed priorities. The implication is that you should take time with work you’re not cut out for instead of focusing on the thing you’re best at. Instead of devoting your time to producing killer content, the page builder concept suggests you should immerse yourself in the intricacies of design to snare an efficient and attractive website. It’s often a case of style over substance. This is never a good thing.

Don’t make the schoolboy error of choosing an inappropriate theme and trying to turn it into something else entirely. Unless you have an innate sense of many elements, from design and layout through content architecture and UX, results may be underwhelming. You can never make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Choose wisely in the first place. Be honest about your skillset. Try not to succumb to the fanfare of marketing hype unless it’s fully justified and the solution will work for you.

Although page builders are still incredibly popular, it seems inevitable that they will also fall out of favour, displaced by a new pretender.

As long as these solutions complicate the creation of websites and the production of content rather than turbo charging the process, they will never be sustainable elements of WordPress.

Why, then, are so many users easily swayed by needlessly intricate layouts, accordion shortcodes and the questionable ability to add widgets at random? Is this the starting vision of their website or are they unwittingly duped into this approach when browsing for a commercial WordPress theme?  Which is more important, “complete control” or a clean website that’s fit for purpose?

With 2.7 million blog posts produced every day, it’s never been tougher to make your content accessible in such a sea of words. It’s alarming to see the creation of that content being exponentially complicated with totally superfluous frippery. Is this what theme providers really want for their users or the web community in general?

Problem Solving

There is, however, one feature that seems buried under a slew of bells and whistles…

A feature that has enormous marketing mileage, requires no plugins, demands no user intervention and works with every version of WordPress..

Design.

Good, old-fashioned design.

Thoughtful design can offset your dependency on shortcodes, page builders and all other distractions from your main goal: creating a site that is easy on the eye and equally simple to navigate. Get it right and enjoy spending more time creating content than devouring help files.

When we take those design decisions into our own hands, we liberate the user from confusing technical choices that play havoc with workflow. We have to remember that they are using WordPress to create something. This core purpose should always remain uppermost.

Many believe that the role the designer must play is fixed and determined by the socio-economic climate; that he must discover his functional niche and fit himself into it. It seems to me that this ready-made image ignores the part the artist can play in creating this climate. — Paul Rand

With the full weight of marketing campaigns behind them, many theme providers have been offloading the responsibility of design and all attendant decisions to the user while simultaneously touting this as a positive move. Some users have been convinced that they alone should be responsible for serious usability issues that providers are deeply knowledgable about and can create solutions to address. This is skewed logic.

Sound Philosophy

If we look at the WordPress Philosophy, we can see that there are a few superb guidelines for making WordPress products, both commercial and free.

  1. Provide solutions that require little configuration and setup
  2. Make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users
  3. Provide an environment where a user can create content without problems or interruption
  4. Strive for simplicity in ways that are positive for the overall WordPress user experience

It’s perfectly clear that page builders and quick fixes don’t mesh with this philosophy at all.

In fact, the simple WordPress philosophy seems to be inherently opposed to these kinds of features and with just cause.

Moving Forward

Our focus at Themely is building themes with a more organic approach, harnessing the power of design and creative, eclectic problem-solving to make informed decisions for users. They are marketed accordingly and with integrity.

Let’s renew our focus on the traditional values of typography, layout, whitespace, balance, color theory, content architecture, user experience and accessibility.  These essentials should be our priorities and not the flashiest new idea without substance.

Let us return to being dedicated professionals owning decisions, empowering users and educating them on the merits of lean, sustainable WordPress products. This is key to the route ahead.

It’s a tough battle but we will continue fighting for the user. We’ll always champion simplicity and design as the optimum solution.

This way of doing business has proven to be an increasingly viable model as well as a truly rewarding experience. We can’t wait to see where it takes us and we can move forwards knowing that we have the user at the very forefront of our vision.

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How to create a Viral News site with Novapress WordPress Theme

Have you ever wanted to create a viral news site like Viral Nova?

With our Novapress WordPress theme, it’s easy to set up and start posting engaging content. Whether you are posting the latest trends or funniest quizzes, this theme is perfect for popular content with eye-catching headlines and graphics.  The Novapress Pro Viral News theme and tutorial lets you launch a fully functional viral site in no more than 24 hours. It comes with powerful sharing buttons with multiple ad locations.

Everything you need in an easy-to-use package. Just browse the web, pick what’s hot, embed on your site and let it spread virally.  Simply follow the steps in the tutorial, and you will be ready to launch in no time.  The WordPress Customizer offers quick and easy customization of the theme colors.  Along with customizing theme colors you can enable/disable Facebook comments, upload your logo and edit the copyright text.

Highlight trending news using the WordPress Popular Posts plugin, display trending articles in your sidebar based on specific criteria.

Utilizing the Mailchimp for WordPress plugin, you can prompt users to sign up for newsletters and daily updates from your blog. NovaPress comes with two signup form sections; below the header and above the footer.

Monetization is made easy whether you want to add Google Adsense, Buy Sell Ads, banners ads or any other method.  The NovaPress theme prepares your blog with pre-defined ad spots.

The theme welcome page on WordPress explains how to quickly and easily set up the Novapress theme. With direct links to our support site, we are there to assist you in case you have any questions.

Tutorial

Step 1: Install WordPress

If you have not already installed WordPress on your hosting account, log into cPanel on your account, enter the necessary credentials and install WordPress.  You will be redirected to a confirmation page containing your new credentials and a link to the new add-on.

Step 2: Log into WordPress 

Log into your new WordPress account admin panel using the previously entered credentials on installation.

Step 3: Change theme to Novapress Pro

From the dashboard, click “change your theme completely” or choose “Appearance” then “Themes” from the side bar menu. Here, you will see all the themes you have currently installed in your application. To add another one, simply click the “Add New” button.

Step 4: Upload Novapress Pro Theme

A)  Upload and Installation: After choosing “Add New,” select the “Upload” button in the same location to upload the new theme.  Upload the zip file of the Novapress Pro theme and click “Install Now.”

B)  Activation:  This will then direct to a confirmation page where the option to Activate the theme becomes available.  Click “Activate” and you will be redirected to the theme page where Novapress Pro is now activated.

Step 5: Install and Activate the Recommended Plugins

A) Install Plugins: After theme Activation, WordPress will suggest recommended plugins for the Novapress theme.  Install all recommended plugins by choosing the “Begin Installing Plugins” link that will redirect to the list of recommended plugins.  Select all by clicking the empty checkbox in the header, under install, and click “Apply.”  You will be redirected to to a confirmation page.

B) Activate Plugins: Though already installed, the plugins must be activated.  You will receive a header notification noting that the recommended plugins are not activated.  Choose “Begin Activating Plugins” and repeat actions in Step A: Select all by clicking the empty checkbox in the header, choose “Activate” in the drop-down menu, and click “Apply.”  You will be redirected to to a confirmation page.

Step 6: Configure Plugins

In order for the NovaPress theme to function as intended, several of the required plugins must be configured. They are:

  • Jetpack for WordPress
  • Mailchimp for WordPress
  • Social Pug

On the side bar menu, under Appearance, visit “Getting Started with NovaPress Pro” and find “Configuration instructions” under “Step 2 – Configure Plugins” or follow this link: http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/novapress-configure-plugins/  You will find instructions to configure each plugin through Jetpack.  Follow the enclosed instructions and then proceed to back to “Getting Started with NovaPress Pro” for Step 7.

Step 7: Import Demo Content (Optional)

The next step is to import the content from our live demo site, http://demo.themely.com/novapress/.  This is not required, however, it is recommended import the widgets that will add the ad spots, newsletter forms and trending posts. You can then tweak them as needed.

Choose Step 3 – Import Demo Content, “Demo Import instructions” or follow this link: http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/novapress-import-demo-content/  Download the demo content to get the files you need, then follow the enclosed instructions to install the importer plugins and import the content.

Step 8: Customize Your Theme

Access “Customize” under “Appearance” on the side bar menu.  This will enable the menu and allow you to upload your logo. You can also configure the theme colors, footer and enable/disable Facebook comments.  Simply choose your preferred options under each section and preview the changes to the right of the menu.  Don’t forget to “Save and Publish” your changes at the top right of the side menu.

Step 9:  Preview Your Website

Preview your website by clicking the website name on the top left of the screen.

Step 10: Delete Widgets

After previewing your website, you may delete the widgets you don’t need under “Appearance” in “Widgets” on the side bar.  You can then preview the changes.

That’s it, you’re done! Begin posting your own content.

If you require further support visit http://support.themely.com

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday – 25% Off All Our Themes

Black Friday & Cyber Monday is soon here, and this year we are pulling out all the stops with our biggest discount of all time!

We are offering 25% off all our WordPress themes!

If you are currently using the Lite version of any of our themes, this is great opportunity to upgrade and save.

Discount code: BLKFRI25

The discount will ONLY be available starting Friday November 25th to November 28th, 2016.

Happy holidays!

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Integral Pro v1.2.9 Released With New Animations, Updates & Bug Fixes

Today we released an important update to Integral Pro – our popular one-page WordPress theme.

This release features updates, bug fixes and new features.

See the list of changes below.

  • Updated FontAwesome from version 4.3 to 4.6.3
  • Added styles for .btn-inverse
  • Updated main button color in options.php
  • Added support for WPML plugin (wpml-config.xml)
  • Added Scroll Reveal animation
  • Updated /inc/options.php (added animations tab with settings)
  • Updated team members widget text
  • Updated footer.php
  • Updated /sections/skills.php
  • Fixed error in testimonials widget file on line 47

We’ve added animations to several sections when they initially load. You can see them in action on the live demo.

They have been turned off by default; to enable them go to Integral Options > General Settings > Animations.

To update your theme; log into your Customer Dashboard and download the theme.

Then follow these instructions, http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/how-to-update-your-theme/

Since version 1.2.8 you can now automatically update your theme from the dashboard. Simply go to APPEARANCE > Themes and click the update button for Integral Pro.

If you are using the free version – Integral Lite – upgrade today and save 10% with coupon code THEMELY10.

 

How to build a One Page WordPress Site with Integral

Tutorial: How to build a One Page WordPress Site with Integral

We’ve written up a tutorial to show you how to build an elegant and professional one-page website in less than 1 hour with our popular Integral theme.

This tutorial is based off a video we created a little while back which you can view here or at the bottom of this tutorial.

If you don’t have a copy of Integral, you can download it here https://www.themely.com/themes/integral/

If you’ve downloaded the theme and you’re ready, lets get started.

Step 1: Install WordPress

If you have not already installed WordPress on your hosting account, log into cPanel on your account, enter the necessary credentials and install WordPress.

You will be redirected to a confirmation page containing your new credentials and a link to the new add-on.

Step 2: Log into WordPress 

Log into your new WordPress account admin panel using the previously entered credentials on installation.

Step 3: Change Theme to Integral

From the dashboard, click “change your theme completely” or choose “Appearance” then “Themes” from the side bar menu.

This page displays the themes you have currently installed in your application. To add another theme, Integral, simply click the “Add New” button.

Step 4: Upload and Activate Integral Theme

  1. Upload and Installation: After choosing “Add New,” select the “Upload” button in the same location to upload the new theme.  Upload the zip file of the Integral theme and click “Install Now.”  This will then direct to a confirmation page where the option to Activate the theme becomes available.
  2. Activation: Click “Activate” and you will be redirected to the theme page where Integral is now activated on the dashboard.

Step 5: Install and Activate the Recommended Plugins

After theme Activation, WordPress will redirect to the Integral theme dashboard.  You will find recommended plugins for the theme under “Step 1 – Install Plugins”.

Install all plugins by choosing “Install Plugins Here” link that will redirect to the list of recommended plugins.  Select all by clicking the empty checkbox in the header, under “Install”, and click “Apply.”  The plugins will then be installed and activated, and you will be redirected to to a confirmation page.

Step 6: Configure the Homepage “One-Page Layout”

Return to the Integral theme dashboard by choosing “Appearance” on the sidebar menu, and clicking “Getting Started with Integral Theme.”  Refer to the instructions under “Step 2 – Configure Homepage” Layout.”

  1. Start by creating (or editing) a page under “Pages” then click “Add New”
  2. Give it a title and assign it the One-page Template under the Page Attributes section on the right-hand menu below Publish options.
  3. Go to “Settings” then “Reading” on the main side bar menu on the left.
  4. Set Front page displays to “A static page”. Then from the drop-down, select the page you just assigned the One-page Template as “Front page” and then choose another page as “Posts page” to serve your blog posts.

Step 7:  Configure the Top Menu

On the main menu, choose “Appearance” then “Menus” to configure the top menu.  Arrange and name menu items as preferred.  You can add or remove topics.

Right click on the website name on the top left corner to open a new tab and view the front-end of the website. This is useful so when you make changes in the back-end you can re-fresh the page to see them in real time.

Step 8:  Configure and Customize Theme Settings

Go to the Integral Options panel on the side menu. This is where you can configure theme settings and customize certain content.

Step 9:  Import Content to the Live Demo

Manually importing demo content from the live demo site: http://demo.themely.com/integral/ helps you see how to add your own content.  Start by configuring the top menu for each homepage section by choosing “Menus” under “Appearance” on the side bar.  Find Custom Links, and duplicate the demo headers by entering “#” plus their title in the “URL” section, and the title in “Link Text” then click “Add to Menu.”  You can preview your changes any time.

Step 10: Create Widgets for Features Section

Under the same “Appearance” section, choose “Widgets” and find the “Homepage Features Section.”  Drag the “Integral – Feature Widget” to that section and it will open up a menu.  Enter the required information as seen on the demo site.  Inspect the icon element to find the class description.  Upload the image and description and save.  Repeat steps to add more Feature Widgets.

Repeat this step to add the corresponding widgets to each section.  Add as many or as few widgets as needed.  You can preview your changes any time.

Step 11: Add Content

Now that you understand how to add the features and content to this theme, add original content to your sections.  Find “Pages” on the left hand menu, and choose “Add New.”  Fill in a title and body.  Depending on where you want the content, visit “Integral Options” then choose a section, like “Work Section” to place your content in that section, under the “Content” drop-down.  You also have the option to disable sections as needed.

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Introducing Automatic Dashboard Updates For All Pro Themes

Today, we are very excited to announce a new feature that has been heavily requested by our clients for some time. All of our Pro themes now support seamless, automatic updates from within the WordPress Dashboard. From now on, you can update our themes just like you would any other theme that you have downloaded from the WordPress.org repository. Just click “update” and you’re done! No longer will you need to re-download and re-install our themes when a new version is released.

We understand the importance of keeping things up-to-date. To ensure security and compatibility, you should always be using the latest versions of your themes. For this reason, it is important for us to make the process of updating our themes as easy as possible. For developers especially, who manage many installations for their clients, keeping your customers updated will now be a breeze.

The two themes which currently support automatic updates are;

If you don’t have the latest versions; you will first need to update manually in order to begin benefiting from automatic updates. Follow these instructions to manually update your theme http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/how-to-update-your-theme/

Before you can enable automatic updates, you must first activate your license key. License key’s will be provided in all purchase receipts starting October 14th, 2016. We have also issues licenses for purchases made before October 14th, 2016. You can log into your Customer Dashboard to get your license key.

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Once you log into your WordPress Dashboard you will notice a new menu has been added under APPEARANCE, entitled “Theme License”. Here you will need to input your License Key. Once filled in, click the “Save Changes” button. You can now update your theme when a new version has been released via the Dashboard > Updates page, or via the Appearances > Themes page.

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If you haven’t upgraded yet, use coupon code THEMELY10 to save 10% when purchasing any of our Pro themes.

 

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Novapress v1.0.3 Released

Today we released an update for Novapress – our viral news blog theme.

Novapress is a viral news blog/site theme inspired by Viral Nova and features a responsive grid layout, infinite scroll, Mailchimp forms support, Facebook comments support, social sharing buttons, social icons and 3 custom ad spots to monetize your site.

Version 1.0.3 fixes several issues.

See the list of changes below;

  • Re-enabled core customizer settings
  • Removed unneccessary comment-form.php file
  • Fixed incorrect use of wp_reset_query() in sticky.php
  • Added license info for stock images used in screenshot in readme.txt
  • Added license info for FontAwesome in readme.txt
  • Changed backward compatibility to 4.3 in readme.txt
  • Removed empty function in customizer.php
  • Updated header.php
  • Fixed function for including a custom sidebar in header.php and footer.php
  • Fixed unnamed function in template-tags.php
  • Fixed overflow issues in sidebar
  • Updated style.css
  • Updated /inc/customizer.php

To update your theme; log into your Customer Dashboard and download the theme.

Then follow these instructions, http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/how-to-update-your-theme/

Or, purchase Novapress today and save 10% with coupon code THEMELY10.

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Integral Pro v1.2.6 Released

We have released an update to Integral Pro – our popular one-page business theme.

Version 1.2.6 fixes several bugs and includes some design adjustments.

See the list of changes below;

  • Fixed issue with homepage post thumbnails in /sections/blog.php
  • Updated the admin notice on theme installation
  • Updated button classes and styles
  • Updated style.css

To update your theme; log into your Customer Dashboard and download the theme.

Then follow these instructions, http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/how-to-update-your-theme/

If you are using the free version – Integral Lite – upgrade today and save 10% with coupon code THEMELY10.

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Integral Pro v1.2.5 Released

Today we released an update to our popular one-page theme – Integral Pro.

Version 1.2.5 fixes a couple issues and includes several new features.

See the list of changes below;

CHANGELOG

# v1.2.5 – 09/12/2016

  • Added default header for homepage when One-page Layout is not configured
  • Added ability to toggle buttons on the default homepage header
  • Added customizer.php for settings for the default homepage header
  • Added seperate files for functions in /inc/
  • Added setting to toggle header and footer
  • Added img-responsive class to logo image
  • Added styles to limit width of logo on mobile devices
  • Added Youtube icon to contact section
  • Updated hero.php
  • Updated styles.css
  • Updated functions.php
  • Updated footer.php
  • Updated archive.php
  • Updated single projects widget to not display grey description section when no data is entered
  • Updated the contact section file and added custom class for margin
  • Fixed big and small title size on mobile devices
  • Fixed spelling errors in theme description and theme welcome
  • Fixed smooth scroll effect
  • Fixed issue with text alignment in master slider content section
  • Fixed issue with content appearing in contact section when none was selected

If you have already purchased Integral Pro; log into your Customer Dashboard to download the theme.

To update your theme; follow these instructions.

http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/how-to-update-your-theme/

If you are using the free version – Integral Lite – upgrade today and save 10% with coupon code THEMELY10.

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Novapress Pro v1.0.1 Released

Today we are releasing an update to our viral news blog theme – Novapress Pro.

Version 1.0.1 fixes a handful of bugs and includes one new feature.

See the list of changes below;

CHANGELOG

### 1.0.1 – 09/01/2016

  • Change name of theme from NovaPress to Novapress
  • Fixed missing prefixes from image names
  • Removed custom-header.php file
  • Removed unneccessary language files
  • Updated theme-welcome.php
  • Added customizer setting to change top header BG color

If you have already purchased Novapress Pro; log into your Customer Dashboard to download the theme.

To update your theme; follow these instructions

http://support.themely.com/knowledgebase/how-to-update-your-theme/

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