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Struggling with customizing templates (23 posts)

  1. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I am having am impossible time figuring out how to customize my page. I wonder if there is a special tool that can allow me to quickly create my own custom template.

    http://www.clean-credit.org/blog/ - All I want to do for now is 1 - widen the main page table with the blue background and border to exactly match that of my custom graphics table "My Clean Start" you see sitting above it.

    2 - Take the "My Clean Start" table and move it down into where the blue background currently resides.

    From all my experiences with WordPress, customizing the templates is the single most difficult and problematic issue. WordPress is a great blogging program, but it almost takes a professional web programmer to figure out how to customize the templates.

    If somebody recommends I download one of the theme templates, that might work, if it closely matches the dimensions and layout of what I want to achieve, but in the past, how exactly to install a new theme has been a source of great confusion in of itself.

  2. llizard
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    You could try adding a width spec to the page id in themes/default/style.css

    #page {
    background: white;
    border: 1px solid #959596;
    text-align: left;
    width:784px;
    }

    and specify the image that is in the table at the top as the background (find this coding on the index page in themes/default/

    #headerimg { background: url('http://www.clean-credit.org/images/h_header.jpg') no-repeat top;}

    I don't know for certain that that would work, but you could give it a shot.

    The following sites may also be of help:
    http://www.htmlhelp.com/reference/css/structure.html
    http://glish.com/css/
    http://www.htmldog.com/

    Incidentally, there are a number of coding errors on your page. If you plug the page URL into the window at
    http://www.htmlhelp.org/tools/validator/
    you can see a list of them. Fixing the errors may well help you a lot in figuring out how to get your site to look the way you expect it to look. (There are generally explanations about each error on the results page of the validator.)

    Hope that helps.

  3. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I tried that but it made no difference. I earlier tried changing 2 other TD widths in styles.php from 760px to 784px but it only widened a little and part of it went off-kilter.

    h_header.jpg is only one of the images that wouldn't look right by itself. I would need to insert the entire table code in there.

    This is my biggest complaint about WordPress. The template system is so complex, almost nobody can figure it out except for the people who designed it. What we really need is a Wizzywig editing tool to customize the themes.

    If I choose one of the themes at http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ to customize, how do I install it? Does each theme come complete with all it's files, so I only need to create a new directory and upload it there?
    Thanks,
    Fred

  4. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    All you have to do is drop the new theme folder into /wp-content/themes. Then navigate to wp-admin/Presentation in your blog and select the new theme as the active one.

  5. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Is there such as thing as a custom theme generator, where I can create my own custom theme from scratch? I want to design my own custom template modeled after this new page on my site:
    http://www.clean-credit.org/credit-card-rebuild.html

    I'm not an IT professional, nor a professional web designer, so figuring out how to manipulate WordPress's existing themes is way beyond my ken.

    You might suggest bloggia.com, but that site is no more. The domain is for sale.
    Fred

  6. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Not so far as I know, sorry. If you can't find a theme out there which will approximate what you want, and you don't care to mess with learning the process yourself, you're left with finding someone you can pay to produce what you want.

  7. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I'm thinking I could go to http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ and find a theme that closely matches the layout of my page, and work with that. I just need to find one with the border width set to 784px. For some reason, changing the widths in styles.php has no effect. Maybe the border widths are someplace else besides styles.php.

  8. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Well, practically any centered fixed-width theme out there would be a far far better place to start than with kubrick.

  9. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    How do the designers build the themes on the themes page? Is this done by hard coding the theme files, or by using a program like Frontpage?

  10. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I couldn't say. I use a real html/css editor. I've never considered using what came with wp....

    Frontpage is an option, though it throws totally crap code, and if you build a theme with it you'll need to remove the "valid xhtml" link from the meta info - unless you want to spend hours and hours chasing validator errors.

  11. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I have already spent hours attempting to customize Kubrick, but I gave up on that and looking for a new theme that will be much easier to customize. What makes matters worse is the WordPress codex site is running very slow today. Since there are so many themes to choose from, it might take me hours just to find the right one. I temporarily installed the "Connections" theme for now. I will need to replace the top image with my "CleanStart" graphics, put in a thin solid border, and upsize the tiny links.

    I use Dreamweaver, but everybody has advised against using that to edit the theme pages.

  12. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Dreamweaver is way better than Frontpage! There are ways to set dw up to produce relatively clean code at least, though I haven't any idea what they are.

    I use TopStyle Pro from http://bradsoft.com - it's magnitudes less massive, less expensive, and less difficult to figure out than dw. It produces pristine code - as long as I don't screw it up myself (which of course I all too often manage to do anyway).

    There are a lot of white background themes out there, fixed width 2 column. You might have better luck at http://themes.wordpress.net if the codex is being a beast....

  13. moshu
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Dreamweaver is OK if you edit the files in "code view" not the wysiwig.
    As it was said above: find a theme that is not kubrick or a kubrick clone and edit the files on your computer (not in the theme editor online). I use Notepad++ and/or PSPad and I also have XAMPP installed on my machine so I can see locally the result before uploading.

  14. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    connections is no better than Kubrick, so I won't be using that. It's just as complex if not worse. Attempting to decypher WordPress's complex theme system ranks almost with learning C++. It's fine for somebody who's happy with one of the default themes, but it's a Bear for anybody who wants to customize it.

    The problem with viewing theme files locally, is they always appear all screwed up with broken images, layout stretched way off the screen, etc..

    The themes selection looks much better. I might find something close there.
    Thanks

  15. llizard
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    I think you are on the right track, Netdetective, to customize an existing theme that is as close as possible to what you want. That is what I did....

    I would definitely not use Frontpage. and I know nothing about Dreamweaver. But if the coding that is on your page now was produced by Dreamweaver, then I would advise against it as well. There are many many HTML errors on the page.

    I use a simple text editor (editpad) to encode pages. (I'm not an IT designer or professional web designer either.)

  16. James Huff
    Volunteer Moderator
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Attempting to decypher WordPress's complex theme system ranks almost with learning C++. It's fine for somebody who's happy with one of the default themes, but it's a Bear for anybody who wants to customize it.

    I'd have to disagree with you there. If it really was that difficult, then there wouldn't be over 300 user-contributed themes in the various theme databases. WordPress's theme structure is really nothing more than XHTML, CSS, and PHP.

    http://codex.wordpress.org/Blog_Design_and_Layout

  17. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Maybe I am exaggerating a bit. I'm sure C++ is a whole lot worse.

    How do you view your theme locally in your browser when editing the theme files in your text editor? I tried that with a non-Kubrick theme but it didn't work. I opened page.php and index.php in MSIE, but all I see are a few sidebar links. No complete page.

  18. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    You have to install a local version of a web server. I generally advise downloading XAMPP from http://apachefriends.org/en/, and then follow podz' absolutely outstanding tutorial here: http://www.tamba2.org.uk/wordpress/xampp/

  19. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Local webserver sounds like a good idea. I forgot to mention I have Windows 2000. I trust this web server won't open a big security hole, or cause software conflicts.

    I think I found a good plain basic theme "Steampenguin." This looks like something I can work with.

    I am puzzled why I cannot find any table tags anywhere in the theme files, inspite of the fact there are table cells on the page. Is it using something other than <table to generate table cells? I want to add a table code to the top of the page.

  20. vkaryl
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Most themes these days are constructed without the "totally 90s" use of tables for layout. Tables (before ANYONE goes off on me!) are fine for tabular data - their original purpose before being co-opted by web designers for layout purposes.

    I couldn't say about that theme. If you find an author email or URL in the style.css, you might try contacting him/her regarding that question.

    I would assume that win2k will work with XAMPP - though I know a couple of people who've never got it working right.

  21. Netdetective
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    My page is taking shape and starting to look good
    http://www.clean-credit.org/blog/
    Except for the missing border graphics. I will need to figure out how to put those in sometime, so the page looks more polished and professional. I think this theme might be a Kubrick clone, yet I found it to be the easiest one to customize so far.

    When I think of "Totally 90s" the first thing that comes to mind is Bill Clinton. <G>

  22. llizard
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    Yes, it looks fine in IE, Netdetective. But you might want to doublecheck it in Netscape, Firefox, Opera. The text is disappearing underneath your header image on all three of those browsers. (NS7.1, FX1.0.7, OP8.5)

    There are still many many coding errors that may well be causing the problems.

    HTML Validation Results for your page

    http://www.htmlhelp.org/tools/validator/

  23. moshu
    Member
    Posted 9 years ago #

    In the #header section of your style sheet change the margins:
    margin: 0 0 170px 0; and play with the 170 until your content comes down where it should be.

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