WordPress Themes

A Test drive

If you are a frequent visitor of or if you’ve visited Design is Philosophy in the past you will have noticed that a major face lift took place last night. What you see today is the beta test of a new WordPress theme I’m working on that in not too long will be released to the WordPress Theme Directory for you to play around with. The theme is actually part of a much bigger project I am working on at – more info to come – and in designing and building it I’ve endeavored to follow the most recent standards and trends and look forward into what is coming on the horizon where web publishing is concerned.

Changes will happen to this theme on a daily basis for a while yet and improvements will be built in before the theme reaches the directory. As part of this process I’m test driving it live on my site to crowd source the initiative.

Once the theme is done and released I will also publish it and a growing list of extensions on GitHub for you to check out and collaborate on.

Have your say

So, what do you think? Do you see anything you like or don’t like? Are there elements missing or things that are not working as expected? Let me know in the comments below as I work up to the release.

I’d also like your input on the following:

  • Are Post Formats important to you, and if so which  formats would you use?
  • Is an author box displaying author bio and other info something you want or would you rather leave that to a plugin?
  • Would you like the option of turning off the right-hand sidebar?
  • Would you like a no-sidebar page template?

Of course I cannot guarantee to meet any requests, but I only have my own opinions to go on and I’m releasing this to the public so knowing what the public wants is important.

By Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Morten Rand-Hendriksen is a Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning (formerly specializing in AI, bleeding edge web technologies, and the intersection between technology and humanity. He also occasionally teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He is a popular conference and workshop speaker on all things tech ethics, AI, web technologies, and open source.

25 replies on “A Test drive”

I like what I see so far.

Post formats are important to me, but the most important is the quote post format, as it’s the one I use most often. I haven’t seen it implemented well in any theme, and I don’t quite understand why some themes include a link to the post rather than allowing you to include a link to the source of the quote. I’m sure a custom field in the theme could take care of that pretty easily.

Rock and Roll, hopefully your new series is on building wordpress themes. It is a personal goal of mine, but I am still putting all the pieces together. To date I have not found a comprehensive guide to this process that is current. WordPress is growing so fast now is the time to learn theme development. Yes, it is a cottage industry but more important is a feeling of acomplishment. I love WordPress but in many respects it is, well just to easy out of the box to make a nice website. That is great but for many I think there is more fun in the challenge. The chase is better than the catch in Rock and Roll. Your tutorials are the best in the business. I have watched literally thousands and learned more from you than anyone else. A main reason I stay with Lynda because there is lots of competition these days, but Lynda and Treehouse rock the most these days and Udemy a close third. Keep on Rockin.

Thanks Glen! While I rarely speak about upcoming courses I can tell you that this theme will be the subject of several new courses at I’ll be recording over the next 6 months or so. Stay tuned!

when I first came to this new site from your posting on FB, my Chrome site was set to 150%, was that strange looking at the new site that way?

looks a lot better at 100%, not 150%


When you say “strange”, what exactly do you mean Al? That there was no sidebar? Or something else? Ideally with the browser set to 150% you should see the content centered on the screen and with nice big font.

it is just that the font was large, everything was oversized. no sidebar, footer data was single threaded. that is why I said it was strange.

I do like this format of posts and article better than your old layout, don’t like the big box effect used to hold your post titles, I did not find it as readable as something that starts at the top and goes down the page like you have done on this theme. maybe that is just the way I read things.

nice looking new design and I will certainly download and try it out when you publish it.


Typography- and layout-wise, this is a total win for me. I love the gentle big serif as well as the subtle use of the alternate sans-serif. Not sure if I particularly like the way the theme deals with the header, but that’s always an issue for me. Guess after 123 years in WordPress I’d rather see no header at all than one with a header image. 😉
Does the primary site menu support submenus? If so, I’d like to see how the theme handles those.

Answering your questions from above:

Are Post Formats important to you, and if so which formats would you use?

I don’t always use post formats, but when I do I use the image, gallery, video, link and quote post formats. Rather than having just an icon attached to the post header (like many themes do), I’d like to see something nifty when a theme claims to support post formats. I.e. for the link format: a preview box of the URL, similar to the one on G+ or Facebook. On the other hand, when going that far in adding functionality, post format support should probably go into a plugin. (It should anyway, I guess.)

Is an author box displaying author bio and other info something you want or would you rather leave that to a plugin?

That’s a good question, I’ve never thought of out-sourcing the author box to a plugin. Why would you?
I’d like to see the author info somewhere prominently. If the site publishes multiple authors, yes, there should be an author box at the bottom of each post. If the site is single-author, a nice about page does the trick just as well.
Displaying the box dependent on whether the bio profile field has content has worked for me so far. Leaves the decision to the user with a “silent” option.
One thing, though: When there is no author box, but an author link in the post meta, I observed myself getting somewhat annoyed when that link does lead to the author archive (as it does per default) instead of a page where I could read more about the actual person. My expectation clearly would be I should be able to gain further info about the person I am reading a post by, who they are, what they do etc.

Would you like the option of turning off the right-hand sidebar?
Would you like a no-sidebar page template?

Option: no. Template: yes.

Thanks for The extensive response Caspar. I agree with you on the header and the theme actually comes with some fancy header options. More on that later. I haven’t quite decided on the post formats. More to come on that one. Author bio was added tonight. And thanks for The heads up about the Gravatars. I’ll sort that out too.

When ever you use a heatmap application or online service, with this theme they will tell you that, important information are below the content fold. If I am right, how you gonna tackle this issue?

Where exactly the info appears depends on the featured image you choose to use. The size of the featured image depends on the size of your current window. I don’t foresee this being much of an issue. Furthermore extensive research shows there is no ‘fold’ on the web. People know to scroll down to see content and this is not a real UX concern. Try opening the site on your mobile phone and you’ll see the featured image at the top is dealt with in a clean way.

The new look is very fresh. Something I am tinkering about with on my own site as well. I know your feelings about post formats, given your recent post on the matter. Personally, I do see the utility in them, particularly the quote and link formats. I’ve been using those two on my site for a while, and also anticipate using the picture and gallery formats. As for the author box, my site is a one-man show so I don’t see the need to call myself out like that. If it were an option in the theme, or added by a plugin, then fine. I do like having the option to choose a sidebar-less template if appropriate; sometimes post or page content just needs more width to work with.

The Post Formats issue for this theme is what exactly they should show. Since the spec is so terribly defined making consistent behavior is guesswork at best. If you were to decide, what would the behavior of the link, image, gallery, and quote post formats look like both in index pages and single posts?

Generally, I like it a lot; not overpowering but very purposeful.
The typeface is a good size.
The sidebar is very clear; the underline between the sections is clear
There size of post titles looks like it would accommodate a longer title without going into two lines, which is good.

I’d like to see some images within articles to judge how they look.

The image at the top with the angled shot of the site seems to just stop and it doesn’t line up with anything in particular in the sidebar, so the bottom right hand corner of the image is kind of ‘pointy’ – sticking out in space.

The fine grid on the left shimmers when I scroll (Safari on a Mac running Mavericks) and is disconcerting.

Hope this helps!

Are Post Formats important to you, and if so which formats would you use?
– Not important.
Is an author box displaying author bio and other info something you want or would you rather leave that to a plugin?
– Leave to a plugin
Would you like the option of turning off the right-hand sidebar?
Would you like a no-sidebar page template?
Yes – and a landing page format.

I just had another thought and have changed my mind about the author box. If it is pushed off to a plugin there is a risk that its styling would clash or it that it isn’t easy to make it adopt the styling of the theme.

This template looks great thank you for your leadership in this area.
I like the header style and would like to see how this theme handles image and video centric content. Is there a way to include some type of social listening aspect.
?Post Formats important to you,
– Yes important.
?Is an author box displaying author bio and other info something you want or would you rather leave that to a plugin?
– Don’t use a plugin, or make the plugin optional
?Would you like the option of turning off the right-hand sidebar?
?Would you like a no-sidebar page template?

hi I Aldi from Indonesia. I have some videos of you. but I do not understand English. whether the videos you can translate into Indonesian. I wrote this comment via google translation

Hi, I want to build a theme with latest bootstrap and latest wordpress, but unfortunately you don’t have course on them. Can you give us a course on them. A big course on WordPress+Bootstrap.

Muhammad Imran

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