Hi, guys, sorry to send so many posts this week but there’s been a lot going on around here. This is not uncommon after I complete a new design and release it into the wild like I did with Bel Canto last week.
New themes take so much work everything else pretty much gets put on hold until the release is done.
You may have noticed in the past that when I finish a theme, I end up doing a lot of new things like updates! A lot of times when I create a new theme, I add new features. And I often like to “retro” (as I call it ) these features back to some of our older themes.
I never feel like once I release a design that it’s complete. There’s always room for updates and upgrades.
So, I’m in the process of releasing a new batch of updates & upgrades for our Standard WordPress themes – that would be Maryanne, Jolie, Phoebe, Heyden, Felicity and Sophie (in that order). I always do them in backwards order, so making updates to the most recent themes first. Just my process.
The Maryanne update has already been released. Check your Themes page to update! The others will be released during the next week or 2.
Anyway, we have an exciting batch of upgrades to the Standard themes this round. I’m adding 3 new page templates to each theme plus some new plugin integration. And a couple minor fixes. But it’s mostly Cool. New. Stuff!
Here we go – New Page Templates
1. Category Grid Page
The first of the 3 new page templates is an easy to use Category Grid Page.
This custom page template allows you to create an image grid of your categories. Each image is linked to the Category page automatically.
Right now, I’m really into figuring out how to help bloggers make the most of their old content. Once your post disappears off your front page, sometimes if feels like it gets lost in the depths of the ocean of all your other old posts.
By using things like category widgets and category and archive pages, these posts can keep engaging your readers and earning their keep.
So, I have created this custom Category Grid Page. You assign an image to each of your Categories. Kind of like a Featured Image.
The default setting is to show all your categories in alphabetical order. But…you know I like options. So, you can also specify which categories you want to display (if you don’t want to show them all) and the specific order you want them to appear in.
There is a version of the template without a sidebar that displays a 4 column grid with square images. The sidebar version of the template displays 3 columns. Again with square Category images.
It is one grid page per site. And you can’t sort or sub-divide the categories into subcats. If you want to get fancy like that, I recommend a plugin like Essential Grid (this is the plugin I use to create our Resource Library and it’s awesome!). This plugin can be used to create so many kinds of grids.
So, this is a simple but flexible Category Grid page for your site.
2. Archive Page
If you’ve checked out our Genesis Themes (Prima Donna & Bel Canto), you might have seen our “Category Index” page. This time, I’ve created something similar for our Standard themes but with a different name. (Why did I do that??)
Anyway, this is a widgetized page that you can add a mini Search Center to – Category widget, Archives widget and search widget at the top.
Then below, using a plugin called Recent Posts Widget Extended you can add sections of different posts from different categories. You could even add products from your WooCommerce shop as well.
This template comes in no sidebar and sidebar version as well. Again, 4 column and 3 column respectively.
I even figured out a way to create unlimited Archive Pages! So, you can use the simple method and add just one page to your site or if you want more, add 10!
3. Blank Page
I got a few requests for a “blank” landing page template so I added it to this update as well. You can use this with plugins like Lead Pages to create landing pages right on your WordPress site.
Each of these updates comes with a new setup article covering all the how-to details. So, once you update your theme, check your theme docs page on the Help Center to find out how to set up these cool new pages.
Other New Stuff
I already mentioned the newest Recommended Plugin for our Standard themes – Recent Posts Widget Extended.
If you’ve ever used a Genesis theme and dabbled with the Featured Posts widget, this widget is a lot like that built-in Genesis widget. It’s very customizable and flexible.
It’s used for the Archive Page template but can also be used for the sidebar and also for the Static Home Pages (Landing Page) as well to give more options.
Each theme will also have a few minor bug fixes like the post pagination overflow issue. I am finally fixing it. Don’t know why I didn’t a long time ago. 😛
What else is going on?
New Blogger Designs!
After the WordPress updates are done, I’ll be taking a small break from WordPress to do some new Blogger designs. I plan on releasing 3 new designs in the next month or 2.
One will have a blog page style similar to the “list style” on our WordPress themes. The second will have accommodate a hero header with sign up button or form. The 3rd is still forming in my head. 🙂
Courses coming Soon!
My next major project is creating some blogging courses. So far I have 6 planned:
- How to Choose a Blogging Platform – Free course to help new bloggers figure out which platform is right for them. Will cover Blogger, WordPress.com, WordPress.org and Squarespace.
- So You Want to Start a Blog – 7-Day boot camp for starting a WordPress blog that will get new bloggers or migrators from zero-to-blog in 7 days while teaching them to actually USE WordPress and make it their b#!*h.
- How to Speed Up your WordPress Blog – I spent a lot of time getting this site lightening fast. I cut our page load time by 600%, from 12+ seconds to under 2. I learned some not so obvious tricks to make your site a lot faster. This course will walk students through the process of each step to a faster WordPress site.
- MailChimp Masterclass – Learn how to use MailChimp to send posts via RSS feed AND send optins. Everything you want to know about using MailChimp to grow your blog.
- How to Set Up a Resource Library – How to set up a Resource Library as an optin using 2 simple plugins. For WordPress.
- Time to Create Killer Content – This will be my blogging master course. It will have a couple levels including a “proctored” level where bloggers get personal feedback on their content assignments. It will cover every step of post creation from picking a topic, keywords, writing, formatting, SEO and more.
More WordPress themes!
This will be a bit out but I will be converting more of our Blogger designs to WordPress versions, particularly the highly-requested Ashleigh, Justine, Marissa and Victoria.
I will also be working on a Standard Infopreneur theme. It will have similar features and options as Bel Canto but with different styles and not require Genesis.
After that, my WordPress themes will take a new direction. They will be what designers and developers call “opinionated” themes. They will be simple themes with less options.
Still awesome and packed with style, my focus with these themes will be on adding great style and the features that bloggers really need without any extra stuff. There will be some customization options but these themes will be great for new bloggers, bloggers who don’t want to spend much time customizing their site, and for lower price points as they will start at $25.
Rather than themes packed with tons of customization options (which are great for those who are more adventurous and want that customization ability), I want to create simple, clean themes with just the right features.
Sum It Up
So, that’s the state of the company right now.
Man, I better get busy…