6 Tips to Take Your WordPress Theme from Good to Great

There are literally thousands of WordPress themes out there, and a lot of them are good. But what can you do to make yours great?

Here are some tips for to help you make your WordPress theme great, among the many good WordPress themes.

1. Include a Theme Options Page

One of the best things that you can do with a WordPress theme is including an options page. This makes customization of the theme much easier for its users, without making them go and edit theme files to make some changes. An options page can be very helpful, even if it just includes a few simple settings.

Here are a few great tutorials on creating a WordPress theme options page.

2. Make it Easy to Insert Ads

As you probably know, advertising is a very common way to make money from a blog. To help the user of the theme with this, you can help them out a bit, and make it easy to integrate ads into common areas of the theme.

If you're using an options page, you can really help out by including options for ad codes in a few common places. A few good places include around the header, after the first post, the sidebar, and in the footer.

To insert ads after the first post, add the following code just before the <?php endwhile(); ?> part of the loop.

<?php if(!$show_ads){ ?>
Insert Code Here
<?php $show_ads = 1; } ?>

Source: WordPress Hacks

3. Include Breadcrumb Navigation

For some larger websites, breadcrumb navigation can be very helpful to the user for navigation. It would be a good idea to not rely on a plugin for this, but integrate it into the theme. Also, if you're using an options page for your theme, include an option to enable/disable this, as some site may not need this.

For more information on how to do this, check out the tutorial Add Breadcrumb Navigation to Any WordPress Theme.

4. Add a List of Child Pages to the Sidebar

A horizontal navigation bar listing your blog's pages is generally a good idea. It can become a bit of a problem though, when you start to deal with child pages. Sure, you could implement a dropdown menu, but sometimes that wouldn't be right for the theme you're working with.

So, how about listing child pages in the sidebar? Tammy Hart Designs has a great article called WordPress: How to List Child Pages in Sidebar.

5. Integrate Pagination into Your Theme

A much better approach to navigation than the standard "Older Posts", "Newer Posts" is to have numbered pages. A popular plugin to do this is WP-PageNavi.

However, you don't want to rely on whoever uses your theme to have a certain plugin installed. Instead, you can integrate it into your theme with this guide helpful from Cats Who Code.

6. Include a Custom Gravatar

The default "Mystery Man" Gravatar doesn't exactly go well with all types of themes. If that's the case with your theme, change the default to one the looks nice with your theme.

To change the default Gravatar, go into your theme's comments.php file, and look for a line that contains something like this:

<?php echo get_avatar($comment, 40); ?>

In between the parentheses, add another comma to the end, and add in the URL of your image in between quotes. Here is an example:

<?php echo get_avatar($comment, 40, get_bloginfo('template_directory') . '/images/gravatar.png'); ?>

Conclusion

There are many, many ways to make your WordPress theme great in a world full of good themes. Can you think of any more that could be added?

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19 Comments

  1. December 3, 2009

    very interesting post.
    there are some good tips that are not that common.
    I particularly appreciated the tutorial about the list of child pages and the one on how to create breadcums. how to insert pagination without a plugin is very useful too.

    thanks, a good list.

    • January 28, 2010

      Indeed very interesting. I also have started blogging last november and I'm on my 3rd month now.

      Articles such as these are what I need for newbie like me. Thanks!!!

  2. December 4, 2009

    hi,, its a nice post.. all information are useful.. i am trying to install breadcrumb.. thanks for the tips.

    • January 28, 2010

      I don't know what bread crumb is but if you check my site, I do have menu-submenu on my banner. Is it also considered breadcrumbs?

      Mine doesn't work on chrome but perfectly working on Firefox.

      • January 28, 2010

        Yes, your theme has very nice breadcrumbs! When you go to a post, you can see it right above the post title.

  3. December 5, 2009

    I like the idea about changing the default gravatar image for those who don't have one set up. This is something I'll implement into some of my blogs this week.

  4. December 5, 2009

    Yes, changing the default Gravatar can be a good idea, because sometimes the "Mystery Man" just doesn't look right for some themes.

    • January 28, 2010

      I am very fortunate to have a friend that guides me on blogging. One of his tips is the same as yours. implement gravatar. And that's one of the first thing I did during my first two weeks of blogging.

  5. December 28, 2009

    Hi :)
    I liked the 1st point of the list which you have mentioned :)
    It can be used for any basic simple theme to make it a premium theme :)

    There can also be added one more point ,
    * customizing the footer
    Almost all the probloggers and techies customize their footer to avoid the use of more widgets in the sidebar and make the blog more user friendly :) :)
    What do you think , and if you can write about it , it will be great :) :) :)

    • December 28, 2009

      Yes, I think that an options page in a WordPress theme can be very helpful for those who cant, or who don't want to edit theme files.

      Customizing the footer can also be helpful for some blogs. With some designs, it can be helpful in providing information to a visitor after they have read the content on a page.

  6. January 9, 2010

    This is great, I'm just getting into wordpress themes, so this is great help.

  7. June 9, 2010

    Hi, I'm just put WP-PageNavi wordpress plugin and it looks fine on my index.page. i have made some corections in code on index.php and i'v got what i need. Thanks for this good blog post.

    regards, dezareo, Serbia

  8. October 26, 2010

    Just found your site. I feel like I'm late to the game. Anyway, everything I've read so far on your blog is very helpful and timely.

    I particularly like the idea about child pages. Very useful for me.

    I'm going to continue reading your blog.

    Thanks.

  9. November 22, 2010

    even though i do not totally agree with you on many of your views, i did like reading this, many thanks

  10. January 15, 2011

    Its great tips and information particularly "Make it Easy to Insert Ads" information about that inserting ads is great and useful for me.thanks

  11. May 18, 2011

    Hi, I'm just put WP-PageNavi wordpress plugin and it looks fine on my index.page. i have made some corections in code on index.php and i'v got what i need

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