WordPress Themes: Fun Features For Your Site

WordPress Themes: Fun Features for Your Site on Websites for Small Biz at biz.leoraw.com

One of the benefits of knowing how to code is the ability to add nifty features to your WordPress theme or child theme. If you are working with a web developer, you have an opportunity to add a few beneficial items to your site. Last week I posted about choosing WordPress themes as a guest blogger on Sherryl Perry’s site (thank you for that opportunity, Sherryl!). Here are some items you can either look for in a theme or easily add on to a good one.

Customize Your Header

WordPress has a customizer. Not all themes make use of this ability to change details about your theme. Does your theme allow this? Here’s how you do it if you can: from your dashboard, pick Appearance-> Customize. Then pick Header Image. Or go from Appearance -> Header. If you do redesign your header, make sure it has the same width and height as your original header. You might be able to change the height, and it will still look OK, but usually you want the same width as the original one. If you do change your header, be sure to test it on a number of different browsers and devices.

Add a Social Media Menu

If you look at the bottom of this blog, you will find a menu of social media accounts upon which you can follow me. I set up this social media menu as part of the theme for this blog. The icons are set up with a special font called Font Awesome. If I want to add another one, I can add it via my CSS stylesheet. This makes the social media menu quite light, as opposed to some social media plugins which add way too much unnecessary code (and unfortunately, sometimes break or stop being supported). It is not difficult for a good web developer to set up. To learn more, you can visit this post Creating a Social Media Menu from Icon Fonts with FontAwesome. The original idea the was the brainchild of web developer Justin Tadlock. It looks like one can do something similar with Genericons (now included with WordPress core). I also saw a similar social media menu added to a main menu at the top of a site.
social media menu built with Font Awesome

Subscription Box on Your Sidebar

From Websites for Small Biz to: YOU!!Recently I added a subscription box to the right side of this blog (if you are on a phone, you will have to scroll down). Technically, all you have to do to add a subscription box is add a text widget on your sidebar, but if you want a little special coding to make the subscription box stand out more, you might need to ask your web developer to add a bit of CSS styling to your theme. Learn more in this post on subscription boxes.

Search Magnifying Glass in Main Menu

If you look at the top menu of this blog, you will find a search icon magnifying glass on the right. The icon, like the social media menu at the bottom, uses Font Awesome. If you click on it, it shows a search box. This is a nice, tidy way to include search as part of your main menu.
Add a search icon magnifying glass to a theme

Of course, you can also add a search box in a more traditional spot on the sidebar. If you look at the one I included on the sidebar, it has a bit of a formed and gradient look. This method was done by adding to the theme’s CSS.

Schema in Theme

What is schema? Schema is code (code labels) that search engines use to detect the type of page or type of data (learn more on schema). There are plugins for adding schema to sites; however, in my opinion, this is better done via the theme. The plugin doesn’t always play nicely with the theme, so you might end up with errors which is much worse than no schema at all. If you just have a blog or a simple website with pages, added schema code that says it’s an article or a page might be all that is needed. Adding schema to your site is one extra boost for SEO. For a good web developer, it is easy to add a bit of code to your functions.php and then to other theme pages so the schema is included. If you have a site with recipes or movie reviews, adding schema would probably be more important because then you can tell the search engines even more details about those particular recipe or movie review pages.

What’s in Your Theme?

Do you have a particular feature in your theme that you like? Can you tell us about it? Have you seen a feature on another site that you like that might be part of the site’s theme? Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a feature is added via plugin or via theme code – but we can discuss that, too! Adding a few WordPress theme features can help your readers and help your business grow. What would you want to add if you could?

I plan to write on the topic of choosing plugins in the near future.

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31 thoughts on “WordPress Themes: Fun Features For Your Site

  1. Leora- I have to say I am never happy with my website because it is always evolving. What I think looks like what is in today, then I start analyzing it and decide that it is outdated. I did not create the design to my blog. My main site I change every couple of years which is a major task. The sites are more what I call newspaper sites. Cleaner and less going on for distractions.

    To get ideas for my site, my web developer suggested looking at Magento, Theme Forest and Template Monsters.
    Arleen recently posted…5 Ways to Spring into RenewalMy Profile

    1. Arleen, as long as you don’t take code from Theme Forest and Template Monsters (just ideas), you should be OK.

      A business I like had a fun web design theme especially made for the company (it’s koshercasual.com). About a year ago the owner changed the site and made it much simpler. I suppose people found simpler easier than the fun design! Oh, well, I liked the old look. But now he is probably selling more clothes (the owner is a college friend of my husband’s).
      Leora Wenger recently posted…What is a Responsive Theme? Mobile-Friendly Solution?My Profile

  2. Can’t help laughing, Leora, because I recently had to change the header of my team to a simple logo.

    Really took time to figure out how to do it without changing the coding. Once I had the logo I just adapted it on Flickr and then managed to post it. Tried changing the size by just making it 1mm larger but that didn’t work. You are right it’s best to stick to the measurements specified.
    Catarina recently posted…Are you tweeting your investors?My Profile

  3. Leora — you make it sound so easy. Not for me! I would also add that it is important to place the most important information about you and your business “above the fold,” because the dimensions of a laptop screen only enable a partial view of your site without having to scroll down. Of course, now more people are viewing your website on their smart phones or iPads so it’s important to have your website formatted for mobile viewing.

    I also like the plugin Digg Digg that is a vertical bar of social media icons that moves down the left side of your site so that a reader can click and share as they are reading without having to finish the post.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Now You Can Create Perfect Posts for Social MediaMy Profile

  4. I put in a new theme about a year ago (a genesis theme called Prose), but agonised for ages about the header. It really is the single most important thing , though of course the rest has to come together too. But your new site really does look fantastic. Thanks for this post good reminder. Plus I’m not familiar with scheme and rely on Yoast to do my SEO work for me.
    A.K. Andrew recently posted…Do You Shop at Independent #Bookstores?My Profile

    1. Thanks for the compliment on my site. Much appreciated.

      Schema isn’t that crucial to a blogger who is just writing articles, but it’s nice to have. If you were a cook, I’d say organize your recipes with schema.

      “Rely on Yoast” – you do know that his tool is just a tool – you have to work on completing the information on each article and page on your own.
      Leora Wenger recently posted…WordPress Themes: Fun Features For Your SiteMy Profile

  5. I want to echo what a couple of others said. Deciding on and designing a header is hard. When I did my new site this winter, I looked for a responsive theme that had capability for customization and easily supported photo grids on summary pages. Finding and selecting a theme was harder and more time-consuming than I expected. I settled on Suffusion. It has a lot of customization options, which is both a blessing and a curse. It took time to sort through them.
    Donna Janke recently posted…House ExchangeMy Profile

    1. Pat, if she picked/set up a responsive theme for you in 2013, it’s probably fine. I can understand why all those plugins drive her crazy – a poorly-coded plugin can slow down or crash your site. Or have holes for hackers. WordPress core is stable and gets updated a lot, but these plugins … oy. Be careful. Choose ones with top developers behind them.
      Leora Wenger recently posted…Clear Facebook Links: Old Stuff Not WantedMy Profile

    1. Lenie, yes, these are all need some basic code! So if you don’t code, you need someone to do it for you. Almost all are easy to take off without coding (except for the schema) – for example, you could just remove the subscription box from your sidebar if you don’t like it.

      And we all have those things we are good at! If you had been taught how to code back in high school, I bet you would say: piece of cake.
      Leora Wenger recently posted…What is a Responsive Theme? Mobile-Friendly Solution?My Profile

  6. I love your new look. I worked with my web guy , David, to develop my new site. Thank goodness for him, is all I can say. Helps me wade through all this stuff. 🙂

  7. Hello Leora,

    First time I have entered this blog. You blog is looking really awesome. I like the theme of your blog. I like those theme which I customize according to my wish. In this article you have discussed some effective feature which should be found in a theme. This article can help bloggers to find a theme for their wordpress blog.

    Thanks & regards,

    Moumita Ghosh
    Moumita Ghosh recently posted…Why Should You Choose Full-time Blogging?My Profile

  8. Well I have to agree you really make working with code sound simple but the very thought of that makes me twitch. I use a premium theme from Solostream for my website and I absolutely love it. It came with a long list of options and templates that made setting up my site surprisingly easy and I still experiment from time to time with some of the features I haven’t used yet. For example I am very visual and take a lot of time selecting each image I use and create many of them myself so I set up an image gallery page where you can scan all of the posts by image and title. I really liked all of your examples above, but I’m especially intrigued by Schema so I will make a point of learning more about that. Thanks!
    Marquita Herald recently posted…Practice to Be Good, Practice Deliberately to Be GreatMy Profile

  9. Hi Leora,

    This is a great complimentary post that works well with the piece that you wrote for my blog. (Great job and it’s been received well by my readers.)

    I love your tip on using Font Awesome. I use code for my follow buttons in a text widget in my sidebar but I hadn’t heard of Font Awesome before.

    I am so glad that you included the link to your post on sprucing up our subscription box. That’s excellent and I just bookmarked it. I’m looking forward to your post on plugins!

    Have a great weekend!
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…SEO Resources Bloggers Can Use #FridayFindsMy Profile

    1. Fine tuning details are a good way to get your site to go from OK to awesome. A nicer subscription box is one way to do so.

      The Font Awesome method might be cumbersome for someone who doesn’t know code to add. On the other hand, it is really simple coding that requires no plugin. So if you can add a bit of code, it gives you great benefit without the weight of a heavy plugin.
      Leora Wenger recently posted…What is a Responsive Theme? Mobile-Friendly Solution?My Profile

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