How To Add Rel=Author to WordPress with Thesis Theme

There are a lot of good reasons to add the Rel=Author link tag to your web site. Here is an excellent article which explains the “whys” and one method of adding the Rel=Author tag to the header of your site: Adding the Rel=Author to WordPress by Eileen Lonergan on Search Engine People. Eileen describes a simple and straightforward way of adding this important piece to the HTML header of your site. However, part of the instructions in that piece advised to edit part of the header in the WordPress theme’s code …

There are a lot of good reasons to add the Rel=Author link tag to your web site. I recently read an excellent article which explains the “whys” and one method of adding the Rel=Author tag to your WordPress site: Adding the Rel=Author to WordPress by Eileen Lonergan on Search Engine People.

Eileen describes a simple and straightforward way of adding this important piece to the HTML header of your site. However, part of the instructions in that piece advised to edit the header in the WordPress theme’s code. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there is a better method to modify WordPress if you are running the Thesis theme.

If you’re running Thesis, here some easy instructions to add the Rel=Author link to your WordPress web site:

  • Go read the post on Search Engine People I link to in the first paragraph
  • Review the lesson on how to customize Thesis – if you need a refresher
  • Go to the admin section of your WordPress web site
  • Hover your mouse over the “Thesis” section in the left menu, click on “Custom File Editor”
  • Select custom_functions.php in the box at the top of the page and click the “Edit selected file” button
  • Copy and paste the following code into custom_functions.php:

function add_headerrelauthor() {
echo ‘<link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/yourgoogleaccountid/posts”/>’;
}
add_action(‘wp_head’, ‘add_headerrelauthor’);

  • Don’t forget to replace “yourgoogleaccountid” with your Google number as described in Eileen’s post.
  • Click the big save button
  • Open up a page of your site and check the source code to make sure your change is working properly

Once you verify the account with Google (again, using the instructions in Eileen’s post), you’re done.

As I’ve written before, customizing Thesis is fairly easy. The real trick is in learning the hooks. In this case, we use the WordPress hook “wp_head” which allows you to make changes to the HTML header.

Marketers Learning Tech – Upgrading Your Thesis Install

I have to admit the sad truth that I didn’t completely follow my own advice about completely updating my web site. To be sure, I’ve been running WordPress and plugin updates as they have become available. But, though you probably didn’t notice, I hadn’t updated my Thesis theme install to the latest version. That is, until this past weekend.

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with you marketers learning tech. How are you doing? I hope you’re still playing around with your web site and still learning.

I have to admit the sad truth that I didn’t completely follow my own advice about updating my web sites. To be sure, I’ve been running WordPress and plugin updates as they have become available. But, though you probably didn’t notice, I hadn’t updated my Thesis theme install to the latest version. That is, until this past weekend.

Between me and my wife, we have 6 web sites which run on WordPress, and 5 of those run the Thesis theme. I decided to undertake the task of upgrading Thesis and prepared myself for a long day of messing around.

I first upgraded the test version of this site. I downloaded the latest version and followed the simple instructions provided on the DIYThemes web site. While it wasn’t a simple “Click here to automatically update” thing like other parts of WordPress, it really wasn’t all that difficult. After rather quickly updating the test site, it took me less than an hour to update the rest of them.

The process is rather simple:

  1. Download the latest version
  2. Back up your configs and the “custom” folder
  3. Upload the new the theme files
  4. Copy your “custom” folder to the new theme files
  5. Log into WordPress and activate the new theme

There are some details you’ll need to check out in the instructions on the web site, but these 5 steps are basically it.

I ran into one small snag on only one site I updated. Here, on The Crossing, I had to set the new theme to use my “MainMenu” as the main menu. A small glitch, really. And it was easily fixed.

So, if you haven’t been updating your software, now is the time to do it.

Homework:

  • Check your web site and make sure your WordPress install, plugins and themes are all up to date. Even if you don’t use them, the code is on there and needs to be maintained. If you’re not using a plugin or theme, delete it.

Marketers Learning Tech – Thesis Customization

The main reason I wanted you to get the Thesis theme was because it would allow you to have a platform to learn some PHP and CSS as you went along. I could write tons of articles about those two things, but why totally reinvent the wheel when there are so many great tutorials and books available on those subjects? It’s time for you to spread your wings and fly, and you can’t do that if I’m hanging on to your wings.

Now is the time for you to learn to fly. You’ve come so far and I hope you’ve been keeping up with your posts and updating your site with new content from time to time. Now comes the last article in this series – and the admonition for you to spread your wings and take off. You’re ready, believe me!

WordPress Thesis Menu Area
WordPress Thesis Menu Area

The main reason I recommended you get the Thesis theme was because it would allow you to have a platform to learn some PHP and CSS as you went along. I could write tons of articles about those two things, but why totally reinvent the wheel when there are so many great tutorials and books available on those subjects? It’s time for you to spread your wings and fly, and you can’t do that if I’m hanging on to your wings.

There are two files within the Thesis theme which you can use to customize your site: custom.css and custom_functions.php. Both of these files can be edited in the Custom File Editor section of the Thesis controls.

Customize Functionality
Click the dropdown box, select the file you wish to edit and click the “Edit selected file” button. Let’s look at the custom_functions.php first.

Thesis Custom File Editor Window
Thesis Custom File Editor Window

Thesis uses a concept called “hooks” to allow you to change some functionality of your site. For instance, if you want to move the menu from above your site’s header image to just below it (something I prefer to do) then you simply add the following two lines to custom_functions.php:

remove_action('thesis_hook_before_header', 'thesis_nav_menu');
add_action('thesis_hook_after_header', 'thesis_nav_menu');

The first line removes the menu from its default location, the second line puts the menu after the header. Easy, right?

So, how do you know what hooks are available and how to use them? Easy – it’s all documented on the Thesis web site. Remember what I told you last time – searching online is the best friend you have. It’s likely that whatever you want to do has already been figured out by someone who’s already been there. Learn from them.

There is also an excellent hooks tutorial by Rae Hoffman-Dolan on her Sugarrae site, I highly recommend you check it out: Thesis Tutorial – Hooks for Dummies.

Customize The Look
The other file you can edit for customization is custom.css. This is the custom Cascading Style Sheet. If you haven’t already, check out CSS: The Missing Manual by David McFarland (Amazon Affiliate link). You can also google “CSS Cheat Sheet” and find dozens of very well-made shortcut guides to what you can control using CSS.  There is also an excellent CSS tutorial on the Thesis web site.

Here’s a quick example. On this site, I wanted a black border to set off the footer from the rest of the site. All I had to do was add this to my custom.css file:

.custom #footer{
	border-color: Black;
}

Again, easy, once you know how to do it. Play around, don’t be afraid to fail. Keep trying and adding pieces until you get it working the way you want.

Backups!
Of course, it’s a good idea to make copies of these files in case you really mess up. For instance, it’s possible to completely trash your site if you make a mistake in your custom-functions.php file. Download a backup before you start messing with things in case you need to undo something to get your site running again – not that I’ve ever done that …

Test Domains
Another good idea is to set up a test site for experimentation. If you’re host allows it, set up a subdomain like test.yourdomain.com and install WordPress and Thesis in it. You can export your current content using the “Export” function within WordPress’s tools and you can export your Thesis customizations using the “Download Options” tool in the Thesis “Manage Options” section. Then you can use the import or “upload” pieces on your test site to help you make an exact duplicate of your site on the test domain. This allows you to make mistake and perfect your changes without messing up your “real” site.

Now go and spread your wings. If you ever have questions, please feel free to share them in the comments of any of the posts in this series or use the Contact Form to send in a question.

Marketers Learning Tech – Installing Thesis Theme

We’ve come a long way in a short time in our WordPress lessons. Up until now, we’ve mostly stayed in the pre-built “plug and play” areas of the system. Now it’s time to start digging into more advanced stuff. Back in our fourth lesson I recommended you set aside some cash to purchase the Thesis Theme. Now it’s time to start digging into it.

We’ve come a long way in a short time in our WordPress lessons. Up until now, we’ve mostly stayed in the pre-built “plug and play” areas of the system. Now it’s time to start digging into more advanced stuff. Back in our fourth lesson I recommended you set aside some cash to purchase the Thesis Theme. Now it’s time to start digging into it.

There are two reasons I recommend a premium theme:

  1. It offers you a lot more control over the look and feel of the site
  2. It’s a great learning opportunity.

Customization
There are a great many free themes available for WordPress. Some are quite good while some … well … you get what you pay for. If you make customizations to a theme and then, later, update your WordPress install or the theme you may lose all your work. Of course, you can document all your changes and redo them every time you update the software, but that’s rather a hassle. A premium theme like Thesis takes updates into account and is set up so your custom work is not lost.

Learning
Modifications in other themes involves hacking into the WordPress code or the theme’s code. While I want to encourage learning here, I don’t want you to get in over your head and break something which will cause you to completely trash your site.

A Note About Security
Themes, like any piece of software, are liable to have bugs and security flaws in them. Unless your theme is actively supported, you may not get updates in a timely fashion (or at all). Premium themes are better supported so your site is stronger in this area – if you install the updates (and I highly recommend you do).

Installing Thesis is fairly straightforward:

  • Go to the DIY Themes web site, click on the “See Plans & Pricing” button
  • Choose your plan – unless you plan to handle more than one web site, the Personal Option is probably best
  • Fill out the form, pay the fee and download the software
  • Once you are registered, log into the DIY Themes web site and follow the very easy installation instructions. Here some hints to help you along:
    • Follow the instructions in order – this is very important
    • You will need to upload the theme’s files to your host. Check your host’s help area for instructions. Be sure to copy the files into the folder specified on DIY’s web site
    • After you upload the files, pay special attention to the permissions settings. Again, you may need to check your host’s instructions on how to do this (DIY Themes provides special instructions for GoDaddy users)
  • When you finish with all the installation steps, activate the theme just as we did in the Themes and Plugins lesson.
DIY Themes Thesis Plans Page
WordPress Thesis Menu Area
WordPress Thesis Menu Area

After you install and activate Thesis, you’ll notice a new area in the left menu – The Thesis area. Let’s go over some of the settings you’ll want to check right away. Click the plus sign at the top of the sections to show the details:

  • Site Options
    • Custom Style Sheet Options – make “Enable Custom Style Sheet” is selected. This is how you will do some of your customizations
    • If you like, you can change the text of the “Save” button in the “Change Save Button Text” area
  • Design Options
    • Site Layout – Choose how many columns you want your site to have and the width of the columns
    • Column Order – Choose how you want the columns arranged
    • Display Options – Choose how you want post names set in the header and what to display with your posts in the byline options
    • Fonts, Colors and More – choose the colors for the various elements of your site
    • Be sure to look at the other options settings. Each section is very well describe and offers suggestions for how to set things based on how you want them to show.
  • Header Image – is where you upload the image for your site’s header

We’ll look at the other parts of the Thesis selections in the next couple of articles.

Techie Little Secret
Here’s where you can really learn. If you run into any questions or want to know how to do something within your Thesis setup, DIY Themes has an excellent support system. Once you purchase the theme, you can log into their web site and search through the documentation and the forums. Chances are, someone else has already asked your question and the answer is in there. That’s the secret of being a good techie – knowing where to look for find answers to your technical issues. Not every techie person will admit it, but searching online is the best friend you have!

Homework:

  • Purchase and Install the Thesis Theme
  • Go through the settings outlined here
  • Check out the other settings areas and familiarize yourself where they are and read up on what they do
  • Log into the DIY Themes web site, click on the User’s Guide link and read up on filters, hooks and custom.css
Please Note: All links in this post are affiliate links.

Marketers Learning Tech – WordPress Widgets

So far in our journey looking at WordPress, we’ve stayed well within the parts of the system which make it easy to use, even for those with limited technical chops. As we move further along, however, we shall start getting into more tech and less “drag and drop.” The bridge for our transition is widgets.

So far in our journey looking at WordPress, we’ve stayed well within the parts of the system which make it easy to use, even for those with limited technical chops. As we move further along, however, we shall start getting into more tech and less “drag and drop.” The bridge for our transition is widgets.

Some widgets are simply drag and drop controls which add functionality to your WordPress web site. To access the Widgets section of WordPress, expand the “Appearance” selection in the menu and click on the “Widgets” link.

WordPress Widget Selection Area
WordPress Widget Selection Area

When you get in there, you will see there are a lot of pre-built widgets which are ready for you to drag and drop into the side bar(s) of your site. A few you should seriously consider adding are a search box, a list of recent posts, and perhaps a chronological summary of posts. Since those are some of the pre-built ones, they are easy to implement.

WordPress Widget Sidebar Selection Area
WordPress Widget Sidebar Selection Area

For example, to add a search box, look for the search widget in the “Available Widgets” area. Drag that control to the sidebar area and drop it in. Click on the down arrow the right of the header to edit the name. For instance, here I renamed it “Search the Crossing:” to give it a little direction. Click on “Save” and you’re done.

Your theme may allow for one or two side bars. If you have two, you can choose which one you want the widget to go into. There’s no advantage to having one or two side bars, it’s up to how you want the site to look. I find having two rather handy, but it does make the main reading area a little smaller. I think it works, you may disagree.

The “Text” widget is quite handy. This widget allows you to enter text, HTML or JavaScript code to create custom pieces of your own. This can be very powerful – and a lot more techie than, perhaps, some of the things we’ve done.

Add A Twitter Button To Your Sidebar
This is fairly simple to do and is a great example for using a text widget:

WordPress Widget Text Edit Box
WordPress Widget Text Edit Box

It’s that easy. You can add Facebook, Google+ and other social buttons much the same way. If you want to do some affiliate marketing, you can copy and paste the necessary code to display your ads. I know, you can also download plugins which will do much the same things, but this gives you a lot more control over how the items display and gives you the opportunity to learn how HTML and scripting codes can interact on your site.

Now your site is pretty much completed. From here you can add more plugins, widgets, and more importantly, content to build out your site.

The next step is to start getting into more customization. One way to do this is to hack the WordPress and your theme’s code and CSS files yourself. This works well, but when you update (and you will need to update) your customizations will be lost. You can keep track of what you change and redo them after every update, but this is very time-consuming and a pain.

A better way to handle this is to purchase  a premium theme which allows you to do  your customizing and keeps them when updates to the code are done. For this space, I use Thesis (affiliate link). For the next step in our learning process, we will install the Thesis theme and go through a couple customizations to get you going.

Homework

  • Add widgets to your site. Make sure to add at least a couple text widgets so you can see how they work
  • Purchase the Thesis theme. You can click the link above or click the ad to the right. If you’d rather I didn’t get a cut of the sale (conflict of interest and all that) go to the diyThemes web site directly and purchase there. For now,  purchase the “Personal Option.” If you later decide to use Thesis for other web sites, you can upgrade with full credit for what you already purchased.
  • Build out some content. I recommend posting at least once a week.
  • Watch for updates! It’s very important to keep your WordPress install, themes and plugins updated.