Theme Documentation Suggestions that May Help Novices Like Me

I have noticed that a number of Themes have no installation instructions on the WPMUDEV web site. The “read me” txt docs in the down load folders say to refer to the website for installation instructions –but there are none. The themes that I saw that had no instructions are: Sleek Photo; Showcase; Help, Support and FAQ; Edublogs Forums bbPress; WPMU Nelo; WPMU Triden; and, WPMU Dixie. In addition, BP BlogsMU has instructions but the download folder contains an MU-Plugins folder in addition to the usual theme folder and the installation instructions do not address how to handle this. I avoided that theme because of it.

Installation instructions for all of these would be very helpful for novices.

Another theme related issue for me is the custom styling menu. First let me say that they work very well and I am a fan of them. The thing that gives me difficulty and wastes a tremendous amount of time for me is figuring out exactly what each item in that very long menu list controls. I may set a background color, text color, link color, alternative color, etc and I have to go searching to see what it did and where is appears. I don’t doubt that the naming conventions and what controls what are crystal clear to the designer but they are not clear to me. I still haven’t figured out a couple of them. This turns a short custom styling job into something very long and tedious for me.

My suggestion is that placing a screen shot/pdf in the manual that shows an example page(s) with each item labeled with what styling element controls it would be a wonderful help. I suspect that the designer uses the same conventions in most themes, so such a guide could probably be created only once and then used in multiple themes. It would cut my custom styling time down to a fraction of what it is.

  • Mason

    Hiya Dale!

    Let me start by saying your feedback here is much appreciated. This is exactly the kind of thoughtful criticism that we use to help guide the services and support we offer. You bring up many valid points and we are definitely listening.

    We'll look into the themes you mentioned specifically and will get those addressed straight away. Thanks for bringing them to our attention.

    I also think you make a valid point about the custom styling controls. I know our designers spend loads of time thinking and adjusting the theme options to make them as intuitive as possible, but we can do better.

    I know Tammie, in particular, is developing a theme "skeleton" to help make our themes a bit more uniform across the board. This should help things seem a bit more familiar as you move between themes as well.

    I'm curious as to how members here would like to see the theme/plugin install and use information presented. It's something we're actively discussing at the moment. Would you prefer to have something like a pdf in each download or do you like the fact that you can always go back to the theme/plugin page here and get the instructions? Maybe you want both?

    Again, we listen to you and all our members here and hope to make our service here as valuable as we possibly can. Thanks for taking the time to share with us! :smiley:

  • Dale Hazlett

    @masonJames

    Thank you for your comments. My intent is to be constructive. This site and organization is the best that I have seen at actually providing timely information and exchanging ideas.

    I have no problem with going back to the Theme/Plugin page to get installation instructions. What gives me pause is when instructions are neither in the download NOR are they on the Theme/Plugin page -in fact, for those that I listed, I can't find instructions anywhere.

    My other suggestion relates to something else entirely. The list of items to select in custom styling is very long -and neccesarily so. I have no problem at all with the way it functions. I am more than glad that I don't have to learn to code. But for example, there are, in the theme I am currently using, six header fonts, each of which, requires selection of colors for unvisited, visited, and links. Where are these headers used in the site? As far as I know, only trial and error can tell. If it was only six items to track down -no problem -but there are more than 170 selection items relating to color and layout. Sometimes I don't know what an item refers to. What I am suggesting is a visual "map", like "paint-by-numbers" that illustrates where in the site a selected item will manifest itself. How cool would that be. I could zip through creating a custom site in no time at all. If the item naming conventions are the same, the "map" could be used with any theme.

    As it is, for example, I am still trying to figure out exactly what custom styling item controls the font color in the box that shows the Category at the bottom of a featured post in BP Daily.

  • Mason

    Hiya!

    there are more than 170 selection items relating to color and layout. Sometimes I don't know what an item refers to. What I am suggesting is a visual "map", like "paint-by-numbers" that illustrates where in the site a selected item will manifest itself. How cool would that be.

    Again, thanks for the feedback on this. I've discussed doing exactly this with the design team and you'll see this implemented in future theme manuals.

    We're working to provide clear theme-customization instruction in the manuals and back it up with all of the support available on the website. Basically, it's a work in progress, but we're actively working on it. :smiley:

    Thanks again for your feedback. We'd love to hear your thoughts again as we make changes and work to improve the documentation presented throughout the site.

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