challenges of customizing a wordpress website – part 3

this is the third in a series of articles following up on anatomy of wordpress design (part 2) published earlier

for the client login, I had to find a suitable plugin. free first but what I found was very basic. to meet the requirements of the client, I needed a plugin with a lot of features. I found one that was selling for $45 from a british developer. there were some layout issues due to poor design. client wanted some elements lined up and some unnecessary gaps removed. I dived into the cascading style sheet (css) until I found the rules that defined those elements and modified them. it wasn’t easy at first but with persistence, I finally got around it.

the blog used a different template with sidebar. there were a few default widgets that she wasn’t crazy about. they were not hard to remove, except for one that stayed put. no matter what I tried, I couldn’t remove it. by trying to take it out, I realized that for some reason, it was now sitting at the bottom of the content area. that kinda got me puzzled because I didn’t have an idea how it got there. most wordpress plugins or themes do have free support forums where you can go and ask questions. within minutes of posting, someone replied by telling me that I had issue with a div. first I didn’t understand what he was referring to, until I realized that by moving things around, I had an opening <div> tag that didn’t have a corresponding closing </div> tag. that was messing up the whole layout!

after that another issue needed to be addressed. the blog was displaying the full content of posts. normally, on the settings panel you can change the option to toggle from full content to summary. but it wasn’t working. when you’re trying to solve that kind of issue, you have to do it the hard way; dig into the template file code and find the function for content display and change it from the_content() to the_excerpt(). after I did that and checked, it was still displaying the full content. I decided that I was not gonna let that headache ruin my life. a second option, which is not that elegant, is to manually split content in the editing window by clicking on the ‘read more’ button.

it has one advantage though: you can split exactly where you want instead of letting wordpress do it for you after an arbitrary number of words. it will then insert the ‘read more’ for you with a link to the post’s page. after that there were only a few minor issues, like how do I remove this line, how do I put a post on top and little things like that. all in all, I think that she was happy. I went above and beyond and did everything that she asked me to do. the project took longer than initially planned but clients procrastinate on their own projects. you may stay over a week without hearing from them and one day out of the blue you get a message ‘I didn’t hear from you…’

after everything was taken care of, I made sure that the balance was paid. then I undertook to migrate the wordpress installation. sometimes it’s not easy to get clients to pay you before you deliver the project. it’s a trust issue that both parties need to work on. I got the balance paid through my paypal and the migration of the site was smooth – for those interested, I’m gonna demo the migration in another article. I asked client to write a review but never heard from her until ‘I have some minor issues. I need some help’. I fixed those issues fast and that brought closure to the project.