Cobbler’s Children Have Their Shoes

So what do you think? I launched the new design a couple days ago and other than a couple minor issues regarding CSS and IE (shocking, I know), it’s been pretty bug-free. I spent a great deal of time on the design itself as well as a lot of custom plugin work. I’m using my Shortcodes and Portfolio plugins (with some yet unreleased functionality), as well as some to-be-released plugins in Feature Boxes, Testimonials and Plugins.

New Functionality for Existing Plugins

One of the things I never noticed until I started developing this theme is that if I wanted to bundle my plugins’ CSS into my theme’s style.css to reduce http calls and improve (albeit slightly) performance, there wasn’t an easy way to completely prevent my plugins from trying to load an external stylesheet. By default it will load the plugin-supplied version if it doesn’t find a sheet in the stylesheet or template directory. I’ve since added a filter to each of my plugins that allows you to prevent any plugin stylesheet from being loaded. Simply place the following in your theme’s functions.php file:

add_filter( 'pre_register_arconix_shortcodes_css', '__return_false' );

Typically the second argument of add_filter();┬áis a callback function where we would modify the values and such, but WordPress has some built-in helper functions to speed up simple development such as what we’re doing here since all we’re looking at is a true|false value. This will (eventually) be available in all my plugins and will help developers provide improved style support for my plugins while ensuring they’re not overwritten by the default files.

Entirely New Plugins

I built three entirely new plugins for this website — Arconix Feature Boxes, Arconix Plugins and Arconix Testimonials. I plan on writing some more in-depth explanations of what they do and how they work when I release them to the WordPress plugin repository (though they are available through my GitHub page if you would like to use them now), but here’s a brief rundown:

Feature Boxes can be seen right on the home page and refer to the three boxes above the footer. It has a custom meta box which controls much of the button functionality and pulls in the image via WordPress featured image.

Plugins was written because the old way I was displaying plugin information on my site was flat-out terrible. Now I pull the information directly from the WordPress plugin repository which vastly improves the aesthetics and usability of my plugins list. The one downside is that it will only pull in plugins I release on and doesn’t look at my GitHub page, which has some more plugins I haven’t released as of yet.

Testimonials was written to showcase feedback from clients, which always improves one’s credibility. That plugin is visible right on the home page as well as a widget on the sidebar on most other pages. The homepage testimonial only shows the testimonial from the client shown in the image, however the sidebar testimonials grabs a random testimonial each time the page loads. If you enter the user’s e-mail address, it will display their Gravatar, or your site’s default avatar if unavailable.

Next Up

I have some big plans for the next 6 months or so. I have to touch up and release the 3 plugins I wrote for this site, release the new functionality I added to existing plugins, release the other plugin I’ve written that shows a MIME-type icon next to a link — like a pdf icon next to a link to a pdf file, and I have some plans for revamping my plugins’ documentation.

So what do you think? Do see any improvements? Any problems? Sound off in the comments.