Launch Your Blog With LaunchPad

Recently I wrote a post requesting a “parked” theme be created that received a pretty good response. Many of the comments actually pointed me to an existing WordPress theme known as LaunchPad, which the author advertises as a parked theme.

While this isn’t exactly what I meant by a parked theme, I think that it is a great free WordPress theme that I figured I would share with everyone. The basic idea of this theme is to be a placeholder before your launch your blog.  When you buy a domain and plan on launching a website, you put this theme up while you work on building your blog. Once ready, just replace this theme with your blog.

LaunchPad

As you can see, it is a very clean and simple design that includes a button so people can subscribe via RSS or e-mail  so that they can start getting updates once the website is launched.

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  • 125×125 Button-Ready WordPress Themes Gallery

    Updated: January 23, 2015

    About a month ago, I sent a call out to the WordPress community requesting that more themes be released that by default include slots for 125×125 banners. These ad ready WordPress themes are all the rage, yet it seems that few designers took the time to optimize their themes for these banners. Common sense says that if there is very little supply but a lot of demand, the people that fill the demand will find tremendous success.

    In looking at the recent trends with newly released themes over this past month, it seems that bloggers have really responded and there is now a wide variety of WordPress themes available for download. I decided there are finally enough of them now that I can throw together a gallery of WordPress themes that allow for 125×125 banners. Enjoy!

    Update:  The below are all free WordPress themes.  If you’d like to get a more advanced WordPress theme, check out our Premium WordPress Themes gallery.

    2-Column Themes

    Vintage Theme

    vintage-theme

    Source

    Blues Theme

    blues-theme

    Source

    PassionDuo Theme (3 Colors)

    Green: Demo | Download, Red: Demo | Download, Blue: Demo | Download

    Dark Zen Theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Maggo Theme

    Maggo Theme

    Download

    Green Tech Theme

    Green Tech Theme

    Source | Download

    Blue Sensation Theme
    blue sensation theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    3-Column Themes

    Firebug Theme

    Source | Download

    Simple Red Theme

    Simple Red Theme

    Source | Download (Requires free registration)

    True Blue Theme

    True Blue Theme

    Source | Download (Requires free registration)

    Magazine-Style Themes

    Structure Theme

    Structure Theme

    Source | Download

    Mag on Wood Theme

    Source | Download

    Studio WordPress Theme (Available in Blue, Green, & Red)

    Source

    Know of a good quality one we missed? Contact us or let us know in the comments below!

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  • WordPress Theme Request: “Parked” WordPress Theme

    In doing some research around the internet, I disappointed to see that no one has yet created a “Parked” WordPress theme. With the increase in the popularity of domain names and parking domains, a few companies have been offering “domain name parking” services for awhile now. Popular examples of this would be Parked.com and Sedo. Unfortunately, when using one of these services, you have limited control over what is displayed, how it is displayed, and limited control over important SEO factors such as keywords/descriptions, etc (which are used to determine which advertisements are displayed).   I’ve always felt that using Google AdSense would be a better option as well.

    Because WordPress is free, I’ve noticed that it has become fairly popular for domainers/bloggers to setup a WordPress site on the domain and just place PPC advertisements all over it. This gives them full control over the meta tags and display of the site, as well as helping with search engines because they will sometimes penalized traditional parked pages.

    Something I would like to see is a theme designer put together a theme that is designed specifically for parking a domain, instead of for hosting a blog. You could then create some advertisement blocks for users to plug PPC code into and also include room for a picture or two. If setup like this it would be easily interchangeable and used across a lot of domains.  Whoever takes the time to do this would have this niche all to themselves and would probably even be able to charge for it as long as it comes with a multiple-use license.

    Anyone have an interest in making something like this?

    For anyone who still isn’t sure what I’m talking about, here is an example of a parked page:

    Cable TV

    As you can see from the picture above, this page includes a title and a place to contact the owner, a picture on the right, and a number of advertisements where the owner of the domain gets paid when they are clicked.

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  • WordPress 2-Column Themes: Left Sidebar or Right Sidebar?

    When it comes to WordPress 2-column themes, people seem to fall into one of two categories: left sidebar or right sidebar.   Which do you prefer?

    I’m not sure which is better, but in browsing through my 2-column WordPress theme gallery, one of the first things you’ll notice is that theme designers seem to prefer releasing themes with a right sidebar.   Is this a coincidence or do theme authors find that they get more downloads with a right sidebar?

    I couldn’t tell you for sure, but I know that most “A-list” bloggers use 2-column themes with the sidebar on the right, so I suspect that this has something to do with the trend.  I know from my personal experiences that I prefer a right sidebar because I feel it looks better and creates a much more friendly experience for readers.

    David of CyberCoder argues that people that have advertising on their websites should use a left sidebar for their 2-column theme.   His argument is that heat maps show that people read from left to right and your advertisements are more likely to get noticed on the left side.  While this is probably true, most advertising these days seems to be moving away from PPC advertising and more towards direct advertisements.   This is why the few theme designers that offer 125×125 banner slots on their themes are getting a ton of downloads.

    So, what do you think?  Why do you prefer to use a 2-column theme?

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  • Guide to Making a Successful WordPress Theme

    There are a lot of different variables when it comes to making a successful WordPress theme. It’s not always difficult to get people to actually download your theme, but it takes a little extra work to get them to stick with your theme for the long haul.

    With that said, there are quite a few things you can do to help make your theme appeal to more people. If you release free WordPress themes, here are a few things I recommend you do to maximize the amount of exposure (downloads and inbound links) from your WordPress theme:

    • Make a 2-Column Version and a 3-Column Version – This will allow your theme to appeal to both types of WordPress users.
    • Browser Compatibility – Make sure your theme is compatible with IE6, IE7, Firefox, and Opera.
    • Use a white background for the content area – Your average theme user prefers white backgrounds in the content area. I’m not sure of the reason for this, but studies show that the most downloaded themes have a white background in the content aera. I would presume this is because it allows users to easily add images that don’t have transparent backgrounds.
    • Offer an attractive subscribe section – Users want to promote their feed, so offering an attractive subscription section will draw more people to download and use your theme.
    • Keep it simple – There are a lot of really great themes, but browsing over the most downloaded themes, it looks like the simple themes are used the most often.
    • Search Engine Friendly – There are quite a few things a theme designer can do to optimize the theme for search engines. Set up archives to display partial posts, optimize headers, etc.
    • Integrate WordPress Plugins – I’ve talked previously about how to prevent WordPress plugins from breaking your blog. That same method can be used by theme designers to set up WordPress plugins to work out of the box. It is easy to do and will go a long way towards keeping people using your theme.
    • Validate Code – Having a valid XHTML and CSS compliant theme will go a long way to help your theme impress potential users.
    • Widget Ready – I was surprised at just how many people will only download widget ready themes. This ensures people with no coding knowledge can easily use your theme.

    Other useful things to consider when creating your theme:

    • Does your theme allow users to easily add advertisements? Themes with built-in spots for 125×125 advertisements are being downloaded like crazy right now.
    • Is there an options page that will allow users with minimal coding knowledge to make adjustments to the header and other things?
    • Do you offer the same theme with different colors?

    What do you look for when downloading a WordPress theme?

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  • Where Did the Blog Themes Go?

    I’m a big fan of premium WordPress themes and think they go a long way towards displaying the flexibility of WordPress. They also give many theme designers an outlet to display their creativity and show the quality of their work.

    With that said, when the first few premium themes were released, they were designed to fill a void and make an affordable way for a small business to create a content management system (CMS) using WordPress. These first few designers found a lot of success very early, which prompted many other talented theme designers to release their own premium CMS themes.

    Now, when I look over my premium WordPress theme gallery, it is disappointing to notice that these designers seem to have forgotten about blog themes. Most people that use WordPress are bloggers and are wanting to separate themselves from the competition, but don’t have any use for a CMS. Who is going to step up now and fill this void? There are a couple great premium blog themes available, but I’d like to see a larger variety to help blog authors separate themselves from the slew of blogs using free themes.

    My hope is that the future holds more premium themes in 2008 that are specifically targeting bloggers. Build into it advertising blocks, 125×125 banners, and I have a feeling people will flock to it. Most of my sites don’t have a use for a CMS, but I could certainly use a well designed and optimized premium blog theme if it is significantly better than a free template.

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  • WordPress Blogroll Code: Separating Your Categories

    I had a reader request for some help with their blogroll recently. The WordPress blogroll has gone through many changes over the past year, and a lot of the WordPress themes authors out there didn’t update their themes with the new code used to call the blogroll.

    The old code still works, but it doesn’t let you take advantage of the new blogroll capabilities.  If you have set up your blogroll with different categories, but noticed that all of them display under a single category, it is probably because your blog’s theme is still using the original code that didn’t allow for much configuration. You’ll probably find something like this:

    <?php get_links()' ?>

    or

    <?php get_links_list()' ?>

    If you want a more configurable code, you will want to use something like the following:

    <?php wp_list_bookmarks('categorize=1&before=<li>&title_before=<h2>&title_after=</h2>&category_before=</n>&category_before=</n>&after=</li>&orderby=url'); ?>

    This code will display your blogroll, but will let you have separate lists for your different blogroll categories. I’ve customized it to display the category title as a Header 2 and use bullet points to display the content, but you can do a variety of things. For more customization options, you’ll want to check out the WordPress List Bookmarks page and adjust the code as needed.

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  • How To: Picking Out a Good WordPress Theme

    One of my favorite parts about the WordPress blogging software is the WordPress themes that are contributed by the WordPress community.  There are literally thousands of themes available for anyone to download, and most are free and contributed by individuals who believe in WordPress and want to make the product better. 

    Unfortunately, when theme users are trying to find a theme that provides the right look and uses the correct colors, I’ve found that users often forget to look for good functionality.  In my experience, good functionality goes a lot further than a good appearance.  It is also easier for someone without coding knowledge to take a theme and adjust the colors than it is to manually add better functionality. 

    Here are 5 things I look for when shopping for a new WordPress theme:

    1. Plugin Compatibility – Many themes come already setup for certain plugins by using the same method I’ve previously discussed. If you have your mind set on using certain plugins with your blog, you’ll want to look for what plugins are already compatible with the theme before selecting it.   It still amazes me more theme authors don’t take the time to add out-of-the-box functionality with many popular plugins. 
    2. AJAX Comments – Maybe Web 2.0 has just spoiled us, but it is extremely discouraging to comment on a site that requires the full page to completely reload. Many WordPress themes now come with AJAX comments, which allows a comment to be left without the entire page reloading.
    3. Page Menu – Some WordPress themes come with the page menu in the sidebar.  Not only does this look tacky, but it also uses up a lot of valuable sidebar room that could be used for other information information, such as sponsors, advertisements, or displaying your most popular posts. A good theme will have the pages displayed in a menu somewhere above the blog’s content (usually either immediately above or below the logo).
    4. Widget Ready – Does the theme come widget ready? If you aren’t comfortable manually adding code to your sidebar, this is extremely important feature.
    5. Logo Space – What is a blog without a logo?  It doesn’t have to be something fancy, but it does need to be something that readers have affiliate with your blog.   For whatever reason, many WordPress themes don’t seem to leave room for a custom logo to be added, but instead will provide a text title.

    If I was going to release a theme, I would make sure the above 5 things were included.  What do you look for when picking out a WordPress theme?

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  • 8 Reminders When Changing Your WordPress Theme

    Comments Off on 8 Reminders When Changing Your WordPress Theme

    One of the best and most appealing parts of using WordPress is the various WordPress themes and WordPress plugins available. The plugins are easy to add, and the themes allow users to switch their blog’s theme with the click of a button.

    If you have made a habit of regularly switching WordPress themes, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done each time you make the switch. Here is a list of 8 reminders for you to follow each time you switch your WordPress theme:

    1. Transfer your metrics code – The most common thing people forget to do is transfer over their metrics scripts. These are usually found in the footer of your theme and can easily be transfered with a simple copy and paste.
    2. Transfer plugin calls – Remember all those plugins you installed that required calls to be placed in the theme? Those will each need to be transfered over to your new theme for your plugins to continue to function properly.
    3. Transfer sidebar stuff – If you are using widgets, this stuff will transfer over to new your widget-ready theme automatically. If you aren’t, you will need to transfer this stuff over manually.
    4. Verify your feeds work properly – Offering a valid feed to subscribers is crucial to a blogs success. You’ll want to make sure your feed is working properly, and if you use Feedburner, you will want to make sure your redirect is working properly.
    5. Update your advertising code – When you switch themes, you first need to transfer over your advertising code, then update the colors in the code to match your new theme.
    6. Test your theme for errors – Verify your menu is working properly, your tags, categories, and archives pages all work. You’ll also want to do a test search using the blog’s search engine.
    7. Test in all web browsers – You can either manually download and open your site in multiple web browsers (IE7, IE6, Firefox, and Opera), or try a service like Browsershots.
    8. Announce your theme change – Make a post that explains the change and ask readers to let you know if they encounter any problems. This way you can get feedback from people using a variety of browsers and resolutions.

    That covers everything I typically do when setting up or switching WordPress themes. Miss any? Sound off in the comments below!

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  • Magazine WordPress Themes Gallery

    Updated: January 23, 2015

    The internet is a dynamic place where things are always changing and adapting. And just like the internet, the blogosphere is also changing rapidly and seems to be particularly susceptible to trends. One prominent blogger will create a theme and the whole blogosphere will rush to follow.

    One of the most recent trends in the blogosphere is the rise in popularity of many magazine WordPress themes. Many of them are paid themes, but there are also a few free magazine WordPress themes for people to download.  This post is our attempt to collect both in one place for your convenience, with the last few remaining free themes being highlighted at the top and the premium magazine themes being highlighted below that.

    Of course this collection is being updated regularly so check back regularly to see what new magazine themes have become available!!

    Free Magazine WordPress Themes

    Scarlett Theme

    scarlette-theme

    Source | Download | Demo

    Rebel Magazine Theme

    Source | Download

    Arthemia Free Theme (Premium Version Also Available)

    Download | Demo | Premium Version of Arthemia

    Mimbo Theme

    mimbo3

    Source | Download

    Morning After Theme

    Morning After Theme

    Source | Download

    Premium Magazine WordPress Themes

    Lifestyle Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Smooth Theme

    wp-smooth-theme1

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Zenko Magazine Theme

    zenko-magazine-theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Magazine WordPress Theme

    magazine-theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Blissful Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Manifesto Magazine Theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP-Chatter Magazine Theme

    wp-chatter-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Sublime Theme

    wp-sublime-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Elle Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Boutique Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Legacy Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Vintage Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP-Prosper Magazine Theme


    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Modern Blogger Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Minimal Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Mocha Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Tribune News Theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Polished Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Amped Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Gadget Theme

    gadget-theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Streamline Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Evertis Magazine Theme

    Single-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Serenity Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    NewsTube Theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    News WordPress Theme

    news-theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Cube Light Theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Launch Theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    eNews Theme

    enews-theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Ellie Theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    My App WordPress Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Lumin Magazine Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Genius Theme

    wp-genius-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Bigfoot Theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Going Green Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Bold Magazine Theme

    bold-theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Arthemia Premium Theme

    arthemia-premium

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), Developer’s Pack ($159.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    The Source Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Memoir Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Crystal Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Newswire Theme

    newswire-theme

    Multiple-Use ($39.95), All Theme Junkie Themes ($69.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Nova Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    My Cuisine Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Fabric Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Yamidoo Magazine Theme

    yamidoo-magazine-theme

    Multiple-Use ($69.00), Developer’s Pack ($149.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Glider Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Media Magazine Theme

    wp-media-mag-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    In Review Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase MembershipOutreach Church Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Magnificent Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Chameleon Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Foundation Church Theme

    Included with iThemes Builder Theme ($127.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    Pretty Young Thing Kids Theme

    Multiple-Use ($59.95), All StudioPress Themes ($249.95)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP Jazz Theme

    wp-jazz-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    “On The Go” Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    Aggregate Theme

    Included with Elegant Themes Club Membership! ($39.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase Membership

    WP Clear Theme

    wp-clear-theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

    WP-Glide Magazine Theme

    Single-Use ($79.00), Multiple-Use ($179.00), Developer’s Pack ($279.00)

    Source/Demo | Purchase

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