The Latest Posts Block, Query Loop Block & Alternatives

Blog posts are usually displayed on a WordPress website either on the homepage, or on a separate blog page if that’s been specified in the site’s setttings. WordPress also creates archive pages for categories and tags. Some themes will provide options so that you can control the look of the blog and archive pages. For example, GeneratePress Premium has a blog add-on with lots of settings. GP Premium also includes advanced features enabling you to use the Block Editor to design archive pages – see the YouTube Video “GeneratePress – Block Element Content Template Demo“.

However, sometimes people want to show some of their posts within the body of another page of the website, or in a widget area.

For the last few years, whenever I’ve wanted to display a list of selected posts on a WordPress page or post, I’ve turned to the WP Show Posts plugin. But I feel that in general it’s best to use core WordPress blocks when they are sufficient for my purposes and to install plugins only when they add extra features.

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Experimenting with WordPress Image Sizes

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep images as small as possible because loading large images will slow a site down. However, they should never be uploaded with a smaller size, in pixels, than the size at which they will be displayed. For example, if an image is 600px wide but it is enlarged to stretch across the full width of the screen then it will look terrible.

The difficulty is that you need to balance “as small as possible” with your desire to display high quality images and you should take into account the purpose of the image. It will be important that the images in a photographer’s portfolio look fantastic, but if all you are doing is using a picture of a sundial to illustrate a blog post on time managment, then you may not be so fussy.

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Creating a Mood Board with Canva & Coolors

Some time ago I wrote an article called “Creating a Mood Board with Milanote“. I really liked Milanote, but if you use it to make a mood board you do need to find some images to start with.

In this article I want to try some different free online tools so, just for fun, I’m going to create a mood board for a fictional tea room. When doing this, I need to think not about my own personal tastes, but about my target audience. This is particularly important when considering colour schemes. I have some information, and links, in my blog post “Colour Scheme Suggestions“.

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Building Static Websites Using WordPress

Recently, in one of the Facebook groups I belong to, someone asked a question about how to make WordPress more secure.

Much as I love WordPress, I have to admit that for a risk adverse person it can be worrying to know that it is a target for hackers. People who build WordPress websites for clients are likely to recognise the scenario where they hand the site over to the client, stressing that it’s important to keep the theme and plugins up to date. A few months later the client asks them to do some more work, but when they log in to the WordPress dashboard they see several plugins that have not been updated. Hopefully the client, or their host, will have been keeping backups in case the worst happens.

There are ways to get WordPress plugins and themes to update automatically, and in fact this feature will be included in WordPress version 5.5 (due in August 2020). It’s possible to set up automatic backups too, but it would be nice not to have to worry about the more vulnerable aspects of WordPress.

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Sketching a Website Page Layout with Excalidraw

Previously, I’ve written a blog post about how I used Milanote to create a mood board. I’ve also used Milanote for mind mapping. Today I came across another free online tool, thanks to the Speckyboy Design Magazine Facebook page.

It seemed that Excalidraw could be a quick way to draw out a web page layout, so I decided to give it a go. It’s quite a simple tool, without a load of bells and whistles, but I could see it being useful. It feels similar to quickly sketching with pencil and paper, but items can be moved or deleted and it’s easy to change their colour and size.

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Creating a Mood Board with Milanote

Recently, I came across milanote.com which seemed to be a good tool for creating a mood board or style guide.

When planning a website, or other creative project, it can be really helpful to build a mood board so that you can visualise how certain colours, fonts, images etc might work together. A style guide can act as a useful reference to ensure that you, and others involved in the project, are consistent in your use of various design elements.

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Flexible, Customisable WordPress Themes

There are a couple of different approaches to choosing a WordPress theme:

  1. Try to find a theme that looks just how you want it straight out of the box (or with a few small tweaks). Then just add your own text and images
  2. Choose a plain looking, but flexible, theme as a starting point and customise it to look just as you want it to.

I favour the 2nd approach, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

NOTE: This article was originally written in May 2018. Since then, all the themes I looked at have continued to develop, and the new WordPress block editor has been introduced. I’ve added updates throughout the article when I’m aware of them, but these tend to relate to the GeneratePress theme as it’s the one I use myself. That makes this discussion quite biased towards GeneratePress. I continued to update this article until the end of 2020 but now I am working on a new article about building a website with GeneratePress and I would suggest you refer to that instead: ‘Building My “Standard” Demo Site’.

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Where to Find Free Website Graphics

When you are building a website, you are likely to want to add some illustrations to make it look appealing to your visitors. It’s reasonable to expect to have to pay for website graphics as these have been created through the hard work of artists and designers.

Having said that, costs can easily mount up and, like most people, I love a freebie or a bargain! Here are some of my favourite sources of free graphics that can be used on websites.

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Review of Design Cuts’ Comprehensive Texture and Patterns Collection

Design Cuts have provided me with a copy of their latest bundle in exchange for this review.

The Comprehensive Texture and Patterns Collection is available for $29 (or around £27 including VAT) until 3pm UK time on Tuesday 6th June 2017. Once the bundle has expired, some of the items may become available in the Design Cuts Marketplace.

Design Cuts say: “This is our most varied and comprehensive textures and patterns bundle ever. Inside you can discover: rough vector textures, gold/glam textures, seamless paper textures, ombre paint, clean line patterns, watercolour textures, cardboard, felt, kraft, fabrics, colourful patterns, crayon patterns, subtle grungy textures, painted papers, vintage papers, natural backgrounds, modern clean backgrounds, space textures, geometric patterns, hand-drawn patterns, marble surfaces, ink textures and even 3D patterns.” Note that the preview graphics have been provided by the designers for presentational use only.

This really does seem to be a massive collection of all kinds of patterns. The majority include either jpg or png files, which can be processed by most photo editing software, but if there is a pattern you particularly like then you should check that it doesn’t require special software, such as Illustrator or Photoshop. Design Cuts specify software compatibility in the product descriptions.

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