Change the Look of Your Site with Jetpack Modules

Jetpack offers dozens of different options to expand upon the basic layout and settings within WordPress. With the expanded Appearance modules, you can add several exciting options to your site. These will improve the look and feel of your site as well as add additional functionality and usability.

We at DevPress think these are great options for your site, and encourage you to check them out. Below we’ll look at each option and how it can be used. Continue reading

Building an Author Website with WordPress

Every writer needs a website.

You might want to have a portfolio of your writing, feature short pieces on a blog, or connect with your fans.

In this post we will take a look at how you can build a simple author website using DevPress themes. In this particular example, we’re going to focus on the Luminate theme, but any of the other DevPress themes that feature at least one sidebar will work just as well.

Here’s an example of a simple author site using Luminate:

screenshot of sample site

Let’s look at how to put it together!


The first question you need to ask when building a website is what kind of content will you have, and how do you want to display it? Many websites have a static front page with content that encourages visitors to click through to read more.

Authors generally find that having their blog as the home page works best. Some authors use their blog as a way to share ideas and interact with their fans through posting snippets from upcoming books, talking about research and travel, or asking for reader feedback. Many authors also use their blog to post updates on conventions or signing events, book reviews, and other information relevant to their audience.

How to do this:

When you set up your WordPress site using a DevPress (or any other) theme, go to your Dashboard and under Settings > Reading, choose Front Page Displays: Your latest posts.

display latest posts option


When you’re building a site, you’ll want to make sure your visitors can find the important content easily. For an author site, we recommend that at minimum you include the following pages:

  • Information about your books, including covers and blurbs about each one
  • Your bio, including a photo, awards and any other relevant credentials
  • Information on how to buy your books, ideally with direct links to Amazon and other online retailers that take a visitor directly to your book page
  • A contact form so people can get in touch with you if they wish.

How to do this:

You will need to create separate pages for each of these items or link to the content elsewhere using a custom menu item.

To add these to your menu, you will need to create a Custom Menu by going to Appearance > Menus.

custom menu screenshot

In addition to your top menu, to make the most of a site like this, a sidebar will allow you to point your visitors to additional content. In this case, we’ve included a search box, a gallery of books, a mailing list signup form, and ways to find previous posts.

How to do this:

You can add these items as well as other navigational or informational content by adding Widgets under Appearance > Widgets:

widget screenshot


After you set up your WordPress site and install the Luminate theme, there will be a few plugins that you’ll want to add to your site to provide additional functionality. For an author website, we recommend the following plugins:

Other than the two paid backup services listed above, all of the plugins listed are free. You can set up a mailing list on Mailchimp for free, and when your list grows or you need more features, they have upgrade options. The same goes for SumoMe, which gives you both mailing list sign up options that can connect to Mailchimp or other mailing list providers as well as other features like heatmaps to see where your visitors are spending most of their time on your site.

How to do this:

To add plugins, you have two options. If they are on, you can go to your Plugins option in your Dashboard, search for them, and then install and activate them directly through your WordPress site.

You can also download the plugin files from a separate third-party website and then upload them in your Plugins area of WordPress.

Be sure to activate them in order to see their functionality show up in your Customizer, Widgets or elsewhere as appropriate.


DevPress themes allow for quite a bit of customization. Let’s take a look at what the Luminate theme has to offer.

Below are the Customizer options for Luminate:

customizer screenshot

As you can see, you have a number of different options that will allow you to modify the design to fit your specific needs.

For our sample site, we first added a logo (the typewriter image) and a custom tagline under the site title. We also added a top navigation menu with social media links above the custom menu, as seen below:

screenshot of menus
We added a background image, modified widgets, and changed the colors for the links, as seen in the post titles and sidebar links.

How to do this:

  • You can upload your own logo, as well as set the site title and tagline in the Customizer under Site Title, Tagline and Logo (easy enough!)
  • For the social media icons, you will need to create a new menu under the Navigation option. Call it something like social menu, and add custom links for each of the services you want to use. Then under Navigation > Menu Items, choose your new ‘soclal’ menu for the Top Menu.
  • You can upload a background image under the Background Image option. Choose something that isn’t too busy and that either fills a large screen or that will tile well. You have choices for scrolling, meaning the background will move as you scroll down, or fixed, meaning the background stays in place as you scroll. Play around with the tiling and background position options to see what works best.
  • For the sidebar, go to the Widgets option and choose the items you would like in your sidebar. We used a search box, a Jetpack gallery, a Mailchimp signup box, and a few other widgets, as shown below:

widgets screenshot

And that’s it!

With DevPress themes, you get to make a lot of different design choices. While we didn’t choose to do so for this website, you can use special showcase layouts for your home page. You can also change the position of the sidebar (or remove it entirely).

Need more ideas?

Your author site should reflect both your own personality and the primary genre in which you publish. A non-fiction author will likely want a streamlined website that highlights their experience and credentials. A science fiction author, on the other hand, may want a site that’s a bit more creative, with original artwork in the header or background.

For ideas, take a look at what similar authors have done on their website, and consider following their example.

Get Social with Jetpack!

We know you value your content and want to share it as widely as possible. The Social modules within the free Jetpack plugin give you new ways to interact with your readers. You can make it easier for them to comment on your posts, and you can add sharing buttons to allow your readers to post your content on various social media sites. By connecting your site to Facebook and Twitter, and allowing your visitors to share the content, you will drive even more traffic to your site. Continue reading

Creating Tiled Galleries with Jetpack

Looking for a way to spice up your WordPress website? With Jetpack, you can transform the WordPress default thumbnail photo gallery into a gallery that shows off your photos in a whole new way. This allows you to post your photos or other images as bold blocks of color that draw the eye and build more visual excitement.

What are Tiled Galleries?

With the default settings in WordPress you can insert a photo gallery that consists of regularly-shaped thumbnails of your images. It’s a nice way to display a lot of photos at once, but the layout is a bit humdrum.

The default thumbnail gallery


The tiled galleries option uses a special algorithm to put your photos together in a tiled mosaic, with all of your images fitting tightly together in a single rectangle. Some photos will be resized to be larger, which also adds an interesting visual effect to your page.

tiled mosaic gallery
The same images in a tiled mosaic gallery

With the Tiled Gallery option, you can also use fancier square or circle thumbnails or a tiled column display.

How to get Tiled Galleries

Activating Tiled Galleries option is easy. You’ll need to install and activate the Jetpack plugin on your WordPress site if you haven’t already done so. In the Jetpack settings in your Dashboard, find the option for “Tiled Galleries” and make sure that is also activated.

Using Tiled Galleries in a Post or Page

Choose where you’d like the gallery to display. You can add it to any post or page on your site.

When you’re in the post editor for a new or existing post, click on the “Add Media” button just like you would to add an individual image:

add media button

Next, either upload new images or select existing ones, and choose the “Create Gallery” option in the left-hand column in your Media Library. From there, click on each image you wish to include in the gallery, and a checkmark will appear. When you have selected all of the images you wish to use, click on the “Create a New Gallery” button in the lower right-hand corner.

You will be greeted with a brand new view within your Media Library that includes just the photos you selected. You now have options on the right-hand side to select the style of gallery you’d like to use.

insert gallery

The tiled mosaic gallery is probably the most popular option, but with Jetpack you also get to choose between square tiles, circles, and tiled columns. Some layouts may work better than others with your particular theme, so feel free to experiment. You can always return to this screen later and change the style.

You can also adjust how many columns appear and the size of the images (for non-mosaic options). If you wish, you also can drag and drop the images on this page to reorder them.

Once you’re done with the settings, click on the button in the corner to “Insert Gallery” and the gallery code will appear wherever the cursor was in your post. At this point you can save your post and preview it to see how the gallery will look. If you’re not satisfied with it for any reason, you can return to the gallery settings by returning to the post editor and clicking on the gallery until you see a pencil icon. Clicking on the pencil will return you to the settings page so you can modify the gallery as you wish.

Track your WordPress Site Visits with Google Analytics

Whether you’re a small business or a blogger, once you build a website you’ll want to know how much traffic you’re getting. This can help you better plan your marketing strategy, determine which of your web copy and call to action items are most successful, or convince companies to advertise on your site.

Even if you don’t know how you might use this data in the future, it’s a good idea to start tracking your site visits immediately upon building a website, or as soon as you can afterwards. That way you can start monitoring changes over time and see how much your site traffic grows along with your business.

Although there are lots of services that will allow you to track some of your site data, we at DevPress think the best, and most comprehensive, solution for the average website will be Google Analytics, a free data collection tool from Google. It can be modified to track pretty much any activity on a site, including page clicks, button clicks, and time spent on a page, and the great thing is, once you’ve set it up, it’s completely invisible to your visitors. Continue reading

Luminate: A Bright New Theme

We’re super happy to announce that we’ve added a new design. Luminate officially joins the DevPress theme family!

Luminate is designed with small business in mind. It features a page showcase layout where you can easily highlight services on the home page with eye-catching images and text. You can also display important information like a phone number, hours, or location in the top bar of every page.

screenshot Continue reading

Thoughts on Theme Options


One of the most difficult decisions I face when building a new theme is which customization options to include.

It’s an incredibly difficult feature to balance. Customization options can make it possible for a single theme to be used for a greater variety of websites (which is good from a sales perspective), but it can also make a theme more complex to set up and customize.

Many of the best-selling commercial WordPress themes are ones that allow non-developers a huge amount of customization choices. Avada, Canvas, Divi, Make, Total and X Theme all have hundreds of settings. The big website platforms like Squarespace and Wix also provide a huge amount of design control.

Options Are Both Popular and Complex

I understand why customization is important. One of the main purposes of a website is to express a brand or identity. Customization of fonts and colors can be hugely important. When I helped my wife set up her first WordPress site years ago, I installed Canvas by WooThemes because I knew she’d want something that could be altered to fit her specific design aesthetic (and I didn’t have time at the time to customize it for her).

But even with a thousand options, there’s no way that everything can be customized. And adding many options has a downside: it increases the complexity of the user interface and code. Continue reading

Zelda Released, Zenith Retired

Zenith is the best selling theme on DevPress, so it may seem like an odd move to retire it. However, we’re introducing a new theme today called Zelda designed to take its place.


Everyone who has an active license for Zenith now has access to Zelda if you’d like to switch. You can also choose to stay with Zenith if you’re happy with it (DevPress will continue support for a year and release updates as needed). Continue reading