Designing for WordPress Without WordPress

Posted on: September 8th, 2012

Notes on a talk by Rob Spangler

– Enjoys the phrase “independent contractor” better than “freelancer”

– It’s okay to think outside of the box. Don’t be constrained by vague instructions.

Principle to Practical

  • Dont’ think about WordPress (yet)
  • Pause, breathe, and listen to the music. Think about what the site should really look like
  • Start with your “Problem”
  • You can’t just go buy nails and sheet rock and start slapping together a house
  • Plan, sketch, decide, design, develop

– Design within limits, but don’t be limited by your design.

– Deliver what is awesome, then scale back if you have to.


  • Know The Language
  • Don’t create usability issues by adding crazy design features
  • Know what your limits are
  • Know what WordPress can already do

– Don’t be scared of using Custom Fields.

– Custom Post Types are pretty spectacular, they prevent hacky use of custom fields.

– Menu functionality is much better than it used to be, and that’s reason to utilize it.

– “I use the crap out of Featured Images” because they are helpful and can make page to page differences extremely easy.

– Text Widget is great for using social media embed codes that then generate tweets or activity.

Custom Plugins

  • Sometimes it just needs to be done
  • WordPress is flexible enough that we can do this easily
  • Don’t be afraid to take a slice of code you use frequently and create a plugin

– WordPress is your canvas and we are painting onto it. Know what’s in WordPress and use it.

A great talk that just skimmed the surface of Custom Post Types, Custom Fields and custom WordPress. Follow Rob on Twitter at @robertspangler

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