I just upgraded to WordPress 3.8 and decided to stay with my trend of using the default themes when possible.
I did setup a Twenty Fourteen Child Theme so I could make modifications. The only change I made so far is to the footer file so I could add my copyright.
The main idea is that I want my site to be flexible enough to change easily and being able to switch to the default theme at any time pretty much assures me I have everything set to make easy changes.
This was the easiest change I have seen when it comes to using the theme that ships with WordPress. The only real change I needed was to go into the Menu option and save the location of the menu. Previously that was a little more work and required rebuilding the menu.
This has always been a topic of discussion in relation to SEO and building websites. I have always thought it was important, but not critical to use hypens instead of underscores in a URL.
However, since it is so easy to solve I have always recommended using hypens and not underscores as seperators. If you use WordPress it automatically uses hypens as it’s main separator so you can let it build your “slug” for you.
Here is the latest video I could find of Matt Cutts explaining it again. And I think he does a great job of not only explaining how it works, but why it works.
While working on a Client site recently it became apparent we needed to make the top level Parent link not go anywhere. As an example if you have a menu item named Products, and under it you have 10 product pages you may want that top item not to be active.
There are several plugins you can install that will do different things with these links, however, the simpliest method is to apply a # to the link. From the Admin sidebar, select Menus. Under Custom Links insert a # in the URL, and give the menu item a Label. Add the custom menu item to the menu and then place your children links under it.
Now from any page the Top item will have a link, but it will simply stay on the current page.
Converting older static html sites to WordPress is one of the most popular things for me to work on. Seems there are still a lot of older sites that have no CMS system and when people decide to finally convert these sites WordPress is one of the most popular options.
I used my holiday time to convert one of my own static sites. I wanted to use it as a case study in procedure and time. The site I converted was my Scripts and Database site, CyberCoded.com. This is one of my older sites and I have been too busy to convert it so I continued to manually add pages as needed.
I have about 10 hours invested in the whole process to convert this site. The bulk of the time is in the custom coding of a WordPress Theme from scratch to match an older site. There were 12 pages when I started and as some of the pages had different extensions I decided to convert the site using my favorite WordPress permalink structure and then redirect the old pages.
I used my Blank WordPress Theme so that I could start with a clean slate and match the design to the old site.
Here are the steps I took.
Installed WordPress in a Sub Folder
Set Privacy setting to OFF while I developed the site in a sub folder.
Modified the permalink to my favorite which is /%postname%/
Installed the Blank theme in the WordPress Themes folder.
I used FTP to upload the files into a new theme folder in WordPress.
Copied and matched elements from the old Style.css file into the WordPress Style.css
The blank theme has an empty CSS file.
The Body and Links were the only elements called out in the old CSS file.
Added Wrapper, Content, Header and Footer Divs to CSS.
Copied the Index.php file to home.php so I could have a custom Home page that would match the old page.
Simply copying the file like this makes a new home page with the home.php file.
Modified the WordPress code in the Home page to show each category and posts as lists.
Stripped out the common WordPress Loop
Created new code that loops through the categories and list each post per category.
Set the Category to sort in Descending order.
Set the Post titles to sort Title in ascending order
Created an Analytics.php file in the WordPress Theme to use throughout the site.
Retrieved the code from Google to use for analytics.php
Created a Header.php file within the WordPress Theme to add common header elements.
Modified the Title so that it would be SEO friendly, very similar to most popular SEO plugins.
Added a call to analytics.php file
Created a footer.php file in WordPress to add a common footer.
Used the code from the old static footer file for contact and info.
After almost 2 years of answering questions on that post I thought it was time to discuss the issue again.
I have done a dozen or so conversions since that post and I have found that some sites really need to take a fresh start approach to get the best result. The main reason for this is that a lot of older HTML sites are built with outdated techniques and WordPress has made some great advancements.
On these sites I create a sub folder for the WordPress install, such as /wp. This gives us designated area to work and learn WordPress without interfering with the original design. The hardest task may be getting a theme to match your original design, but I would suggest taking this time to update your original design. There are so many good WordPress Themes this should not be a problem. Once your theme is in place you can copy and paste your original content to the new install matching the page names. Depending on your original file extensions you may need to set the permalinks in WordPress.
Once this development is complete it is easy to change the Site address (URL) in WordPress to show the new site in the root. (Make sure to backup the original first!) Here is the link from the WordPress Admin panel that explains this.
If you need to learn WordPress and want to take a little time without being pressured to get the new site in place this is the best option I have found.