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Lesson 11 – Part 1 – Change the Home Page Template

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Welcome to Lesson 11 in our How to Build a Professional Website Using WordPress and Thesis series. Tonight we are going to take a Home Page that we’ve been working on and turn it into something that looks like this, that is tonight, we are going to add style and content to the Home Page.

What is a Template?

In order to begin this, we’re going to talk first about templates in Thesis Theme. What is a template? A template is a format for the layout of a page. In WordPress by default, only Pages have template choices. You probably already know that there’s a couple of types of Pages in WordPress, there are Pages, there are Posts and there are other things like Archive Pages, Attachment Pages and Author Pages and there are a few other things that end up being called page.

I use those in lower case italics because WordPress uses the word “page” for a specific kind of content . Only PAGES, all uppercase, have template choices. Everything we’ve done so far is in a Page and there are no template choices for Posts or other WordPress generated Pages.

If we come back to the site here to our Home Page and select Edit Page, over here is where you have your choices of templates. This template choice only exists for Pages and if we were to go over to Posts and look at the one sample post that was created when we installed WordPress, you would see that there’s no place for you to select a template because by default, templates only apply to Pages.

Difference between WordPress and Thesis in Page Layout

When we say that it’s a format for the layout of a Page, in WordPress terms, that’s absolutely correct. However in Thesis Theme terms, there’s a difference because in Thesis, only a couple of things change in the context of a template. In Thesis, every template has the same header and the same footer.

Now, it’s possible to add custom code to make different headers or different footers for different Pages and Posts. That’s beyond the scope of this class but nevertheless, the template system in Thesis Theme has the header and the footer always being the same and the part that can change in a template is the part that’s in the middle here, the content and the sidebars.

When we come back over here and take a look at our Home Page, we have by default these 4 choices, the Default Template, an Archives Template, a Custom Template and No Sidebars Template.

Default Template

The Default Template is used on every page, every post and every WordPress generated page unless something tells it to behave otherwise. As such it has the exact sidebar and content configuration that we define in Thesis Design Options. Thesis Design Options set up is the Default Template.

However, you can choose a couple of other different template options. This Archives Template is not strictly speaking, a template. I can show you what this Archives Template is. Let’s make this Home Page the Archives Template and if we hit Update now, we will notice that when we go to this page, none of this stuff is actually there. Go look at that View Page and you can see that all of the content of the Home Page was replaced by what would be a listing of Posts by month and a listing of Posts by category.

Again, this is a blog-centric behavior. It retains the sidebar and replaces all of the content in that page with that behavior. Chances are, you’re not going to use an Archives Page. I don’t actually use an Archives Page on any site and you probably won’t use an Archives Page.

Custom Template

The next choice is a Custom Template. A Custom Template is something that requires custom code. If you ever get to the point where you want to write your own custom template and write your own custom code, we have plenty of tutorials on the site about that. However, if you choose Custom Template, at the moment what the Custom Template does is show the default.

If we come back here and view Page, you’re going to see it goes back to this default here and the way the Custom Template is set up right now is it looks exactly like the default until somebody comes along and changes the Custom Template with some custom code.

No Sidebars Template

The third choice is the No Sidebars Template. The No Sidebars Template is a template that has no sidebars. If we click on that and refresh this, there it is. The sidebar has gone away, this is one large content column which is exactly what this is, one large content column with no sidebars. You probably remember from last week that what you really want to call these things is Widget Areas, right?

These are Widget Areas although the WordPress term for them is sidebar. In this case, when it says No Sidebars, it’s being very generic and it really means No Sidebar, not No Widget Area which in Thesis happens to be the only default location for Widget Areas but you can see that even though we selected No Sidebars, the sidebars that we put in our footer last week are still here.

It just means there’s no sidebar and that’s what the templates choices are. You have 1 of 2 choices on your site generally speaking, until you start messing with custom code, you either have your Default Template or your No Sidebars Template.

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