WordPress Child Theme – Have Cake & Eat it Too


WordPress Child Theme:

If you use a pre-packaged WordPress theme, take precautions to prevent your custom styling additions from breaking during updates by creating a “WordPress Child Theme.”

Here at Digital Canvas we do a lot of website work using WordPress.

One of the great things about using WordPress for your website is that it’s pretty easy to work with, and there are so many ready-made themes. Themes are what give a website it’s distinct look and feel. With WordPress, there are thousands of free themes and thousands more that can be purchased for just a small up front cost.

With so many options to choose from, there are lots of people who have become do-it-yourselfers, building their own websites and opening up shop online.

We love that and applaud those who have the courage to strike out on their own! But there are a couple pitfalls that we see over and over.

Most Pre-Packaged WordPress Themes will get you 90% there


See, you can very often find a theme that does 90% of what you want it to do. But then, you have to do a bit of customizing to get that last 10% just right. So you dig into the online message boards and forums, and you find a bit of code that you can insert here or there in your theme, and it gets closer and closer to what you really want. Maybe even just perfect.


The Update that Breaks Everything

PrintBut then, the theme gets updated. You get a notice about the update in your WordPress dashboard that you should update your theme. And, YES, you should update your theme. Updates take care of security issues and any number of other things that keep your site in top shape.

So you click “Update Theme.” It seems to go as planned. You get a “Success!” message. But then you go back to look at your site and (GASP!) all your changes have been wiped out and you’re back to the original theme with your 10% to perfection gone!

Enter the WordPress Child Theme


What many beginners don’t realize is that the whole Theme Update Disaster scenario can be avoided by making all of your customizations inside a **WordPress Child Theme**.

A Child Theme, simply put, is a mini theme that inherits most of it’s characteristics from a parent theme. Simple enough. Just like your real kids are chips off the old block. Only children are never *exactly* like their parents, are they? They have their own individuality.

By using a child theme, your website inherits the “code genes” of the parent theme, but can re-mix or mutate those genes to do it’s own individual thing. You get the best of both worlds, a site that has all the major stuff taken care of, but has the ability to keep that 10% difference you need to make the site truly your own.

Best of all, if something changes or gets updated in the parent theme, you get all the benefits of the update without losing all the hard work you’ve done to get things just the way you want them. If you decide to change your customizations in your child theme, you don’t have to worry about breaking something in the parent theme.

Do Yourself a Favor

We’re all for you getting out there and doing your thing online. And, if you choose to build your site with WordPress, we’re confident you’ll find it’s one of the easiest ways to get started.

Just keep in mind: you’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you start using a child theme from the beginning. You’ll find easy to follow instructions for getting your child theme started on the WordPress Codex.


Of course, as fun and exciting as *we* think it is to build websites, we know it’s not for everyone. If you’d rather work with a team that’s built lots of websites, loves doing it, and has the experience to avoid the pitfalls — well, we’re here to help. (And if you get started and then get stuck, we’d love to help with that, too!)

Contact Digital Canvas for help with your WordPress website today!

Don’t Build A Website Out of Thin Air – Use Wireframes


Don’t Build a Website Out of Thin Air – Use Wireframes

You’ve got big plans for your new website! In your mind’s eye you can already see it in living color, ready to connect you to the world.

But between the site of your dreams and the actual pixels lighting up the planet with your message you suddenly realize there’s a huge gap. Somewhere, somehow, you need a plan on which to hang all those beautiful pixels.

Enter the Wireframe.

A wireframe is like the rebar that provides the strength for the walls of a building. Or, if you like, it’s all those 2x4s that go up first that hold the drywall in place. It’s the structure of your website. And it’s the first thing (after you know how your site fits into your overall business plan) you’ll need to consider once you’re ready to begin your website build.

Wireframes, like the rebar and the 2x4s, aren’t the most exciting things to look at. The best ones are black and white line sketches. They show what the elements are that will go on the web page, and where they show up. That’s it. If you start messing with colors, backgrounds, images and fonts at this stage, you’re trying to hang wallpaper before you’ve put the wall up.

Take the sample wireframe below:












(credit: [Profilewireframe](by http://www.flickr.com/people/doos/ – http://www.flickr.com/photos/doos/3931846833/). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via [Wikimedia Commons](http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Profilewireframe.png#mediaviewer/File:Profilewireframe.png))

Notice how the image is just a box with an X in it that shows that an image (eventually, it’ll be someone’s picture) goes to the left of a block of text that shows someone’s profile name, address, etc. The wireframe demonstrates how those vital statistics stay left-aligned to the right of the image, even when they extend below the bottom of the image, and they leave room for another, smaller right-aligned block of text on the top right. The main text is full width below the vital statistics-top section. The bottom of the page will have three sections: left, a media player; center, a section for four small images; and right, a list of links to downloadable files.

As you can see, this simple, plane-jane wireframe packs a lot of information, all of which is essential for the person who will turn this page into code.

Every page type on your site will need it’s own wireframe. Your home page, your blog page, your contact page, your gallery page, all of them. And if your site is mobile-friendly, you’ll need wireframes for each of these pages as it should look on those smaller screens, too.

You Can Do It. We Can Help.

There are lots of online tools that will help you draw your wireframes, and they run the range from super-simple to rocket-science advanced. Just google “Web page wireframe” and all the best ones will come to the top.

But when you’re doing a custom site design, nothing beats having an experienced designer working through your wireframes with you. A good designer will be able to help you think through proven wireframe layouts and steer you clear of common pitfalls. A good designer will also be able to help you place page componants to maximize your site’s impact based on what you want your visitors to do when they interact with your page.

At Digital Canvas, we aim for maximum effectiveness at every stage of your site’s design and build. We’d love to explore your project with you. Feel free to reach out to us for help on your next web site design.

Now’s Our Time


Now’s Our Time…















I’ve enjoyed walking through this visual representation of designers and their thought processes inside the design studio. Hopefully you will too.






Expanding Search Bar Deconstructed


We recently stumbled on a great tutorial on the ever popular, Expanding Search Bar by Freelance Web Developer and Designer Mary Lou (Manoela Ilic).
You can find the full article here or see it in action by viewing the demo.

View our web design portfolio.

TEDx – Taking Imagination Seriously


Taking Imagination Seriously

Watch the video here:

taking imagination seriously

Janet Echelman builds living, breathing sculpture environments that respond to the forces of nature — wind, water and light— and become inviting focal points for civic life.

Exploring the potential of unlikely materials, from fishing net to atomized water particles, Echelman combines ancient craft with cutting-edge technology to create her permanent sculpture at the scale of buildings. Experiential in nature, the result is sculpture that shifts from being an object you look at, to something you can get lost in.

Recent prominent works include “Her Secret is Patience”, which spans two city blocks in downtown Phoenix,  “Water Sky Garden”, which premiered for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and “She Changes”, which transformed a waterfront plaza in Porto, Portugal.  Her newest commission creates a “Zone of Recomposure” in the new Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport. Upcoming projects include the remaking of Dilworth Plaza in front of Philadelphia City Hall — turning it into a garden of dry-mist.

Proud to be a Woman-Owned Business


Proud to be a Woman-Owned Business – After completing form after form and multiple questionnaires, Digital Canvas LLC is officially listed as a women-owned business in the great United States of America. Read more