Part Three: Asserting Your Importance

Before we talk about customizing elements of the layout, we should simplify our workflow a little bit. Remember in Part Two when we had to add multiple selectors to get our point across? Turns out this happened because of the CSS trait of precedence. If you have two bosses of equal rank, one telling you to keep things the way they were and the other to change everything, you’ll probably take the path of least resistance, unless you have a good reason not to.

You can be an upstart, though. You can lead the CSS to revolution. You can be important, no matter who you are, like this little floofy puppy:

importantfloof

You don’t have to be strong to be !important

In the last example, we had to say “.post.type-post” to change the background color on posts, but with “!important” we can use just one of those class selectors like so:

.post {
background-color: #701A6D !important;
}

This is a hot tip, and a shorter article than others, but there is some danger of using this trick too much. However, f you’ve tried a few selectors and few of them together and none of them are cooperating, put an !important in there and let them know you mean it, in a friendly way of course.


LL

(thanks Ryan and Dezro!)

Part Two: Keeping up with Color

As may be apparent by the eggplant color scheme on my website, I am not a graphic designer, and while, yes, I do often look stylish and may I say, fabulous? — that’s mostly because I’m tall. I’m sorry.

Still, while I know some may find it garish, I like my eggplant color scheme, and I want to enforce it on my website, whatever the cost.

Without custom CSS, I have a limited supply of custom colors. Depending on the theme you have selected, you can customize a few elements of the page in the built-in interface. Within the “P2” theme that I’m using, you can change the Background, the link color, an accent color, and a second accent color. Without my custom CSS, it looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 7.28.17 PM

Boring, sad, ugly and restrained

All that white is way too clean for me. I like things a little more wild, though it’s probably a good idea to stick to a color scheme, lest your users become overwhelmed like my poor little chameleon here.

camelian

Poor chameleon just wants to fit in, but there are too many colors.

About five colors, give or take one or two, is good for a color scheme. To keep track of your colors, you can label them at the beginning of your CSS. You can comment them out if you like, though if they’re not selecting anything, they’re not going to affect anything. It’s probably a good habit to comment things out though.

My color scheme is like this:

/*Post Background: #701A6D
Widget-Background: #F5989D;
Headlines: #2CDB5D*/

And there are some other elements that I left to the built-in WordPress editor. It’s a pretty robust editor, and it handles several iterations and complementary iterations of elements at once. For everything that’s there, it saves a lot of time over writing each individual element in code, and sometimes the built-in panel can be difficult to override as well.

As you find the selectors you want to alter on the page using the inspect element tool that we talked about last time, you’ll often have to add a class or two to the element to get the style to “catch.” I couldn’t get my purple background with “.post” or with “.type-post” on their own, but “.post.type-post” works fine. That arrangement doesn’t mesh with what I know about CSS, but I’d love an explanation if you have one!

From here, nothing diverges too much from what you know about CSS already, thankfully. My advice at this point is to trust the WordPress interface as much as you can, and just put a few curly braces in here and there when you need to. Though, you might have more difficulty if you want to start rearranging things. Themes are mostly about the layout. It might be a bigger fight once you start meddling with that. Well, let’s not back down. I’ll look into it. For you.


LL

#brochures, #color, #css-guides, #information, #technology, #wordpress-com

Part One: The Freedom of Restraint

Hi!

While normally, my devotion here is presenting my comedy-horror funny-sad podcast, I’m taking a break right now to bring you informative tech journalism. For the next few days, I’m going to tell you about customizing your premium WordPress.com site using custom CSS.

If you learned CSS from an online course, and there’s no shame in that, you independent learner you, you likely learned it in relation to HTML, moving freely between two files, organizing your ids and classes and divs in HTML and selecting them as you needed them in CSS.

However, with WordPress.com’s themes, you have limited access to the HTML, which means you can’t alter each element exactly in the ways that might make sense to you. You are forced to adjust to the structure and vocabulary of the theme creator, and much of this code is inaccessible to the casual user. Considering you know a thing or two about CSS, it seems a little frustrating to be stymied by these closed doors. Why can’t you see what’s there in the HTML? Why can’t you alter it? Why isn’t it consistent?

I understand. I used to be like you. Just a few days ago, the way I was altering my CSS was copying the whole style sheet of the page, thousands of lines of code, and painstakingly altering the parts I wanted. It was…a partial solution. It made the page look how I wanted, but it was difficult to fix on the fly. It was poorly organized and ugly and as someone who studied as a poet, I want my language to be concise, even my unseen computer language.

The good news is: the selectors aren’t hard to find. Modern browsers have developer tools that allow you to see the labels on specific elements, and intuitively labeled. If you left-click an element and select “inspect element…”Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 6.15.44 PM.png

…you’ll find a new window at the bottom the browser that looks kind of like this:

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 6.27.02 PM

That block of text looks horrible and ugly and something only computers want to read. That bit on the right though:

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 6.29.09 PM

This box is actually really useful! It tells you which bits of code are actually acting on the selected element, and which have been overridden. But it’s also kind of an information overload.

That’s CSS! I’d recognize it anywhere! It looks so simple and clean. Can I just put those selectors in and change the values and fix everything?

As it happens, no. At least not in most cases. But what I wanted you to look at is higher on the page when you hover over the big ugly block of text.

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 6.35.06 PM

Do you see that pop-up box there? It has the img element and a whole bunch of different classes, color coded for your convenience. I’m using Firefox, but Chrome and other browsers have similar interfaces.

Now, we can definitely change some properties of that image by entering that whole thing, img.alignone.size-full.wp-image-643.aligncenter, and that would take care of that specific image. As you learned in your online class, you can set properties for all your images with the selector ‘img’ or for use any number of those classes to choose images of a certain type.

Essentially, this hovering and interpreting the information displayed is the most fundamental step to using CSS with WordPress.com. No matter what else you’ve learned about CSS and other coding, if you haven’t figured out how to get this information from your website, you’re going to be more frustrated than you need to be, when really, more than half the work has already been done for you! Relax! All you have to do is customize the elements to your liking, which we’ll talk about next time.

LL

Episode 10 – How to Be (with LiA Lindsaychen) – Transcript

ToI – Episode 10 – How to Be with LiA Lindsaychen

Episode 10: How to Be (with LiA Lindsaychen)

Featuring:
Tyler and a Dog!
Fairy Tale Theater – Positive Thinking
The Men’s Improvement Society part 2
Tommy Bombadillio – The Apathletics

Episode X – How to be a Nothing (transcript)

ToI – Episode X – How to be a Nothing (with Michael Liam Abbott)

Episode X – How to be a Nothing (with Michael Liam Abbott)


Featuring:
The Talented Officer Ripley
“Bricks of Sand”
The Men’s Improvement Society
and When We’re Gone, by The Apathletics and their roommate