Web Design Retrospective: Liberal Currents

Web address: LiberalCurrents.com

Custom theme: Laza News for Liberal Currents

WordPress does a lot of neat things right out of the box. But my work as a developer shows me exactly where its limits are, and how to surpass them. With Liberal Currents, I enhanced the way WordPress deals with authors.

On its own, WordPress assigns a single author to each blog post or page. But Liberal Currents is a collaborative effort, and my client, Adam Gurri, foresaw authors working with one another on the same post. Thus, he wanted a post to be by Adam Gurri and Other Person, for example.

To make it happen, I went back to one of the first plugins I ever played around with, Coauthors Plus. I really mean one of my first—if you go to the documentation for this plugin, one of the examples they use is a question from me trying to figure out how to use it.

If you’re familiar with WordPress, you know that most plugins don’t require any coding knowledge to implement, but Coauthors Plus is not one of them. The plugin depends on manual application of template tags directly into your WordPress theme’s PHP.  To set up a coauthor feature on Liberal Currents, I built a custom function directly into the site code. Since the theme also includes a few unique features like author pages and author meta boxes, I couldn’t just cut and paste.

Getting Coauthors to work is definitely what I’m proudest about when it comes to Liberal Currents. There also are a few other bits of conditional logic that govern the way authors are presented. Design-wise, I stuck with  a premium theme, Laza News, and tweaked it heavily to fit the client’s preferred presentation. Other political essay sites, like Jacobin Mag, influenced the structure.

I’m grateful to Adam and the team for giving me the opportunity to help them launch a site that is clearly very important to them, both personally and politically (and what is more personal than politics?). It was a fun project that got me thinking about the_author tag in a new way.