code

The plugins that power Array

A while back I wrote a post detailing some of the plugins and tools we use here at Array to run the site. The post generated a lot of interest and I still get questions about it to this day. So I thought it would be nice to do another one of those and talk about some of the new plugins we’ve found along the way.

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array-launch

Welcome to Array 3.0!

Howdy folks, and welcome to our new site! We’re super excited to finally roll out this new design, an improved user experience, and some other great features that we’ve been working on for you.

A few months ago, we noticed our site was getting a little dusty and desperately needed a new coat of paint. Although it was working just fine, it wasn’t really representative of how we’ve grown over the past two years. It’s crucial to reevaluate your site regularly to make sure it still represents the products and service you’re providing and fulfilling the needs of your customers. And that’s just what we did with Array 3.0.

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array-redesign

Array 3.0 is on its way!

We’ve been hard at work the past couple months giving the Array site a fresh coat of paint and gearing up for some pretty exciting changes. Although the redesign had started months ago, it wasn’t until we ran our Array Redesign survey that everything started to fall into place. Getting feedback directly from our customers helped us shape the new site and the direction for the years to come.

Today, I wanted to share with you a few secret screenshots of the new site in action. Although this may not reflect 100% what you see on launch day, it should give you an idea of where we’re going.

Customer Dashboard

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Since this is the page you’re likely to interact with the most on our site, we’ve taken a great deal of time trying to get it right. When it comes to dashboards, you’re dealing with a lot of information, so things can get messy quickly. Our customer dashboard is very concise and efficient, providing you with exactly the links you need to get around your account quickly and painlessly. Your downloads, order history, theme support and account info are all available in a few clicks.

Customer Showcase

array-showcase

When we ran our survey in January, one of the most common requests was to have a showcase on Array to see what people are creating with their themes. We thought this was a grand idea, so we’ve created a showcase to highlight some of our insanely talented customers. This helps us promote the extensibility and ease-of-use of our products, but it also gives us a chance to help tell our customers’ stories.

Theme Pages

array-theme

We’ve improved our theme pages with refined content, better screenshots and feature highlights to simplify picking a theme.

Checkout

array-checkout

The current checkout page on Array is very minimal and free of any distractions, and we think this has had a positive impact on our conversions. With the new site, we’ve built upon this model and refined the checkout even further, to help you glide through an otherwise tedious process. The entire flow from browsing themes to landing in your dashboard post-purchase have been refined to be as seamless as possible.

Coming Soon!

Although we don’t have a set launch date yet, we’re getting close! We’ll have several exciting announcements on launch day, so keep an eye out! You can join our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to catch the announcement.

array-cogs

Customize Infinite Scroll with a child theme

Many of our themes include support for Infinite Scroll via the Jetpack plugin. Infinite Scroll enables your visitors to load more posts without having to leave the page.

There are actually several Infinite Scroll style scripts out there. The reason we use the one bundled with Jetpack is because it’s tailored for use with themes, and is generally pretty easy to setup and customize. In many of our themes, you’ll find a jetpack.php file which defines the settings for how various Jetpack features, such as Infinite Scroll, work in that theme. Here is an example of the Infinite Scroll function.

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regen-blog

Refresh your images with the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin

One of the handiest plugins we’ve come across over the years is Regenerate Thumbnails. If you haven’t heard of this plugin yet (which is hard to believe with over 1 million installs), this plugin runs through your media library and refreshes your images based on your thumbnail settings in Settings > Media, as well as crop sizes defined by your current theme. This is really helpful for a number of instances.

If you’ve recently switched your WordPress theme, you might notice your images look a little funky. Maybe they aren’t the right dimensions, or maybe they just don’t match the images in the demo you previewed. This is because your site is likely showing images that were cropped to fit the previous theme, not the new one. The Regenerate Thumbnails plugin is a great place to start with this common issue. By running the plugin, it will go through your media library and create thumbnails based on the various crop sizes you have defined. This should kick your images into place and get something closer to what you expected.

regen

You can download the plugin on the WordPress.org page, or you can add it to your site via Plugins > Add New. Once installed and activated, go to Tools > Regen. Thumbnails and click the Regenerate All Thumbnails button to run the plugin. It will take a few minutes to run through your library and when it’s done, you can jump over to the front-end of your site and check out the results.

array-survey

Complete a brief survey for 50% off!

Every once in a while, we like to reach out to our customers directly to ask how we’re doing. We’d like to hear your thoughts and opinions so we can create better products and refine our services for you.

We’ve assembled a brief 10-question survey that we’re hoping will bring us up to speed with you and the many others who joined Array in 2015. If you’d be so kind as to complete our survey, we’ll email you a 50% discount to be used on anything in our theme shop!

The survey is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated!

paperback-blog

Take back publishing with Paperback

Along the way, we’ve remained true to the idea of providing honest solutions without the headaches and hassles of bloated alternatives. WordPress works best when you can fire it up, put your content in the post editor, hit publish and get back to life. We’re still dedicated to that philosophy, and with that, we’d like to share Paperback with you.

Paperback is the first magazine-style theme we’ve released, and it’s about time if you ask us! Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that make Paperback shine.

Category Mega Menu

paperback-cat

Paperback comes with the option to enable a category mega menu. What in the world is a mega menu you might ask? Simply put, it’s a drop down menu that loads a small preview of content instead of just links. With the mega menu enabled, when you click on any category link in your main menu, you’ll get a slick drop down drawer with up to six posts in it. These posts are loaded on the fly via AJAX, only when requested, to reduce the load time of your site.

Quick and easy access to your content makes for a good reader experience, and they’ll be more likely to return in the future. The category mega menu puts dozens of posts right at your visitor’s fingertips.

Featured Post Carousel

paperback-header

On the homepage of the Paperback demo, you’ll find a featured post carousel. This carousel will seamlessly page through your four latest featured posts from any category of your choosing. With the bold typography and immersive background images, you can create a beautiful, cover story design to your homepage.

So you can get your header designed just right, we’ve included options to change the opacity of the background image in your header, as well as the height of the header area on post pages.

Color Schemes

paperback-colors

Customizing the colors in Paperback is a walk in the park. (A small park, that’s easy to walk though.) We’ve included six pre-designed color schemes out of the box: Default, Blue, Green, Purple, Red and Orange.

Taking the color schemes even further, we’ve included color color pickers for each of the various elements that change with the color scheme. So you can choose the Blue color scheme, and tweak the header a little, tweak the footer a little and so on. The color schemes give you a great start to work with if you want to tweak your colors to your liking.

Content Beautification

paperback-type

As you might expect from Array, we’ve added an excruciating amount of attention to detail in every nook of Paperback to make sure your content shines.

Paperback features a dynamic layout that can be configured into one, two or three columns to match your content. Paperback also supports Infinite Scroll, which lets your visitors seamlessly load more of your content without leaving the page.

Each page template features robust, expressive styles for typography, images, galleries and more, allowing you to easily create engaging content. Speaking of typography, Paperback features Europa and Proxima Nova from Typekit, both clean and sophisticated serif fonts specifically designed for editorial use in newspapers, magazines and digital media.

Mobile and Tablet Ready

paperback-responsive

Paperback features a dynamic, responsive design, meaning your site will adapt to fit any screen size, from desktops down to mobile phones. All pages and features have been optimized to work on every device.

Typography, images, navigations and page styles have been refined to give your users a seamless, comfortable browsing experience.

Wrapping Up

Aesthetically and architecturally, Paperback is our best theme to date. The browsing experience and ease of content creation is second to none. Both John and I are excited and proud to continue providing honest website solutions that let you simply type in your content and get back to life.

So with that, I invite you to check out the Paperback demo and details below and let us know what you think!

spotlight-tom

Featured Site: Tom McFarlin

Tom McFarlin is an active and invaluable member of the WordPress community. If you’re reading this blog post, it’s likely you’ve read one of his many contributions to the Tuts+ community or ran across one of the many conversation-inducing articles he’s written for his own site, TomMcFarlin.com. While some of his writing is technical, he also expands on many philosophical and social topics and how they interact with our everyday lives as web workers.

Tom recently switched his site over to use our Author theme and we think it looks and feels great! Author’s long-form content style really handles Tom’s variable content well, allowing Tom to focus on writing and visitors to focus on reading. Head on over to TomMcFarlin.com and see what you can learn from Tom!

Tom is also available for hire and enjoys fun and interesting projects so drop him a line through his site if you’re looking to build something great.

support

We’re moving to Help Scout!

Heads up! We’re improving the way we handle our support tickets here on Array. Up until today, we’ve been using the a forum plugin (bbPress) to handle support requests. This has worked well enough for us in the past, but your eye can’t help but wander with the number of game-changing help desk solutions out there these days.

We’ve decided to go with Help Scout for many reasons, one being its ability to extend into other apps and services we’re already using, such as Slack and Easy Digital Downloads. How does it all work? Help Scout is a web-based help desk that essentially turns email conversations into tickets on our end, allowing us to collaborate on fixes and provide one-on-one support for quicker solutions. Instead of posting to a forum, you simply fill out a simple form we’ve made available on the Support page. Once you submit, keep an eye on your inbox for our reply!

We think this new format for handling support will be much more seamless for everyone involved, further removing any friction in communication between us and our awesome customers. We want to get your questions answered as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can get back to creating content or browsing reddit. Please reach out to us with any feedback you might have about the switch, we’re all ears!

domain

We recently changed our domain name!

Today we wanted to drop a note to mention we’ve switched our domain name from array.is to arraythemes.com.

When we launched Array last year, we opted to go with a unique .is domain name. I really wanted a short, neat domain to match the aesthetic and UX of the Array site. Unfortunately, these days every single short domain name is spoken for, and the price of acquiring a short domain can be astronomical. Alternatively, you can go with one of the non-standard .com TLD’s (top-level domains) like .co, .us, or .io. There are many neat generic TLD’s to choose from these days. In the past few years, some really slick domains like .design, .camera and .photography have been made available. Grab them while you can!

Some countries have their own top-level domain, such as .co for Columbia, .us for United States and .is for Iceland. array.is was one of the few TLD’s available with just the word “array,” so I decided to go with it. I also bought a few other back up domains such as array.li, and also grabbed arraythemes.com in case we needed to fall back to something more standard.

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