Earlier this month, during Responsive Theme week, Cheri highlighted Beatroute, a Canadian alt-monthly focusing on local music. We (and you) were impressed by how Beatroute made the free Oxygen theme their own, so we thought we’d dig a little deeper into the ways they’re taking advantage of Oxygen’s many features to create a bold, easy-to-navigate online magazine.
Let’s take a look at the standard Oxygen layout and Beatroute’s home page side by side:
Featured Posts Slider
You can see that Beatroute is using many of Oxygen’s standard features, like the home page slider and custom menus, but with tweaks to make it their own.
Out-of-the-box, Oxygen displays posts in standard blog style on the front page but gives you the option of using a slider to highlight posts magazine-style; you can designate up to six posts as “sticky” to feature them in the slider. As Beatroute shows, the slider is a great way to draw readers to your best and freshest content and make sure site visitors are seeing what you want them to see.
(To use Oxygen like this, you’ll have to tell your site you want to use a static front page instead of a blog, and then designate which posts should be sticky — head to the Oxygen page in the theme showcase for detailed instructions.)Custom Header
You can opt to display your site’s title and tagline in Oxygen’s regular format and font, or you can do what Beatroute did, and brand your site with a custom header — upload and crop your chosen image from right in the WordPress.com dashboard, or create a totally unique banner.
If the idea of designing your own graphics feels like too much, you can still tailor Oxygen with nine different fonts and custom colors for post titles and links (which Beatroute has also done for an extra pop of personality, opting for orange instead of blue), no graphic designer necessary!Custom Menus
One of the reasons Oxygen makes such a great theme for magazines are the three custom menu areas: the primary menu is under the site title (or your custom header), the secondary menu is right under that in the left sidebar, and the tertiary menu — that’s right, tertiary! — is in the footer. With three custom menus, there are endless ways to highlight the good stuff and help visitors explore your wealth of content.
Beatroute is making great use of the primary and secondary menus. The primary menu links to key evergreen information like their “About” page and contact information, while an extensive secondary menu shows off the variety of content in each section of the magazine, allowing readers to quickly hone in on what’s relevant to them.
Beatroute puts the finishing touches on their online mag with widgets that promote still more content and give the home page the look of a printed piece. Using simple image widgets, they’ve filled both sidebars with images of the print versions of their magazines (see right) and promotions for local radio stations, live shows, and other local events.
Image widgets are a simple way to give your site more visual interest — just upload an image or photo (either into your WordPress.com media library or to a photo site like Flickr), drag an image widget into your sidebar, and plop in the photo’s URL. As Beatroute shows, you can have as many image widgets as you want, so go ahead and give your family and friends a little internet love or upload some cute icons to plug your social networking sites. If you can find a picture of it, you can put it in a widget. (Just make sure it’s an image you have the rights to use!)
It’s also worth noting that all this customization is free — no upgrade needed. The slider, custom header option, custom menus, and image widgets are part of what WordPress.com and Oxygen offer, yours to play with.
To explore Oxygen’s features in more detail, head over to the Theme Showcase for the complete list of what it can do and instructions on customizing your home page, menus, and more. For more help customizing Oxygen (or any of our themes), head over to the Themes Support Forum.
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