Customizing your install: the home page
The absolute first thing you want to do when your site is installed and running is change it off the default theme. There are actually two copies of kubrick bundled in MU. One is under the default folder, the other is under a theme folder called “home”. The only difference is this one makes use of the home.php file. You can see it in (naturally) wp-content/themes/home/home.php.
This follows WordPress’s template structure explained here. If you would like a relatively static home or landing page, this built in function is a handy way to get thing looking the way you want. Since you can literally put whatever you like it in, it can also be a nice workaround if you previously had some information on the main index page you’d like to integrate.
(As a side note, I feel it is a misnomer to call it a static page, when you’re running php on a dynamic page and can still pull in the loop of posts if you want.)
You can always whip up your own theme, if you are able, but then you probably won’t need the following advice if you can. 😉 Pick a nice well-designed and flexible theme, then get ready to dig around in it. Strip out everything you don’t want, but unless you change the theme a serious amount, please leave the designer’s credit in there. It’s just a nice thing to do.
There have been a lot of new themes cropping up in a magazine-style format, and I find they lend themselves well to the main blog on an MU install. See Mimbo, The Morning After, and for paid, Revolution – just to name a few. More are cropping up weekly.
The most comon question I see in the forums is people asking how to pull the most recent posts from the site onto the front page.
Easy. I use this plugin, mostly because I asked my handy hubby to do the hard work of writing the SQLs. All I did then was called the function right on the index.php page of my chosen theme.
Other people have used the sitewide feed plugin, then parsed it to display on the main page. (This also involves pasting code.) An example of how to parse a feed is on the dashboard page. Read how it’s done and follow along in that file. (wp-admin/index.php and index-extra.php)
Another handy plugin for the main page is the List All plugin. You can create a full list of all blogs (excluding ones marked private), and even use it again to show only the last x created blogs.
See a working example on my main page at homeschooljournal. It uses the most recent posts plugin in the “Lastest Posts” section, pulls a feedburner feed with code provided by them to show the latest comments sitewide, and uses the list-all plugin to show the last 5 blogs created on the right sidebar.
Don’t forget to disable the theme in the backend so your users will not be able use it on their blog.