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WordPress Basics: Creating a Dynamic Hub with the WordPress Twenty Eleven Showcase Template

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Capture your readers' attention and keep your site fresh with almost no effort at all! In just a few steps, Jessica Neuman Beck, coauthor of WordPress: Visual QuickStart Guide, Second Edition, shows how to turn a (probably dull) static page into a dynamic showcase with multiple parts that highlight your best work and update themselves automatically.
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Using a static landing page as the entry point for your site is a great way to let your viewers know a little more about you before diving right into your blog posts. However, if you want to display your recent posts on that static front page, it typically involves a bit of custom coding. The latest WordPress default theme, called Twenty Eleven, takes care of that work for you.

Each year the WordPress development team releases a new default theme, which is automatically included with the core update. Twenty Eleven, the current WordPress default theme, includes a special template called Showcase. This template allows you to turn one page of your site into a "hub," showing off your favorite or most recent posts and giving you a special place to display status updates and links.

How Is the Showcase Template Different from a Regular Page?

A standard page in WordPress just displays the content you enter in the body area of the editor. You can format that information, add graphics and other media, and link to more content, but for the most part a page is static; it doesn't change or automatically update. The Showcase template is different (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 The Showcase template includes space for 1) regular page content; 2) featured posts; 3) a special sidebar featuring the Twenty Eleven Ephemera widget; and 4) recent blog posts.

With a few clicks you can display not only your standard page content, but any or all of the following:

  • Slideshow of your featured posts
  • Sidebar that displays your asides, status updates, quotes, and links (referred to collectively as Twenty Eleven Ephemera)
  • Other sidebar widgets you'd like to use
  • Most recent posts

The template is ideally set up for a static front page or as the entry point for your blog.

Setting up the Twenty Eleven Showcase is simple, but you'll need to do a little prep work. The instructions in the following section will walk you through the process. If you want to know more about templates and how they work, check out Chapter 12, "Advanced Theme Development," in my book WordPress Visual QuickStart Guide, Second Edition.

You'll need a basic familiarity with WordPress to follow along with this example. Also, make sure that you've activated the Twenty Eleven theme on your site. This example assumes that you've set up a static front page for your site, along with a separate page for your blog. If you're not sure how to do all that stuff, see Chapter 3, "Settings," in WordPress Visual QuickStart Guide, Second Edition.

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