Pique: A Free Parallax Theme from Automattic

Meet John Ryers, Author of The Glass Thief
January 4, 2017
Why do I continue to write?
January 9, 2017

I fell in love with the Pique theme (.org and .com downloads) a few months back. It drives this site, Lone Horse Endeavors, and Stars of Heros. I found it after wanting, and needing, a theme that could skin both a WordPress.com and WordPress.org site, so I’d have consistent branding between my one hosted site and the self-hosted sites.  Of course, the hosted site couldn’t do the functionality I added to the self-hosted, but with custom CSS, I was able to make it look better out of the box.

Parallax and one page websites remain hot trends. They give sites a modern, aesthetic appeal instead of a boxed in look. I tried other parallax themes, but their free versions were crippled in some way. Even creating a child theme didn’t help much as there was a lot of code to unravel to get them to do what I wanted. Some even added some unnecessary crap to the admin interface. (What can I say? I’m an old school developer who believes that themes should limit themselves to the Customizer page when it comes to their settings.) Thanks to its documentation, forum posts, and comments within the code, Pique was easy to figure out by comparison.

When I ran Pique on the hosted site, I set the post listing as my front page. Here, and on the other self-hosted sites, I’m using a static page with panels. To set the panels, go to the Customizer and select Theme Options. The first option for the menu settings to make the front page menu only link to the panels.  The rest are the panels themselves. Unless a secondary page is an archive or search page,  it’s laid out more like a traditional page with a white background and dark text. The appearance of sidebars are controlled by widget visibility and page template. There are two menu locations, primary at the top and secondary in the footer. The menu system recognizes social media links and uses Font-Awesome to display their logos.

Pique is not a fully responsive theme. Its maximum width is 1400px. The theme also requires Jetpack for some functionality, including displaying the logo. There are some haters of Jetpack, due to compatibility and bloat issues. (I was one of them.) The best way to get around the bloat is to limit the number of active Jetpack components and, so far, every plugin I’ve used with it hasn’t had a problem. Jetpack does have a widget visibility component that comes in very handy.

Besides some aesthetic changes, I tweaked functionality in my child theme to make Pique better suit my needs. These include:

  • Making the posts show their tags, categories, and date on every listing page (home page, search, archive, etc.)
  • Creating a switch between the logo and its background and the featured image so that the logo didn’t overlay the featured image. (Some featured images just didn’t work with the logo.)
  • Separating the logo and the top menu from the panel system on the home page so it was more responsive.
  • Adding content of my home page on the front page as a panel, so it would be included in the home page menu. This required adding a function to remove the full width template class from the home page so it wouldn’t be skinny.

If you want to play around with my child theme on your site, have fun!

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