GIVE YOUR BLOG SITE A PAINLESS FACELIFT

Usually when I switch templates I do it because I’m in the mood for change. This time, I had to change after my site went all wonky. The main text font turned pale — nearly invisible — silver and I couldn’t get it back to black. When I realized I couldn’t fix it, I migrated into SUITS. It is similar enough to ZOREN so migration was simple and quick.

Suits

SUITS solved my immediate problem. My text was black again and it looked pretty good. No need for major surgery. But the main column is narrow compared to ZOREN — not photo-friendly — and I decided I didn’t like the way the header image displayed. I returned to ABLE, a theme I used for months before ZOREN.

If you go back to a theme you’ve previously used, it usually remembers your settings and header images. ABLE remembered me, so it was painless. One click and it was a done deal. It picked up all my recent changes too. Like coming home.

A lot of folks go into a tailspin when they decide to change templates. Yet it’s easy. If you understand what elements you use, what elements you need, all you have to do is pick a template that has those same elements, preferably arranged in a similar way.

Able

For example ZOREN is very much like ABLE. It lets you use a full size image in the header and it’s a wide format. It includes a bunch of different post formats and is widget-ready. Flexible and good for photographs, but also attractive for text — until it went bonkers yesterday. I’d have stayed with it otherwise.

ABLE has  the same basic design. I put the sidebar on the left since ABLE lets you put the sidebar left or right. ZOREN, SUITS and ABLE all use the same layout. Only decorative elements and proportions are different.  As soon as a new theme is active, I can customize it: change the header, modify colors and fonts because I have the customization package. But even if you don’t, you can make small adjustments to make it uniquely yours.

I made the initial switch from ZOREN to SUITS in about 2 minutes using a slightly broken laptop while I was in bed. Really. In bed. In my jammies. And I still had time to read before lights out. I switched to ABLE today and it took me literally a single click.

ZorenChanging templates doesn’t need to be scary. Pay attention to what elements comprise your site. Decide what’s important to you and what’s not. Pick a template that has the features you want. Use the preview to see how it will look. Too narrow? Don’t like the way your photos display? Too wide? Don’t like the way text looks?

Preview a different theme. I’ve sometimes tried a dozen or more before I find one I really like. I wasn’t particularly picky last night because I needed an instant fix. Fortunately, SUITS worked.

What elements are important to me?

  1. It must be wide enough to display photographs well. Pictures are important.
  2. The fonts have to be easily readable, with good spaces. Never white or light on black — too hard on the eyes. I’m too old to squint.
  3. The page must show at least 50% white space. White space includes empty margins, line spacing, column spacing, empty areas around the header and pictures. Any space that does not contain graphics or text is white space, no matter what color it is. Without adequate white space, your site will be cluttered, hard to read and many people will find it annoying — but may not know why.
  4. I prefer a header which lets me use a picture, but I’m flexible about that.
  5. I prefer a left-hand sidebar, but can live with one on the right if the main column is wide enough. We read left to right, so I like to have my important stuff on the right side of the page. Note: Right hand pages cost more when you are buying print advertising for this reason.
  6. I want my widgets in a sidebar. Therefore, I can’t use any of the single-column templates, some of which are otherwise very attractive. I also won’t use any of the magazine-style multi-column templates. They are too busy. Clean and easy on the eyes are my goals. Also, multi-column themes don’t display photographs the way I like.
  7. I want a low maintenance format. Intense graphical formats require a lot of tweaking and tuning. They are prone to inexplicable glitches. I don’t have time to diddle with formatting nor do have I enough interest in the technical aspects of blogging to devote myself to the care and maintenance of a fussy design.

You need to know yourself. What you like, what you want, what you need. Keep an image in your mind of how you want your blog to look. Don’t get distracted by every pretty face you see. I’ve found the more complicated the template, the more problems it develops. There are more than enough glitches without adding more.

Following are some of the other templates I’ve used successfully. The differences are fewer than their similarities. Look past colors and decorations to the structure. If you’re tired of your template, not really thrilled with the way your site looks and you’d like a facelift, consider a new template. It needn’t be a difficult process of rebuilding. Pick one that has the same shape and elements you already use — and want to keep. Then do a some previewing and see if you like it. Next? Just do it.

Voila. A whole new look!

Yoko

Twenty Eleven

SnapIt-191

Adelle

crafty

splendio



Categories: Arts, Blogging, Computers, Graphics and Design, Media, Software, WordPress

Tags: , , ,

9 replies

  1. Hey Marilyn, hope you and Garry are doing well. I love your look here, and Able is a theme I’ve been using for about a year or so now. I love it, but really fancy a change yet can’t find anything I like more, without paying that is and I’m too cheap to pay for a theme! Love your font here though, I have the custom colours option, maybe I need to find (copy yours 😉 ) a better font.

    Great to see your still blogging away here, hopefully I’ll catch up and be back up to speed very soon with the blogging world 🙂

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    • Hi! How’s the little one? Missed you.

      I’ve never found a custom theme that I though was worth the money, but the fonts + colors makes every theme customizable. You’d be amazed what changing colors and fonts can do to change the look. I keep coming back to Able because it seems to do the job better than any other theme I’ve tried and also has fewer bugs than most. Also, Able lets you move the sidebar to different positions and add a picture — and easily change it — to the header, so you can really make it look very different. Zoren is pretty similar, but more structured. It is also wide, but it isn’t as flexible as Able. I can’t think of any other themes that have so much width. They all feel cramped to me. But you can also just play around with preview. I love the preview feature!! Like getting free tastes of everything in the bakery 🙂

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  2. Nice job. Just stay away from the Botox.

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  3. I like this theme. In fact, I tried it out just for grins, but it didn’t look like yours. I think it must be the custom fonts you selected. I had one theme when I first moved to WordPress in July – the Delicacy theme. But after a while I thought it was a little too bland, so I switched to my current theme, Choco, at the beginning of December. I’ll probably keep that for a while until I feel the need to shake things up a bit. I pretty much agree with all seven of the items you said are important to you, although I don’t use photography as you do. Good post..

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    • Thanks. I intended to write it a while ago and I got sidetracked. The main thing I wanted to point out was that it’s not such a big deal to switch themes if you stay in the same general family of styles. What you can’t do is switch to something completely different. That IS a big deal. And I have to admit the customizable colors and fonts are a lot of fun.

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    • I used Choco for a while. I think I’ve tried a couple of dozen, though only a couple have stuck longer than a few days. Sometimes I try it and hate it almost immediately. I think I used Choco for a few weeks. Crafty lasted a while too.

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  4. I wonder if I’m due for a change? How often to you normally switch?

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    • Every month or two I start to poke around to see what’s new and exciting. Sometimes, I just mess around with colors and fonts. I keep coming back to Able because it displays pictures better than anything else I’ve tried. Sometimes, like yesterday, I switch because the theme starts to get weird. But it depends also on if WP comes out with a new theme I really like.

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