Getting the Right “Fit” with a New Theme

I’m a little disappointed. My current  erstwhile (previous) theme, the Entrepreneur, supports a boatload of widgets. But as the Winnie the Pooh so wittily said, that honey was somewhat lacking in smack.  I’m starting to try out new themes. Today, I’m playing with the theme Heart and Style. It uses bigger images and that poses a few design challenges.  Here are a few lessons learned.

The Limits of the Business Account and Widgetry

Different themes offer a menu of widget options, and unless we have a self-hosted blog, we are limited to the widgets offered by that theme–even on the Business Plan.

The Entrepreneur’s sidebar widget for navigation is. . . a little ugly. No two ways about it.  It has a decided 1980s Visual Basic look and feel. Ugh.  Just because something is available in a theme doesn’t mean that it’s easy to trick out–or that it’s going to provide you with the elegance and functionality we desire.

I’ve managed to add the  navigation widget, the one available within the confines of the Entrepreneur theme package, but it is boring, boring, boring. 🙂   A sad grey box with a pull-down menu, tsk, tsk.   I thought I’d be able to upload some new widgets, but that is something of let-down, too.   Many third party widgets expect people to be using self-hosted accounts — and thus have access to the pHp code.  Business Plan accounts don’t allow us (or, thankfully, require us) to monkey around with pHp code.   This  would be necessary to “accessorize” a theme with third-party widgets in most cases.

So we’re back hunting for themes that will meet more of our design requirements.  In my case:

  • Blog excerpts are important
  • Good use of sidebar and footers would be desirable
  • Nice built-in menu system perhaps with navigation elements (with style)
  • Cool post format options
  • A good selection of useful and ornamental widgets

Now I also have a list of “deal-breakers”

  • Having to re-do images (83 post images is alot to re-do)
  • No blog excerpts on home page (shows full posts only)
  • No images on homepage

What about sliders?  Hmm.

Trying Out Heart and Style and its “Sliders”

My favorite thus far is Heart and Style.  It also supports the navigation widget I’d set up previously — but styles it a bit more prettily, with a nice blue label on the top of the . . .sort of ugly but useful navigation drop down menu. It also offers a “slider” for featured posts.

The slider pictures are a bit too big, in my humble opinion, and the pictures in the list of posts are a bit larger than they are in the Entrepreneur. Not sure how I feel about that yet. Some of the featured post images appear a bit stretched. That said, the featured posts at the BOTTOM of the page are a bit cut-off. They’re the very the same posts as the posts in the “slider” up top; they’ll just appear as a footer on posts as well — but not in a slider. Not sure how I feel about that either.

I do like the pretty quotes feature!

Some things are my Own Dang Fault

I haven’t been consistent in sizing my images–and this has led to the problems with both the slider bar and the featured posts at the bottoms of posts.  This post is 600 x 500 and it’s much larger than the other posts in the slider bar feature.  So, it’s really my fault.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.01.14 PM

While this post below is 600 X 439!

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.04.11 PM.png

I have not been paying attention to the “specs.”    The Featured Content slider is simply conforming to the tallest image in the list.  I’ll need to reformat the biggest post’s image so that the slider is not taking up so much real estate.

Figuring out the Specifications

Every theme has specification list for image sizes and column sizes.  It’s good to pay attention to this.  I have been decidedly lax even though I do know better. 🙂

We find the specifications on the theme in the INFO section.

Picture of the Heart and Style theme from the Theme list
Activated theme from the Themes list

The “three dots” menu shows us the information on our activated theme:

Screen shot from the themes menu
The “three dots” menu, when clicked, gives us these options

Usually on the bottom left of the info page on the theme, you’ll see the specifications for column widths.  Heights are not indicated, but the widths tell us how wide the images should be.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.15.16 PM
The Column (and therefore image) widths for Heart and Style is 712.

These are much bigger column sizes than the Entrepreneur theme.

Info specs for The Entrepreneur theme
These are the Info Specs on images for The Entrepreneur, for comparison.

I’ll have to do some editing.

Things to Keep in Mind

When changing themes on an established blogs, its easier to move into a blog that uses BIGGER columns than smaller.  Checking out the “Try and Customize” feature is helpful, but the Info on the specifications can also tell us a good deal about the “fit” of our blog into the new framework.

I have some editing work to do on this, but meanwhile, my new start page is looking good AND many posts are seeing more traffic.  It’s a start.  More soon.  ~ Lola


Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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