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WordPress Theme Easy Remodeling: Does She or Doesn’t She?

Ousshhh!

My heart took a nasty jump, when I went to your blog for the latest and the brightest on WordPress and blogging philosophy.

Suddenly I wasn’t at home, but in some white and bright desert. That was my first impression only, and the explanation came pronto: She’s only experimenting with some new and nifty widget machinery at WordPress dot com.

I was greeted this morning with this comment from my friend and fan, Petit from PetitOn. I switched over to the view of my site and gave a little scream, too.

Petit is very right. Your web page design is a little home you have built for yourself. Exciting at first to explore every nook and cranny, but with time comes familiarity.

In Tel Aviv, we were the first non-family members to live in the apartment/condo. As such, we felt a responsibility not only to the family, but to those who would come after us. At first I kept a list of the little eccentricities involved in living in there. Over the next 5 years, as I incorporated these awkward things into habits, taking them for granted, I stopped writing them down.

The kitchen faucet was too short and easily spilled water onto the narrow ledge at the back of the sink, which was sloped, directing the water down the counter, soaking everything. It would leave a nasty, hard-to-remove mineral stain, so I would always put a towel on the ledge to absorb the back splashed water.

The window in the utility room (formerly the dairy kitchen), had to be lifted up in order to slide open because it was warped. Hot water was generated by solar power and stored in a water tank on the roof. The water was so hot, we’d start with cold and then add hot to it when taking showers. There was a chip on the corner of one of the Jerusalem stone tiles in the hall towards the living room I automatically avoided in bare feet. When the phone made a crackling noise, a quick jerk on the cord to the receiver stopped it. Every summer, the air conditioner in my home office leaked on my head. I kept plastic sheets ready to direct the water into a bucket. Every year it would be fixed, and the next year it would leak onto my head again. Every winter, the rains would create a swimming pool on the roof requiring sweeping out and all drains checked. Otherwise, it would leak down onto my head in my office, too.

It sounds like we lived in a dump. It was a very luxurious apartment. These are just the little things you get used to no matter where you live.

You just adapt and learn to work around the little eccentricities that make a house a home. They become familiar, part of the family. Habits. Comfortable. People would come to visit and I’d have to force my brain to think “tell them about the kitchen faucet, the little hole in the tile, and the shower, and oh, yes, how to work the two handled toilet.” Things I’d grown accustomed to.

As I play with the new toys and features WordPress.com offers, it’s hard for me to stick to a single WordPress Theme, though I have stayed fairly consistent.

I have to admit that while I adored Regulus, there was much I was very uncomfortable with, and yet I adapted to that Theme as I put it through its paces, testing the new features incorporated which allows for some customization.

I learned to use <strong> and not <b> for bold. I learned to put in horizontal lines, code tags, and other HTML/XHTML tags even if they didn’t appear in the content. If I changed the Theme, they would appear, just as you are probably seeing the CODE font right now. In the Regulus Theme, and others, the code “font” would not appear and the code would look just like the text here. Tables would have no padding or margins in the cells, all squished together, and a forced margin would be around every image, including smilies ;-) which bork the layout of the text. Nice for displaying images, but not smilies.

These are minor flaws. Still, I grew accustomed to them. Did it impact my blogging style? It could have, but I knew I would eventually switch to a Theme that would show these tags, so I kept on including them, even though they didn’t appear. I planned for the future.

This lovely award-winning WordPress Theme, Rubric by Hadley Wickham, is wonderful. There is much I love about it, including the white space. Though there is are still many details that are annoying, just as there is with most every Theme.

Rubic Theme - adds borders around linked imagesI’m not a fan of forcing a border around every graphic link, which puts a red border around image links in the content area and black borders around links in the sidebar. I’d definitely like the blockquote to stand out a little more. While the code tag works here, it is very small compared with the base font. Another Theme I tried forced every use of the code tag into a bordered, yellow background box on its own line, so I couldn’t use the code tag in a paragraph. Yikes. The horizontal line works here, yeah! So all those horizontal lines I added but never saw in Regulus, will now appear. Oh, what faith I had. What hope! ;-)


And all my bolds using the <b> work again. WEEEEE! I certainly wasn’t going to go back over 500 posts to retrofit all my bolds. They are back!

I love the white space and flexible layout and how it fills up the whole page, but I don’t like all the empty space in the header. It forces the user to scroll down to get to the content, especially if they are using an older monitor. Still, I love the clean simplicity, and the pen graphic has always caught my attention when viewing Themes.

Until another Theme arrives that meets my strict requirements and features the new whizzbang toys that need experimenting with, I will learn to live with the little eccentricities of each Theme, just like we learn to live in our homes and with the people around us. We adapt and accept.

As for you, dear reader, you will also have to grow accustomed to change along with me. Your adaptation, fortunately, will not have to deal with the little eccentricities, but with the new format. You may have to hunt for the search, Pages, categories, or other list features you have grown accustomed to being in the same place every day. This is part of the accessibility and usability issues I so often talk about.

To help you move around this site better, I’ve improved the Site Map for this site. It now features a general directory of topics that will link you to a list of articles related to that topic. It’s a bother to keep updated, but I’ll do my best until a Widget is developed which allows customization of the site map, or I find a Theme that includes an automatically generated site map. It’s easy to add, dear Theme authors, so add it!

What Have You Grown Accustomed To On Your WordPress Theme?

Change that is good is good. Is this a good change? I’m still playing with the new toys, so stay tuned. But this begs the question: What have you grown accustomed to on your WordPress Theme, especially if you have a WordPress.com blog?

Are there little eccentricities that you’ve grown used to working around? With Regulus, I could have stopped using smilies, horizontal lines, code, and tables just because the Theme didn’t treat them nicely. I didn’t, and now I don’t have to go back over all my old posts and fix them, just as I didn’t go back and replace every B for bold tag with STRONG because Regulus didn’t accommodate the <b> tag. I knew a fix would come along. I had hope.

But many of us feel hopeless, and a little helpless, with the lack of attention to these tiny details that make our blogging experience annoying. So what annoys you about the Theme you are using? What holes in the floor, water leaks, and eccentricities are you dealing with here?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

7 Comments

  1. Dan
    Posted March 11, 2006 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Is the theme name rubic or rubric?

  2. Posted March 11, 2006 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. That got “corrected” by spell check.

  3. Posted March 11, 2006 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    My hunt for a wordpress theme that would pass XHTML and CSS validation. The theme you have chosen does pass the validation test.

    I am currently using a bright version of Hemmingway that was modified by wpthemes.info and I could not be happier.

    I read most blogs via BlogBridge because I want to read and not get distracted with all the other “visual stuff”. BlogBridge works on Windows XP, Linux and Mac OS X (my preferred OS) and have ven dropped using my BlogBridge bloglines account. So I do not care what theme you use, I come for the content.

    As a blog owner what is more important to me is how a theme affects the usage of my blog. There have been two themes that increase my pages views, time spent on the blog, and returning visitors. The first is K2 theme and the wpthemes.info version of Hemmingway. My preference was the K2 theme but I had to drop it due to validation issues and it borking the IE browser. K2 is in Beta and is actively being worked on and will one day be officially released with full XHTML and CSS validation. However, I do not think I will swith from the Hemingway Bright Theme from wpthemes.info as it is (IMO) the most reader friendly and functional blog design I have found.

    What has been your experience with theme designs?

  4. Posted March 11, 2006 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m a fan of yours as well, and it was funny to read you lived in Tel-Aviv. You may guess it, I’m an Israeli ;)

    I’m a theme addict, and I always want to change the themes on my website, maybe too much for my own good. Luckily I’m very good with WordPress themes because I have to – Hebrew is written right to left, and converting themes and translating them is the best way to understand them, really.

    I never thought of the points and question you’re raising here but it is some food for thought so thanks! :)

  5. Posted March 12, 2006 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    I had initially set up using Rubric on blogsome.com But it was exteremely flaky and wouldn’t handle pages correctly. Blogsome does allow tinkering with the header graphics so one could insert colors and images one wanted.

    It does read easier than many other themes, which is my main interest (as well as navigation clarity).

    Would be nice to combine the best of Regulus and Rubric.

  6. Posted March 12, 2006 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Vuee, what do you mean the pages wouldn’t handle correctly?

    And I agree. I’d love to take bits of pieces of some of these terrific WordPress Themes and mix them together, too. With the new Widgets, allowing custom sidebar accessories, I expect this ability will soon become much easier. It’s then up to Theme designers to incorporate this new ability into their Themes.

  7. Posted March 12, 2006 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    If Regulus gets people using <strong> rather than the oldf ashioned and unsemantic <b> it’s more of an educational feature than a bug ;)


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