How did you choose your theme?

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  • #1521242

    eurello
    Staff

    One of the first decisions you make when you first start a blog is which theme to use. I went through three or four before I found one that did just what I wanted. Initially, I was attracted to the photo-heavy templates, but I soon realized that my posts were mostly text, so I went with a simpler, more pared-down theme, Publish.

    How did you choose your theme? Are you happy with the one you’re using now? Do you often change your theme for a refresh, or do you stick with what works?

    The blog I need help with is accismus.com.

    #1521326

    auxclass
    Member

    The theme at the site linked to my name was chosen because of the type size – large, easy to read and dark colored

    yes I am happy with it – no plans to change

    I have business cards for the web site that use the same graphic as the header, great for branding, but any change would need to have a header and similar fonts

    I picked a theme for a friend (2011) because it needed to “look like a web site not a blog” – single column – easy to read also – made similiar color as their existing under construction site (dark, black & gray) but the stock pine cone header image was just what they wanted

    Regulus for some friends that have a sail boat and are retired and cruising – sort of had a “boat” feel with the stock header – stars and moon – type is a bit small and light for my taste however

    As a general theme suggestion – the ability to change font size for the Page / Post titles would be really nice since the 2011 titles are a bit overwhelming – also the main type size and color would be nice as a built it – I don’t care for fancy fonts but the ability to make the font a bit larger and darker would be very much appreciated without the CSS upgrade

    When I had a WordPress.ORG install I found a nice theme – had a paper hat floating in the header on some water – nice for a boating safety site – but the font colors were way too light and had to change the CSS (very painful as I did not know about Firebug then) to make the type easy to read

    #1521327

    auxclass
    Member

    PS – no I don’t change themes much –

    thinking about updating my history site but I am concerned that the pictures on it now might be too small for some of the new themes and thus be pixilated or look like junk if they get scaled up

    #1521328

    rootjosh
    Staff

    This is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a site for me. It helps that you can sort WordPress.com themes by feature when browsing. But I still end up over thinking it.

    At the end of the day, there are two things I end up trying to remember when picking themes. The first is, simpler is often better. You are never going to go wrong picking a nice clean theme to start with. You can always add widgets and sliders and other features later.

    And secondly, sometimes the best thing to do is kick the can down the road. Pick a basic theme (twentytwelve perhaps) and start creating your content. It is very difficult to pick a theme when you are looking at a blank slate. I find it much MUCH easier to envision the way I’d like a site to look when I have real content to view.

    #1521332

    kevmarsden
    Staff

    And secondly, sometimes the best thing to do is kick the can down the road. Pick a basic theme (twentytwelve perhaps) and start creating your content.

    This is good advice. I often spend a lot of time searching for themes and tweaking them instead of focusing on the reason I set up a site – creating and sharing content.

    #1521333

    timethief
    Member

    That’s a blog post on the technical support forums … LOL :D

    I’ve been around for over 7 years and have used every free theme there is. I will not pay for a premium theme or for a custom design upgrade because I do not want to feel locked into any theme.

    I use only responsive width themes these days and have tested everyone of them available to us in my test blogs. I have used several on both of my blogs. I’m currently in ♥ with Expound. That said, I don’t feature 5 posts. I feature only one post at a time and it’s not necessarily my most recent post.

    requirements:
    responsive width
    one or 2 columns only
    minimalist, clean and bright appearance
    magazine-styled look
    custom header – flexible height
    custom background

    desires:
    ability to not display header text
    ability to change font color on links, header and tagline text

    I prefer themes with custom headers and custom backgrounds. I prefer flexible header heights.

    #1521334

    jackiedana
    Member

    I regularly change my theme because I like to play around with custom options and take new themes on a test drive. Most of my blog posts feature multiple photos, but I don’t consider my blog to be a photo blog, so my main criteria when I choose a theme is that it displays multiple images as well as text. I also like to have a sidebar for navigation and other content.

    Today my blog is sporting Ideation and Intent, which I keep coming back to. I think it’s one of the best themes for what I call hybrid blogs like my own, with a lot of visual content.

    Meanwhile, I use Twenty Thirteen for my self-hosted personal site, which is mainly a hub for my different websites and contact info. I like the fact that the “sidebar” is in the footer, which means it puts content front and center, but still provides for the widget content on a page.

    #1521336

    timethief
    Member

    P.S. I will not use any retired theme that does not support all WordPress.com features.

    #1521339

    timethief
    Member

    @staff
    Are we now allowed to create chat threads?
    If so hold I’ll have to bury my copy and paste that goes like this:

    Our technical support forums cannot be used for blog promotion, business promotion or discussion purposes. They can only be used for resolving technical support issues. Please respect our policy and promote your blog in social networks. https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/forums-housekeeping?replies=1

    This thread has been tagged for closure. Please do not continue to post into it and/or create additional threads of this nature.

    LOL :D

    #1521344

    eurello
    Staff

    Are we now allowed to create chat threads?

    Yep, we’re experimenting with it a bit. We’d like for there to be room in the forums for more general conversation about how people are using WordPress.com, if there’s interest.

    #1521347

    eurello
    Staff

    I am concerned that the pictures on it now might be too small for some of the new themes and thus be pixilated or look like junk if they get scaled up

    I’ve never had this exact problem with changing themes, but on my more photo-heavy travel blog, I keep trying new themes and then not liking that the images don’t display as big on the single post pages as the one I’m using (Triton Lite).

    I like my images to go all the way across the screen, which means no sidebar, which means any necessary widgets have to be in the footer. Which I don’t love, but.

    #1521353

    timethief
    Member

    @eurello
    There were such forums previously. Sadly the Showcase Forum and the Off Topic Forum were abused. Staff and our moderator spent so much time removing the link drops to external sites, and obnoxious self promotion “comments” and the troll posts made into thread that they were closed. It would be good to have conversational forums again, but if and only if, they are far more closely monitored than these support forums are monitored now. Frankly, given the number of modlooked threads and threads without answers over 1 day old, I can’t see Staff devoting any time to monitoring “general conversation” threads and removing the crap from them.

    #1521354

    auxclass
    Member

    This is the history blog I have – a collection of pictures going back to the 60’s – the blog is a bit neglected of recent – but I kept the pictures relatively small and compress them to save disk space – I think I scaled them to the theme which is narrow – not intended to show how great a photographer I was (not really) but did take a lot of pictures in the years that I worked in Alaska – some of the pictures are scaled larger – at least one has been stolen as some sort of screen saver – but several people that lived / worked in the area have been able to relive some memories from way way back

    http://thecanneryhack.wordpress.com/
    Vostok Theme.

    #1521356

    jackiedana
    Member

    @auxclass, out of curiosity, why did you go with Vostok for that site?

    #1521371

    auxclass
    Member

    out of curiosity, why did you go with Vostok for that site?

    I would also like to know :)

    On a more serious note – was two years ago I think I started it – was not planning on some “I take great pictures” blog – just sort of a memories thing of where I have been and some of the people I worked with – so large images were not important – was not sure how many pictures I could find (I have thousands literally) – so did not want to blog through the 3GB storage limit – also a friend is a pro-photographer that has had some copyright problems with stolen content and he advised small pictures

    I was not intending for lots of text so that was not that important – but seems to me the plain gray background appealed to me as to not distract from the pictures – just looked for something plain – seems to me Vostok was mentioned in the same paragraph as pictures – but could be mistaken on that

    Many of the themes are “busy” and did not care for the busy look

    Then project got larger when I started to put proper captions and Alt tags on the pictures for SEO so people could find the pictures

    #1521372

    kraftbj
    Staff

    I love and hate new theme announcements. There’s often a new theme that draws my attention for one reason or another.

    On my WordPress.com blog, I use it for a “stream” of things I find interesting, funny quotes from the kids, links to my posts on other sites, etc, so I really liked the new-ish Writr theme. It looks pretty smooth and uses post formats.

    On my older .org site, I had picked a more “magazine” style theme, since I wanted to highlight my long-form posts more and offer easy ways to find my latest post in each category. Since the upcoming Twenty Fourteen theme is that style, I’ve been trying that out and reporting bugs in it.

    I have business cards for the web site that use the same graphic as the header, great for branding, but any change would need to have a header and similar fonts

    @auxclass – Not on my most recent theme on my (.org) blog, but the one previous, I made a point of having the same graphic on my blog, my Twitter proflie background and on the Facebook page I had for the blog. It is hard for me to be happy enough with my own personal design skill to feel okay about printing something like that, so never went to dead-trees with it.

    #1521375

    auxclass
    Member

    The graphic on the card & header is a sunset picture taken from my slip

    I teach boating safety and do a lot of public safety events, with the web site card with “Boating Safety Tips, Tricks & Thoughts fro Captnmike” along with the URL I can hand them out with a note on the back of the card on specific info they can find on my site, how to tie a Bowline knot if you are left handed for instance or how to tie a cleat etc.

    No more piece of scratch paper with a note and URL on it – much more class – and since I am giving the cards to strangers my personal info is not on the card, I also give out a card to students in any class I help to teach,

    There is a contact form on my site, so I can still be contacted, just a bit safer

    Getting the sunset to look good and take out some junk strained my abilities with photo editing to the limit

    You have a personal site, mine is more public, so not exactly apples and apples

    #1521380

    kraftbj
    Staff

    You have a personal site, mine is more public, so not exactly apples and apples

    I would say my site has an identity crisis. :-) It’s a very public face to a person; it’s been hard to figure out what the line is and how to walk it.

    My choice of theme is sometimes evidence of my current thought. The more public, the more “Magazine” styled. The more personal, the more I like something like Wrtir.

    #1521414

    1tess
    Moderator Emeritus

    Choosing a theme has become more complicated than it was when I first started blogging. I chose one theme because I had in mind a specific sort of organization for pages and posts for the topic I wanted to blog about. In retrospect, I’ll admit to being naive.

    Well, to be honest, I chose WordPress.com by chance; Google showed a couple of, few, many options to look at, and WordPress just seemed like it offered the most “professional” options. Okay, it was also free!

    Even so, innocent, naive, bull-headed, with preconceived ideas, I have learned so much.

    When I answer questions in these forums about this question (which theme to choose), I tell the poster to just begin to write. Some of the folks are making blogs for businesses, but even if they are private until they are ready, they truly do need to simply write and set up their sites with any theme. Once they have some content, that is the time to experiment with one theme or another. Test blogs will always be very useful! One cannot understand what a site will look like until one sees it in action.

    #1521416

    For my blog, text is the most important thing. I rarely use graphics. I wanted a font that was easy to read, and Coraline (like it’s predecessor, Cutline) is one of the few that has text with serifs. Well, not for titles, but that’s okay. I also wanted a minimal look — a clean white background. (White text on a colored background is the worst!) I’ve never been attracted to a cluttered website that was all jazzed up with colors, butterflies, or other graphics.

    Also, it’s important how blockquotes are handled. I won’t use a theme that adds those ghastly graphic quote-marks next to blockquoted material. Big graphic quote marks add nothing and look ridiculous, yet many themes have that feature, so people must like them. I look at all the new themes that come along, but I haven’t yet found anything better for me than Coraline.

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