Day 5: Zero to Hero
I won't be changing themes 3 times today on my Zero to Hero blog and if you read my post into the last day's thread you will know in part why that is. I tried a new theme design I did not feel particularly drawn to. However, I change themes on my test blogs many times daily to help others with issues they post here.
Warning: I have very strong opinions about themes and features and I am a visually challenged artist with a background in color and design to draw on to boot. I hope this comment is helpful.
I answer lots of support forum questions on themes and when I do I use my test blog and change the theme on it to the same one the person asking the question is using before I answer them. That means I am familiar with all of the 138 free themes and how they are designed.
What I observe is that some bloggers do not read their detailed theme description found in the theme showcase. Others who do read it there don't click into the support docs to locate what they need to know such as:
Uploading a Custom Header Image
Setting featured images
* The exact dimensions of all featured images are critical to their display.
All images lose image quality when you use the cropper so why do that? Why compromise image quality, waste your free media storage space, have to troubleshoot images, and end up with an ugly result when you don't have to?
When you upload HUGE images right out of your camera and expect the software to "fix" it what exactly do you expect? Doing that creates ugliness like pixelation, scrunching, stretching and/or one side of the image being hacked off. Hello! You would not try to park a Mac truck and trailer unit int a scooter sized space, so by analogy, then why are you doing that on your blog?
There are free desktop image editing programs and free online image editing programs that you can use to optimize and pre-size images to fit prior to uploading them. Preparing all your images by optimizing them for the web and sizing them to fit before uploading them is the way to go.
I don't cotton to visiting blogs where the blogger has killed the lovely professional design and created an amateur appearance by
- choosing to create a loud or even animated header image;
- adding a busy distracting background image;
- choosing to have too many columns with too much going on in them on the front page;
- injecting special characters in their site title to create a unique appearance but in doing so has compromised SEO;
- mucking about with the color, style and sizes of fonts in posts and pages creating a rainbow colored hodge podge of text that looks like childish and makes those with visual impairments have to keep re-focusing their eyes unnecessarily to read it;
- creating a sidebar full of unrelated clutter such as meme badges and mile long blogrolls;
Sidebars full of "tat" ie. useless decorative clutter like badges make me grind my teeth. How can new blogger fail to notice that experienced bloggers don't have a lengthy roll gained from taking part in meme backlinking schemes in their sidebars and don't have lengthy blogrolls.
Please consider putting all distracting useless tat on a static page. Please don't even consider putting anything it in your sidebar that is not minimalist in nature because less is more. I try to limit my sidebar content to
(1) navigation aids aimed to direct visitors to blog content deeper than the front page of your blog;
(2) navigation aids to aimed to direct visitors to related high quality content on similar blogs;
(3) social networking icons in a welcome widget that states the blog's site title and tagline and purpose in a few words as possible.
I'm fully aware of the mobile explosion and I choose to use responsive layout themes on my blogs because I've been witnessing the growth of mobile use among my blog readers and I know that Responsive Web Design is the Gold Standard.
Note: When using a responsive layout theme we go to > Appearance > Mobile and disable the mobile theme.
I know responsive design means the theme layout adapts depending on the size of the device being used to view the site. When responsive width themes are viewed on mobiles sidebars appear below the posts in order to provide as much space as possible for reading. If you don't know what that means check these out:
one cool site: WordPress blogging tips tools & tutorials
Note what happens to centered header text here when viewed in difference devices:
this time - this space: living the simple life consciously and loving it
The theme team provides a large selection of gorgeous themes and one or more will showcase your content beautifully. If you can't find the perfect theme then find one that meets your requirements and buy an annually renewable custom design upgrade to tweak the appearance. CSS editing cannot be used to change the way any theme functions but appearance changes can go a long way to creating the image that suits you best.