I went searching for a new theme yesterday. Don’t get me wrong–the default theme is very nice, easy to read, etc., but I just couldn’t bring myself to use the “just another WordPress blog” theme. Also, I wanted a theme that took advantage of the full width of the browser window.
The WRC Theme Viewer is an awesome tool for checking out a huge number of available themes, and I went through every single one of them. (Took me a while, even with a fat pipe at home.) I found about 20 themes that had feature(s) I liked and/or looked nice. I’ll list all ~20 of them, along with my impressions, in another post. But the two that I decided to install are Elvgren and Borderline Chaos.
I love Denis Somar’s Elvgren theme. The layout suits me, especially the article appearance. The font styles and colors for the articles are very well-chosen, IMO. The Elvgren prints are gorgeous, but they are also the reason I chose not to make this my default theme–the bandwidth required for this theme could be a killer for some users. (Until very recently I had been stuck with a 33kb/s max pipe, and bandwidth considerations are still very important to me!) But since I like this theme so much, I installed a theme switcher plugin so that my readers (all 2 of them) can choose their preferred theme. (More on this below.) This theme worked great for me “right out of the box”, so I haven’t tweaked it (yet).
I chose Marianne’s Borderline Chaos as the site default. I love the bold, striking look of it! And the theme overhead (wrt bandwidth) is almost nil. There were a few things I needed to tweak on this theme. On the nit-picky side, I didn’t like the way my blog title wrapped, so I made that box a fixed width instead of using a width percentage. But the major problem I had with this theme was lack of a “Site Admin” link. Perhaps I’m a complete moron and there’s a knob for this somewhere, but I didn’t find it upon cursory inspection. So I added a “Meta” sidebox and put the appropriate stuff inside it. This caused me to run out of box styles, and instead of doing the simple thing (adding another sidebox style in style.css) I let a brain-o slip and renumbered all the sideboxes, getting rid of the “Pages” sidebox. I’ll go back and fix this tonight. Sigh.
Theme switching (along with everything else about blogging and WordPress) is new to me. I found this tutorial for Ryan Boren’s wp_theme_switcher to be a big help. Who would have thought that theme switching could be this easy? I added theme-switcher code to the WordPress default theme, so now all my themes (except Classic) can be selected on-the-fly by individual readers.
Many thanks to all the authors/designers mentioned in this post! Pingbacks are on the way, but I’ll be leaving comments on everybodys’ blogs “in person” as well.