New Theme, Perhaps Temporary

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Two days after WriteCamp Milwaukee 3, and I’m still pretty inspired. I will have more to say about that in the coming days, but if you happen to be reading this on WordPress.com, chances are good you’re observing the new paint job (if you’re reading the RSS feed or on Planet openSUSE, you can click the link).

Some time ago, I noticed that much of the sidebar material here at Metaverse had somehow migrated down to the bottom of the page, where it was largely useless. At first, I thought it was an issue with the Chrome browser, but last week saw the same problem in Firefox, in both Windows and Linux. This I took as a sign that perhaps it was time to retire the Regulus theme in use here practically since the beginning.

Further impetus to making a change came this afternoon, when TPTB at WordPress.com released the new Twenty Eleven default theme, which you now see in all its glory. A quick test of the widget situation, and it became clear that the time had come.

Twenty Eleven is a perfect choice for a transitional look, as it solves the immediate widget problem and makes the blog a bit more readable. Meanwhile, I can continue the search for an even better fit. So you’ll see Twenty Eleven here for at least a few weeks, but perhaps a bit longer. One never really knows.

For the moment at least, the header graphic will have next to nothing to do with the subject matter (though I suppose the “city at night” header I’ve been using up to now hasn’t been especially relevant either). I may play with that some. I will also be updating the blogroll and making a few other surface changes.

So if you haven’t clicked on the blogroll in a while, or are interested in getting these posts in your Inbox, take a look to the right column and click whatever strikes your fancy. In any case, thanks for your interest.

If you blog, how often do you change your theme? What prompts you to make such a change? Have some thoughts on Twenty Eleven specifically, or what should appear here? Please leave a comment!

In Praise of Understated Themes

Been visiting a lot of WordPress sites lately—an occupational hazard of the beat. I have to admit I’m moderately astonished at how many WP bloggers choose gaudy themes that scream for attention to the design, often at the expense of the content.

I don’t want to point fingers, but you know the symptoms of the type:

  • Gigantic heading fonts
  • In-your-face bright colors
  • Flashing ads that seem like the modern equivalent of blink tags

Now often there is good information contained on these sites, but sometimes you wonder whether the design is really serving the content, or the content is there to bring attention to the pictures (or more precisely, the ads).

Now of course one great thing about blogging is Attracting Attention to Yourself. If we just wanted a diary to keep our thoughts together, we’d probably just buy a blank book and put pen to paper, or get some use out of our favorite word processor. No, we want to have (crave, even) readers. And the experts tell us posts should be brief (I think mine have gotten shorter over the years) to accommodate short attention spans. But the big fonts and graphics that seem to overwhelm all else … underwhelm me.

Notes from the Metaverse has had approximately two themes since moving to WordPress.com some years ago, and I think I changed the header image in the current theme (Regulus, a really old theme from Ben Gillbanks) once. I really like that there’s not much to the theme besides that header image.  This allows you to focus on the content. I’m a little flashier with the colors over at the other site with Caribou, from James R Whitehead at Spectacu.la, but I’m playing with a new one, The Erudite, from Matt Wiebe that seems to be more like me.

One of the other great things about blogging is that you get the opportunity to improve your writing skills by “publishing every day” (or at least every week or two). So take advantage of that opportunity. Don’t be tempted to devalue your writing or information-gathering skills by grabbing that ostentatious theme. Let your content shine, and the readers will come.