The Look

When you first install WordPress, you get a very boring theme.  Boring but functional.  It does what it should, but looks bland.  And you know that there are lots of samey looking blogs around.
So what do you do?  Well, if you know your CSS and PHP, you could create your own.  Of course, as well as having the coding skills, you would also need a little creativity and an idea of how colours go together.  So that leaves me out.

I wandered over to the WordPress site and checked out their themes section.  It was either that or beg someone to make one for me.  And not even I would go so low.  (Of course, if a theme designer should wander by and offer to custom create one for me, I won’t argue).  There are a number of themes there, ranging from the pretty to the utilitarian.  And they are all customisable.

The theme I use is called Ocadia and was designed by Becca Wei.  Not for me though, she just seems to enjoy designing themes.  I like it because it’s fairly clean and is very usable.  Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of the clean and usable themes around.

I won’t link to the ones I think are too busy because a) I don’t want to offend anyone and 2) I don’t want a flame war on my blog.  Removing threads is too much like hard work, I’m afraid.

It is telling, though, that the 5 featured  themes on the theme page of WordPress are all clean and don’t take the eye away from the text of the post.  A theme, you see, is the perfect place for a WordPress fan to show off their coding and design skills.  A large part of designing though is knowing when to stop and say “it’s finished”.  No blogger or website writer wants their words and thoughts to be obscured by pretty pictures, changing colours and unnecessary junk.  Part of the longevity of newspapers is that they are black and white – no distractions.  Black text on white paper, while very dull, is easy to read for most of us.

If you have ever looked at a MySpace member page, you will understand what I mean when I say “more clean lines, less background images and more readable pages”.

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Posted on 27 January, 2006, in Blogging/WordPress, Computer Stuff, Generalities. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Oh I agree- I’m guilty of breaking this rule on my blog. I’m thinking of going with a more white-like colour, as the cream is a little annoying. Not on my screen, but on others like stupid windows 98 computers.

  2. Ray, creating a theme in wordpress is pretty easy, but as you say, getting it to look smart is the difficult part. Barring a few, the themes at Alex King’s theme browser (http://www.alexking.org/software/wordpress/theme_browser.php)
    are not very satisfactory. However, you can always take a look at the basic theme (not Kubrick, but the old Classic theme) and then customize it to suit your needs…

    I got my own theme up and running. It’s not perfect, but at least now I got it to work in IE properly and you get a feeling of pride that your blog looks different and not just like a “canned” version.

  3. “A large part of designing though is knowing when to stop and say “it’s finished”. No blogger or website writer wants their words and thoughts to be obscured by pretty pictures, changing colours and unnecessary junk.”

    Changing colours? Unnecessary junk? Only bad designers do that…. 😛 lol

    But I agree, the theme is the first thing anyone visiting a blog will notice. How do the colours blend? Is the text easy to read? Are its navigation features in a random place, or are they easily accessible? Are there any distractions on the page? These are all things that, if not achieved properly, will likely make the visitor leave the site. I’m waiting for the final version of the K2 theme to come out before I start the customisation process! 😀

  4. Even taking existing templates or themes others have created and doing the slightly smallest of changes to them can make a big difference in my opinion.

    I myself use to be able to just sit and come up with designs for sites, but over the past few years, I just started getting bored with it as I’d rather try expressing my artistic skills by doing real artwork instead of creating pixelized art.. but even then, the little new guy takes 101% of my time, I don’t even think anymore.. I think.. 😉

  5. J_K9 – The Binary Bonsai site has the thing that I dislike most about some themes: the header image takes up a huge amount of space. I like the header to not take up too much room. K2 looks interesting though.

    Hari – When I get time and motivation I may revert to the Classic look and try tweaking it.

    Titanium – I like your site. I cand see it’s a work in progress and look forward to the updates.

    Drew – the first 3 months are the worst. After that it gets a bit easier 🙂

  6. Hmm, come to think of it, I bought a book called “HTML and XHTML: The Complete Reference” about 2 years ago. I should dig it out and read it or something. 🙂

  7. It’s simple and clean. I like it.

    (Charred)

  8. Thanks Rik 🙂

  9. I got “Using HTML: 4th Edition” sitting up on the shelves collecting dust. Perhaps I could send it to you Ray. 😉

    Though I’ve skimmed thru my “PHP and MySQL” book and havent fully read it, a book like that might help you out since your site deals with PHP and MySQL as the backend db.

  10. Good point Drew, a PHP and MySQL book would definitely be a decent addition to my book pile. Off to O’Reilly I go!

  11. Hehe – I’m actually learning PHP (to use with MySQL in the future) as we speak 😛 Well not literally…as I write this post more like it!

    If you’re gonna learn XHTML, CSS is also a great addition. W3C Schools have an excellent site – that’s where I learned all that stuff… 🙂

  12. Hehe – I’m actually learning PHP (to use with MySQL in the future) as we speak 😛 Well not literally…as I write this post more like it!

    If you’re gonna learn XHTML, CSS is also a great addition. W3C Schools have an excellent site – that’s where I learned all that stuff… 🙂

    * It said this was a duplicate post…interesting…

  13. Using Quanta Plus is also an excellent way to learn CSS stuff. It’s built-in editor is very useful to generate stylesheets quickly. Then you can always take a look at the source.

  14. I think that all posts with URLs in them are being flagged for mderation.

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