This article is Part 2 of a three-part series of articles for helping WordPress.com bloggers take a step by step approach behind the scenes to test new themes in a mirror blog before making a theme switch.
The motive for change of theme is improving how content is framed and listing the reasons you have for wanting to change to a new theme is a good starting point. Here are some questions to start that process.
Must have features
Which features provided by the theme you use now are must haves in the new theme?
- custom header image
- custom background image
- custom background color
- custom link color
- Home/Front Page/ Blog page tabs
- header tabs
The Inuit Types theme displays the first paragraph(s) of your latest posts or custom excerpts of your choice. The most recent posts can be highlighted as “Featured Posts” or normal posts displayed in one or two columns. — Featured posts/images in Inuit Types — Custom header image in Inuit Types
Fauna, Misty Look, Redoable Lite, Regulus and Unsleepable, display links to child pages on the parent page. Bueno, Enterprise (2 drop down levels), iNove, Inuit Types, Monochrome, Neutra, Sandbox 1.6.1, Structure, Twenty Ten, Titan and Vostok themes have drop downs to child pages from parent pages in the top horizontal menu. — Links to child pages displayed on parent or as dropdowns
Structure has a unique homepage, divided into two main sections: the lower one displays latest posts; the upper one showcases one recent post. —Introduction to the Structure theme
The Bueno theme includes a unique widget: “Bueno Featured Posts”. Activating this widget allows you to showcase some posts in the sidebar. — Featured posts/images in Bueno
Which features that aren’t included in your current theme are must have in the new theme?
- alert box
- page templates (Archives, Links, Sitemap)
- featured images
- featured posts
- drop down menus
- links to child pages on parent page
Style and Layout
Themes may look good in a thumbshot but not as good on your blog. Use the preview function to view them and activate them on your mirror blog. Which style and layout will present your content best?
1 Column, 2 Columns, Columns 3, Magazine, Photo-blog, Other
Sidebars and/or Footer
Which sidebar arrangement do you prefer?
- no sidebar
- one sidebar (right? left?)
- multiple sidebars (right? left?)
- widgets in footer
- sidebar width
Which special widgets, gadgets, images do you want to accommodate in the sidebar of the new theme and which ones are optional? Widgets: Less is more
Post based structure or page based structure
Will the blog have a conventional post based structure for securing backlinks to posts, authority in the niche, and PageRank?
Will the blog have a page based structure with a static front page to resemble a business or professional website?
SEO experts believe both extremely short and extremely long web pages are not ranked as highly as pages that are of a reasonable length. General opinion is that a page of at least 250 words are probably a reasonable length. Similarly, many advise keeping pages under 1000 words. Darren Rowse – Problogger
Framing the content
What types of posts characterize the blog?
- short and pointed (under 250 words)
- mid-length (250 – to 500 words)
- lengthy well researched and well referenced (over 500 words)
- images in every post
- some posts with images
- media in some posts
- media in most posts
Which color scheme and why?
Which color scheme will best suit the content and create the “mood”? Bright and colorful? Neutral and restful? Dark and dramatic?
Every color has a positive and negative set of emotions associated with it, what I call the “color meaning”. This meaning that will affect your readers’ emotional response to your blog. You need to make sure you’re selecting a color scheme that will most likely encourage reader’s to read. Note that your color choices can present challenges to the visually impaired. Color customisable themes
Related posts found in this blog:
Blog Colors on Different Browsers and Monitors
Changing Your Blog? Start With the Colors
Color Selection Tools 1
Color Selection tools 2
Crayons, Colors and Blog Design
Why having a well designed blog is important
WordPress.com Fonts and Background Changes
Changing WordPress Themes: A Mid-Life Blog Crisis
The devil’s in the details and you will find meticulously detailed feature reviews on themes, HTML, formatting, images, tweaks and more at wordpress tips.