3 theme thumbshots

Select a WordPress.com theme 2

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?

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 TypesCustom 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

New features

Which features that aren’t included in your current theme are must have in the new theme?


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

Maximum displayed image width

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
  • other

 Widgets

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 you be restructuring your blog?

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?

Will static pages be used as tabs to external sites?

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?

  1. short and pointed (under 250 words)
  2. mid-length (250 – to 500 words)
  3. lengthy well researched and well referenced (over 500 words)
  4. images in every post
  5. some posts with images
  6. media in some posts
  7. media in most posts
  8. other

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

More resources

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.

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15 thoughts on “Select a WordPress.com theme 2

  1. hello again time thief.
    I have nearly indeed had a midlife crisis in deciding which one of the many I like the best among the theme templates, I’ve used about 20 so far since the initial set up.

    I would welcome a comment or two about my blog from an experienced blogger such as yourself.
    Not necessarily on content because you may not agree with me, however if you want to comment on the content as well feel free.

    1. Hello there,

      Thanks for entering the discussion. I visited your blog and spent some time there. The layout of the theme is simple and clean. It’s well organized and easily navigated. Your content is well written and aimed at political/educational/scientifically minded reader community.

      I think the Notepad theme suits content in your blog remarkably well. The graphic background is harmonious with the nature of your content and writing style. The yellow color itself is warm and and softens the overall appearance of the site. When combined with deep brown, and pearly gray it creates a casual and optimistic feel that balances the serious subject matter in your posts.

      Good choice. :)

  2. HI TT,
    I like how you so simply have explained all the “to do” things when changing a theme. Thanks to you..and your blog..I have made a successful change in my theme and am very happy with it.
    Each of us are different and want different things form our blogs look…and wp.com has such great customizations..that too without css. Amazing!
    Much Love,
    Z~

    1. Hi Zeenat,
      It’s been such a hectic week I feel amazed that’s it’s already Friday. It’s great blogging at wordpress.com because we aren’t under the stress that make money and affiliate bloggers are under. I don’t want to have those factors factored into my blogging.

      The Theme Team is doing a great job of providing us good themes with customizable features so we can so a lot to personalize our blogs without a CSS upgrade. I won’t be getting one as this blog is meant to be for everyone who is into wordpress.com free blogging. I do not want to raise the ante and alienate any readers or distance myself from them or their experience of wordpress.com by purchasing upgrades.

      Your theme looks so lovely now. I did like the appearance in in Vigilance but I like it better in Inuit Types. :)

      Thanks for your kind words too. If you have any details you would like to contribute to the post I will welcome them. I like it when people can be non-competitive and really work together on things. Piggybacking on ideas others have and and building on them is my style, so don’t hesitate to suggest any improvements.

      Love,
      TiTi

  3. This is an excellent checklist. I can see how being systematic like this before changing themes can save a lot of headaches and backtracks. I’m just coming to know which features are crucial for me and this checklist is a great place to record my priorities. Although I’m not planning to change themes anytime soon, you never know what great surprises WordPress might have in store! The info on best post length is very useful too.

    1. Hi Sandra,
      I’m happy to hear you think the list is a good one. If you have anything you think ought to be added to it then please don’t hesitate to say so. I’d be happy to edit and improve the post with any suggestions others may have.

      Like you I’m not planning to change themes any time soon. However, I love testing them all in my test blogs. It’s fun. :)

  4. Quote:

    “Writing for the web is like writing for a newspaper or magazine: sometimes means chunking a longer article with subheadings. I try to remember but have become so deeply ingrained with business writing for so long and essay writing, it’s a habit I have to consciously practice.”

    One rule of thumb for myself if I am tempted to write a long researched article over 1,000 words long with all sorts of referenced resources, then maybe I should rethink and have it formally published by a bona fide magazine or journal.

    Appreciate this article and also references to panos’ useful web articles. Thank you.

    1. The NDC contract work I do is thousands of words with footnotes, etc. Granted it does take more words to cover some topics that it does others but 750words is is pretty much my maximum on a blog posts. In the case of lengthy posts I choose to break them up at logical points into separate articles.

  5. Thank you for another well crafted and very informative post! Although my recent theme change was driven only by my desire for a custom header, excerpted archive listings, and better readability, I’ve since come to realize that there were many other things I should have thought about as well.

    I think that you mentioned a Twenty Ten specific forum somewhere. Can you tell me how to find it and the best way to search for things within it? There are still features I don’t understand, and structural changes I’m contemplating, that I could sure use some help with.

    1. @izaakmak
      Hello there. This theme I’m using has custom templates for static pages. Click this and see what I mean http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/sitemap/

      The excerpt function which is “dead” in most of our themes is also alive on this theme. Although the theme is coded to display only the beginnings of posts one can over-ride that by placing a custom excerpt into the excerpt box below the editor. I really like that.

      Most of all I like the fact that I can cut down the number of images and links on my front page by displaying excerpts on the front page. Some search engine spider bots stop indexing when they hit between 100 – 115 links on any page. Well every link on my front page including the blog title and all the static pages, and to all the links in the sidebar is quite a large number, and I want search engine spiders to boogie all over my front page all of the time. :)

      We now have a Themes Forum for all themes. You can find the threads in it for the Twenty Ten theme here > http://en.forums.wordpress.com/forum/themes

      Thanks for the feedback and happy blogging. :)

  6. My biggest complaint with various themes is how they handle the comments. It seems to be inconsistent. I’d really like the comments field to start showing a toolbar too, for character markup. I mean, I know you can use the tags but that’s kind of primitive at this day and age.

    For the most part, I’ve been happy with my current theme, and I stick with it. It seems to work pretty well. Although having the ability to shadow the title text would be cool.

    1. @writerdood
      Here I am trying to visualize what you mean and coming up blank. Maybe that’s because it’s Saturday and I had a heck of a week. Or maybe I’m just dull witted. :(

      1. Sorry. I’m probably not explaining it well. And maybe comment handling isn’t part of a theme. I just assumed it was because the comments boxes seem different on different blogs. Maybe it’s controlled through the plugin being used (widget, or whatever you want to call the module that handles comments).

        To get what I mean, the best thing to do would be to log out and try posting a comment on your own site. You’ll notice at the bottom of the comment field “You may use these HTML tags and attributes.” This is a list of tags for character markup (I just applied italic to the word tags). These are standard HTML tags. What I’m saying is that rather than applying these tags manually in text, there should be a toolbar for this markup allowing you to highlight the text you want to apply a tag to, and then clicking italic or bold or heading level, or block quote, etc. This way you don’t have to type the actual tag.

        It’s not a big deal, and I think most people understand that you can use these tags, but they’re probably more likely to use them if there’s a tool bar above the comments field that lets you apply the markup.

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